Surfboard Repair: How to Fix a Surfboard Ding?
All you have to do is follow our guide, and by the end of the article, you will have a pretty good idea of where your board is in regards to its condition.
It’s only natural for a board that’s been loved and utilized to have some battle scars to it. No one wants to let go of their favorite board, no matter how banged up it is. It’s like putting on an old pair of jeans—the comfort is second to none.
But what happens when the damage that a board has sustained over the years starts to affect its performance? Do you set it aside and move on to a new one, or do you try to patch it up?
Well, unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this one, but we’re here to give you a good idea of when to call it a day and when and how to patch your board up.
Types of Surfboard Damage
One thing is for sure: no matter how well a board is made and taken care of, there will come a time when it will need to be repaired or serviced.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common and prominent reasons that will prompt you to take your board for a service.
This is not damage per se, and it doesn’t affect the performance of the board, but a lot of surfers don’t want their board to look worn out. You might think that this is why boards should be coated against UV rays when they are made, and you’d be right—they are.
Most surfboards do feature UV protection as part of their lacquer, but after a lot of love and use, this layer tends to thin out and wear out.
If your board has some yellowing to it, and you don’t mind, there is no reason to have it removed or polished.
Your board should be perfectly fine, and you shouldn’t notice a difference in performance. If you do feel a difference in the way that it performs, then something else might be the culprit.
Cracks are just part of the game. The outside world is out to get you when you are gliding across it at great speeds. However, this is not the only way that your board can end up cracked. A lot of cracks are a result of the transporting process.
If you aren’t careful about how you are strapping your board in when you are setting it up in your rig or on the top of your car, then you will probably notice new mystery cracks.
The most crack-prone places on your board are the edges of the nose, tail, and rails. It makes sense since they are the outer parts of the board.
Sooner or later, it happens to the best of us. Delamination happens when water gets into the cracks of the board and starts eating at the coating.
You might think that this is a direct result of negligence, which it partially is, but the heat alone can and will cause delamination.
In order to keep your board intact for longer, we suggest that you don’t leave it hanging in the noon sun when you aren’t using it and store it under a shaded area.
No matter how hard you try not to get dings on your board and keep it in that mint, pristine shape, there is just no way to achieve that if you’re using your board for actual surfing and not just strolling around on the beach with it.
Dings are areas or points where the board has been impacted by hard objects or has been under great pressure. So, areas that are constantly under pressure, such as the spots where the rider usually plants their feet and chest, are usually the first to go.
If you want to slow down the ding process, we suggest that you apply some more resin to the coat of the board, but this will make it heavier and bulkier. Choose your poison, and choose wisely.
But how do you actually repair a ding that’s already visible?
Repairing a Surfboard Ding
Now that you know what the main causes of damage are, what can you do to service and repair your board when necessary?
Well, you will need to take it gradually and go step by step. It’s not that repairing surfboard dings is something very difficult or complicated, but it certainly helps if you’re not winging it and improvising along the way.
Tools and Materials You'll Need
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s always a good idea to take your board to a professional and have it fixed. Nevertheless, we’ll guide you through our DIY surfboard ding repair process.
Having said all that, let’s go over all the tools and supplies you’ll need to repair the ding.
The complete glossary should look something like this:
- Fiberglass Cloth
- Sanding Sponge
- Mixing Sticks
- Cover Sheets
- Ding Dough
- Ding Tape
- Fiber-filled ding solution
- Polyester solution
Many ding repair kits should have everything you’ll need, but you could reference this list for the most complete kit.
Step 1 - Preparing The Board
The first thing you should do before you dig in is preparing your board for the repair process. This usually means that you will need to have it clean and rid it of any excess sand and saltwater crystals.
Keep in mind that the deeper dings will require more attention. Depending on the actual damage, they will take longer to dry out because the water might have gone deeper into the foam.
Before moving on to repairing the board, check if it’s fully dry. Locate the dig in question and turn the board so that that ding is facing down.
Gravity should take over from you here and pull the excess water right out of the foam. If there are no marks of moisture on or below the pot that the board is facing, then you are in the clear.
Step 2 - Sanding
Another prerequisite before you start the repairs is sanding the area that you plan on servicing.
That way, you’ll remove the wax that surrounds the ding and make it easier for the new materials to bond with the foam. Additionally, it will ensure that there is no stubborn debris stuck to the spot.
Once the dinged spot is nice and sanded out, the new resin should stick to the board like glue and look great.
Step 3 - Applying Resin
Once you get to this point, it’s mandatory that you know what type of board you have because, as we said, not all boards are compatible with all types of resin. You could very well end up causing a lot more damage to your board if you’re using mismatched resin. When purchasing a repair kit, take a good look at the label.
Does it say EPS foam, polyurethane foam, or polyester resin cores? If you end up applying polyester resin on an EPS board, you will probably have a new hole on your board, and nobody wants that.
The moment of truth—apply the resin evenly until you get a good fill. The important thing to keep in mind is to steer away from the sun and those pesky UV rays.
Why? Well, the resin hardens when it’s in the sun. You don’t want it to dry out before you have gone through the repair process.
Once you are done and satisfied with the results, you can use a plastic wrap in order to ensure that you are getting the best finish.
Step 4 - Drying
Once you are satisfied with your repairs, take the board out in the sun and leave it to dry out. The resin will harden under the heat, and you should be good to go in about ten minutes.
Step 5 - Sanding
Aesthetics aren’t everything, but they sure do a lot in terms of feel. Your board might be perfectly fine as it is, but you really want to take some time in order to smoothen it up and rid yourself of all the excess resin. Opt for a fine girt and keep the sanding area wet so that you don’t get sandpaper scratches. From here you can paint the spot in your favorite color or leave it as is.
Ultimately, if you aren’t happy with the result, you could always consult a professional.
If you are faced with an emergency and cannot afford to spare the time, just patch the ding up with some duct tape. This will close the surface and make sure that there is no water coming into your board.
It may even look cool, but remember that it’s not a permanent fix, and it shouldn’t be left like that. When you get the chance, you should take proper care of your board.
That being said, not all tapes are created equal. Some surfers don’t care if you can notice the tape from afar, while others will go to great lengths to conceal it.
If you are looking for a discrete tape, then you should strongly consider the Elephant Seal products. They are made to be as inconspicuous as possible.
If you don’t have a preference or don’t know what to go with, then you can always lean on the most popular tape on the surf market today: the Gorilla Tape. It's quite affordable and does the job well.
Surfboard ding repair is not as daunting as it might seem. You don’t always have to pay repair specialists to properly fix your surfboard, but that’s not a bad idea either if you’re unsure whether you’ll do a good job.
Either way, a repair kit can fix surfboard dings just fine. Today, there are excellent ding repair kits on the market that include anything you might need to repair dings—from resin to adhesive foams.
Once you are done with your surfboard repair and that light sandpaper, you will have a smooth surface, and you will be ready to catch that next wave.