When it comes to doing your own surfboard repairs, just like so many other things in life, it’s handy being handy. You’ll save money on paid repairs sure, but more than that, your surfing destiny will be taken, literally, into your own hands.
Human cultures and survival itself have always favoured practical, can-do folk who hew, craft and smith.
Jesus, for example, is rumoured to have been a carpenter. Presumably, even He banged His thumb with a hammer occasionally as he honed His technique. But skin grows back, bruises fade, fingernails repair themselves.
Your beloved surfboard on the other hand, has no such self-renewal properties; it’s down to you to deliver it from the evils of disrepair.
As luck would have it, that can be achieved with an £18 UV resin repair kit and a few minutes of your time.
Aside from the unsightly aesthetics of bruised and battered surfboards, there is one really important reason to fix your dings; to keep water out. Get water in from a breech in your board’s fibreglass over a prolonged period of time, even via the tiniest of cracks, and it could be game over.
Water will eventually soak into the foam blank in the middle of your board, get heavy, yellow, and cause the delamination of the fibreglass from the foam.
At which point, you’ve essentially killed your surfboard.
There is of course, a point of diminishing returns in DIY surfboard repairs, depending on how much you’re capable of taking on, and how much time you’re willing to invest.
Small dings, rail bumps and cracks, banged up nose tips and tails and small-medium sized holes in the bottom should be totally do-able, even for the novice dingsperson.
For ripped out fins/boxes and big jobs like creases, it’s probably best forking out a few shekels to get a proper repair job. You could be taking serious resale value off your board and nausing its performance by botching an ambitious repair a professional should be doing.
But for vast majority of everyday damage, you’ll be amazed what you can achieve with a wee tube of UV resin.
- First things first; LET IT DRY. If there’s water still inside, you don’t want to seal it in with your repair. A decent rule of thumb would be 24hrs since your last surf, longer if possible.
- Make sure you have the right resin. Polyester for PU boards, epoxy resin for epoxy boards. Standard (polyester) resin will melt your epoxy foam; epoxy resin won’t bond properly with your PU board. If you’re not sure if your board’s PU or epoxy, well it's time to pull your socks up.
- Prepare the repair area by sanding off any loose, rough bits of glass. Any sand, rock, bits of leg hair in there, get ‘em gone. If needs be, carefully use a blade to scalpel off unsightly, sticking up bits of glass.
- (optional) Masking tape off the area as close as possible to the repair, to avoid sanding the good, undamaged glass off your board unnecessarily.
- It takes a few seconds to apply the resin, much longer to sand it down to get your repair flush. Bear that in mind before you apply, with a less is more approach. The main goal is to seal the ding, so no water can get it. Beyond that, it’s really down to aesthetics how close to the original form of the glass you want to get your repair.
- Apply the resin indoors or in the shade, NEVER in direct sunlight. The hotter the day, the hotter it’ll go off, so don’t dilly dally if you’re doing ding repair in July. Squeeze into the hole, then use a bit of clear plastic or cling film if needs be (e.g. on a rail) to give a smooth, formed finish.
- Hold the board in the sun. If sunlight is meek, set it down and wait a while. It should be tacky, then hard, in a few minutes.
- Sand if/where necessary, as a general rule, the less sanding you do in life, the better. If you are sanding the edges of your repair down, be careful not to over sand the undamaged glass next to your repair.
- Go surfing.
N.B. From this list, if you only stick to steps 1 and 5; let it dry first, then make sure it’s sealed with the repair, then you’re good to go.