Fiberglass cloth is typically what is used to strengthen and waterproof a foam surfboard – or any type of surfboard really. It’s one of the key components of a durability of a surfboard.
There are a few different types of fiberglass you can choose from – each with its own weight, flex, and appearance characteristics.
Alternatively, you can look to alternative materials for glassing a surfboard – offering potential for a more eco-friendly surfboard with unique weight, flex, and appearance properties of its own.
Types of Fiberglass Used for Surfboards
Fiberglass, which consists of woven silicon (glass) fibers, is the most common wrap material for surfboards.
Some of the common types for surfboard applications include:
- E-Glass, or electrical-grade fiberglass – fibers are woven in an equal distribution both ways – length and width. E glass is easy to wet out and lightweight.
- S-Glass – originally designed for military application, S-glass is a bit stronger (anywhere from 10% to 30%), stiffer, and lighter than E-glass, and therefore costs a bit more.
- Wrap Glass – has more fibers running lengthwise, providing more strength from the nose to the tail of the surfboard. Wrap Glass typically uses less resin and is easy to wet out.
- Volan cloth – one of the original types of marine-specific fiberglass used in surfboards and fins. Volan is a bit heavier than its more modern counterparts and has a greenish-tint to it when cured.
Natural Alternatives to Fiberglass Cloth
Fiberglass is not your only option when laminating a surfboard.
You can really use any type of “cloth” material that you’d be able to lay out and saturate over your surfboard.
More and more board makers are continuing to experiment with new materials for laminating a surfboard – and each comes with its own unique looks and performance characteristics.
Some alternatives to fiberglass cloth for surfboards include:
- Bamboo cloth
- Hemp cloth
- Flax cloth
- Timber veneers
- Basalt cloth
Each alternative material is going to take a little bit of different processing than fiberglass.
You’ll need to figure out the best way to cut, wet-out, and lap the alternative materials. But the end result can be a more sustainable surfboard that’ll surf well and last long.