Are Used Surfboards Good?

February 11, 2022

Are Used Surfboards Good?

A lot of the time when you’re starting out the cheapest solution is often the most sought after, and used surfboards are typically going to be your cheapest option. Unfortunately they can also be the worst choice a new surfer can make. Here’s what we mean...

Just like when you go buy a used car, a used surfboard can have any number of things wrong with it. Things that, unless you’re a “mechanic”, you’d never see. Here are a few of the most common used surfboard issues:

1. Hidden damage- Hidden damage is probably the most common issue with used surfboards, mainly because so often a used surfboard is already waxed up. It is very easy to hide cracks and holes when you fill them in with wax. Also most used boards are purchased at night, after work, when the light isn’t very good. This makes it increasingly tougher to see damage when you’re in a low light situation. If you do end up buying a damaged surfboard you will be forced to fix it so that it doesn’t become water logged, or you will deal with our next issue.  We suggest having the board scraped clean of wax so you can see any visible damage to the glass job.  What your looking for is cracks in the glassing.  Pressure dents on the deck that is not broken through is ok but cracked fiberglass is no good.  For reference an average ding repair can cost $50-$70 unless you learn to repair it yourself so if you need to repair a used board it may not be as good a deal as you initially thought.  Look for spider cracks on any area of the board as these are what will indicate broken fiberglass.

2. Water Logged- When a surfboard is cracked while still in the water, it is impossible to get your board out of the water before water is absorbed into the foam. Having water in your foam is a common thing to deal with, but unfortunately it is dealt with improperly most of the time. After surfboard foam is exposed to water it must sit and dry out BEFORE it’s repaired. This can sometimes take a week or two, depending on the amount of water absorbed, and if the person isn’t really patient, they will repair it too soon. This causes a couple of problems. First, it will leave the board really heavy and unbalanced. This will make the surfboard hard to paddle, it won’t float very well, and wont handle well either. The other problem that is caused by fixing it before it dries out is de-lamination. The water, over time, will cause the foam to rot and deteriorate and ultimately create “soggy” spots in the structure where the glass and resin will pull away from the foam. Once a board delaminates, good luck returning it to its original condition without cutting it apart, digging out all the “rot”, and refilling it.  The third issue with a waterlogged board is that the board will be heavier and discolor to an unattractive yellow color.

3. Wrong Board- Getting the wrong shape and size is very easy to do when you’re buying a used surfboard. The logic, "hey the board was only a hundred bucks" does you absolutely no good if you can't catch a wave.  Even if you’re sure you want a 9ft longboard there can be HUGE differences in 9ft longboards. From thickness to width to bottom concaves to rail shapes to tail shapes... and more. All surfboards ARE NOT created equal. Using the car analogy again, it’s like saying I want a 2 door car but there is a massive difference between a Honda Civic and a Ferrari 360... both have 2 doors but they are extremely different. The problem is, in the surf world, the Honda and Ferrari look really similar, and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you could pick the wrong one.  This is where the experience of a surfboard expert (think Degree 33) really pays off.  We can help you get the right board the first time.

4. Major Hassle- What is your time worth? Let’s say you’re looking at craigslist for a used board and find one across town 30min away. You head there after work, fight traffic there, fight traffic back, and take an hour and a half, only to find out that the board wasn’t in as good of shape as the seller made you believe, or as the pictures showed. How many times are you willing to do that to save $50 or even $150? Let’s say that you do find one, buy it, take it home only to find out something is wrong with it that you hadn’t noticed. Do you really think the private seller is going to say, “Oh sorry you didn’t see that when you bought it... just bring it back?” If the seller is a man of integrity he would have told you about any issues before you even left with it.

We’re not saying, “Don’t buy a used surfboard...”, we even sell used surfboards, what we’re saying is, unless you know exactly what you want and what to lookout for, buying a used surfboard can sometimes be a real pain. And the major problem is that all these issues are VERY tough to look for and see especially if you don't know what to look for.

If you are going to buy a used board, make sure that you feel confident the individual that is selling the board is being 100% honest about it or that you buy from a trusted shop. That way you know how it was handled, and whether or not you can trust them. Sometimes buying a new surfboard is worth it when you consider the hassle and frustration that can happen buying used, especially when our new boards are relatively inexpensive. If you are going to buy used, make sure that you take someone with many years of surfing experience with you to help evaluate your purchase.

If you have any questions on buying a used or new board feel free to visit the shop, call us at (800) 920-2363 or email

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