What are surfboards made of?

The construction of and the material used for your surfboard depends on what type of surfboard you are riding. Surfboards were originally invented on the islands of Hawaii, where local people called them “papa he’e nalu”. The first surfboards were originally made out of hard and heavy wood, such as redwood or cedar, but a lot has happened since then.

As surfing become more widespread across the world new types of surfboards occurred. We now have several different options, but when we talk about what surfboards are made of, they can be broken down into two different categories. Soft-top surfboards and regular surfboards (hard-tops).

Hard-top surfboards

Hard-top surfboards are made in different variations such as shortboards, funboards, twin-fins, etc. But a common feature of these boards is that they are made for the more advanced surfers and therefore come in smaller dimensions and volume.

A hard-top surfboard usually consists of the following materials, a piece of foam, a stringer, fiberglass, and a coating.

First, the surfboard sharper starts with a big piece of foam (EPS Core). The EPS core gets attached to the stringer, which is a wooden piece that runs through the center of the surfboard.

Back in the day, they will shape the whole surfboard, from block to final product. Nowadays many shapers have machines and computer technology, that can shape a rough first draft, after which the shaper can do the finishing details of the board.

After the shaper has completed the board, it’s time for glassing/ coating, to achieve the hard top surface. A fiberglass cloth will be placed over the board and finally, it will get coated in epoxy resin. The coating process is complex and consists of several steps.

Many people see surfboard shaping as an art form and it’s a very complex process to understand the impact of shapes, volume, and dimensions. Among some of the most famous surfboard shapers are Jon Pyzel founder of Pyzel Surfboards, and Johnny Cabianca founder of Cabianca Surfboards.

Soft top boards

Foam surfboard also called “soft tops”, uses different types of foam in their construction. Most modern foam boards are made of prolapse polystyrene (PPS) foam. Foam boards have a hard bottom, but compared to regular boards, it does not consist of fiberglass but instead some type of plastic material.

Foam boards are a great option for beginners and that’s why you will find them at most surf schools and surf camps. The foam boards are usually easier to paddle and control in the water. When you are a beginner the foam boards also provide a higher level of safety, if you should get hit by the board during a wipeout. 

This was the basic knowledge of what surfboards are made of, are you interested in learning more, then we recommend you to visit some of the surfboard brands’ websites. Some surfboard brands/shapers even arrange events where you can experience the process of making a surfboard. A unique experience, for those with a fascination for the craft.