Epoxy Surfboards vs Fiberglass Surfboards
Ask 100 surfers their opinion on epoxy vs fiberglass surfboards & you will get 100 different responses. With all of these differing viewpoints, I hope to provide you with an unbiased and accurate idea of both surfboard types. I'll point out what I consider the pros and cons of each surfboard.
Which surfboard is better, an epoxy surfboard or a fiberglass surfboard?
Epoxy surfboards have been around since the 90's but even now, many surfers still consider the technology to be new. Like the automobile, surfboard design is always evolving. Surfboard designs continue to evolve. In particular, the epoxy surfboard has undergone many design evolutions this decade. Just 5 years ago, most surfers did not like the feel or performance of epoxy surfboards. Now it is the board of choice for many surfers. They like the extra buoyancy and lighter weight. In addition they are much stronger than fiberglass boards.
I discussed the differences between the two surfboard types with one of the best surfers in Dominical. He surfs with both types of boards, but his preference is epoxy. Dominical is a shore break in southern Costa Rica and it is not known for having glassy surf and yet he still prefers epoxy in those conditions.
Some people feel epoxy boards are not as good in choppier conditions. That was a fair enough critique years ago, but many surfers now feel the performance surpasses their fiberglass boards, even in choppy conditions.
Construction Differences Between the Two Types Of Surfboards
Traditional fiberglass surfboard construction starts with a polyurethane foam core (which is why some people refer to the boards simply as PU boards) and a wooden stringer down the center line of the board for strength. The PU foam core is then shaped either by hand or CNC machine. After that, fiberglass cloth is laid up and then it is laminated with a polyester resin. The weight of the core and fiberglassing results in a heavier surfboard by volume.
Now the construction of an epoxy surfboard is more complicated. Before we get into the details let's discuss one important point in the core types. The core can be made up of two different materials, both of which are polystyrene. The first and cheaper core materials is expanded polystyrene. Expanded polystyrene is lower priced and lower quality. This core material is a poor choice because if you should get a ding in your surfboard, exposing the core, expanded polystyrene soaks up water fast. You pretty much have to stop surfing immediately and get the board fixed.
Extruded polystyrene core is described as a closed cell core. This helps to repel water, rather than absorbing water. In addition extruded polystyrene cores do not suffer from compression damage the way expanded polystyrene and PU cores suffer. So you get a board core that is not only better should you get a ding, but the core is also stronger. What it really comes down to though to a surfer, is performance. This is where extruded polystyrene cores shine. They give much better flex than expanded cores. You end up with a surfboard that is lighter and has the same feel when it comes to board flex.
PU surfboards have been around since the 60's and they are still the most common surfboard out on the water. For shortboards, where board weight is not an issue, PU still makes an excellent choice. They are also excellent for traditional longboards. The extra weight of the foam core and glass coat give the longboard great gliding properties. Many surfers prefer the feel of PU boards. They are comfortable with that feel and flex in the board.
Choosing Between Fiberglass Surfboards and Epoxy
Many of the complaints you will hear about epoxy
surfboards are based on the cheaper construction material expanded
polystyrene. The boards constructed with extruded polystyrene cores
provide the flex that you get with fiberglass (PU) boards. You also get
a surfboard that is more durable and lighter than PU. If I had to
choose just one surfboard that was going to be my only surfboard, I
would choose the new surfboards being produced by Surftech.
Surftech market the core technology in this surfboard under the name TL2. These surfboards are awesome. Rather than get into all the differences between TL2 construction versus the competition, here is a link to the page at Surftech that describes the technology and its advantages www.surftech.com.
Another surfboard that is a popular choice among surfers is Lost XTR. It's worth checking out as well. Good luck in your choice of boards, I hope this helped.