Girl Surfers Talk Surfboard Construction…
There are a few different types of materials used in the production of surfboards, including polyurethane fiberglass surfboards, plastic surfboards, polystyrene and epoxy surfboards; this information below on surfboard construction is only related to polyurethane fiberglass surfboards, the most widely used surfboards in the world.
The surfboard construction process consists of:
If you are interested in environmentally friendly surfboard concepts, view our Surfboards and the Environment page.
The surfboard starts as polyurethane (PU) foam blank that is roughly shaped to the length and width of the board, this is commonly done by shaping machines. The shaper uses a planer and sandpaper to take down the foam to its final shape, smoothing out the bottom curves and outline shape, and ensuring the rails are the same.
To make the board waterproof and to provide strength to the PU foam, four or six ounce fiberglass composites are laid on the blank which are then set in polyester resin. Before laying the fiberglass, decals (surfboard shaper logos) can be placed on the board. Usually the bottom of the surfboard is covered with one layer of fiberglass and then covered with resin first, and when dry the same procedure can be done to the deck of the surfboard. Two layers of fiberglass can be placed put on the deck for a stronger surfboard.
The fins are attached to the bottom of the board either as fixed fins or as a removable fin system. Fixed fins are held in place by wrapping them in fiberglass and again using resin to set the fiberglass; while removable fin systems are inserted by using a jig to set the fin plugs into place; (a leg rope plug can also be placed on the deck of the board in a similar fashion).
The surfboard is sanded to take off all the rough edges from the glassing process, to return the surfboard to the original shape. The finished product is often given a wet rub to hand finish the product to the optimum quality.
Air brush spray of artwork can be applied onto the foam once it has been shaped,or more commonly on the finished sanded product; a clear spray finish can also be applied add a smooth gloss to it. Posca pens can also be used directly on the foam or on top of the glass. If its the latter a clear protective coat should be sprayed over the end product to ensure it lasts longer.
The latest method of apply graphic artwork to surfboards is through the use of “inlays” which are placed on the surfboard during the glassing process.
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