How to Tell What Your Surfboard Is Made Of

Updated April 17, 2017

Surfboards come in different shapes and sizes, with some suited for particular styles of surfing, and other designed to suit the ability of the surfer. Generally, the larger and heavier a surfboard is the easier it will be to learn on because a small and light surfboard requires a higher level of ability. There are a variety of materials that are used to make surfboards, and you may want to know what your surfboard is made of to determine how much it is worth, what its advantages are over other materials used to make surfboards and whether your have the right board for your ability, weight and style

Look at the surfboard and judge its appearance. Take note of its colour and size.

Pick up the surfboard and feel it. Take note of its weight and whether it feels hard or soft.

Check to see if the surfboard looks like it is made of wood. If so, it is most likely made out of balsa wood. It will be light, depending on its size, but also hard and stiff. Balsa wood surfboards are expensive, but they appeal to environmentally conscious surfers because the majority of other surfboards are made using toxic chemicals.

Note the surfboard's surface. If it has a soft foam top and a smooth plastic bottom, it is a soft top surfboard commonly used by surf schools. These surfboards are large and quite heavy, and often a bright colour such as blue, green or red. The soft foam is more forgiving than fibreglass when surfers fall onto it, and its large size and heaviness make it stable when surfing.

Feel the surfboard's weight. If the surfboard is small and light, then it will most likely be a traditional foam and fibreglass surfboard or an epoxy surfboard. Small boards are manoeuvrable and responsive, so they're often used by experienced surfers.

Look at the surfboard to see if there is a narrow strip of wood running through the centre of it. This is called the "stringer," which denotes that the board is made out of polyurethane foam covered with fibreglass and resin. This is the most common type of surfboard and can be custom shaped for a particular surfer's needs. Many surfers use these types of boards, but they are more fragile than epoxy, balsa wood and soft top surfboards.

Note the lack of a stringer, or if the stringer looks like a painted stripe instead of an actual strip of wood. In this case the surfboard is likely made from expanded polystyrene foam, known as EPS, covered with fibreglass and epoxy resin. Epoxy boards are more expensive, but in comparison to polyurethane foam surfboards they are lighter and stronger. They are well suited for travelling surfers who need a durable board.


If you are in doubt about what your surfboard is made of, ask at your local surf shop.


Do not try cutting open the surfboard to find out what it is made of because this will damage it.

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About the Author

Based in the U.K., Jack Taylor has been writing environmental, sports and travel-related articles since 2006. His writing has been featured in publications such as "Drift" magazine, the "Journalist" magazine and the "Newquay Voice" newspaper. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from University College, Falmouth.