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Finish Coat for Durability

Finish coating a surfboard

Finish Coat for Durability

When talking about the final finish of your surfboard, people talk about a “sand finish” (Matt Finish as I call it) and a Gloss Finish. If you search around you’ll see that usually when people talk about a Matt Finish they are referring to your shaper sanding the resin Fill Coat (also called Hot Coat) to say #220 grit sandpaper or whatever their preference is in how they define “Matt” Finish. A Gloss Finish on the other hand is achieved by sanding the Fill Coat to something like #150 and then adding another layer of resin which they aptly call a Gloss Coat for a Finish Coat. That they’ll sand all the way up to #2000 grit paper plus a couple more steps to get the super shine. When you sand something to achieve a shine, basically all you are doing is making ever smaller and smaller scratches as you increase your “grit count” in the sandpaper. That’s it!

So, I don’t know if you notice something here. Why can’t you just sand the Fill Coat up to #2000 and get it to shine instead of adding an extra layer of resin? Well that’s because with all that extra sanding you are probably going to sand right through the Fill Coat into the cloth or crap arse through the cloth. That sucks! This results in a super porous board which ain’t going to last very long. You might as well just save yourself money and not fibreglass the foam at all 😛

If you go and “surf” the internet (how did that saying comeabout anyway?), you’ll find out the pro’s and con’s of “Sand Finish” vs “Gloss Finish”. SurfScience has a great article here. They talk about:

Sand/Matt Finish:

  • Weight: A little lighter because an extra layer of resin has not been added.
  • Cost: Cheaper because your surfboard shaper is not adding in the cost of that extra layer of resin and labour to achieve a gloss.
  • Speed: Apparently some folks say it is faster. I find that hard to believe because Matt = rough = more friction.
  • Durability: More porous and so increasing risk of water damage. Definitely true as your shaper cannot catch all the pinholes and burnthroughs he/she has created.
  • Aesthetics: I guess this is subjective really.

Gloss Finish:

  • Weight: A little heavier because of the extra layer of resin that has been added.
  • Cost: More expensive because your surfboard shaper IS adding in the cost of an extra layer of resin to sand.
  • Speed: Frankly I think this is faster because Gloss = smooth = less friction. But how can anyone really tell anyway???
  • Durability: Heck A LOT less porous and so greatly reducing the risk of water damage.
  • Aesthetics: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

So now that we got all that cleared up, I say why the heck can’t you add that additional layer of resin (I.e. Finish Coat) and still get your Matt Finish? You got to sand it anyway through the “Matt” stages in order to get to the Gloss”. We know we can’t try to get a gloss from sanding the Fill Coat layer. So if we sand that “Gloss Coat” to a Matt, you get a hell of a lot more durable of a surfboard that is going to last longer.

And so this is what I believe in. Whether you want a Matt or Gloss Finish, I am going to do that extra “Finish Coat”. I want your surfboard to be durable and last a long time. And when your surfboard is already carrying your 150~200lb body, I really don’t think you can notice the tiny difference in weight that extra 1mm or less thickness of resin makes. What you do notice is your surfboard lasting longer and ultimately giving you many more smiles. And hey, the longer the life your surfboard has, the less waste we are creating on our planet. Everyone should be making products that last!