Outdoor sports equipment is inevitable to wear and tear. Paddleboards are no exception no matter how much effort you make to be careful. Your paddleboard might hit a corner when taking it out of the shed, or just simply slip out of your hands and hit a rock. The surf fanatics would know the value of their paddleboards and how a small crack or scratch can do a greater damage if left unattended.
How To Repair Minor Cracks On A Paddleboard?
- Clean your board
- Dry your board
- Mark the damaged area with a Sharpie
- Cut rotten foam and broken fiberglass from inside the crack
- Sand the crack
- Purchase a suitable repair kit
- Prepare the resin solution
- Application of resin
- Use plastic wrap to secure the resin in its place
- Expose to the sunlight
- Leave the resin to dry overnight
- Sand off excess resin
- Add layers of fiberglass for extra strength
- Repeat sanding process
- Paint your board
- One last coat of resin: the hot coat
In an event when water enters through the crack the paddleboard starts to self-destruct itself. If the damage gets serious it is best if you get it repaired by a professional fiberglass epoxy specialist. However, minor cracks can be dealt with by following some quick fixes. Below are 16 steps to follow to fix minor cracks and dings on your paddleboard.
Clean your board
Paddleboards usually have sand and salt on its surface for being in direct contact with salty water and beach sand. Before you move onto addressing the damage directly, make sure you have cleaned these particles off of the affected area and its surroundings.
Use a wax comb to scour the wax in the surroundings of the damaged area and wipe sand and salt particles with acetone. To clean inside of the crack, use a cotton swab. It is necessary that you do a thorough cleaning otherwise any particle left would mix with the resin and weaken the repair.
Read our complete guide to cleaning your board for more information.
Dry your board
Before starting, make sure your paddleboard is dry. If you have taken your cracked paddleboard into the water unknowingly, waterlogging is expected to occur. The foam inside your paddleboard soaks in the water and deteriorates the material. Cleaning it way have forced in a little water.
To counter this predicament place your paddleboard directly out in the sun in a position that permits the logged water to drain out and dry through and through. A more thorough approach would be to squeeze the cracked area gently to let out any remaining water and use a dryer in the end to make sure there is no water remnant.
Although it’s overkill in this case, I bought a Master Blaster vehicle air dryer about 6 years ago, and I have found to be useful for drying out our boats, jet skis, trailers, canopies and a lot more. If you participate in a lot of watersports or just like your car to dry spotless without micro scratches, check it out on Amazon. It’s by far the most used power tool I own. It’s my #1 recommendation in our Gear Section (in the PWC Maintenance section).
Another way to make sure that your board is completely dry is by taking a ply of paper towel and inserting it into the damaged area. If the paper towel comes out wet your board is not ready for repair yet.
Mark the damaged area with a Sharpie
In order to make the damage more visible use a Sharpie to mark exactly where the crack is, including the hairline parts of the crack as well. To prevent the damage from spreading you can tape the surrounding area. An alternative way is to drill two holes on either side of the crack.
Cut rotten foam and broken fiberglass from inside the crack (depending on the damage)
If the water has seeped into your board you will come across a lot of rotten foam inside your paddleboard. Using a utility knife cut away the parts of the foam that are soft to the touch and have either blackened or browned due to being soaked in water for long. To make sure that you get all of it, shine a torch light into the crack. If the damage has impacted the fiberglass as well, use the Dremel tool to grind away all the fragments of broken fiberglass.
Sand the crack
Sanding is required to access the fiberglass inside your paddleboard. Using medium grit sandpaper, sand the crack. You will be required to sand a slightly larger area than the crack itself. The purpose of sanding an extended area is to meld resin in with the outer layer of the board once it cures, or else there is risk that a part of a crack will go undone. You can stop sanding once the fiberglass is apparent under the outer layer of the paddleboard.
In the situation where the fiberglass has been damaged too, sand about half inches around the indented area. Make sure to clean out the area thoroughly once done. An air compressor works best to blow out particles from the groove created by grinding through the crack.
Purchase a suitable repair kit
There is a wide array of repair kits available online or at a surf store. The basic thing that you need is resin and a catalyst to fill in the hole. The resin and catalyst when mixed together should create a tough, enduring layer that fills in the crack in the paddleboard. It is important to know which resin is your board made of since there are two types of resin; polyester and epoxy.
On instances where you have to deal with a larger area, you will need fiberglass cloth or Q-Cell. Q-Cell acts as an alternative to the foam and tends to expand as it starts to work.
Resin is a liquid which solidifies and hardens when exposed to the sun. Usually resin can keep your paddleboard intact for 2 to 3 months. Thereafter you will have to fix your paddleboard again.
Preparing the resin solution
In a small cup, following the quantity instructions on the repair kit, gradually mix resin and q-cell together, until the mixture starts resembling the consistency of toothpaste.
Precautionary measure: Inhaling surf repair fumes are very harmful for the lungs; thereby it is imperative that appropriate precautionary measures are taken when engaging with hazardous materials. While mixing solutions anything can come in contact with your eyes, so wear protective eyewear to avoid that mishap. Moreover, fiberglass dust is detrimental to skin and lungs. Wear gloves and a mask and work on this project in a well aerated room.
Application of resin
It is well advised that you work on this project in a covered area and out of the sun. With the help of a wooden spatula apply the resin generously. It should be ensured that the resin reaches the very base of the crack before smoothing it out. If you experience any bubbles use a lighter to pop them out. Make sure to smooth out the resin to the best of your abilities.
Use plastic wrap to secure the resin in its place
Once the resin has been thoroughly applied, secure it by wrapping a sheet of plastic over it. This will also flatten and mold the resin in the shape of the board. Avoid pressing the area after wrapping the plastic sheet as it will cause dent in the resin before it even starts to cure. If you don’t have plastic wrap you can also use clear plastic and tape as an alternative.
Expose to the sunlight
Expose the paddleboard to the sunlight for the resin to cure. It will take about 5 minutes for it to turn into gel and then harden. Give it another 5 minutes to harden completely. If you feel the resin has still not solidified after 10 minutes, take the board in the shade for 5 minutes, and place it back in the sun.
Leave the resin to dry overnight
Although apparently the resin looks rock solid and dry, it is not actually. Therefore do not touch or peel off the plastic wrap just as yet. Let it sit as is for at least another 6 to 12 hours before you take of the plastic wrap.
Sand off excess resin
After you have taken off the plastic wrap, use a grittier sandpaper to get rid of any setbacks, bumps and excess resin. Do not overdo the sanding with the rough grit paper; you don’t want to create any depressions in the resin.
Once the bumps are smoothed out, shift to a less gritty sandpaper to even out the resin till it matches the board. Pay more attention to the edges of the resin and level it enough to not leave it irregular and wavy against the flatness of the paddleboard. Once all the sanding is finished wipe away all the particles that are left behind.
Add layers of fiberglass for extra strength
If you are apprehensive about the strength of the board from where it cracked you have the option to add layers of fiberglass. Cut the woven fiberglass in a circle fairly larger than the size of the crack and cover the cracked area with the circular piece. Using a brush, apply a thin layer of resin to secure fiberglass in its place. If the crack is long, cut small circles of woven fiberglass and line them up along the crack.
Another method to apply layers of woven fiberglass is to cut them into strips instead of circles. The biggest strip extends about one and a half inch from either side of the indent to act as the base layer.
Repeat sanding process
Allow the resin to cure overnight after adding a layer of fiberglass to the crack. Thereafter repeat the process of sanding the resin to achieve a smooth finish on your paddleboard. Only this time use fine sandpaper over the fiberglass. A rougher grit will scrape of the resin, exposing parts of fiberglass. Use an air hose to clear the sanding debris and wipe the board with a clean cloth in the end.
Paint your board
When choosing your favorable color that matches your paddleboard, also weigh in the aspect of durability and long lastingness. Paint the surface with several coats and bigger strokes that cover a larger area; more than the repaired area.
One last coat of resin; the hot coat
It is not clear as to why this is called ‘the hot coat’ but it is the final touch by resin over the coat of paint. Give this last coat some time to cure and allow it to dry before you take your paddleboard into the water once again.
Mishaps don’t respect time. They just happen. And sometimes they occur exactly when you are about to enter the water. While the above steps to fix your paddleboard are time consuming; there are some quick fixes as well.
UV Activated Epoxy
This kind of epoxy is repair putty. It is a mixture of clear, fiber reinforced epoxy resin with quality solar activated catalyst. Although it might be a messy way to repair your board but it is quick as ever. It will take around 5 seconds to turn into gel and another 5 minutes to harden; sunlight being the crucial factor in the process of curing.
Epoxy Repair Putty
Epoxy putties work really well when you are out on the water which means drying your board is not essential to make this quick fix work. This hand knead-able solution to your unanticipated mishap is an epoxy compound which begins to cure in about a minute. It agrees with all sorts of base material such as fiberglass, epoxy, glass, metal, and wood. Moreover, it can be applied underwater as well, both in fresh and salt water.
For optimum results try to smoothen the putty as much as you can before it solidifies, so that it does not get difficult to sand later. Applying pressure to the putty will fasten the adhesion process.
Clear Ding Tape
This is the classic clear tape quick fix suitable for small dings, cracks and punctures. Make sure you clean the surface before applying the clear tape. Seal the crack with the tape and ensure the area is free of air bubbles. Expose the damaged area to the sun for about 15 minutes before you take your board in the water again.
Since these solutions are so handy, it is a great idea to keep these repair kits with you when you are off to surfing. Small dings and cracks can be attended to right there on the shore with the help of these fixes.
Tips To Care For Your Paddleboard
While these solutions to mishaps and accidental cracks are godsend; taking extra care of your paddleboard can pay off quite well. Below is another list of some useful tips that can save your paddleboards from unnecessary wear and tear. And we have a full post with more on paddle board care.
Salt water can crust up on your board and be disadvantageous to the surface material. Therefore always wash your board with fresh water and dry it with a clean towel after every visit to the beach. To make your board smell pleasant and fresh, use a light water-mixed cleaning solution once in a while.
Lubricate To Prevent Rusting
Every once or twice in a year lubricate all the metal pieces on your board with a household oil or WD-40. Although all the metal pieces should be marine grade stainless steel (SAE 304 or SAE 316), which means they will not rust upon coming in contact with water. Nevertheless it is always a plus to keep your equipment in a good condition.
Save From The Sun
This tip might come off as completely ironical but it is important to know that sand, asphalt and direct sunlight is unfavorable for your board. Black asphalt tends to get much hotter than the air temperature surrounding it. This can be detrimental to the lamination of the board. The UV rays from the sun can also fade away some of the graphics on the board. So when not in use keep your board in the shade.
These plugs are like a breather for your board, helping them to avoid pressure build up and prevent delamination. Once a year just check up on these vent plugs if they need to be tightened by hand otherwise there is no need to unscrew them.
Covering your paddleboard is the most basic but extremely useful when it comes to protecting your boards from scratches, cracks and dings. It even makes it easier to drag your board into the water. Transporting your board is perhaps the only time when you board is most vulnerable to damage. Covering it in a board bag can prevent those mishaps. The Abahub Premium SUP Bag line comes in several sizes on Amazon.
Avoiding shallow and rocky waters
Always familiarize yourself with the area you are going to surf in. Avoid getting into the shallow waters and encountering rocky areas. Use your paddles to steer away from hazards.
Be Mindful Of The Fin
The fin being the smallest part and beneath the board can often be ignored. As discussed above, avoid shallow and rocky to waters to protect the board’s fin from bumping into hazardous areas. Also when storing the board lay it upside down to avoid harming the fin.
Always store your board in a cool, dry place, away from all kinds of heat source. By keeping your paddleboard in the vicinity of a heat source will result in delamination of your board. Delamination occurs when the fiberglass separates itself from the EPS foam core. Besides that, it is also important to ensure that your board does not rest against anything sharp that may create pressure dings. Also avoid placing anything on top of the board. For more storage ideas, read our full article on storing a paddle board.
Following these few tips can give a longer life to your paddleboard and keep it in good shape.
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