Surfing is a great way to get to know your physical capabilities, but also to help improve some of them. Whilst a great deal of learning how to surf has to do with technique, an equally important factor is the board.
Getting the right type of surfboard can be a game changer. This is where for most beginners it’s recommended that they buy soft surfboard. Soft surfboards are generally made with large volumes to help newbies learn how to balance the board more easily. This also means that the chances of someone getting hurt are lower. Unlike hard surfboards, soft surfboards are more affordable and safer – they are a beginner surfer’s best friend.
What Are Soft Top Surfboards Made of?
The most commonly used material to make surfboards in general is polyurethane. Soft surfboards made of this lightweight and easily-to-shape material can be found everywhere. PU once had a global market share of 90% and although today this isn’t the case, still PU blank soft surfboards are a great choice.
A soft surfboard with a polystyrene foam core is both a lighter and less resistant alternative to PU softboards. PS surfboards are a more environmentally friendly option since they are not as toxic and can be recycled. But one big downside of PS boards is that they are more difficult to manufacture hence why they are more expensive. PS boards are also not as strong as boards with PU foam blanks.
Expanded polystyrene foam is a version of polystyrene that includes small foam balls placed in an enclosure. Just like PS, EPS is extremely light and buoyant whilst it is extremely difficult to shape. However, unlike both PS and PU, a soft surfboard made of EPS is actually one of the most environmentally friendly options.
Extruded polystyrene is a 100% closed cell foam that doesn’t absorb water even when it’s dinged. XTR/ XPS is highly resistant to strong impacts and it offers great flex memory whilst it isn’t too rigid to ride on. Like PS though they are extremely expensive to manufacture but have great responsiveness.
Epoxy boards are made of PS or EPS together with, fibreglass cloth, and epoxy resin. This combination of materials makes for a lighter and more durable board. The epoxy resin adds stiffness and PU adds resistance to damage. Epoxy boards have a unique feeling to them and the boards themselves have more buoyancy and thus feel “floatier”. They also paddle faster and allow you to gain more speed from a wave. Epoxy softboards can be cleaned with denatured alcohol and are more environmentally friendly than the above-mentioned materials. This all comes at the highest price possible on a surfboard.
Do Soft Top Surfboards Need Wax?
Whilst various surf brands have put grippier top layers on their softboards the need for wax is still there. Because the level of grip waxing provides it can’t be matched by any type of grip tape.
How to Wax a Soft Top Surfboard?
- First things first, before you apply anything to your soft top board you’ll need to clean it with any degreasing solvent you can get your hands onto. But preferably it should be an eco degreaser as it’s not going to be as bad for the foam or your hands.
- After you’ve cleaned the board, it’s time to apply the first layer of wax, the basecoat. This is a thicker layer which should cover the whole surface of the board, especially where your hands and feet might touch it. When you’re done applying the basecoat wax, it is time to apply the surf wax.
- Surf wax is available in different levels of softness. Typically a softer surf wax is better for cold water and a stiff wax is better for warm water. On the wax itself you’ll see the degrees in which the product is applicable for. When applying the wax on your board make sure to do some cross hatching so you have a pattern on the board for better grip. Over time the wax will get greyish and start to wear off which is normal. This is where you”ll need to get rid of it and apply a new layer of both basecoat and surf wax.
How to Remove Wax from Soft Top Surfboard?
- Removing the worn off wax from your board starts by having it placed down on a flat surface. Get a hair dryer, set it at a low temperature and start heating up the surface of the board. When the wax starts melting, get your wax scraper and start removing the sticky residue.
- If you don’t have a hair dryer handy, pour some warm water (around 50°C) all over the board’s surface. Spread the water around the entirety of the surface with your hands and wait for a couple of minutes for the wax to start softening. Get your wax scraper and scrape away. Make sure you rinse the board afterwards with fresh water.