Surfboards are expensive tools, and if they aren’t looked after then they can quickly degrade, break, and become useless.
That being said, if you take good care of your surfboard then it can last you as long as a lifetime.
How Long Does a Surfboard Last?
Depending on factors such as your surfboard’s material, surf frequency, and surf intensity, your surfboard could last you anywhere from 6 months on a PU board to 20 years when surfing infrequently on an epoxy resin surfboard.
Various factors affect how long your surfboard will last, some under your control and others out of your hands.
Below we will take a look at some of the factors that influence how long your surfboard will last, what you can do to make it last longer, and give you an idea of just how long your new surfboard should last before becoming obsolete.
Table of Contents
How Long Does the Average Surfboard Last?
If we disregard poor care or unusually frequent use (as with pro surfers) then an average surfboard can last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending on its composition.
|Average Expected Lifespan
|Foam soft top
|1 – 5 years
|Fiberglass Polyurethane (PU)
|5 – 10 years
|15 – 20 years
|Hybrid/ Mixed composition
|10 – 20 years
How Long Do Foam Surfboards Last?
Foam surfboards are great fun, and perfect for beginner surfers who are still slightly wobbly on their feet and have still not mastered the art of standing up.
Although foam boards are both cheaper and safer, thanks to their foam tops, tend to degrade quickly, and therefore have the shortest life span when compared to other surfboard materials.
Foam top surfboards can last up to 10 years in some cases, but this is mainly due to them being stored after we master the basics of surfing.
If you were to use a foam surfboard regularly and consistently then it may not last more than 1 – 5 years before the foam begins to fall apart or the plastic bottom begins to separate.
How Long Do Fiberglass Polyurethane Surfboards Last?
The most commonly used type of surfboard is standard fiberglass polyurethane surfboards, also known as PU boards.
These surfboards are lightweight, cheap, and last longer than foam surfboards, however, they are fragile, easily become pressure dinged, and are a mess to repair.
PU surfboards, when looked after, can last you anywhere between 5 – 10 years.
This is of course influenced by the way you surf and your surf frequency.
Because these boards consist of a polyurethane inner which is wrapped in fiberglass cloth and sealed with polyester resin, the only way to make the surfboard stronger is by adding additional fiberglass and resin.
The issue with this is that it takes a lot of flex out of the surfboard and makes it heavy.
This leaves a common choice between durability and performance that is balanced according to individual shapers’ preferences.
How Long Do Epoxy Surfboards Last?
Epoxy resin surfboards are the most durable on the list and therefore are expected to last longer.
Epoxy surfboards are made of expanded polystyrene Styrofoam (ESP foam) and then coated with an epoxy resin.
Epoxy resin is the only compatible resin with this type of foam blank and is significantly harder than the resin used for PU surfboards.
Epoxy surfboards are lighter as they require less resin and make use of a denser inner foam.
These surfboards are also able to “snap back” to position better than PU surfboards which reduces stress lines.
Epoxy surfboards, thanks to their durability, are perfect for high-performance surfers, and when looked after can last anywhere between 15 – 20 years (unless you are a pro surfer).
How Long Do Hybrid Composite Surfboards Last?
As the world of surfing has expanded, so have the ideas of what makes a good surfboard.
This has led to countless surfboard designs with multiple different combinations of materials.
Depending on the composition of your hybrid surfboard, you can expect your hybrid surfboard to last you between 10 and 20 years, however, this is only true when it comes to high quality and reputable brands such as Firewire and Libtech.
If you are buying a hybrid surfboard from a new company proposing a new state-of-the-art composition, you are taking a gamble and the durability of your surfboard could go both ways.
How Long Do Wooden Surfboards Last?
Wooden surfboards are the original grandparents of the surf world and have become popular once again among retro surfers and environmental beach bums.
Wooden surfboards are bulky and heavy, but this comes with an added durability that EPS and PU surfboards do not.
Because these surfboards avoid using plastics and resins, they are more environmentally friendly and are often chosen by the more conscious surfer.
Wooden surfboards, when made solid, and with good wood, can last you anywhere between 10 years to a lifetime.
That being said, wooden boards will need to be resanded and glossed every few years to ensure that they stay water-tight.
Although these surfboards could last longer than you do if they are over sanded they will lose their buoyancy and become useless.
Factors That Affect How Long a Surfboard Lasts
Apart from the material that your surfboard is made from, there are numerous other factors that will influence the lifespan of your surfboard.
Some of these factors can be controlled by us, while others are entirely up to nature.
Frequency of Use
There is no arguing that the more we use something, the faster it breaks down.
The number of years you can expect from your surfboard is directly related to the number of hours you spend in the water surfing on it.
If you find yourself surfing only a handful of times a year, then you can expect even your fiberglass surfboard to last you your entire life.
Up the frequency to hours more similar to the pros and you could find yourself going through multiple surfboards each year.
Some pro surfers, thanks to the number of hours they spend in the water and the intensity of their surf sessions, can go through up to 40 surfboards each surf season.
Size and Type of the Waves
Water can be extremely soft and comforting when it moves slowly and in small quantities, but when the amount of water and the speed at which it travels increases, the power behind it becomes massively different.
If you enjoy surfing on small crumbling waves then there will not be a lot of pressure put on your surfboard, and therefore it should last longer.
On the other hand, surfing hollow, crushing waves not only increases the chance of your surfboard snapping, but with the constant pressure from duck diving, the quick explosive movements of popping up, and the heavy break from the lip of the wave, you can expect your surfboard to last significantly shorter.
Type of Break
Similar to the size and shape of the waves, the type of breaks you tend to surf on will play a role in how long your surfboard could last.
If you tend to surf on the more “hardcore” type of breaks such as shallow reefs and point breaks, the waves tend to be heavier, and there are a lot more hard surfaces for you to damage your surfboard on.
If you enjoy the more relaxed side of surfing and tend to lean towards long rolling waves over a slanting sandy-bottomed beach break, then your surfboard is likely to last a lot longer.
Just as the intensity of the waves influences the lifespan of your surfboard, so does the intensity of your surf style.
Surfers who prefer high-intensity surf sessions with fast waves, sharp turns, steep angles, and big airs tend to go through surfboards much faster than those who take a more fluid, longboarding style surfing approach.
The reason high-intensity surfing damages surfboards so quickly is mainly due to pressure dings from the fast and powerful movements that you throw your body into.
Correctly storing your surfboard when you are not using it or while you are transporting it from one location to another is a must to ensure the safety and longevity of your surfboard.
Most damage that occurs to surfboards comes from transportation or poor storage, which is why it’s important to use a good quality surfboard bag.
If you don’t take proper care when transporting or storing your surfboard, you may find that there’s a large ding in your board when you next take it out of the bag.
Worse, you may not notice a small ding caused by bad storage, which could lead your surfboard to become waterlogged and therefore reduce its possible life span.
Not only does using a good surfboard storage bag important, but where you store your board will make a difference.
Leaving your surfboard in the sun will cause it to turn yellow, and in hotter conditions, to form bubbles under the resin and welt the surface of your board.
This is why it’s important to store your surfboard in a cool room, away from direct sunlight.
Yes, surfboards are made to go in the water, however, they are not designed for water to get inside them.
If there is a small crack or hole in your surfboard, water may enter, causing your surfboard to become waterlogged.
Waterlogged surfboards are difficult to dry out and are never the same once the inner foam has become wet.
Type of Stringer
The stringer is a solid piece of wood that runs down the center of your surfboard from the nose to the tail.
The purpose of the stringer is to add strength to your surfboard and prevent it from snapping.
Stringers are made from different materials but are most commonly composed of woods such as Plywood, Redwood, Cedar, Basswood, and Balsa, although some stringers are now made with manufactured materials such as carbon fiber.
Different stringers have different flex and durability, and therefore affect the strength of your surfboard.
Some examples of how different stringers act include:
|Lightweight and flexible (most common material).
|Durable and lightweight (common in USA constructed surfboards).
|Soft, light, and easy to work with.
|Hard and durable.
|Binds well with epoxy, ultra-light, highly flexible, and durable.
Even if you take perfect care of your surfboard, store it in a cool environment, don’t over surf it, surf in calm conditions, and have the best surfboard cover on the market, there are still those unseen disasters that can quickly cut the life of your surfboard in half.
Mistakes happen, and situations such as surfboards flying off roof racks, other surfers colliding with you, hidden rocks, and rogue waves are not as uncommon as you think.
Although you can do everything in your power to ensure the longevity of your surfboard, you simply can’t plan for it all.
Do Surfboards Degrade Over Time?
Because of the breakdown of the natural materials that surfboards are constructed with, over time, they lose responsiveness (they feel less stiff).
This causes your surfboard to lose its “pop” similar to the way a skateboard does.
This happens from constant pressure from your body and the ocean.
Over time, this pressure will slowly compress the inner foam and cause your surfboard to lose buoyancy.
Furthermore, damage from constant sun exposure will cause your surfboard to turn yellow and in some cases, to crack.
Do Old Surfboards Lose Buoyancy?
The buoyancy of your surfboard is directly related to its size and volume
As the size of your surfboard cannot change (without snapping it) then the only way your board could lose buoyancy is by reducing the volume of your surfboard.
There are two ways that the volume of your surfboard can be reduced. The first is by compressing the outer shell and squeezing the inner foam.
The second is by allowing other substances such as water or sand to enter inside your surfboard.
Although over time your surfboard will become dinged up, these dings will make a very small difference to the overall volume of your surfboard.
Water, on the other hand, will quickly seep through any cracks and saturate the inside of your surfboard, thus reducing the volume and therefore the buoyancy.
Surfboards don’t necessarily lose their buoyancy with age, however, they do lose some of the “springiness” that they have when they are new.
How to Make Your Surfboard Last Longer
Although some things such as other people, nature, and natural degradation are out of our hands, there are still many things we can do to help protect our surfboards and make their life spans slightly longer.
1. Store Your Surfboard in a Cool Place
Surfboards are made to be in the ocean, not the desert, and do not do well in high temperatures or direct sunlight.
Exposing your surfboard to consistent direct sunlight or warm storage conditions can cause your board to warp and turn yellow.
Instead, it is best to store your surfboard in a safe, cool location away from direct light. This also remains true when you are at the beach.
If there is no shade at your favorite spot, then you could consider using a surfboard sock for some protection from the elements.
2. Make Use of a High-Quality Surfboard Bag
Using a high-quality surfboard bag will save your surfboard. Most damage that occurs to boards happens when we are traveling to and from the breach, not while we are surfing.
Although surfboard bags can be expensive, they are much cheaper than a new surfboard or constant ding repairs.
Whether you are storing your surfboard for the flat season, traveling 500 meters down the road to the beach, or taking an overseas flight to your favorite surf holiday destination, it’s important to use a bag for your surfboard.
Remember, dings can be fixed, but with each knock, your surfboard loses a little more of its potential life.
3. Wash Your Surfboard After Each Surf
You should always wash your surfboard after each surf.
Not only will this remove any bacteria left behind from the dirty ocean water, but more importantly, it will remove the salt.
Salt has the characteristic of drawing moisture out of objects that surround it.
If salt is left on your surfboard for long periods, it could draw too much moisture out of the resin, and eventually cause it to crack.
4. Remove the Wax
Although you don’t need to remove wax from your surfboard after each session, it is important to remove all the wax at the end of the season.
Small cracks and dings can form along the stringer beneath the wax.
If this is the case, water could enter through these gaps and damage your board.
By removing the wax from your surfboard before you store it, you will be able to ensure that it is watertight and ready for next season’s waves.
5. Fix Your Dings Right Away
Large damage such as tail and nose repair, or a fin box replacement might need someone with slightly more experience, but small dings are easy to fix in 20 minutes or less.
If you find small ding on your surfboard, don’t leave them to become worse. Fix them right away or you may find yourself with a waterlogged board and much more than 20 minutes of work.
6. Alternate Surfboards
Not everyone has the privilege of having multiple surfboards, but if you do, it is best to make use of them all.
As mentioned above, the more you use your board, the shorter its life will be.
This means that it is not always best to take your favorite surfboard out, because if you do then your favorite board will likely be the first board you break.
If you can, you should rotate your boards, and you will find that they all seem to last for years longer than expected.
Depending on the material your surfboard is made from, how often you use it, where you use it, and how you generally care for it, a new surfboard could last you anywhere from less than a year to your entire lifetime.
There are many factors that affect how long your surfboard could last, but taking good care of it will help ensure its longevity.