Here is some helpful information on the most commonly used construction methods in building SUP boards. Paddle Boards are typically made in one of three ways. Finding the one that is best for you can be a challenge and with great confusion for the newbie. With words like Epoxy resin, sandwich wood construction, high-density foam sandwich construction, vacuum bagging, Stringers, glassing, EPS foam, XTR foam, and many more like them. You can quickly get frustrated with the buying experience. This guide was created so you can quickly and easily find the board that fits your needs and wants while removing some of the mystery out of paddleboard construction. I hope this will help you in determining what board you need and give you a better chance in making an educated purchasing decision. Knowing that you have the right paddleboard will also give you more confidence in your next water recreation adventures.
Traditional Poly/PU or polyurethane foam Construction
Poly/PU is how a traditional surfboard is constructed. Poly is for polyester resin and PU is for the Polyurethane core of the board. This type of board is hand-shaped or cnc machined out of a polyurethane foam core. Then the core is covered with fiberglass cloth and laminated with polyresin. Then the board is properly cured and sanded smooth.
Pros: Custom shaping and natural flex in board performance.
Cons: This type of construction creates a much heavier board and has less strength, making it prone to dings and punctures. This kind of foam is also more absorbent, so if you do get any holes or cracks where water can enter into the foam core, it will damage the board as well as make the board heavier and less stable on the water.
Traditional Epoxy Construction
The epoxy constructed boards are made the same as a PU board, except for a couple of differences in materials. The EPS foam used is more of closed-cell foam, for less absorbency and an epoxy resin is used instead of the polyester resin found in the Poly/PU construction.
Pros: A stronger lightweight board that can still be custom shaped and your board will be less prone to dings and water absorption. This type of construction has become the standard in Standup paddleboard manufacturing.
Cons: This type of board has less natural flex and is considered to be very stiff, although, many paddlers prefer a stiffer board because they go faster.
This type of constructed board is molded rather than hand-shaped. A mold is created based on a traditional fiberglass plug, then the hollow mold is injected with an EPS foam. Then the core is covered with multiple layers of fiberglass, reinforced with high-density foam, and placed in a vacuum or press to compress the materials together, This is called “Sandwich Construction”. Then it is covered with several layers of epoxy resin. A heating element can be incorporated into the mold which will allow the epoxy to cure at a higher temperature, creating a much stronger board. This technique will vary from company to company in order to get the desired flex, weight, or strength.
Pros: This is a lightweight construction with the most durability on the market, A favorite for the experienced paddlers.
Cons: No personalized custom shaping, you will need to find the board that fits your particular needs and characteristics.