The surfboard’s deck is the top of the surfboard. It’s where your feet, wax, and traction pads go. It’s what takes the most day-to-day abuse between duck-diving, popping up, and wiping out. And it’s a place where shapers can really play with the volume and affect the flex characteristics of a board.
The deck of a surfboard has a lot to do with rail shape and rail distribution as well. Certainly something to consider when shopping for your next board.
Common Types of Surfboard Decks
Surfboard decks can be classified into 3 common categories.
- The dome deck.
- The flat deck.
- The stepped deck.
Each is going to perform a little differently, and one may suit a certain style of surfing or a certain board design better than another.
Dome Deck Surfboards
Dome decks are the most common type of surfboard top. If you were to take a cross-section of a dome-decked surfboard, you’d find a smooth arch connecting from rail to rail.
Another way to think about dome decks is the rails flowing and blending towards the center of the board gradually.
This pushes the surfboard’s volume towards the center of the board and facilitates rail to rail turning.
Flat Deck Surfboards
Flat deck surfboards can be found on a lot of high performance shortboards. There is less volume throughout the entire cross-section of the board, the rails are thinner, and the volume of the board is somewhat evenly distributed.
A design like this increases flex with a super light, super thin surfboard, and snappy, maneuverable surfboard.
Step Deck Surfboards
Stepped-deck surfboards often feature a visual and drastic difference in volume toward the rails.
Stepped-decks feature more volume in the center of the board. They have a flat, raised area in the middle of the board that acts as a platform and thin rails on the outside.
It makes for a stiffer, stronger board that’s still fast and easy to maneuver.
Strengthening the Top of a Surfboard
Considering the deck of the surfboard takes the most abuse – from your knees, feet, heels, hands, etc. – it makes sense to reinforce it.
The typical glassing schedule already calls for an extra layer or two of fiberglass on the top of the surfboard, but there are other ways that you can add strength to a surfboard deck too.
- Heavier-weight fiberglass: Simply adding a heavier-weight fiberglass cloth or more cloth patches where you’ll place your feet can help strengthen the deck of the board.
- Carbon fiber: Many surfboards will feature strips of carbon fiber to help strength the deck and help it hold up to flex.
- Kevlar: Kevlar is extremely impact resistant, and can make for a super strong board without sacrificing weight. Kevlar tends to be on the more expensive side.
- Natural fibers: Cloth like Hemp, Bamboo, and Flax can make for a more natural and eco-friendly solution to a stronger surfboard deck. Many natural fiber cloths are light-weight and super strong with unique flex and recoil characteristics.