The sun is shining, the surf is up, and you’re stoked because you don’t have work today! You run out to the garage to grab your favorite board, and to your horror, the deck is bubbled up and spongy feeling. You have become a victim of surfboard delamination. Now, what in the world happened?
When the fiberglass separates from the foam of your surfboard creating a big bubble below the surface of your board, you’re board has delaminated. Sometimes a board will delaminate in a small spot of just a few inches and other times most of the deck will come up in a big oblong bubble. When you push down on the bubble, it just springs right back. Let's review why this happens and how you can avoid it.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons this might happen, but first let’s go to the anatomy of your board. The core of your surfboard is dense foam shaped to perfection and sanded smooth. This foam core is then wrapped with a fiberglass cloth and sealed with resin to laminate the board. This resin seals the foam and makes the fiberglass stick to the foam for an air tight seal. After several layers of fiberglass and resin are applied, the board is left to cure before being sanded and polished for a perfect finish. When your board delaminates, somehow air gets between the foam core and the first layer of fiberglass.
The most common cause of delamination is leaving a board out in the sun for too long. Although the foam core of the board is dense, there are still little pockets of air in the foam. Hey there’s got to be air in the foam to make it lightweight. If you leave your board out in the sun for too long, the air within the board expands pushing against the fiberglass from the inside out. The result is, you got it . . . delamination. The glass bubbles up and you’ve got a void beneath the surface.
How long can you leave your board out until it delaminates from the sun? Nobody knows. Some boards sit out in the sun all day and never delaminate while others might bubble up after 10 minutes under some scorching rays. In fact, you may leave your board out for hours and nothing happens, then the next day you leave it out for 15 minutes and it delaminates. The immense internal volume of stand up paddleboards make them more susceptible to delamination. Hey, there’s more air in there to expand. You can’t predict when or if it will happen but there are some things you can do to help prevent it.
1. The obvious would be to keep you board in the shade. When you’re at the beach, put it under a tree, tent or umbrella when you aren’t out in the surf. If you don’t have any possibility of shade at the beach, plan on ordering a light colored tint for your board. Yellow, white, and light blue stay pretty cool even when they’re in the sun.
2. Never leave your board baking in a hot car. Your car can turn into a delaminating oven quick on a hot day. Store your board in a reflective or light colored board bag if it has to be out in the sin. With a good bag, you should be able to leave your board out in the sun all day and never melt the wax.
3. If you get a ding, keep your board out of the water until it is completely dry and the ding is fixed. Water in the board is the number one culprit. Not only can the water itself delaminate the board, it can travel beneath the surface to other areas of your stick. Then, for the slammer, when the sun heats up your board, the water evaporates, expands and bubbles up your board.
Nevertheless, even when you think you’ve done it all, sometimes you wake up in the morning and without warning, the board has delaminated sometimes overnight. Don’t get too wiped out about it, it happens to everyone eventually. The good news is delamination can be fixed but that’s a whole other topic.