Surfboard discoloration is a frustrating but unfortunately, inevitable process that almost all surfers will deal with at some point in their lives. This discoloration is completely normal and whilst it can be caused by a number of factors, is a process that naturally comes with age.
Surfboards are a huge investment, so it can be really disheartening when they start to discolor and change. You’re probably wondering if there is anything that can be done about this problem, and if so, how you can go about doing it.
In this article, we thought we would take you through the causes of surfboard discoloration and how the construction of your board may be affecting its susceptibility to such a process. We are also going to tell you a few ways that you can try to prevent this from happening, and several things you can do to try and reverse its effects. So, if you have started to notice a slight tinge in the color of your board, you may want to keep on reading!
The main cause of surfboard discoloration
The primary cause of surfboard discoloration is UV radiation. Like skin, surfboards are extremely sensitive, and when exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time, they will suffer. After a few hours in the water, many surfers will naively leave their boards laying on the sand under the strong sun. Whilst this may seem like a harmless act, it can actually be one of the worst things you can do for your board. Prolonged exposure of direct sunlight is not only damaging in terms of how it can discolor your board, but the heat that it radiates can also cause the deck of your board to bubble and warp.
The most common materials used to construct surfboards are fiberglass, epoxy resin, polyresin, and foam blanks. Typically, foam blanks and fiberglass will yellow a lot faster than other materials because they are much more flexible and absorbent. Poly resins will take a lot longer to discolor as they have UV filter stabilizers and additives, but they are still highly susceptible to turning yellow when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods.
It is also important to remember that UV radiation discoloration will be much more visible on white and lighter color boards, so before choosing your surfboard, you may want to keep that in mind. With that being said, whilst darker and more vibrantly colored boards aren’t necessarily going to yellow, they are prone to fading when exposed to the sun for too long. No matter what surfboard you have or choose, you should make a conscious effort to protect it from the sun whenever you can. This will ensure that your board keeps as close to its original color as possible.
Delamination and unprotected foam
Another reason why your board may be yellowing is because its materials are not properly protected. If the materials of your surfboard are not protected in any way by additives or stabilizers, you are far more likely to find dings and breaks. These dings and breaks will enable radiation and salt water to enter the board and this will cause it to discolor.
As previously mentioned, another way in which your board can become damaged is through the process of delamination. When left in the sun for long periods of time, the heat will cause bubbles to form on the surface of the board, which in the long run, can also cause your surfboard to discolor. Ultimately, a poorly constructed and neglected board is a lot more likely to turn yellow than one that has been treated well.
How do I remove the yellow discoloration from my surfboard?
There are a few ways in which you can try and reverse the effects of surfboard discoloration. One way you can do this is through the process of polishing. You can do this by using a Scotch Brite Pad. These abrasive pads are excellent general-purpose tools that can be used for scuffing, removing minor blemishes, sanding between paint coats and priming. They are easy to use, excellent value for money, and typically result in immediate effects.
By gently polishing your board with these pads, you will essentially be buffing the discoloration off of its surface. You also don’t have to worry about this process ruining the resin layers of your board as it would take hundreds and hundreds of applications to create any kind of damage.
Another way that you can remove the yellow discoloration from your board is to completely re-paint it. This is a slightly more time consuming and expensive process, but it will allow you to completely transform the appearance of your surfboard. To start off, you will need to ensure that your board is correctly prepped. To do this, you will need to remove any oil, dirt, or old wax from its surface with acetone, a wax comb, and a damp cloth.
Once the board is completely clean, you will want to sand the board using a 32-grit piece of sandpaper. This will provide your board with a smooth, fine surface that is all ready to be painted! Once your board is all dry, you should apply some UV resistant coating and a spray of clear acrylic, wait for it to dry and your board should be as good as new!
How can I extend the lifespan of my surfboard?
There are a number of measures that you can take to help prevent this discoloration from happening. These measures will ultimately help you extend the lifespan of your surfboard. Whilst surfboard discoloration is pretty much inevitable, you can attempt to prevent the process from happening by protecting your board from direct sunlight as much as possible.
The easiest way you can do this is to get yourself a board bag. Board bags are designed to ensure that your precious board is protected from both UV rays and impact. If you are going to be chilling on the beach for hours in the sun or transporting your board on the top of your vehicle, you will need to keep it covered.
The majority of board bags will be padded and equipped with heat reflective technologies that will prevent the bag from getting too warm. Like sunlight, heat can be extremely damaging to boards as it can cause their materials to warp. If you don’t have access to a board bag, you can also simply cover your surfboard with damp towels/sheets to limit the amount of sunlight that your board will be exposed to. This will not only block out the sun but cool the board down after a long day out in the water.
If your board is already damaged (through delamination or dings), then it will be much more susceptible to discoloration. This is because any direct damage to the resin layers of your surfboard will directly affect its core foam. As soon as you notice a crack or a ding in your board, you should seek to repair it as soon as possible do that it doesn’t get any worse. This is because cracks and dings can attract radiation and water damage- which are two of the primary causes of yellowing.
As soon as you notice a ding or a crack in your surfboard, you should rinse it off with fresh water. This is because salt water has the ability to break down and damage the foam core. Then, depending on the extent of the damage, you will either need to patch it up yourself using an at-home repair kit, or you will need to take it to a proper surf repair shop. If you’re lucky and the severity of the ding/crack isn’t too bad, you can easily purchase the tools to fix it either online or at your local surf shop.
Surfboard discoloration is always going to happen. It is a natural process that comes with age and whilst it can’t be entirely prevented, there are a number of things that can be done to try and combat the issue. As UV radiation is the main culprit of surfboard discoloration, you will need to ensure that you keep your board out of direct sunlight as much as you possibly can.
You can do this by getting yourself a board bag, which is one of the most simple, but effective protective methods out there. Whilst these preventative measures are great for lessening the severity of the discoloration, there are a few things you can do to reverse its effects if its already gone too far. You could always sand your board with a Scotch Brite Pad or even give it a new coat of paint, which would keep it looking good as new. We hope that this article has allowed you to gain a better understanding of why your board might be turning yellow and how you can go about changing it.