Surfboard yellowing is a common occurrence caused by exposure to sunlight and UV radiation. In this article, we will explore why surfboards yellow, the effects of yellowing, and provide tips on how to prevent and potentially fix it.

Why Do Surfboards Yellow?

Like most plastics, surfboards can yellow when exposed to the sun. The foam and resin used in surfboard construction are particularly susceptible to yellowing. The foam, although more prone to yellowing, is protected by the resin.

To be more precise, epoxy and polyester resins, commonly used in surfboard construction, contain molecules called chromophores that break down when exposed to UV radiation. This degradation can cause the resin to turn yellow or develop a yellowish tint. Manufacturers often add UV filter additives to slow down this process, but it is inevitable to some extent.

The Effects of Yellowing:

The yellowing of surfboards is primarily cosmetic and does not typically affect the performance or structural integrity of the board. However, if the yellowing process is left to do its work over a long time, the glass layer may become brittle and prone to damage. It is important to note that extensive yellowing only occurs after years of neglect or heavy use.

For instance, a Surfboard Floated from Hawaii’s north shore to the Philippines in 2018. When the board was lost it was blue. When fishermen found it 8400 km away after bathing in the sun and sea for a year yellowing took place and the blue color became hard to see.

The Surfboard that floated from Hawaii to the Philippines.
Picture of the Surfboard that floated from Hawaii to the Philippines. A  surfboard gun used at Waimea Bay that found a new life as a beginner board in the Philippines while passing from a blue to a yellow color (and creased).

Prevention and Solutions:

To prevent surfboard yellowing you can do a few things:

  • Minimize Sun Exposure: Store your surfboard in a cool, shaded area when not in use. Use board bags or surf socks made of UV-protective materials to shield it from sunlight and heat during transport and storage.
  • Consider UV-Protective Finishes: Some surfboard manufacturers offer UV-protective finishes or coatings.  Such as UV resistant, UV Stabilizer, and UV absorber (they are all different). So all boards are not equal, depending on your shaper. These provide an additional layer of protection against yellowing.
  • Choose a colored surfboard: As it can help mask or delay the appearance of yellowing. If your board is already yellow the yellowing effect will be more difficult to see.
  • Embrace the Patina: Accepting the natural aging process of a surfboard, including yellowing, can be seen as part of its character and history. The patina tells a story of the board’s use and adventures. And it can even help you spot fresh dings!

Unfortunately, there is no real way to reverse the yellowing. As you cannot reverse this chemical reaction to UV. However, there are a few options to mitigate its appearance:

  • Light Sanding: A very light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper may help reduce the yellowing effect. Be cautious not to sand too aggressively, as it can damage the surfboard’s surface.
  • Automotive Polish: Using automotive polish on the glass layer can help minimize the appearance of light yellowing.
  • Repainting: If you are comfortable with it, repainting the surfboard with a suitable paint or pigment can provide a fresh look and hide yellowing.

Is there anything you would like to add? Do you have any questions that we can address?

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