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What Does it Mean When a Surfboard is Waterlogged?

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Whether it is from simply transporting your surfboard or scraping it across rocks and reefs, these boards end up taking quite a fair bit of damage. These frequent bumps and scrapes end up allowing water to seep inside your board, making it extremely heavy. 

A waterlogged surfboard is when water infiltrates your board through cracks or dings, making it harder to maneuver and losing its ability to float on the water. Waterlogged surfboards require immediate repair if you want to prevent irreversible damage.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways through which you can fix your surfboard if it becomes waterlogged. However, before doing that, you must know what factors lead to waterlogging and how to identify such troubles in your surfboard.

collection of old damaged surboards

What Causes Waterlogging in Boards?

Cracks or dents, formed on the surface of your board, allow water to enter inside which gets absorbed by the foam. This causes the board to become heavier, making it harder to steer in the sea. Therefore, to prevent waterlogging, it is very important that you regularly check your surfboard for any damages before you head out to sea.  

Pressure Dings

Pressure dings are little dents that form on the surface of your board. When too much pressure is applied to one part of the surfboard, the exterior gives in and compresses the foam inside. This pressure on the foam creates a concave creates a little concave dent on the surface which affects the performance of your surfboard

Moreover, there is a slight chance that these pressure dings end up cracking your board, allowing water to seep inside the foam, causing it to get waterlogged. However, despite their unsettling appearance, these dents are normally water-tight and are rarely a cause of concern. 

Rear and Nose Cracks

Cracks can appear anywhere on the surface of your board, however, they are most commonly found at the nose or read end. These cracks can occur while you’re carrying the board from one location to another and happen mostly due to contact with abrasive surfaces such as asphalt and concrete.

Although these surface cracks rarely allow water to seep in, it’s still a good idea to be cautious when dragging your board around. You can prevent such damages by simply purchasing a surfboard bag, such as Curve’s foam bag, which protects your board from most external elements.  

Buckling and Fin-Box Damage

In buckling, the protective shield of fiberglass and resin gets warped, making the protective barrier quite sensitive against any excessive force. If handled too roughly, the foam of buckled a surfboard crumbles, rendering the board useless.

These surfboard damages are typically caused by bailing out in a high wave, however, they can also occur as a consequence of forceful impact with sand, reef, or other solid objects. Moreover, these damages also result in allowing water inside the surfboard and making it waterlogged.  

How Do You Tell If Your Surfboard Is Waterlogged? 

Waterlogged surfboards can be fairly rigid when you’re trying to control your board in a strong wave. However, diagnosing a waterlogged surfboard is quite a tricky challenge. Therefore, if you suspect that water is infiltrating your board, here are some steps that you can follow to verify your concerns.

Check the Board’s Weight

The easiest way to determine if your surfboard is waterlogged is by inspecting its weight. Weigh your surfboard before and after going out on a surf. If you find a significant difference, then chances are that water is seeping inside your board and destroying its foam. 

Check the Board for Leaks

Once your board has been dried completely, make sure no water is dripping or leaking from inside the board. You simply leave your board in a cool, dry place and come back later to check whether there are water droplets underneath. 

Moreover, since seawater is extremely salty, you can also check if there are salt crystals forming on the ground due to evaporated water. If you are able to spot either one of these things, then it’s safe to assume that water has infiltrated your surfboard. 

Check For Water Sounds

If there is water present inside your surfboard, you may be able to detect it by rapidly moving your surfboard sideways. When you do this the water inside the board will bounce against its walls, making a slushing noise and indicating a waterlogged surfboard.  

Step-by-Step Guide To Fixing a Waterlogged Surfboard

If your surfboard is heavily damaged, then it’s recommended to take it to a surfboard repair shop. Minor damages, however, can easily be repaired at home if you know what to do. 

Step 1: Determine the Surfboard’s Construction Type

The first thing you should do is determine what material your surfboard is made of. The two most common materials used to make surfboards are fiberglass and epoxy. Not only do both these surfboards perform differently but their repair processes are also distinct.

Fibreglass SurfboardsEpoxy SurfboardsSoft Top Surfboards
Made of white foam blank, fiberglass, and polyurethane coveringMade of EPS foam core and wrapped in epoxy resinMade of EPS foam core with a soft sheet covering
Heavier and fragileLighter and strongerLightweight and stable
Can get compressed easilyDifficult to compress or breakDifficult to compress

Step#2: Gather The Supplies

After you’ve identified what material your surfboard is made of, you need to gather some supplies to begin your DIY work. This procedure is ideal for both epoxy and fibreglass surfboards but can damage a soft-top board. 

  • 80 /100 grit sandpaper
  • Knife
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Wax remover
  • Q-cell / Epoxy Resin

Step 3: Dry the Surfboard

Once all the supplies are ready, place the surfboard in such a position where the waterlogged section faces the ground. This will allow gravity to play its part and drain maximum water out of the board. The drying process can take a couple of hours or even multiple days, depending on the amount of water trapped inside the board. However, until the board is completely dry, place it in a dry area away from the sun, protecting it from delamination. . 

Step 4: Thoroughly Clean the Board

Moreover, when the board is completely dry, use a wax comb to scrape the layer of wax covering the surfboard. This will allow you to later glue the repairs effectively on the surfboard. 

Once you’ve removed the wax, wipe the surfboard with a microfibre cloth to eliminate any salt residue that’s been left behind. As salt absorbs moisture, if any salt is left layered on your surfboard, it won’t allow the new repairs to sustain. 

Step 5: Sand the Damaged Area

Sand the area that needs to be repaired using 80/100 grit sandpaper. This will make your work easier by removing any jagged edges and reducing the risk of hand-related injuries. Moreover, sanding will help you apply the epoxy resin effectively in the later stages of this process. 

Step 6: Cut Fibreglass and Foam

Once your surfboard has been primed, you need to cut a piece of your board’s fiberglass or foam to create a decent opening.  This fracture will later get filled with Q-cell or Epoxy Resin and bring your board back to life. It’s essential in this step that you use a thoroughly sharpened knife to make a quick and clean cut. 

Step 7: Fill the Gaps With Epoxy Resin or Q-Cell

After you’ve made a decent cut around the waterlogging source, you will have to fill the cracks with either an epoxy resin like Resin Research, or with some Q-cell. Take the epoxy resin and fill in the damaged area with the liquid. Moreover, to seal any cracks on the board, simply apply epoxy using a paintbrush until you’re satisfied.

After you’re done painting, wait for the resin to harden before using another piece of sandpaper to level it with the surface of the board. This will ensure that resin conforms with the shape of your surfboard, avoiding an unappealing appearance. 

Step 8: Re-Wax and Polish the Area

After the cracks are filled, you should apply a new coat of wax on your surfboard to gain a better grip and traction while surfing. In addition, you can use a polish and a diamond cut compound to cover the resin and the wax to get a glossy finish. A good polishing kit like Greenlight can definitely get the job done in no time! 

Step 9: Leave the Board For a Few Hours

Once you’re done with the waxing and polishing, let the board sit in a dry location for at least 48 hours before taking it out again. Make sure that the damaged area has been properly cured and no cracks are left unchecked. Hopefully, you’ll be able to smoothly ride your board again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Can We Still Surf With a Waterlogged Surfboard?

A) Yes, you can surf on a waterlogged surfboard, however, it’s certainly not recommended. The various fractures and dents in the surfboard not only allow water to seep even deeper but also prevent you from controlling the surfboard effectively. 

Q) How Long Will it Take me To Repair a Waterlogged Surfboard?

A) While the actual repair work only takes a few hours at maximum, the time spent to dry the board can take anywhere between 2-4 days, depending on the amount of water seeped inside the board and the level of humidity in the air.

Q) Will a Foam Board Get Waterlogged? 

A) Inexpensive foam boards can get waterlogged very quickly, causing their foam to deteriorate at a rapid pace. 

Q) Do Waterlogged Boards lose their Buoyancy?

A) Yes, but only when the amount of water in the board continues to rise rapidly. An excessive amount of water in your surfboard will cause it to feel heavy and perform poorly.


Waterlogged surfboards can be quite unpredictable and difficult to control when you take them out in the sea. However, undertaking preventative measures and repairing your boards timely can save you from serious injuries. With the information you have now, you can easily battle any waterlogged board in your possession! 

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