Most people realize that surfboards can take a beating from reefs, improper storage, and transportation, or collisions with other surfers. However, most surfers overlook waterlogging until it is too late. Waterlogging, or filling up with water, can permanently damage your board if you let it. Therefore, you must take the necessary precautions to keep your board dry. All it takes is just glancing at my favorite board to break its watertight integrity so trust me on this article.
If your surfboard ends up waterlogged, you must let it dry in a cool, dry place before you do anything else. You can then look for holes, cracks, and other places water can seep inside. You can do a temporary repair with ding tape to make the surfboard waterproof and then make a permanent repair later.
Fixing your waterlogged surfboard sounds simple and easy, but it can get complicated depending on the severity of the problem. While there are fixes you can do yourself, some will require a professional. By reading further, you will learn how to fix your board along with a few tips for maintaining it.
A Quick Guide for Repairing a Waterlogged Surfboard Waterlogged
Surfboards take a beating. With enough punishment from rocks, reefs, and anything or anyone else in the water, the boards can break, rendering them irreparable. You can even damage them during transport if you do not secure them properly. However, even the smallest dings can allow water to seep inside, often called waterlogging.
Waterlogging a surfboard:
- Makes the board heavier, reducing buoyancy and making it difficult to surf. Severely waterlogged boards may not even float.
- Discolors or yellows the surface, destroying any personalization you may have
- Rots away the foam interior, reducing the structural integrity of the board
All these issues will impact how well your surfboard performs. This is because it might be impossible to fully restore a board’s original performance if it ever becomes waterlogged. As such, they reduce the life expectancy of the board. Waterlogging may even significantly reduce your board’s resale value.
How do I know if my board is waterlogged?
Luckily, there are several ways to know if your board is taking on water.
- The surfboard becomes heavier – weight the board before and after a surf session
- There are leaks – Let the board dry for a couple of hours or a day in a cool, dry place, then look for moisture and salt crystals near it
- Noticeable cracks and holes
Please note that you must be thorough in your search. Small dings and cracks can let water pass through slowly, masking the effect. If you must, apply light pressure to the board to see if any water seeps out of the cracks.
If you suspect your board is waterlogged, no matter how severe, you should stop using it immediately. Continued use will worsen the condition and let more water inside. Instead, you must dry it out immediately and repair any damages.
What are the Different Ways My Surfboard Gets Damaged?
Waterlogging rarely happens to a well-maintained surfboard. It is the result of unrepaired dents and cracks that develop over a lifetime of use. As such, you can prevent or reduce its effects by protecting your surfboard from the various hazards it faces.
Ultraviolet Light and Extreme Heat
While you surf out in the sun, the sun is slowly damaging your board. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light will discolor and rot away the foam. It will also melt the wax. However, the heat is the true culprit. Heat accelerates everything, aging the board faster than it normally would.
As such, you never want to store your surfboard in direct sunlight or your vehicle. When the sun is out, you should always presume the temperature is way too warm for your board and your car will make it worse. Therefore, you want to store and transport it in a cool, shady container when possible.
Crashing into Walls, Rails, and Trees
Any impact that punctures your board will allow water inside. While most cracks and chips are more common on the rails, nose, and tail, they can happen anywhere on your board. You can even break the board in half if you bang it hard enough into walls railings, nearby trees, and so forth. Other common hazards include truck beds, asphalt, and any other hard surfaces.
You only need a small amount of force to crack a surfboard, which is a problem that only gets worse with age. As such, you must be careful when carrying it. You want to avoid accidents as much as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to know the dimensions of your surfboard. Due to its size, your board sticks out far in front and back of you. Therefore, you want to ensure you have enough room for it as you go around corners or turn to look back. You also want to store and transport the board in a special surfboard storage bag.
Yes, the very waves you surf eat away your board as you surf. Saltwater erodes your surfboard’s protective outer resin shell. Given enough time, the water will make its path to the interior.
While there is no way to prevent this deterioration, you can reduce the effects by routinely cleaning the board. Most boards just need a good freshwater bath. You can use the showers at the beach for this cleaning if they are available. If not, you can use your garden hose once you get back home.
Pressure and Compression from Your Body
No matter how much you try to avoid it, you will eventually damage your surfboard while riding it. This damage happens naturally as your weight applies pressure to the board. You also may ding the board as you move your hands, feet, needs, and even your chest along with the board as you surf.
Other Surfboards and Surfers
This holds with the other surfers around you as well. People can crash into you. They can punch or kick your board if they move too close. Every interaction between your surfboard and others can potentially ding or crack your board.
Some surfboards such as EPS-epoxy boards can withstand the beating longer, but every board will succumb eventually. A thicker, “glass job” or more resin-coated boards can avoid these perils, but they are also heavier and less flexible.
Coral, Rock, and Hard Sand
Finally, you can damage your surfboard by misgauging how deep the water is as you move towards the shore. If the water is too shallow, the fin may brush against reefs, rocks, gravel, and hard sand. This is especially true for novice riders who may overlook the distance the fins extend out below the board, though every rider will do it on occasion.
These collisions may also cause the board’s fiberglass and resin rails to buckle and snap as well. This wearing can expose the more delicate foam underneath to water damage and decay.
What is the Best Temp Fix for a Damaged Surfboard?
Depending on the severity of the damage, you can expect the repairs to take a few days to a week or Two depending on how busy the shop is. If you do not have the time or resources to wait that long, you should know that there are some quick fixes you can do to make your surfboard useable. These temp fixes will not work in all situations, but they are usually better than nothing.
The easiest temporary fix for waterlogging is to dry it out the board in a warm, dry place. The drying period will depend on how much water is there, but you can expect it to take a few hours. If it is truly waterlogged, then your surf session is done and the process can take 2-3 days. At least, you can suck out the water with paper towels and a fan to accelerate the process.
Once the board is dry, find the cracks and seal them with ding tape. I have used duct tape as well as liquid bandaid in the past(highly recommended)
Cracks and Dings
Dealing with the cracks and dings is easier. You just cover them up until you can fully repair them, and you have two ways to do it.
The easiest and quickest is to use ding tape. This special water-resistant tape is large enough to cover most cracks and dings without leaking. Ding tape cannot fix large cracks or breaks, but it should suffice with the small stuff. It is also vulnerable to pealing if you bang it enough times.
If you do not have ding tape or want something studier, you can use epoxy. You should follow the instructions that come with the epoxy. Just make sure you wipe down the affected area with a damp paper towel first.
How Much Does a Surfboard Repair Cost?
Temp repairs let you finish your surf session, but they only delay the inevitable. Your board will continue to disintegrate underneath until you take it to a ding repair shop. However, finding the right ding shop for your board can pose a challenge.
This is because surfboard repair prices can vary based on the severity and location of the damage. if you go to a reputable shop, these repair estimates will likely remain constant, letting you know how much you will pay before work begins. However, that might not be the case elsewhere.
Fortunately, surfboard repair costs are relatively similar around the world. So, you can gauge the quality of the shop based on how much they deviate from the average pricing below.
- Nose chips & dings: $40 – $50
- Broken nose: $100 – $140
- Rail damage: $50 – $80
- Deck holes and gashes: $40 – $55
- Delamination: $100 – $140
- Buckled board: $100 – $180
- Broken board: $150 – $200
- Fin box – FCS, Future, etc.… $100 – $120
- Bahne longboard box: $100 – $140
- Glassed fin: $100
- Leash plug: $50 – $60
- Chipped & dinged tail: $40 – $50
- Broken tail: $100 – $140
Each of these price ranges is based on polyester board construction. Other types of surfboards may have higher repair costs, though they should not be far off from these.
Can You Fix a Surfboard Yourself?
While you will get the best results with a professional surfboard repair shop, you can do some repairs on your own. Usually, it is the severity of the damage that determines what you can and cannot do, but experience and training help too. This is because a damaged surfboard tends to have multiple problems you must fix at the same time.
Determine the Surfboard’s Materials
Before you can do anything, you must know your board’s construction material as you must repair the board with that material. The more common materials include fiberglass, epoxy, foam, and cork.
Fix the Cracks and Dings
Once the board is dry, you can repair any cracks and dings you identified. You can do it with the following procedure:
- Gather supplies and materials – including sandpaper, soft cloth, wax comb, knife, Q-cell, resin kit, wax remover, and paintbrush
- Drain and let dry – If the board is waterlogged, let it dry as instructed earlier in the temp fixes. You want to get as much water out as you can to reduce further damage to the interior.
- Remove damaged or rotten areas – how much to remove will depend on the age of the ding or crack
- Clean and prepare the surfboard – use the comb and remover to scrape off the wax then wipe with a damp cloth. Sand down the damaged area
- Cut some fiberglass foam – you need enough to fill all the holes
- Protect surrounding areas with masking tape – prevents further damage
- Fill the gaps with the fiberglass foam and resin – use the Q-cell to fill the larger holes
- Sand down the filler – make it level with the surface
- Apply a resin and fiberglass coat – Use the paintbrush to evenly spread out the resin
- Sand and polish– use high grit sandpaper until the finish matches the rest of the board
- Let it cure – the process can take up to 48 hours
A waterlogged surfboard is no laughing matter. The longer the water sits increases the risks for permanent damage that can and will reduce the longevity of your board. Luckily, there are some things you can do to save your board if you catch the problem early enough. The fixes may take a while to complete, but they are much better than buying a whole new board.