It can be really frustrating when your once white surfboard starts to discolor, especially if you’ve spent a lot of money on it. Unfortunately, it’s an inevitable process that will happen when your surfboard begins to age.
Although it’s pretty common for surfboards to discolor due to age, there are a few other ways that the process can be sped up.
We’ll take a look at some of the reasons as to why surfboards turn yellow, ways you can prevent them from happening and how to reverse discoloration.
What Causes Surfboards To Turn Yellow?
The biggest cause of surfboard discoloration is UV radiation – or sunlight damage. Surfboards, just like skin, are extremely sensitive and will suffer when exposed to sunlight over a prolonged period of time.
After a couple of hours on the waves, it’s pretty common for surfers to lay their boards out under the sun. Although this may seem like a pretty harmless act, it can be one of the worst things you can do to your surfboard.
If your board is exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time, it will not only discolor your board, but the heat will also cause the deck of your board to bubble or warp.
Most surfboards are made from fibreglass, foam blanks, polyresin and epoxy resin. Foam blanks and fiberglass will typically yellow a lot faster as they’re a lot more absorbent and flexible.
Polyresins, in comparison, will take a longer time to discolor as they usually have UV filter stabilizers, however, they will turn yellow when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
It’s also worth noting that UV radiation discoloration is a lot more visible on white or lighter colored boards, so it’s worth keeping that in mind before you purchase a surfboard. Although darker colored or more vibrantly colored boards won’t appear to “yellow”, they are prone to fading if they are exposed to direct sunlight.
Whatever color board you choose, you’ll have to make an effort to protect it from the sun so you can keep it as close to its original color as you can.
Another cause of surfboard discoloration is due to the materials of the board not being properly protected.
When left in the sun for too long, your board can become damaged through a process of delamination. This is when bubbles begin to form on the surface of your board, which will cause your board to discolor.
The foam blanks under the fiberglass are not protected by any additives or stabilizers. The foam blanks are, however, protected by resin layers, but these can be compromised by any dings or breaks in the board that can occur out on the waves.
When the foam is damaged, this will allow for high amounts of radiation to discolor the exposed foam. It’s also worth mentioning that saltwater will degrade any exposed foam blank.
To summarise, a poorly constructed or neglected board is much more likely to turn yellow than a board that has been cared for properly.
How To Remove Yellow Discoloration From A Surfboard
Luckily, there are a few ways in which you can try and reverse the effects of yellow discoloration.
One easy way to do this is by polishing your surfboard. What you’ll need is a Scotch Brite Pad.
These are great all-purpose tools that can be used for scuffing, removing any minor blemishes and sanding your board in between paint coats and priming. Scotch Brite Pads are relatively cheap to purchase and pretty easy to use.
They generally provide immediate results.
If you gently polish your surfboard using a Scotch Brite Pad, you will start to buff the discoloration off of the surface. Do not worry about ruining the resin layers of your board, as it would take hundreds of applications to create any sort of damage.
Another way to remove yellow discoloration is to completely repaint your board. This is a far more extensive and time consuming process, but it will completely transform the appearance of your surfboard.
Start by prepping your board. You will need to remove any oil, dirt and old wax from the surface of your board using acetone, a wax comb and a damp cloth.
Once you have completely cleaned your board, use 32-grit sandpaper to sand the board down. Doing this will provide you with a smooth surface that can easily be painted.
Once you’ve painted your board and it’s completely dried out, go ahead and add a UV resistant coating and spray it with clear acrylic. Your board should now be as good as new!
How To Prolong Your Surfboard’s Lifespan
There are some pretty simple things you can do to keep your board looking new, and prevent any damage from occurring.
Use A Board Bag
The easiest way to protect your surfboard is to use a board bag. They’re designed to protect your board from UV rays, so you don’t have to worry about extensive UV radiation.
If you’re going to chill out at the beach for a few hours, or you’re transporting your board on a roof rack, it’s worth keeping it covered in a board bag.
Most board bags are padded, and use heat reflective technology to prevent the bag from getting too hot.
Just like direct sunlight, too much heat can damage your board and cause the materials to warp. So making sure you use one that has heat reflective technology is important.
If you don’t have access to a board bag, you can also use damp towels or sheets to cover your board. This will limit the amount of sunlight that your board will be exposed to and will keep it cool after you’ve been out in the water.
If your board has already been damaged – like dings or delamination – it is already much more susceptible to discoloration. Any direct damage to the resin layers will directly affect the core foam, leaving it exposed to both saltwater and UV light.
It’s important to repair your board as soon as you notice a crack or ding to prevent any further damage from occurring. It’s also important to rinse your board with fresh water as soon as you notice a crack or ding as saltwater has the ability to break down and damage the foam core – which is unrepairable.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you can either repair the board with an at home repair kit, or you will have to take it to a surf repair shop to be fixed by a professional.
If you can fix the repair at home, you can purchase the tools you need to fix it either online or at a surf shop.
However, we do recommend talking to a professional or someone who works in a surf shop before purchasing a repair kit, as using the wrong kit can actually cause more damage.
If you manage to contain any damage to the foam blank, your board is much less likely to suffer from discoloration.
Rinse Your Board Off As Soon As You Use It
A very quick and simple way to help prolong your surfboard’s lifespan is to make sure you rinse the saltwater off of your board after you use it.
As mentioned earlier, saltwater can damage your board, and if there is a build up of salt, overtime this can cause the materials of the board to break down.
Just like you rinse your wetsuit off when you come out of the water, you need to do the same for your surfboard. If you own a water hose, rinse your board down with some high pressure to make sure all the salt is gone. Once dry, store your board in a cool, dry place.
Although you don’t have to wax your board after every use, you need to at least rinse it to prevent any salt damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Surfboards That Don’t Turn Yellow?
As mentioned earlier, darker or more vibrant surfboards won’t yellow, but they will discolor. If you want a surfboard that won’t turn yellow, try opting for a soft top surfboard. These have come a long way over the years, and now a lot of them come with some pretty designs.
If you do own a soft top surfboard, it’s also recommended that you have a fiberglass board too.
Does Removing Old Wax Help Prolong The Life Of Your Surfboard?
In short, yes. It’s important to change the wax on your board after every few surfs. Make sure you strip off the old wax layer before you apply a fresh coat of wax.
If you don’t surf often, you need only change the wax about four times a year, however, if you’re an avid surfer, change your wax at least once a week.
When stripping old wax, make sure you check for any dings or cracks as these will need to be repaired before you can wax your board again.