Breaking a surfboard is part of the surfing circle of life; however, that doesn’t mean you can just mindlessly discard your fallen companion in the garbage.
According to a study, the production process of a single 5.5 shortboard has a carbon dioxide emission that averages 600 lbs., which is the same amount as burning 270 lbs. of coal! Not only that but surfboards are also made from toxic materials such as polyurethane foam and fiberglass. Throwing them away, only to turn up in landfills, will create numerous negative effects on the environment, as well as your health.
There’s a saying that goes: If it’s broken, fix it. But if you can’t, then change it into something better instead. In this article, you’ll learn safe and innovative ways how you can breathe new life into your broken surfboard.
What to Do with Broken Surfboards
- Repair them.
- Donate them to non-profits.
- Sell or trade them to Craigslist.
- Recycle or convert them to other usable items.
- Reshape them to make a new board.
- Transform them into home décor or furniture.
- Build a collection display.
1. Repair them
After a long time of riding your surfboard, it can be heartbreaking when the time comes that it gets damaged; however, you must know that being split in two isn’t the end of the world for your surfboard.
With today’s modern technology, you can still repair it by taking them to a shaper, or by fixing it yourself with repair kits. Although they come at a high cost and take lots of effort, it’ll be rewarding when you see your surfing companion nice and working again.
To start with the repairing process, the first thing you need to do is scrape the wax from your surfboard’s deck using a wax comb. To speed up this part, you can also use a heat gun or blow-dry to melt the wax, then wipe it off with a clean cloth. After that, let it dry overnight to remove any remaining moisture.
Next, you need to clean the damaged part of the board by peeling or cutting off the excess fiberglass skin. Then, you need to grind the part where the split is with a disk sander to make room for the new epoxy. Sand the whole deck after that. and make sure to wear a protective suit (respirator mask) while doing this, because the dust from fiberglass is toxic and may cause allergies.
When the surfboard’s already sanded and ground down, mix the putty with the epoxy, and then spread the mixture generously to the two split surfaces. You will want to clamp down the surfboard to avoid it from moving; therefore you need rope, scrap wood, and plastic sheets to keep the two parts together.
Wait for it to dry, then flatten the repaired area and deck with a planer. After smoothing the whole deck, wrap the glass around the rails and hold it down using tape. Apply the epoxy and wait for it to cure before glassing the bottom of the board.
For the last steps, smoothen the deck using a grinder with abrasive disks. You can also apply a finishing coat or a thin layer of resin to your board. Wait for it to dry for at least two days, and that’s it!
2. Donate them to non-profits
Another way to give your broken surfboard a meaningful purpose is to donate it to non-profit organizations like Rerip. For 15 years, this group has accepted and collected over a thousand surfboards, refurbished them into new ones, and donated them to other organizations, schools, and young surfers. They’ve also sold some of the repaired ones in order to help sustain their mission.
Rerip takes in all kinds of surfboards — whether it’s new, old, or damaged. Unrideable and broken ones are given to local artists so they can turn them into art pieces, while others are used for home purposes like patios, showers, signages, and displays.
There are other organizations that share the same vision as Rerip, such as Returning Wave and The Surf Bus Foundation. So while it may be hard for you to let go of your well-loved surfboard, donating it also gives others a chance to enjoy them, even if it’s already in another form.
3. Sell or trade them to Craigslist
High-quality surfboards are made from construction materials that are hard to recycle like fiberglass and EPS foam core. For this reason, they can get quite expensive, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,500 for intermediate to pro-level surfboards.
If you have a surfboard with the price tag mentioned above, but it’s now unrideable and has little dings, you can sell it on Craiglist for a lower rate (look for the sporting goods section). Other surf enthusiasts are willing to buy boards of good caliber, even if they’re used or have a slight damage.
Now, if posting your beloved board doesn’t sound very appealing, try trading it with your other surfer friends instead. You can have your board exchanged for a lower-quality board or other surfing accessories that they are willing to barter with you.
4. Recycle or convert them to other useable items
If you’re looking for a more sustainable option on what you can do with your damaged surfboard, why not recycle it? This works best if your board is made from natural materials like balsa wood, bamboo, or agave. With good craftsmanship, you can convert it into other household items like chairs, tables, and shelves.
But what if the board’s made from foam and fiberglass? In this case, you need a more artistic touch and some help from powerful and handy tools. To convert this kind of surfboard, you need to grind it into dust first, mix it with cement next, then mold it into your desired form. We recommend Buddha statues for home display or gnomes for your garden area.
5. Reshape them to make a new board
Letting go of your surfboard isn’t easy, so if you find it hard to part ways with your board, then we suggest reshaping it into another form — but a smaller one, like a kneeboard or paipo. Before you choose this option, however, take note that this process is time-consuming and can get costly. Still, it’s better than throwing your surfboard away.
In this process, the first thing you need to do is peel off the delaminated fiberglass casing of your board. Then, with a hacksaw and an orbital sander, smoothen its sides. Depending on the shape and size of your surfboard’s remains, you can create your own mini-simmons board, or better yet, hand planes for you and your whole family.
6. Transform them into home décor or furniture
Premium surfboards made of wood have much better quality compared to cheap plywood materials that you can buy in local hardware stores. In the unfortunate event that your board can’t be ridden anymore, you can still repurpose it and turn it into a piece of home furniture or a conversation piece décor.
You can transform your board into a table or bar — all you need to do is give it some wooden legs. To create your own coat stand, you can attach metal hooks to it or use its remaining fins as such. Another one you can make out of your surfboard is a hanging shelf for your books and other displays.
If the whole surfboard is still intact, you can also convert it to outdoor furniture like a bench, an outdoor shower stand, or a mailbox. Finally, if you have multiple damaged boards, make a statement gate out of them!
7. Build a collection display
If you have multiple damaged boards and you have space for it, build yourself a quiver, or your own personal collection of surfboards. The damaged and broken ones are great conversation starters for your guests. You can also get the chance to share your hobby and surfing stories with them!
Why do surfboards break?
Quality surfboards are designed to accommodate a person’s weight and withstand gnarly waves. For a surfboard to break or split in two, it will need a concentrated amount of tension or force, which can be caused by multiple things such as:
- Shallow reefs
- An ill-fated wipeout
- Collision with other surfers
- Strong wave lip that hits the board when you’re not mounted on it
- The pressure of your feet that are too close together during an aerial
While the most common causes of broken surfboards happen in the water, certain scenarios outside of it can also cause its breakage. For instance, slamming the trunk of your car and accidentally hitting the tail or nose of the board, a heavy person stepping on it while it lays on the floor, or a child using the board as a sled or slider out of the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you donate broken surfboards?
There are a number of non-profit organizations in the US that accept damaged and old surfboards like Rerip and The Surf Bus Foundation. All you need to do is drop your board at one of their drop-off locations. The boards they’ve collected will then be repaired and donated to schools, grommets, and other people in need.
Q: Are broken surfboards recyclable?
Yes, surfboards made of natural materials can be repurposed as home furniture, while those made from toxic materials can be ground down and molded into another decoration piece.
Q: Do broken surfboards have a warranty?
Most stores and companies only acknowledge manufacturing warranties. This means that they are only held liable if the product you’ve received is damaged from manufacturing or during delivery. Damaged surfboards from accidents or owner’s fault are not usually covered by replacement and refund warranties.
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.