Epoxy vs Fiberglass Surfboards: Everything You Need to Know

Flo Farmer
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Epoxy vs. Fiberglass Surfboard

If you are looking at purchasing your first surfboard, or you are looking to replace or upgrade your board, a big decision is whether you want to purchase an epoxy or fiberglass surfboard.

In the past, fiberglass surfboards were the industry-standard for beginners. ­ These boards were also significantly lighter than epoxy surfboards, which is still the case today. ­

While fiberglass surfboards have improved a lot since the early 2000s, epoxy surfboards have dramatically improved in the past 5 years, making them much more durable and versatile.

The best part of the epoxy technology is that it is a more versatile material compared to fiberglass. ­ This means that epoxy surfboards can be made in a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses while fiberglass surfboards cannot be made into all shapes and sizes. ­

So which one is right for you?

To help you decide, here are some of the differences between fiberglass and epoxy surfboards.

Fiberglass Surfboards:

  • Made from a woven fiberglass material
  • Less expensive
  • Lighter in weight
  • Thinner in design
  • Less Durable
  • Lacks versatility

What is a Fiberglass Surfboard?

Fiberglass is a blend of synthetic resin and glass fibers which are commonly combined with wood pulp and pigmented plastics for use in lightweight construction, for durable, light hulls for boats, and for fiber reinforced plastic (FRP). Fiberglass is also used in the aviation, sports equipment, and maritime industries, among others.

From a surfing perspective, fiberglass surfboards are used widely for most all-around level surfing. Fiberglass boards are usually for intermediate or beginner level surfers.

They are designed to be easily ridden and are generally durable and affordable.

Some of the most well-known brands using fiberglass are Zimpler, Shane, Fiberglass McTavish, and Pamplona.

Pros and Cons of Fiberglass Surfboards

Fiberglass surfboards can be manufactured to a high, or standard, quality. This modern process involves a lot of machinery and is great for board shapes that are hard to make with wet-layup construction. The drawback with these machines is that they can only do what they’re programmed to do, and can’t handle very unusual shapes.

The best thing about fiberglass boards is that you can get just about every shape & size you can think of. They are new, safe, and easy to repair. They work well as everyday surfboards, are concave, and are much lighter than epoxy boards; hence they are better for your back.

Fiberglass boards are much easier to repair than epoxy boards. To fix them you have to go to the manufacturer because no one else is qualified to repair fiberglass surfboards. However, if the problem is a minor one you can also try a home repair kit.

If you don’t want a wet-layup construction than fiberglass surfboards might be for you. Also, they are less expensive, so it’s easier for you to surf with several different models, something that is very difficult to do with epoxy surfboards, especially if you’re a beginner.

What is an Epoxy Surfboard?

Epoxy resin is a clear or white polymer that you use to make surfboards. The resin is often reinforced with carbon fiber, Kevlar, or glass fiber bundles. Before molded epoxy boards came around, surfboards had to be made with balsa wood. Balsa wood is soft, porous, and lightweight, and therefore does not hold up well for the powerful waves of the ocean. Epoxy boards are tough, hard, and relatively heavy and hold their shape much better than a traditional balsa surfboard. Epoxy boards are durable and hold up well in water over time, increasing the longevity of your investment.

Another benefit to the hardened resin is it makes the board stronger and less likely to break.

Some of the disadvantages to epoxy resin are the difficulty to repair a ding, the added weight, and the increased cost of making a board.

The rigidity of the fiberglass makes it difficult to move the board and challenging to stand on the board.

The extra weight can also be challenging to maneuver into position.

The extra weight of an epoxy surfboard is not ideal for paddling to a wave and exhausting if you are looking for performance.

A hard epoxy board is not the best for learning how to surf. Specifically, a smaller board is not ideal for beginners.

Finally, an epoxy surfboard can take up to 10 times as long to make.

What are the Pros and Cons of Epoxy Surfboards?

Surfboard construction is a complex process, and there are different manufacturers with different methods of production. In this post, we’ll focus on two types of surfboards, epoxy boards and fiberglass Surfboards.

Epoxy boards are made of a few layers of Fiberglass. The Fiberglass layers are covered with a layer of plastic which is usually polyethylene. Usually, epoxy boards are referred to as a sandwich board.

The plus is the fact that epoxy boards are cheaper than glass boards. This is especially true if you’re looking for price-friendly boards. Epoxy boards also have many positive points which are worth a detailed look.

They are extremely durable. Since there is no wood in them, you won’t find any soft spots. All the layers are made for impact resistance. The board won’t have to worry about sudden crashes.

Epoxy boards are also lighter than glass boards.

Another quality of epoxy boards is that the surface is smoother than glass boards. Even though there is no wood in the board, the wood grains are still present. If you look at a glass board, these grains remind you of a piece of wood. This is the reason why epoxy boards look smooth.

Along with being lighter and smoother, the glass boards are a bit more responsive than epoxy boards.

Which One is for You?

As you build up your skills, you may want to step up from foam surfboards to fiberglass or epoxy boards. The two materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Manufacturers typically sell both types, so you can try before you buy if you live near their production facility.

If you're a beginner, fiberglass is a good choice. It's durable, repairable, and less likely to crack if you hit a shallow reef or a rock. However, it's heavier and costs more. Epoxy boards are often made from recycled materials. They're lighter and more affordable. Epoxy boards are recommended for experienced surfers who often face waves or points with hard-to-spot shallow rocks.

Aside from the quality of the surfboard, there are three design factors to consider when choosing: your height, weight, and wave riding style.