There is so much to consider when purchasing custom surfboards. Time and thought should be carefully put into every detail and with a little extra knowledge on the each material used in making custom surfboards you can better create the right surfboard for you. Here’s a little knowledge about fiberglass cloth and surfboard glassing that will help you make the best decision when you start to order your own custom surfboards.
The surfboard glassing process includes two main materials, resin and cloth, and to fiberglass a surfboard you need a combination both of these. There are many different options and combinations to choose from and therefore it is important to know your fiberglass cloth choices and their main functions. Every fiberglass cloth has a different weight that determines how much resin will be absorb.
The higher the weight (in ounces) the more resin will be absorbed and the stronger and heavier the surfboard. The smaller the weight the lighter and weaker the surfboard will be (due to the smaller amount of resin being absorbed). For this reason most shortboards are made with a 4oz cloth and longboards are almost always glassed with a 6oz fiberglass cloth.
In surfboard glassing you are mainly going to have to concern yourself with four separate types of fiberglass cloth:
E Glass: This ranges from a 4oz-6oz cloth. This would be your most standard fiberglass cloth for normal and custom surfboards. It’s a good balance between cost, strength and performance. If you’re not the type of surfer that goes through surfboards on a regular basis due to buckles and breaks this is probably more of what you are looking for.
Warp Bias E Glass: This particular fiberglass cloth also comes approximately 4-6oz and is made to be a little more absorbent than the traditional E Glass. It has slightly more yarn in the length of the weave that adds to the overall strength of the board and is designed for added stiffness and buckling resistance. If you are the type that often breaks and/or buckles your surfboards and this is most likely the cloth for you.
S-2 Glass: This is probably the strongest fiberglass cloth on that is used on surfboards ranging from about 4-6 ounces. It is designed more for high performance custom surfboards and also sailboards. Comparing it to the E Glass it shows significant improvements in every aspect of strength including tensile, flexural, and compressive strength. Basically if you are looking for the strongest fiberglass cloth used on custom surfboards you need not look any further. This is made to dominate the resistance and impact category giving you a strong reliable surfboard.
Volan: This specific fiberglass cloth is mainly used in “Old School” and “Retro” surfboard glassing. It comes in a 7.5oz weight that is designed to absorb a lot of resin. This gives you a strong board, but it does also make the board a bit heavier. Another thing to know is that it gives a slight green tint to the finish that works great on a gloss/polish clear, tinted, or pigmented board. In essence if you are ordering any “Retro” or “Old School” custom surfboards, and if you want a unique looking finish, look no more.
These are the main cloths that you have to choose from. When you begin to order custom surfboards I also recommend that you talk with the shaper or the glasser to see which of these fiberglass cloths they carry and to see if they have any other options you might be interested in. It’s also not a bad idea to ask them what kind they recommend for you and your level of surfing; they usually have great recommendations and opinions.