Skimboard enthusiasts will debate until they are blue in the face about what the best material is for a skimboard.
Is it better to have a board made of wood, foam, carbon fiber or fiberglass? Each type of board has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the final decision comes down to personal preference.
Here is a summary of the pros and cons of each type of material, to help you make an informed decision about what kind of skimboard is the right buy for you.
Skimboards come in a variety of materials, with the most popular being fiberglass and carbon fiber with a foam core for wave skimming because of speed and buoyancy, and plywood from mahogany or birch for inland skimming and tricks because wood pops better and doesn’t chip.
In this post we'll cover:
What materials is a skimboard made out of?
Skimboards can be made out of a variety of materials, but the most common are wood, foam, carbon fiber, and fiberglass.
Wood skimboard: Pros and Cons
Wooden skimboards are the traditional material for making skimboards. They are heavy and durable, which makes them ideal for inland skimboarding. However, there are some disadvantages to using a wooden skimboard.
One disadvantage of wooden skimboards is that they are much heavier than their modern counterparts. This can make them difficult to transport and can also make it more difficult to do tricks on them, but they do pop much better than foam boards.
Additionally, wooden skimboards are not as buoyant as other materials, so they may not be the best choice for surfing or wave riding.
Another disadvantage of wooden skimboards is that they are not as flexible as other materials. This means that they are more likely to break if you land on them wrong. Additionally, wooden skimboards can be more difficult to repair if they do break.
Overall, wooden skimboards have some advantages and disadvantages.
They are durable and sturdy, but they are also heavy and inflexible. If you are looking for a traditional inland skimboard experience, then a wooden skimboard may be the right choice for you.
However, if you are looking for a lighter and more flexible board, then you may want to consider other options.
Mahogany, plywood and birch are all popular woods for skimboards.
Mahogany is a dense wood that is resistant to moisture and insects. This makes it a good choice for boards that will be used in the water. Mahogany is also a beautiful wood with a reddish hue, which makes it a popular choice for decorative boards.
Plywood is a type of wood that is made by gluing together multiple layers of wood veneer. Plywood is strong and stiff, which makes it a good choice for skimboards. Additionally, plywood is relatively inexpensive, which makes it a good choice for budget-conscious buyers.
Birch is a hardwood that is similar to mahogany in terms of density and strength. Birch is also resistant to moisture and rot, making it a good choice for wet conditions. Additionally, birch has a light color, which makes it really stand out.
Foam skimboard: Pros and Cons
Foam skimboards are the most popular type of skimboard on the market today. They are lighter and more maneuverable than wooden boards, making them ideal for wave riding and surfing.
Additionally, foam boards are much more buoyant than wooden boards, so you can float on them for longer periods of time and they are affectionately called “foamies”.
However, there are some disadvantages to using a foam skimboard. One disadvantage is that they are not as durable as wooden boards and can be easily damaged and chipped. Additionally, foam boards are not as stiff as wooden boards, so they may not pop as well.
This makes them less suitable for tricks on flatland skimming.
Closed cell foam is the most common type of foam used in skimboards.
Closed cell foam is made by bonding together small bubbles of gas. This creates a strong, lightweight material that is resistant to water and compression.
Additionally, closed cell foam is very buoyant, making it ideal for wave riding and surfing.
Another disadvantage of foam boards is that they are not as easy to repair as wooden boards. If you damage your foam board, it may be difficult to patch it up or replace the damaged parts.
Foam boards are, however, never only foam but have a foam core. So the outer layer is always either carbon fiber or fiberglass around a high density foam material inner core.
Fiberglass skimboard: Pros and Cons
Fiberglass skimboards are the newest type of skimboard on the market. They are made with a foam core and have a fiberglass outer layer.
Fiberglass boards are lightweight and stiff, making them ideal for wave riding and surfing.
However, there are some disadvantages to using a fiberglass skimboard. One disadvantage is that they are more expensive than wooden boards.
There are different types of fiberglass, and each has a different weave.
- A looser weave will result in a more flexible board that is less likely to snap but it will be slower, but their light weight makes them practically float.
- A tight weave will produce a much stiffer, faster board which can also tend to snap easily.
Heavier weaves are stronger but heavier than lighter-weight weaves.
Fiberglass is more expensive than wooden boards, but it’s cheaper than the carbon fiber solution.
It’s great for getting into small waves but also works well on wet sand and beach skimming. It’s a perfect introduction to the more professional skimboards that are often made out of foam core carbon fiber.
Fiberglass vs e glass
You’ll also often hear the term e glass used with skimboards, but that basically means fiberglass so don’t be fooled about it being “the next big thing”.
E-Glass is a type of glass that was originally developed for use as insulation between electrical wires. It was later found to have excellent fiber-forming capabilities and is now mostly used as the reinforcing phase in the material known as fiberglass.
Carbon Fiber surfboard: Pros and Cons
Carbon fiber surfboards are the latest and most advanced type of surfboard on the market. They are made with a carbon fiber outer layer and a foam core.
Carbon fiber boards are lighter and stiffer than fiberglass boards, making them ideal for wave riding and surfing.
It’s also often a smaller board, and more narrow, real high performance boards for catching waves and a fast riding style.
Additionally, carbon fiber is a very high-end material that is very strong and very stiff, making it a very fast board.
However, there are some disadvantages to using a carbon fiber surfboard. One disadvantage is that they are more expensive than wooden boards and fiberglass boards.
Another disadvantage of carbon fiber surfboards is that they are easy to snap.
They are the fastest boards around though and perfect for if you want to catch bigger waves further out from shore.
Is carbon fiber lighter than fiberglass?
Carbon fiber is typically lighter than any fiberglass composites, with around 15% less weight. This not only makes it more durable but also the best option for any board you want to take out into the water.
Fiberglass skimboards with carbon fiber tips
You can also buy some skimboard brands that sell fiberglass skimboards, but with carbon fiber tips.
They don’t have the expensive strong outer shell across the entire surface area of the board, but instead they use the strongest and most expensive material only on the tips of the board.
This way, you get a slightly cheaper board while still protecting the tips, which get the most hits from rocks, shells and sand when your board nosedives under water.
So this can also be a good choice to get into carbon fiber.
They often also use the less expensive resin as a glue to save money though, so they might be less durable in more ways than one.
Plus you miss out on the lighter-weight material of carbon fiber.
Three varieties of resin: polyester, vinyl ester, and epoxy
Polyester resin is the most common type of resin used in skimboard construction. It is inexpensive and easy to use, but it is not as strong or durable as other types of resin.
Vinyl ester resin is a more expensive type of resin that is stronger and more durable than polyester resin.
It is also often used in boat construction where strength and durability are important, such as in the hull or deck.
With skimboards, it’s a bit softer which makes it perfect for resisting scratches and dents from rocks and seashells in the water.
With properly applied vinyl ester resin, your board will normally last a lot longer, and that’s often one of the big differences in cheap vs more expensive boards.
Epoxy resin is the strongest and most durable type of resin. It is often used in boat construction for critical components, such as the keel or rudder.
So it’s great for your critical board as well!
Epoxy resin is more expensive than polyester or vinyl ester resin, but it is worth the investment for its strength and durability.
You’ll often find it on carbon fiber boards as it makes it even more durable, it would be a waste to glue carbon fiber with vinyl ester resin, and on the other hand, it would be very expensive to use epoxy on otherwise cheaper fiberglass or wood.
When choosing a skimboard, consider what material you want and what level of durability you need. If you are just starting out, a polyester glued wooden board may be all you need.
But if you are an experienced rider or plan to ride in rough conditions, you may want to invest in a fiberglass or carbon fiber board made with vinyl ester or epoxy resin.