Pros and cons of materials for surfboards as the characteristics of their quality and perfect exploitation

Imagine a surfer looking for a perfect surfboard in a specialized surf store. Suddenly he sees a classic white-colored fiberglass board with balsa stringer in the center, probably the foam is made from the most popular material, Polyurethane, and covered in fiberglass resin, he thinks.

But what a surprise, the capture on the tag says, “Epoxy board”. How is it possible? Our customer is confused. Epoxy surfboards, in his opinion, should look differently as if they have a plastic coat with visible hardness and no stringer. Thus, let’s find out together what materials are used in surfboard making nowadays.

PU, PS, and EPS – these abbreviations are well-known to every surfer because the most widespread surfboard foam is Polyurethane that goes along with Polystyrene and Expanded Polystyrene.

PU Or Polyurethane

Surfboard PU Or Polyurethane More than 50 years ago, this foam was initially used in surfboard manufacturing. Its benefits for surfers are clear – little weight and flexibility. With the help of some tools like sandpaper, for instance, the surfer can shape the surfboard as it is convenient for him due to its being quite fragile.

But like every artificial material, Polyurethane has some disadvantages in surfboard foam. And above all, such foam is not safe for human beings to work with. Furthermore, the environment may be contaminated because of toxicity and non-recyclable features of this foam.

The change came in the early 2000s when new foam compositions were used instead of Polyurethane. The reason was simple: the major distributor of the material, Clark Foam, stopped its production.

PS Or Polystyrene

Surfboard PS Or PolystyreneThis foam is considered to be a better version of Polyurethane. But those, who shape the surfboards from this material by hand, can admit its fragility on the base of attempts they should take before the surfboard will look as it should. The surfers can also try to shape these surfboards by themselves with the help of sandpaper.

The quality of long-lasting usage depends on the coat: with epoxy coverage it’s quite good and reliable. So, the epoxy coat is a necessary thing because the fiberglass coat can hardly be used: polyester mastic in its composition has a feature to react with polystyrene foam and, as a result, fiberglass coat may be just diluted.

On the other hand, the PS foam has a huge plus – it may be recycled, and the hazard to the environment is less than with Polyurethane usage.

EPS Or Expanded Polystyrene

This material is used in foam manufacturing instead of the previous two. Expanded Polystyrene is a popular material for the foam, well-known and loved by the surfboard makers, such as Firewire, Surftech’s Tuflite, and others.

In everyday life, we know it as small white balls which together comprise the foam: this material usually protects fragile products and goods packed in boxes during delivery time. This time, let’s first speak about the disadvantages of this material.


The most obvious of them is that it’s impossible to shape the material by hand, because after many attempts of doing it, all you get will be a large amount of tiny balls of foam all around you. So, this kind of surfboard material is shaped by special machines because people just refuse to do it.

One more problem of using this foam, that nowadays seems to be solved, is in its quality of absorbing the liquids. And the advantage of the EPS material is its lightness.

Floating Features

Surfers on the waves

The material from which the surfboard is made directly influences its capacity to float well: the heaviest foam performs worse than lighter versions of the material.

And the opposite, the lightest material with low density allows you to achieve better floating and surfboard buoyancy, that in turn has an impact on performing maneuvers.

Thus, the surfer should mind it when buying the surfboard and choosing its material from polyurethane, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene.

Man holds surf

The density of them differs greatly because of different compression power applied during manufacturing a surfboard. It’s well-known that the lightest material is EPS.

Among the surfers, there is an opinion that surfboards made from polyurethane are not so complicated to fix.

But, according to the words of companies working with the EPS material, with epoxy coat EPS foam surfboard will serve you for a very long time without the necessity of being fixed.

Max Surfer


About Author

>> Professional surfer with over 10 years of experience >> Participant in numerous international competitions, including World Championships >> Experience in training and instructing beginner surfers

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