Can You Fix A Waterlogged Surfboard?


So, you begin to notice that your trusty steed isn’t behaving, in the same way, each time you head out into the waves. For example, your surfboard has become considerably heavier by the end of the session, or the manoeuvrability is not what it used to be.

The board has likely become waterlogged after losing its watertight integrity. And now you are asking Google, ‘Can you fix a waterlogged surfboard?’

Well, simply put, yes, you can. However, a few factors need to be determined as to which method of repair is best for your scenario. Such as:

  • Are there any visible cracks on the surfboard?
  • Are there any pressure dings present?
  • Is there any delamination appearing?

If some or all of these factors are present, then be sure to keep reading for a step-by-step process that will help you not only fix it. But repair it to a professional-grade finish.

Let’s get into it!

How do you fix a waterlogged surfboard?

Open up the damaged area and drain out as much water as possible. Then store the board in a warm, dry place for a few days while the moisture evaporates from within the board.

Let gravity do the work and keep the pressure ding or cracked area at the lowest point. Position the board in such a way that the repair area is the lowest point. Set it up and let the water drain out over time.

Make the necessary repair by following this step-by-step guide. 

Step 1
Gather the supplies – Mask/goggles/gloves, sandpaper (p80,p320,p600,p800) and sanding block, masking tape, fibreglass cloth, wax comb, knife, filling resin, sanding resin & catalyst, acetone, and a  paintbrush.

For a super convenient all in one repair kit, click here.

Step 2
Remove the damaged area – Using the knife remove the cracked/damaged area on the board.

Step 3
Clean the area – Use the wax comb to remove any wax that could cause bonding issues and then clean off with the Acetone (wear gloves)—sand down the area using the p80 sandpaper to a smooth finish. Use the mask and goggles as the dust from a surfboard can be toxic.

Related Post: How to properly clean your surfboard

Step 4
Mask off the repair area with tape – This will highlight the work area and keep the rest of the board clean to save you more work.

Step 5
Fill with resin – Next, you will need to mix the filling resin as per the instructions on whichever brand you buy.

*Pro Tip* Using the wrong resin type on a foam surfboard could potentially melt the foam. You must use epoxy resin when repairing EPS/Polystyrene foam surfboards. PU/Polyurethane foam boards can handle polyester or fibreglass based resins.

Pour the resin mixture into the repair area. Do this slowly so that air bubbles don’t get trapped. Fill it to just above the level of the surfboard. Let it cure.

Step 6
Sand the resin – Knock down the hardened resin to slightly below the level of the board using a sanding block so that there is a small dip in the board profile.

Step 7
Glass the repair – cut two (2) pieces of fibreglass. The base layer should be slightly wider than the repair area, and the top layer (which you should lay diagonally to the base) marginally bigger than the base.

Mix the sanding resin as per the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the mixture over the top of the base fibreglass layer using the paintbrush. Be sure that all of the fibreglass is covered. Repeat the application with the top piece of fibreglass. Now leave it to cure.

Step 8
Sand the fibreglass – Once the resin has gone off, take the sanding block and knock back the area so that it is smooth and flat. Be careful not to burn through to the fibreglass layers. This step should be sanded so that the repair area is uniform to the surfboard profile.

Step 9
Apply a top coat – add a final top coat of resin and let it cure.

Step 10
Wet sand & polish the repair – The final step is to wet sand (p600-p800) the area to a soft, smooth feel with no profile bumps or dings. To bring a glossy finish back to the repair, use some cutting compound with a buffing machine for a professional-grade finish.  

Test out the board to see if the repair holds out. The final stage is to hit the waves and see if the board is once again watertight. Only you will be able to tell if the issue is fixed.

How do you know if your board is waterlogged?

Test by putting your mouth over the crack or ding and sucking, but be sure not to swallow any liquid that comes out. If any air or liquid comes into your mouth, there is likely water trapped in the board.

Check the board’s weight – a waterlogged surfboard will be significantly heavier than a dry one.

Look for cracks in the board. First, have a careful look over the stringer and then the rails, as these are the most commonly cracked areas on a surfboard. 

Check to see if there is any residue causing discolouration at the nose or tail of your surfboard. This will typically be a yellow or brown colour.

Related Question: Why do surfboards go yellow?

Hold it up to your ear and listen for a hissing sound (this indicates that air bubbles have been trapped inside).

If you’re still unsure about whether or not your surfboard has become waterlogged, take it into your local surf shop, where they can test it for you!

What happens if your surfboard is waterlogged?

As mentioned earlier, waterlogging will make manoeuvring the board difficult as more water gets in. It will also affect the buoyancy and therefore make your whole surfing experience harder than it should be.

Related Question: Do surfboards lose buoyancy?

However, the worst thing that can happen due to waterlogging is your board becoming damaged beyond repair. If left for too long, the saltwater will destroy the foam inside, resulting in complete delamination of the interior. 

So what started as a reasonably minor/cheap repair might end up costing you a lot more than you bargained for.

Final Thoughts

Know you know that you can fix a waterlogged surfboard. Using the step-by-step process laid out above, you’ll be able to revive your favourite board like a seasoned pro.

And you will also be able to spot the warning signs of potential waterlogging so that you can avoid irreparable damage before it occurs.

Check out the legendary Joe Roper repair a surfboard below to see some of the techniques mentioned in this article.

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