What are Surfboards Made of?

Are you a surfer curious about the makeup of your favorite tool? Have you ever wondered what your surfboard is made of? If you’re anything like us, you simply cannot wait to dive into the science behind your board’s construction. So let’s get started!

First things first, surfing has come a long way since the good old days of surfing on wooden planks. With the advancement of technology, modern boards are now made up of a multitude of materials. The materials used in construction depend on the type of surfing the board is designed for, the rider’s skill level, and of course, personal preference. So, let’s take a closer look at what your surfboard could be made of.

If you’re reading this, you probably love surfing as much as we do and are curious about the technology that makes a great surfboard. In this post, we look in-depth at the materials that comprise modern surfboards, what factors determine what your board is made of, and where to look for used surfboards for sale. So grab your favorite board, and let’s dive in!

What Are Surfboards Made Of?

Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam has been the most commonly used material for surfboard production since the 1960s. Foam is shaped into a “blank,” which is the basic structure of a surfboard that is later laminated with fiberglass. The foam core determines the curvature and rocker of the board. The quality of polyurethane foam depends on its density, with denser foams providing more durability and strength, but weighing more. Most high-performance shortboards and longboards used by professional surfers are made of polyurethane foam.

Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS)

Another material used for making surfboards is expanded polystyrene foam (EPS). Unlike polyurethane foam, EPS is not a chemical reaction but rather the result of the expansion of small beads of plastic. EPS is lighter than polyurethane foam, which makes for a more buoyant board, but it is also less durable. EPS foam boards are often used to make longboards, stand-up paddleboards, and beginner surfboards.


Laminating the foam core with fiberglass provides the board’s “skin.” Fiberglass is a woven material made of fine glass fibers that are bonded with resin. The thickness of the fiberglass layer determines the stiffness, durability, and weight of the board. The thickness of the fiberglass layer can be measured in ounces per square yard (oz./yd.²). A higher number of oz./yd.² means a heavier board, but also a more durable one. Boards used in competition surfing typically have thicker fiberglass layers, while lighter boards are used for high-performance surfing.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is a more expensive material than fiberglass that is used to strengthen high-performance boards. Carbon fiber is typically layered on top of the fiberglass, adding stiffness and preventing the board from twisting during high-speed maneuvers. Carbon fiber is also commonly used in areas of the board that need more reinforcement, such as the tail.

Factors That Determine What Your Board is Made Of

Type of Surfing

The type of surfing that you do can determine what board you should ride and, consequently, what it is made of. Big wave surfboards, for instance, need to be sturdy and durable and are often made of thicker and denser foam and fiberglass. Shortboards, on the other hand, need to be lightweight and maneuverable, and are often made of polyurethane foam and thinner fiberglass.

Skilled or Beginner Rider

Surfers of varying skill levels have different needs in their boards. Beginners typically ride longer boards, making catching waves easier, and need thicker foam and fiberglass to withstand occasional impacts with the bottom. More skilled riders can ride shorter boards, which are lighter, thinner, and faster.

Surfing Conditions

The waves you are riding can dictate what your board is made of. For smaller, mushier waves, having more foam and a floatier board can make catching and maintaining speed easier. In contrast, a heavier and stiffer board can provide more control in bigger surf conditions.

Personal Preferences

Every surfer has personal preferences about their boards. Some like heavier boards because they feel more secure underfoot, while others prefer lighter and more responsive boards. Deciding what your tastes are will help you find what board suits you best.

You Can Find Quality Used Surfboards for Sale

If you’re looking for affordable or unique surfboards, checking out the used surfboard market is a great option. There are local shops, online retailers, and even dedicated used board websites that can help you find the perfect used board. The used market can open up an array of styles and shapes of boards that you might not see in a traditional surf shop. Plus, buying second-hand supports sustainable practices by keeping boards out of landfills and reducing the demand for new production.

The materials used in modern surfboard construction can vary, depending on several factors. Polyurethane foam and fiberglass continue to be the most popular foundation, but boards made from alternative materials like EPS foam and carbon fiber have their benefits too. Finding the right board is a journey, and it’s essential to consider several factors such as skill level, personal preference, and surfing conditions. And remember, don’t overlook the used surfboards for sale – they might hold the perfect board for you at a great price point.

Alternative Surfboard Materials

In recent years, environmental concerns have spurred the development of new materials for making surfboards. Some companies have started using natural materials like balsa wood or cork to make eco-friendly boards. Others have begun using algae-based foam, which is biodegradable and recyclable. Mushroom Surfboards even experimented with using mushrooms to create durable foam for surfboards!

Additionally, some surfers have turned to alternative materials out of necessity. Homemade paipo boards made from discarded pieces of wooden appliances or planks of Styrofoam are popular among some surfers in developing countries where buying a traditional surfboard is not financially feasible.

Maintaining Your Surfboard

Surfboards, no matter the material or construction, will experience wear and tear over time. It is essential to take care of your board to ensure its longevity. Rinse your board with freshwater after each use to avoid the salt buildup that can degrade the foam and fiberglass. Store your board in a cool, dry place, away from extended periods of direct sunlight, and avoid leaving it in a hot car. Regularly check your board for damage, and repair any dings or cracks promptly.


Surfboard technology has come a long way, from wooden planks to high-performance foam and carbon fiber, with eco-friendly solutions emerging. What your board is made of can affect its weight, durability, and overall performance. When choosing what board to ride, consider your skill level, personal preferences, and surfing conditions. And remember, taking proper care of your board helps to ensure its longevity and will keep you riding the waves for years to come.

So go ahead, hit the waves, and let your board take you on a wild ride!


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about surfboards and their materials.

1. How long do surfboards last?

The lifespan of a surfboard depends on many factors, including the materials it is made of, how often it is used, and how well it is maintained. With proper care and maintenance, a well-built surfboard can last for several years.

2. Can I make a surfboard myself?

Yes, you can make your surfboard using a surfboard shaping kit or hiring a professional shaper to guide you through the process. However, keep in mind that it is a challenging and time-consuming process that requires skill and patience.

3. Which is better, polyurethane or EPS foam?

Both polyurethane and EPS foam have their merits. Polyurethane is more common in high-performance shortboards, while EPS is lighter and more buoyant, often used in longboards and beginner boards. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your own preferences and surfing style.

4. What is the difference between molded and hand-shaped surfboards?

Molded boards are created by pouring foam into a pre-made mold, while hand-shaped boards are shaped by a shaper’s hands and tools. Hand-shaped boards are more customized to the rider’s preferences, while molded boards provide more consistency in shape and performance.

5. How do I know what size surfboard I need?

The size of the surfboard you need depends on your skill level, body type, and the surfing conditions you plan to ride. Generally, beginners should choose bigger boards that are easier to paddle and catch waves. More experienced surfers can ride smaller, more agile boards.

6. Can I surf with a ding on my board?

Dings on your board should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent water from seeping into the foam and causing damage. You can surf with small dings, but larger ones should be repaired before hitting the waves.

7. How much does a surfboard weigh?

The weight of a surfboard depends on its size, construction, and materials. In general, shortboards weigh between 6 and 12 pounds, while longboards can weigh between 15 and 30 pounds.

8. Can I surf with a carbon fiber board in smaller waves?

Carbon fiber boards are designed for high-performance surfing and can be ridden in smaller waves, but they may not be the best choice for beginners or surfers who prefer a more buoyant board.

9. Can surfboards be recycled?

Yes, surfboards made of polyurethane foam can be recycled through specialized facilities or repurposed into art and furniture. EPS foam boards are biodegradable and can be recycled into other foam products.

10. How much does a new surfboard cost?

The cost of a new surfboard depends on the materials, construction, and brand. Basic shortboards can cost between $300 and $800, while high-performance boards can cost upwards of $1,000 or more.

11. Can I buy a used surfboard?

Yes, buying a used surfboard is a great way to save money and potentially find unique designs that are no longer in production. Local surf shops, online retailers, and dedicated used board websites can help you find a used board.

12. Why should I store my surfboard away from direct sunlight?

Direct sunlight can damage the foam and fiberglass of a surfboard over time, causing it to become discolored and brittle. Store your board in a cool, dry place, away from prolonged exposure to sunlight.

13. How can I tell if my surfboard needs repair?

Inspect your board regularly for dings, cracks, or soft spots. Press down on the board to check for any areas that feel less rigid than others. If you notice any damage, take your board to a professional repair shop to fix it promptly.