SUP board construction is important! The construction quality affects your board's longevity, handling, durability and performance.
Manufacturing quirks and technical issues associated with traditional surf boards, kayaks and windsurfing boards were sorted out long before stand up paddle boarding became popular. As a result, development of top quality equipment for the sport was relatively speedy thanks to pre-existing technology. Today there is a diverse range of SUPs and associated gear to choose from.
The following video and link provide an introduction to SUP board construction.
There are several types of SUP board construction available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are the most common types of SUP board construction:
High-performance SUP boards are typically made of lightweight and strong materials, such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. These materials are layered together with epoxy resin to create a rigid and durable board that can handle more challenging conditions and provide excellent speed, maneuverability, and stability.
Carbon fiber is a popular material for high-performance SUP boards because it is extremely strong and lightweight. It provides excellent stiffness and responsiveness, allowing the board to perform well in a variety of conditions. However, carbon fiber boards can be more expensive than other types of construction.
Fiberglass is another commonly used material for high-performance SUP boards. It is less expensive than carbon fiber but still provides good stiffness and durability. Fiberglass boards can be a good choice for intermediate and advanced paddlers who are looking for a high-performance board that is more affordable than a carbon fiber board.
Kevlar is also sometimes used in high-performance SUP board construction. It is an extremely strong synthetic material that provides excellent durability and impact resistance. Kevlar-reinforced boards are a good choice for paddling in rocky or rough conditions.
Overall, high-performance SUP boards are typically made of materials that provide a balance of strength, stiffness, and weight, allowing the board to handle more challenging conditions and provide top-level performance.
The foam core used in high-performance SUP boards is typically a closed-cell foam that is lightweight and provides good stiffness and buoyancy. There are several types of foam that can be used, but the most common types are:
Overall, the choice of foam will depend on the desired characteristics of the board, such as weight, stiffness, and flex. High-performance SUP boards typically use a combination of foam and other materials to create a board that is lightweight, strong, and provides excellent performance in a variety of conditions.
Drop stitch technology is a popular construction method used in inflatable stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) that allows for a stable and rigid board when inflated. There are two styles of drop stitch used in inflatable SUPs: single-layer and double-layer drop stitch.
Both single-layer and double-layer drop stitch can produce high-quality inflatable SUPs, but the choice ultimately comes down to the rider's preferences and needs. If you prioritize portability and ease of use, a single-layer drop stitch board may be the better option. But if you want a board that can handle rougher conditions and last longer, a double-layer drop stitch board may be the way to go.
This style of board is durable, light, and buoyant. A wood or bamboo veneer is applied at the bottom and deck. Bamboo is stronger than steel and more durable than most hardwoods. This style includes a stringer made of wood or fibreglass inserted along the length of the board.
Explanation of sandwich epoxy board
This construction style can feature additional layers of fibreglass. Carbon is used for its lightweight, strong and rigid attributes. This board is reinforced with PVC.
Review for a carbon construction board in the following video.
This construction style is longer, wider, and thicker, making these boards more difficult to get onto your vehicle rack and carry down to the water, but easier to learn on because of their high volume, which translates to greater stability. A "soft top" is a layer of rubber added to the top surface for protection and comfort. The soft top is typical on larger, heavier commercial-style boards geared to beginners.
Pay attention to the level of quality for SUP board construction
Traditional board manufacturing in Taiwan has long been known for quality and for hand-crafted boards. To keep up with increasing demand, companies in China have been contracted to produce boards more quickly. These boards generally cost less, and in most cases you get what you pay for. If you come across wildly low prices it probably means corners have been cut during manufacturing. There is obviously a market for low cost boards since consumers are purchasing them. Simply put, be aware, and ask plenty of questions.
There are some smaller manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada who offer superior custom board manufacturing.
FOAM CORE FOR SUP BOARD CONSTRUCTION
PU is the original foam inside most fibreglass boards, along with polyester resin. This was standard until about 2005, when Expanded polystyrene (EPS) came on the scene.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS):
EPS foam is about 60 percent lighter than PU and is always combined with epoxy resin. These boards are also stronger and more buoyant than PU. EPS foam core is now used for most stand up paddle board construction. High quality EPS reduces water absorption (it is water resistant, not water proof).
The EPS board will outlast the PU board, however some wave surfers prefer PU because it allows for more flex.
The following video explains the hand shaping process from a "blank."
by shaper Paul Carter
The following video gives an interesting explanation of the computer shaping process.
by Blue Planet Surf
FIBERGLASS CLOTH and RESIN FOR BOARD CONSTRUCTION
The amount and weight of the cloth fibreglass applied will influence durability strength. Typically, more fibreglass is placed on the deck side of the board to give more strength in the standing area, although depending on the board style it could be applied to other areas as well.
Either epoxy or polyester resin is used to keep the fibreglass cloth in place. Epoxy resin is lighter than polyester resin, and epoxy boards are stronger, lighter and stiffer than polyester boards.
NOTE: the quality of fibreglass and resin used can vary. It can be matte or clear gloss, light or heavy. If you have questions about these details, contact the manufacturer.
A vent plug is installed on EPS foam boards to release gas buildup when the board is exposed to heat or extreme altitude changes. The ability to vent gas discourages potential delamination. Some vent plugs need to be physically removed and screwed back on before the next ride. A newer style of vent can release the gas on the water, without letting the water in.
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