The Classic “Ding”
It's the most heartbreaking of situations. You're out paddleboarding a fantastic swell, and on your way back to shore you wipe out and send your board into the shallow reef below. Or worse, you were just grabbing something from the garage, and you didn't realize it was connected to your leash. Suddenly the board is hitting the hard concrete ground with the same force as your heart hitting your stomach. Either way, you check your board only to see a crack right in the bottom of the board — the classic ding.
It's never a good feeling when your board takes an injury. Sometimes you even wish it had bruised you instead of the board (at least that way you can still get out for a sunset session after you clean yourself up). That's why it's important to understand how to repair and maintain your paddle surfboard.
Assess the Damage
With a cracked board, going back out into the water is a risk you should not take. Waterlogging occurs when the foam inside soaks in water and degrades the material. This will cause extensive damage to the integrity of the board, whereas repairing it can keep it looking and feeling good as new.
With this in mind be sure to get out of the water as quickly as possible if you see your paddleboard has been damaged. Don't risk making things worse than they already are.
If it’s a contained ding, anything less than the size of your hand, then repairing it will be no sweat. If it’s more than that, if it’s taken on some serious reef carving, don’t be afraid to consult your local surf shop for some good repair shop recommendations. Other than that, let’s get to the process.
First, we prepare...
First thing is first. Let the board dry out in the sun in a position that allows any trapped water to drain from the board. If possible, use a hair dryer and squeeze gently around the damaged area to push out any remaining water.
Next, you're going to want to prep the area. Using a wax comb, scrape off the wax in the surrounding area of the ding and use acetone to clean it up. Some surfboard repair tips include taping around the area of the crack to ensure no damage spreads.
Using a sharp knife, cut around the damaged area and remove any foam that seems to have rotted away from the water.
Then sand the area down. Sanding creates a rough surface which will come in handy when we are pouring repair material onto the board.
There! Now the ding has been properly assessed and prepared.
Then we repair!
Check out some repair kits either online or at your local surf shop. What you're looking for is both the resin that will fill in the hole and a catalyst that will mix with the resin to create that durable, tough material. For larger repair areas it might be necessary to get your hands on fiberglass cloth or Q-Cell, a filler that stands in for missing foam.
SAFETY NOTE: Please use the utmost safety precautions when working with hazardous materials. Inhaling surf repair fumes is not good for lungs, and you definitely do not want any of the solutions in your eyes. Also, fiberglass dust is harmful to skin and lungs. Wear gloves, protective eyewear, and a mask and work in a well-ventilated area when fixing a surfboard.
Back to the process. Mix together your solution following the repair kit instructions and then pour the solution into the crack, filling and covering the entirety of the damage. It’s important to cover the entire area, as any amount of uncovered board will eventually erode the insides.
One useful tip is to pour more than necessary so that when it dries, you can sand it back down to normal level with the rest of the board. You can always remove it; it's harder to add.
Finally, let that repair dry in a sunlit area and allow at least 24 hours to pass before you apply a second coat.
Once you feel that it’s ready to go and your second coat is dry, allow an additional 24 hours to read up on how to further protect your board! For tips and tricks on how to maintain your board and keep it healthy, keep reading below.
One last note: If you feel like this process is overwhelming or too much to handle, always remember to seek professional help to ensure your board gets the repairs it needs.
Now that it's fixed keep it fixed.
When it comes to board longevity, maintenance is key. There are a few different ways to ensure that your board has a long and healthy life.
The first recommendation is purchasing a surfboard bag. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched boards get beat up over the years because there wasn’t that little extra protective padding around it. For some reason, it’s often longboards and paddle boards that are the ones to reap this suffering. When looking for a board bag be sure to check out all the different kinds and what their benefits are. Some are better for housing in your garage while others are made for travel.
Another way to keep your board in good condition is to learn proper surfing technique. Popping up to your knees, for example, will result in countless dents all along the face of your board. When riding all the way to shore, be careful not to get your fins caught in the sand. This could completely rip them out of their sockets, causing extensive damage. At the end of the day, a good understanding technique will benefit both you and your board.
Lastly, and this might be the most important one, store your surfboard properly. Standing it up on the side of the room sure makes you look like one cool surfer. But one slip-up or accidental bump and your board will be sent crashing into the floor. You don’t even have to trust me on this one. Just look up a little something called Murphy’s Law. Having a dedicated surfboard rack will save you time and energy on keeping your surfboard safe.
Our surfboards can feel like children sometimes, can’t they? When they get injured, we feel the pain. Not being able to get out and surf a swell because our board has a ding on it may feel like the end of the world, but causing more damage by going out with exposed foam is even worse. That’s why understanding the importance of repair and maintenance is necessary to keep you paddling on your beloved for years to come.
Is your board beyond the point of repair and you need to get a new one? We recommend checking out our best paddle boards page! View our FinBin page here.