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Why does a surfboard turn yellow?

surfboard turning yellow

Seeing your beautifully white surfboard turn a shade of off-yellow can be heartbreaking. All surfboards eventually start to yellow, and it’s something that can’t be avoided entirely. 

With the right care though, you can prolong the life of your surfboard and avoid yellowing from happening too quickly. Here’s what you need to know about surfboards turning yellow, and what you can do to protect your shiny white surfboard.

Why does a surfboard turn yellow?

Surfboards will always start to degrade and turn yellow eventually. This happens from exposure to UV radiation. Most people think that the outer resin layer of the surfboard is what turns yellow over time. While this is true, it’s also the foam underneath that eventually discolors. 

Most poly resins that are used to make surfboards are made with UV filters. This prevents the resin from yellowing, and the foam will usually start to change color faster than the resin. Whether your surfboard is UV protected or not, it will eventually start to degrade in color after it’s been left out in the sun and heat.

yellow surfboards

What surfboards don’t turn yellow

Yellowing is something that you just can’t avoid when you own a surfboard. Even if your surfboard is made with completely UV-resistant resin, the inner foam will eventually discolor. 

There is one type of surfboard that won't turn yellow though. Soft top surfboards, or foam top surfboards, are made from different materials and will maintain their color over time.

Soft top surfboards are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes these days. They’re the perfect choice for beginners, but experienced surfers can still enjoy riding a foam top surfboard too. Soft top surfboards are great for experimenting with a new surfing style and building up your technique.

Wooden surfboards also won’t turn yellow, because they lack the EPS foam. However, some wooden boards are treated with some kind of epoxy coating that could discolor over time. 

What’s the best way to prolong the life of my surfboard

With proper care, you can extend the life of your surfboard and avoid it from yellowing too quickly. Here are some important surfboard care tips to keep in mind.

Avoid direct sunlight

The main cause of surfboards turning yellow is prolonged exposure to UV rays. This doesn’t only discolor the foam and resin, but it can also cause delamination to occur on your board. This is when the outer seal on your surfboard starts to peel away. If you leave your surfboard out in the sun too much, the board can crack, peel, and it will quickly discolor. 

Of course, you can’t avoid sunlight completely. Surfing is all about being outside, and nobody’s going to end their long summer surf sessions early because they’re worried about yellowing their board. When you’re finished surfing, store your board in a dark place away from direct sunlight.

sunlight

Rinse your board after use

Salt will start to build up on your surfboard after it's been in the ocean. Too much salt left on your board can eventually start to degrade and wear down the outer layer of the board. All you need to do is give your surfboard a quick rinse with the hose before you store it away. 

Always fix every ding

If you get a small ding or crack on your surfboard, it will eventually start to spread over time. This can end up leaving terrible damage to your board, and causing it to degrade and yellow very quickly. 

The good news is that dings are easy to fix, you just need a simple ding repair kit. Inspect your board after each surf, and repair any crack or ding as soon as you find it. 

Protect your surfboard properly

Use a good-quality surfboard bag to cover your board when it's not in use. This is especially important if you’re traveling with your board. The bag will help to protect your board against sunlight, as well as dings and scratches. 

Conclusion

Nobody wants their shiny new surfboard to turn yellow, but it’s something that all surfers should eventually expect. Luckily, a yellowed surfboard won’t change its performance at all. Surfboards are put under a lot of abuse, and because they all have rocker it's really important that we take proper care of them. Follow the tips above, and you should achieve a much better lifespan from your surfboard.

FAQ’s

How do you remove yellow discoloration on a surfboard?

You can use a 3M Scotch Brite pad to get rid of yellowing that happened over the fiberglass lamination. Gently applying this pad won’t damage your board, but the aluminum oxide will help to polish off the yellow discoloration.

What should I clean my surfboard with?

Once the wax is off, you can use a citrus-based surfboard cleaner, coconut oil, methylated spirits, or white spirit to clean the board.