What Are Paddle Boards Made Of? [SUP Construction]

What are paddle boards made of?

What are paddle boards made of? A variety of materials are used to make paddle boards. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic and/or wood are often used to make solid boards. In addition, PVC material is used to make inflatable paddle boards.

The majority of paddle boards are constructed of one of the following materials:

  • SUPs are made of one piece of rotomolded plastic.
  • Soft paddle boards are mostly made of foam, with some plastic bits thrown in for good measure.
  • Paddle boards made of wood have a hollow core.
  • Epoxy paddle boards – Fiberglass-reinforced plastic with polyester or epoxy resin over a foam core is used to make these sturdy boards.
  • Carbon Fiber – Instead of fiberglass, carbon fiber layers surround foam cores in the manufacture of paddle boards.
  • PVC and Polycarbonates — Almost all inflatable SUPs are constructed using the drop-stitch technique and are made of durable PVC (see below).

What Are Paddle Boards Made Of?

The inside bladder of all inflatable paddle boards is made of drop stitch fabric. Drop stitch is made up of two parallel sheets of fabric joined by thousands of 5-inch or 6-inch long threads. When the top and bottom fabric sheets are linked by airtight material and the bladder is filled, the threads prevent them from bending.

A paddle board’s inflatable core is made of a single layer (with various varieties), fusion, or dual-layer construction. The rails are made of single or double rail bands, with extra reinforcing strips for stiffness in certain circumstances. Here’s a quick rundown of each construction, along with some extra notes.

Single Layer construction

Most boards priced under $700 have a single-layer drop-stitch construction. The drop stitch core is made from single-ply fabric sheets at the top and bottom, sealed with a layer of flexible PVC plastic coating. Because the material isn’t extremely hard by nature, boards made in this manner are virtually always 6 inches thick.

Some firms use single-layer constructions but give their materials made-up names to make it seem that they are fusion materials. Single-layer boards have a bouncy feel and are more prone to puncture and leaking. Many firms will take advantage of this since there is no globally agreed naming practice.

Companies who employ a single layer of materials for their rail design are more likely to compensate with an over-the-top rail layer design (implying 3 or 4 ‘layers) that provides no practical advantage since you can’t add strength to a weak core after the fact.

Fusion construction

Two layers of fabric are permanently linked to each other on the top and bottom sheets of the drop stitch, with a layer of PVC coating on the exterior. This construction will be available in boards starting at $900. Because of the material’s increased stiffness, boards may be made with 5 thicknesses without resorting to excessive board thickness for rigidity.

Some companies are insinuating the use of fusion materials on boards that are really made of single-layer fabric, which is a cause for worry. For the purpose of promotion, some creative layer-counting occurs, so take construction claims with a grain of salt. Counting adhesives or coatings as layers is a typical practice, which muddles the waters considerably. The usage of crossing weave single layer in single layer boards that claim to be fusion or dual-layer has grown prevalent.

Fusion boards are often referred to as ‘dual-layer fusion’ boards, but this is a misnomer as all real fusion boards employ a double-layer drop stitch by definition. The argument for employing a lighter or more condensed primary layer is to reduce the paddle board weight limit – but this might result in boards being too light on water, making them more susceptible to wind and current influences.

Dual-Layer construction

Dual-layer construction is the “cost is no object” inflatable layup. It begins with a single-layer inner bladder, but the whole bladder is subsequently laminated with a PVC-coated fabric sheet. Extra coating layers between the fabric sheets offer improved durability, stiffness, and rocker profile control. They are also more difficult to pierce and less prone to leaking.

Extra-structure construction adds around 3-4 lbs to the board weight and a considerable increase in material cost when compared to fusion construction. This construction may be utilized to make a board that is exceptionally balanced and stable underfoot. While various manufacturers may utilize identical materials, differing construction processes may have a significant influence on a board’s lifetime and performance.

Fusion material boards are made up of two layers of fabric with a single coating applied to the outside surfaces and the second layer of PVC-coated fabric laminated to them. Although fusion material has two fabric layers, there is a distinction to be made between fused material boards and actual dual-layer construction boards.

Construction with a single skin

The board is made up of two different construction techniques – the Single Skin or Single Layer Technology and the rigid SUP. All of the construction techniques begin with the drop stitch: hundreds of internal threads that enable the board to only expand to a certain point before pulling tight and forming the rigid shape when filled with air.

This construction has a little lower maximum weight than the stringer or laminated variants, which provides for an extremely lightweight SUP for someone on a budget. On the downside, owing to fewer layers and a bit more flex in the boards, they won’t be as durable or provide as realistic a paddling sensation as the other constructions.

Stringer Construction

Stringer Technology’s inflatable paddleboard is constructed in the same way as the single-layer drop stitch with a single PVC coating. A thin stringer runs along the center of the paddle board from nose to tail to give extra stiffness, as in conventional surfboard construction. The stringer on these inflatable SUPs is a rather large PVC strip glued along the middle of the board.

The stringer is a useful tool, but will not transform your life. The increased material provides a more solid base, resulting in a better paddling experience. Because it’s just a little amount of material, it doesn’t add much weight, and the prices for these SUPs remain reasonable. They still don’t have the same level of stiffness as the whole two-layer construction shown below.

Fusion Double-Layer construction

Inflatable SUPs are 20-25 percent lighter and 25-30 percent stiffer. This may result in a weight loss of up to 2kg, which is significant! These SUPs may be more costly than other constructions. If you want the optimum performance, we recommend a laminated double-layer board. However, are inflatable paddle boards worth it?

Double Layer Woven Fusion

The Weave Fusion double-layer construction is a premium technology in the inflatable SUP manufacturing process that was introduced about three years ago, with Gladiator being the first to recognize this new stiffer lighter material and Starboard coming in second. The single-skin version of this material is also used in their compact boards.

This new material really comes into its own for riders who are portaging a lot on the river and canal settings or riders who struggle carrying things heavy. This could be a shorter lighter rider or a rider with back concerns, and admittedly this is stiff and light in comparison to the already stiff and lightweight material of fusion double laminated.

Double-Layer Glued Construction

Glued double-layer construction is currently only used on boards that need extreme strength (river / rapid) or older brands that use obsolete technology. The single-layer board is dropped stitch coated in a first PVC layer and then glued onto it. This varies from stringer technology in that it covers the whole board rather than just a strip along the middle.

It’s also common to have an additional layer surrounding the board’s rails. Other brands have phased out this construction style for all but specialized boards, replacing it with a ‘laminated double-layer construction or Woven technology’.

Side Wall/Rail Construction

Paddleboard sidewalls vary in quality from one manufacturer to the next, but they are one of the most crucial components of the construction and something we pay particular attention to. Brands provide a superior triple rail edge sidewall construction by bringing the top and bottom layers together and gluing them together, then applying a 1.5 strip to seal it and another 2.5′ strip over that to create a triple layer rail.

On Starboard’s deluxe, a heat seal is applied first, followed by a PVC layer for aesthetics. A triple rail edge is also available from Fanatic premium and Shark, which adds a strip to the top and bottom of the paddle board rails. All of the other brands feature a solid double-layer rail with a 2″ strip to seal the board and a 3″ strip that enhances strength.

A  paddle board with thin sidewalls should be avoided at all costs. This indicates a lack of understanding of the forces acting on the rail of the paddle board and creates a weakness in terms of rail failure due to poor gluing. With this construction, brands will often grade their items at 15 psi or lower, knowing that the paddle board will not be able to sustain the greater pressure and will collapse at the seams (pop).

Grasping the intricate details of paddleboard composition is undeniably paramount. Yet, paralleling this importance is the safeguarding of oneself amid aquatic adventures. As we are on the brink of journeying through varied paddleboard styles, we must pause to highlight a crucial companion for every paddleboarder – the best life vest for paddle boarding. An aptly-selected vest not only acts as a shield against unforeseen water perils but also elevates the joy of gliding over water waves, leaving you free to concentrate solely on mastering your craft.

Design of Paddle Board

SUP Design in 3D

Paddle boards just joined the market utilizing the most efficient production processes that the surfboard industry had previously explored and produced. Most current paddle boards, like surfboards, are created utilizing computer 3D technology. Unlike earlier and more conventional hand-shaping of boards, 3D computer graphics enables designers to evaluate a SUP’s seaworthiness, buoyancy, and performance before it is produced.

SUPs with Hand Shaping

Despite the fact that hand-shaping is an older, slower, and labor-intensive method of making paddle boards, some SUPs are still hand-shaped towards the end of the manufacturing process. Individual businesses and bespoke paddle board builders create exquisite paddle boards from wood and/or fiberglass. Each SUP board is handcrafted into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Paddle board Construction

Solid Paddle Boards

Most paddle boards are solid and resemble large surfboards. For strength and longevity, the foam core is covered in a variety of materials, including wood and/or PVC veneer, fiberglass, and epoxy materials. EPS—Expanded Polystyrene Foam—is used as a core in modern solid paddle boarding materials and construction processes (called a blank).

The density of the foam core determines how light or heavy a paddle board is. Paddle boards with a less thick core foam are lighter. Foam cores that aren’t extremely thick, on the other hand, aren’t particularly robust. As a result, paddles with solid layers might be made of foam, solid plastic, wood, or carbon fiber.

What are the materials that plastic paddle boards are made of? SUPs are made in one of two methods – solid Polyethylene plastic or a hard molded PE plastic shell surrounding a foam or hollow core. Paddle boards made of thermoplastic have a hard moldy PE plastic outer shell and a foam inner shell.

Wood stringers are nearly solely used to construct foam SUPs, which are then made in a molded foam or foam-based EPS core. The top and bottom of the core are then heat laminated with high-density polyethylene foam. Paddle boards with foam tops are often referred to as “soft top” paddle boards.

The most frequent fiberglass paddle board construction technique is a wood sandwich. One of the sandwiched layers is a wood veneer layer. The center of the board, where you stand, is made of wood sandwich construction with some PVC construction. This is to strengthen the region of the body that bears the greatest weight. Following that, further alternating layers of fiberglass, wood, and veneer are applied.

Carbon fiber paddle boards have foam cores, but instead of fiberglass layers, they have carbon fiber stacking. Some carbon paddle boards feature a fiberglass layer. This allows the paddle board to be sanded to a smooth surface. Finally, a layer of paint is sprayed on the carbon fiber shell to reflect sunlight and prevent overheating.

Inflatable Paddle Boards

Two layers of polyester fabric are “drop made” together to create an inflatable paddle board. The exterior surfaces of both sides of the material are then coated with an airtight coating. Polyester fabric used for the SUP sidewalls is coated on both sides, and wide-seam tape is glued over each seam.

Drop stitching is a method of sewing tens of thousands of small threads between two layers of fabric using up to 400 individual needles on a drop stitching machine. The outcome is a highly sturdy product that stretches and shrinks to the form of a paddle board thanks to the length of flexibly-joined fabric materials.

One layer of the drop-stitch core is sewed together and then bonded with a layer of PVC material in single-layer SUP boards. These inflatable SUPs are less expensive and lighter. In double-layer inflatable boards, the initial layer of material is strengthened by a PVC layer. These boards are heavier and more difficult to maneuver but do not age well.

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Paddle Board Types

Paddle boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the terrain and intensity. Some are thinner and sleeker, with greater room for fishing gear. So, before we go into what materials paddle boards are made of, let’s go through the different sorts.

These are the most popular paddle boards on the market. Stability and balance are significantly simpler to accomplish with a broad deck pad, which is usually wider in breadth. Are you undecided about whether you want to ride the waves or relax on a lake? Then bring along this all-around paddle board!

Epoxy Paddle Board

Paddle boards epoxy is very nimble in the water, and their form allows for even more glide, making them ideal for long-distance paddling. They are often constructed of EPS foam and numerous layers of fiberglass and epoxy resin. This construction results in a lighter, more durable hard paddle board that provides the rider with both mobility and flexibility.

Inflatable Paddle board

It’s made of PVC and can roll up to the size of a sleeping bag for convenient storage. This is a great option for your next vacation, particularly since it may be used in any area of the country. Inflatable stand-up paddle boards have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ease of storage and transportation to and from the water. They are made using the drop-stitch technique and high-density PVC layers, resulting in a solid SUP. Simply inflate your paddle board to the recommended PSI and you’re ready to paddle.

Soft Top Paddleboards

The front deck of a soft-top paddle board is constructed of a spongy, soft foam substance, similar to that of a surfboard. However, since the core of the board is made of robust and solid materials, foam SUPs are still stiff. Other manufacturers do have an extra layer fused with fiberglass and epoxy resin.

SUP Boards for Fishing

Paddle boards may be used for a variety of activities, including fishing. You can remain high and dry out of the water because of its large volume and roomy design, while still having plenty of room for your belongings.

Paddleboards for Touring

Touring paddle boards are a great option for those long-distance outings on flat water. This will undoubtedly fulfill anyone’s thirst for excitement and a high-intensity exercise, thanks to its maximum glide and efficiency. In addition, its broad and sturdy design is suitable for novices!

Paddleboards for Surfing

Are you ready to lift the ante in terms of pleasure and difficulty? Its large surfboard-like form is ideal for more experienced paddlers! This style is most often seen in the hands of surfers riding the sea’s spectacular waves. Why not join them once you have this type of paddle board?

Paddleboards for Racing

If you live for thrills, you may need a paddle board that is more suited to breaking neck speeds and extended glides. That’s exactly what racing paddle boards can provide! So, if you’re looking for a reliable board for a tournament or two, buy one up!

Final Thoughts

What are paddle boards made of can help you decide on durability, weight, performance, and pricing, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each construction. When you purchase at SUP Inflatables, you can be certain that we only carry high-quality boards from companies we know and trust.

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