Surfcare: How to DIY Surfboard Ding Repair
If you’re reading this, then it’s probably too late. The love of your life is busted and your heart has been broken. And the worst part about it, is that you probably didn’t get Surfcare to protect your love. But that’s OK, I’m not here to bust your chops. What’s the deal with hindsight anyway?
So now what do we do? Like me, you’re not a surfboard shaper or glasser. Cuz you wouldn’t be reading this. You’d have fixed it already. Buttttt, now that I think about it, I recommend everyone tries to fix at least one ding in your life, because you’ll have a new appreciation for the tough work and amazing workmanship that goes into each and every surfboard. You’ll be like, “Only $800 for this new board?! It’s should be much more than that for how hard it is to make a surfboard that works let alone shreds.” Anyway, let’s do something about this ding! We’ll do a little Goosebumps style blog here. Pick your story and ending.
First off, what kind of person are you?
- Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dis! Head to Section C.
- I have no clue~! Head to Section D.
- I kinda wanna learn a thing or two. Head to Section A.
- My friends call me McGeiver. Let’s do this shit. See Section A.
- Skip to the videos!
Section A. K, let’s start to roll up our sleeves. First, diagnose. What’s wrong here? Figure out the extent of the damage and then we’ll talk about remedies.
- Did you break it? This is pretty obvious. A break is when the board is either in 2 pieces, hanging together “by a thread” (of fiberglass). These are pretty obvious. If you’re positive it’s a break, head to Section E. If it’s not really a break, keep reading.
- It’s kinda broken, but not really all the way. Maybe there’s a line perpendicular to the Stringer. If this is sorta what’s going on, you might have “Buckled” or “Creased” your board. A buckle is when the stringer is partially broken. It kinda looks like the leash wrapped around the board and strangled the board. But that’s not what happened here. Im guessing either the lip of the wave or you landed on the board pretty hard and the board flexed, and couldn’t bear the force, so it broke slightly. A less intense version of a buckle is called a crease. This is usually a perpendicular line only on one side of the stringer. Most times it’ll happen right above the fins. This is usually caused by landing with too much pressure on the tail of your board. If you’re a skateboarder, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you land a trick and POW, tail of your board goes right to the pavement. You’ll see the Pros crease their boards a lot. They land a trick, a big air or floater a little too heavy footed and few the board too much. Anywho, if you buckled or creased your board. It CAN be fixed, but these types of fixes are pretty hard to do correctly, so personally I’d head to Section C and find a repair specialist. If your friends call you McGeiver and you’re feeling like getting your hands dirty, head to Section F. If you didn’t break, buckle, or crease your board, or you’re still not sure, keep on reading!
You probably Dinged your board :/ There are a wide variety of Dings, but really I’d say they fall into two types.
The first is a Pressure Ding. This is an indentation in the top or bottom of the board, but the fiberglass hasn’t been broken or creaked - meaning the board is still watertight, there’s no water getting into the board. If this sounds like what’s happened to you, you’re in luck. Well, as lucky or low as you can be on the Dingometer or Bummer Spectrum. Pressure Dings rarely need to be fixed. In fact, pressure dings are VERY common on the top or deck of surfboards. Within a year or two, most surfboards have so many pressure dings on the deck that the start to resemble golf balls. Pressure dings on the top don’t really affect a board’s performance because it’s not affecting the water flow on the board. Some pros actually like pressure dings on the deck of the board because they usually happen where your feet are and it’s as if they’re extra grip on the board. You always know when your feet are in the right spot. Kinda like slipping on your shoes. Your feet and the board become one. If you have a big ass pressure ding on the top of the board and your just not down with it or it’s screwing you up, head to Section B.
And the second, bummer dude, a real Ding. Ok, we’re getting deep here. If you’re still reading, you’ve most likely dinged your board and it needs to be repaired. If the Ding is not a Pressure Ding, then the fiberglass is cracked and water can get through to the foam or inner section of the board. Water is bad for boards. If water gets into the foam, most foams will soak it up like a sponge and never be the same. So you need to catch these kinds of dings quickly and repair them. The quicker you repair a ding, the better shape your board will be in and the longer it will last.
Here are a few types of Dings:
My least favorite type of ding is a Fin or Fin Box Ding. Fin or fin box dings can really mess up a board’s performance. Think about it, if a plane’s wing was damaged, do you think it would fly as fast or as smooth? No way. If your fin box is dinged, this usually looks like a crack around the box that holds the fin in. This is caused by your fin hitting something and moving it side to side. You gotta be careful with your fins!! If your fin box is dinged, see section B. Next, Let’s tackle if you damaged your actual fin, not the “box.” Is your fin removable or glassed in?
Removable fins, what’s the fin looking like? Did you hit it on a rock or reef? Or the road? Did the edge get smashed in? Removable fins that get a little smashed can be sanded smooth. You can probably do it yourself. If you wanna take a stab at it, see Section F. If not, you could have someone fix it for you, Section C, or buy a new removable fin. That’s why removable fins are great, if you mess them up, the board’s not ruined and you can get a new fin.
Glassed in fins. These are rarer these days. In the old days, all boards had glassed in fins, but not anymore. Glassed in fins need to be handled gently. They’re very important to a board’s performance and usually fragile. If your glassed in fin is busted, see section B.
A close second bummer ding is a Tail Ding. Why the tail ding? Because the tail is sooo important on a surfboard. Most of the board’s performance comes from the tail. All the water flows through the fins and out the tail of the board. If you look at pictures on pros surfing, you’ll see that the back 1/3 to 2/3 of the board is the only part that’s actually touching the water (depending on how steep a wave is). If a have is tubing, you might only be touching the water on one side of the board only on the back half of the board. Meaning there’s about 20% of the board even touching the water. Anyway, check out some surf shots and look at how surfers are standing on their boards, riding them, and what parts of the board are touching the water in different scenarios. Some interesting stuff. Haha, maybe not unless your a surf nerd like me. I got a little sidetracked there. Bottom line is that the tail is the most fragile part and arguably the hardest to fix because there’s just not much foam or glass to work with on the tail. If you were to just add glass and resin over the ding, you might create a speed bump for the water to catch on the tail. You’ll add friction and ultimately not ride as smooth. I recommend for Tail dings to be fixed with high focus. Head to Section B.
The bronze bummer goes to Rail dings. Also, important dings. Now that I’m listing all these I’m realizing most dings are important to a board’s performance and need to be fixed with scrutiny. You get the point by now. If a ding is on a part of the board where water flows over, It’s gotta be fixed so that it’s smooth and doesn’t create drag. Generally, if a rail ding is on the rear 3/4 of the board, water is probably going to flow over it and it should be fixed well. See section B.
Nose Dings. The good thing about a nose ding is that the nose really doesn’t effect the performance of a board. Because most of the time it’s not touching the water. Or is it? Unfortunately, the nose is pretty frickin obvious and if it’s dinged and repaired poorly it might make the board look like shit. If the nose of my board is screwed up, it throws me off and my whole vibe is ruined. Haha, I’m kinda serious. Picture this, you’re paddling into an intense wave. Here it comes! All your focus is on making the drop, pulling in, flying down the line. You’re paddling hard, you look down at the last minute and all you see is an ugly nose, BOOM! WTF, why’s my board looking like that? Is it going to ride this wave well? Damn, I dunno! Shit, I’m screwed! I’m gonna fall. Ugghhh. Next thing you know you’re under the water and didn’t make the wave all because of that ugly nose. IT could happen. Anyway, it’s up to you. Wanna fix it nice or do a quick nose job? Head over to section B.
Hull Dings or Bottom Dings. Is there a crack anywhere else on the bottom of your board? Where is it? Is it on the rear 3/4? If so, you know the program, fix that thing smoothly. See section B. If it’s on the front 1/4 of the board, maybe you can get away with a little bit messier of a repair. That depends on how nice you want your board looking.
Deck Dings or Top Dings. These aren’t that bad in most cases. Usually you’ll fill them in and seal the crack so water doesn’t get in. However, if the ding is in the area that you stand, then there will be a lot of pressure, so that ding will need to be fixed stronger than one in a spot that you don’t stand. I think you’re up to the job for these types. At least read what goes into it. Head to section B.
Delamination or Delam
This is a weird one. One day you pick up your board and there’s a big bubble on the deck. You press on it and it’s slightly satisfying, but then you snap out of it and are horrified to realize that something is seriously wrong with your surfboard. How is there air inside this thing? I’ll tell you what, I’m no scientist so I don’t know. I’d look you in the eye, put on a straight face and say, “the chemical composition of the Core foam reacts to heat, shrinks and expands, and separates from the rigid fiberglass shell.” I might be right. What I do know though, is that never leave your board in your car when it’s super hot outside! If you absolutely need to, crack your windows. But even then, you’re at risk of delamming your board - or at least melting that sick wax job all over your seats. If you’re not realizing this on your own by now, a good rule of thumb is that these surfboards are so frickin fragile. Don’t throw them, bang them, expose them to heat, don’t even look at them the wrong way, and make sure they have a safe place to sleep at night.
Leash Plug Dings or String Box Dings. Sometimes the wave will pull on your board and leash so hard that it rips the leash plug out, or cracks it. You’ve probably been surfing big or powerful waves. See section B.
Did I miss anything? Probably. After all, I’m a surfer and pretty spacey. I got so many tubes yesterday! Also had one fat lip that landed on my head, square on my head, POW. I saw stars. If you have a ding that doesn’t sound like what I’ve described, then head to Section B like the rest of us.
Section C. Check out the Surfcare Repair Network on the bottom of this page. Find the pros in your area that we’ve vetted and recommend. Call, text, or email them. Be sure to read some reviews first tho, cuz who knows. Sometimes repair specialists are swamped and can’t have repairs done quickly. Some offer pick up and drop off for an extra price. Others expedite service for a little extra. Call around to a couple, ask some questions and decide on your fixer. I tell you what, don’t be afraid if pricing is a little higher than you expected. It’s worth paying a little extra to know it’s going to be done quickly and right the first time.
Section D. You’re looking at your board and have no idea what’s going on. After all, this thing is a ridiculous combination of some kind of foam cups smooshed together with some hard candy shell on top. All you know is something’s not right. Let’s call for help. Take this thing off my hands and deliver like new.
Best thing to do is check out the Surfcare Repair Network on the bottom of this page. Find the pros in your area that we’ve vetted and recommend. Call, text, or email them. Be sure to read some reviews first tho, cuz who knows. Sometimes repair specialists are swamped and can’t have repairs done quickly. Some offer pick up and drop off for an extra price. Others expedite service for a little extra. Call around to a couple, ask some questions and decide on your fixer. I tell you what, don’t be afraid if pricing is a little higher than you expected. It’s worth paying a little extra to know it’s going to be done quickly and right the first time.
Section E. The ultimate bummer. The board’s fried. If you broke your board, usually it’s a goner. When a board is broken and the Stringer (the board’s spine, lifeline, support, pop, life) is broken, it’ll never be the same. With that being said, I’ve definitely put boards back together and they “work.” Surfcare actually collects broken boards, puts them back together and donates them to surfers in need. Fixed broken boards can still bring a smile to plenty of faces. BUTTTT, the broken board will never ride the same. It’s pop, liveliness or spunk is most likely gone. If you’re a professional, advanced, intermediate, or even mediocre surfer, you’ll want to bite the bullet and just get a new board, a freshie. I always get a new board when I break one. But, take all this with a grain of salt, soak up this info, and make up your own mind :)
All that being said, be sure to get Surfcare on your next board. I started Surfcare because it provides real value to surfers and the items they love. Keep boards nice, have them professionally repaired and if the worst happens and you break one, you’ll get it replaced.
Section F. Alright McGeiver, roll up your sleeves, wait actually, don’t roll up your sleeves, keep them down and cover ALL your skin, every inch, because once you sand fiberglass and get that on your skin, you won’t stop itching for days. But like I said earlier, I recommend everyone try to fix at least one ding in their life. Start with a easy one and work your way up to bigger fixes.
Tools, safety equipment, and materials. Ok, so first, make sure you have all the proper tools, safety equipment, and materials. I’m not a Repair Specialist, but I’ll try to provide you with the best info from the folks who know what to use and how to do each of these repairs the best. If it’s a big repair, some power tools as well as a container of resin might be ideal. If it’s a small repair, you can probably get away with some sandpaper, packing tape, and some resin that dries in the sunlight. This type of resin you can get in repair packs at your surf shop, known as Sun Cure or SolarRes.
Board Construction. A couple things you’ll want to pay attention to are, one, what’s your board made out of? Is it Polyurethane Foam or Expanded Polystyrene - PU or EPS Foam? If you’re wondering, “what the hell is this?” Here’s a link to check it out. Do you have an Epoxy Resin or Polyester Resin Fiberglass shell? Or do you have something crazy like Dark Arts Surfboards? Brands like Dark Arts and Varial Foam are doing crazy Vacuum Sealed Carbon Fiber wraps. Or even crazier, is it a Timbertek from Firewire? You get the point. See below for all the different types of dings and videos that will walk you through the repairs. Take your time, do your research, and let’s do this right :) Don’t be afraid to mess up. You’ll learn a ton and like me, respect the Repair Specialists for the great jobs that they do.
Buckles & Creases
Just because your surfboard got creased from stomping that massive punt, or while getting flogged during that last swell, doesn't mean it's trash.
How to fix a delamination the professional way.
Here's a new how-to on fixing your busted glass-on fin
Fin Box Dings
Leash Plug Dings
How to repair your own surfboard rail dings
Surfboard repair by The Ding Doctor (san clemente, ca)
Suncure & Solar Res Repairs
Ding your board and need a quick fix? How-to repair surfboard holes and cracks.
How to repair a swallow tail surfboard using a Sun Cure Epoxy Fiberfill Repair Kit. The same technique can also be used to repair the nose chips and dings