What makes a good surfboard?
Ever wondered what the difference is between a good quality surfboard and a poor quality one? Why some are a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than others, even though they look exactly the same? Well, like most things, you get what you pay for, and the same applies with surfboards. There are definitely cheaper ways to make a surfboard that will enable the final price to be lower, but there is always a trade off in quality. At Trigger Brothers, we make boards of the highest quality and durability to ensure that you get a great product that lasts.
There is not a lot of information out there for a surfboard customer in regard to the differences in board quality. This often leaves people feeling like they know nothing about what they are getting when they spend their hard earned money. Buying something feels a lot better if you have done your homework and have some knowledge of what you are getting. The following information should give you enough knowledge to let you make a more informed decision before you go and buy a new surfboard.
THE BASIC CONSTRUCTION OF A SURFBOARD.
A traditional fibreglass surfboard is made from three main components, a foam blank, fibreglass, and polyester resin. Each contributes to the overall quality of the board, but it is the fibreglass that has the biggest influence on the strength and durability of the board, both the weight of the glass (measured in ounces) and the number of layers used.
Here’s a quick run through all three of the basic components.
Polyurethane foam blanks are the core of your board. It is what the shaper works with to create your specific board shape. A cheaper blank will have a lower quality, weaker foam and will have less resistance to dings and breakage. Lower quality blanks are also more prone to shrinkage which causes major problems for your board. We buy our blanks from Australia’s most respected supplier, Burford Blanks. Burford produce dozens of lengths, thicknesses, rockers and weights. Shapers must choose the right blank for the final board to ensure a stronger deck as the less foam removed the harder the blank remains. The foam in the middle of the blank is a lot softer than the outer skin.
The following group of pictures show some of the blank creation process that goes on at Burford Blanks starting with piles of plywood used for the stringers, all the different rocker lines supplied by shapers, cut blanks waiting for stringers, blanks being glued, stencils to identify the different blanks and racks of completed blanks.
This is probably not the most important part of the story but it’s worth mentioning. Again, it’s merely a question of the quality of the materials. Cheaper resins are more likely to discolour in the sun, giving a yellow tinge to your board. Other cheaper resins have a more brittle finish which means the fibreglass will crack easier upon impact. Again, we use the highest quality resin available. Yellow boards have less resale value.
The fibreglass is where you will see the most difference between a high quality board and one of lower quality. There are two main reasons for this, the type of glass being used and the number of layers of glass on the board.
1 THE TYPE OF CLOTH
We use a fibreglass cloth from a Canadian company Bay Mills. They make premium quality cloth widely used in the canoe industry because of it’s durability.
The weight of the cloth used is generally 4 ounce and 6 ounce, with 6 being stronger but obviously heavier.
2 THE GLASS LAY-UP
The number of layers of fibreglass on a surfboard vary by manufacturer. The fewer the layers, the weaker the board will be, both in resistance to snapping and against dents (compression dings). Many people think that snapping a board doesn’t apply to them because they are only an intermediate surfer but it surprises most people to learn that you can snap a board in 2 foot surf.
GLASSING ON TRIGGER BROTHERS BOARDS.
On all our boards, the bottom is a full layer of 6 ounce glass. The deck is a full layer of 6 ounce, then a full layer of 4 ounce, plus another layer of 4 ounce over the area where you stand, as this area is is subject to the most impact.
Here’s a board being sprayed and then note the number of glass layers and the ¾ length deck patch we use.
Over time, most boards will get some compression dings. A board that has fewer layers of glass will get far more compression dings on both the top and the bottom. The less deck dints you have the more the board is worth at resale. Many boards from Queensland only have a layer of 4 ounce glass on the top and the bottom. Needless to say that these boards don’t hold up very well over time, and also snap much more easily. It’s worth knowing the origin of any board before you buy it.
There are many boards around that look just like any other surfboard, and yet they are cheaper than well known surfboard brands. Surely it’s no surprise that there has to be a reason why those boards are cheaper. By using less layers of glass, inferior foam, and unskilled labor you will save some dollars up front, but end up losing more when it comes time to sell your no name yellowed surfboard with lots of deck dints! The board is nowhere near as strong or durable as one that has more glass on it but this is difficult to tell as a new buyer.
Here is a look at John Jolly working on one of our Hydro models. Applying decals, glassing, hand sanding, setting fins, and the finished models.
If you have any questions about board construction you should always feel free to call us or come in to the shop and ask as many questions as you like to make sure you get what you are after. It’s also really important to get the right shape and size board to make sure you are going to succeed. A common mistake is buying a board that is too small. This often results in the owner not getting many waves, deciding that it’s too much hard work and losing interest. The best option is to buy a board that is going to allow you to have success and have a good time. You should be able to catch waves and stand up easily, that’s what we’re all out there for.