line of fish shaped surfboards in a row to demonstrate the difference of Pu boards vs. epoxy surfboards

PU Boards vs. Epoxy Surfboards

Have you ever wondered what the difference between PU boards vs. epoxy surfboards (EPS boards)? Or maybe you didn’t even know that different types of materials are used to make different boards?

No worries, because today, we’re getting technical, delving into the surprisingly complicated topic of how PU and EPS surfboards are made, and what sets them apart from one another.

So, whether you’re looking to purchase a new board and are weighing up your options, or just want to learn more about surfboards, you’ve come to the right place. 

Let’s dive in!

PU boards vs. Epoxy Surfboards – the difference in a nutshell

Want to know the difference between PU and Epoxy surfboards, but don’t have time to read the full post? Here’s a chart with everything you need to know in a nutshell:

Chart detailing the differences between PU and Epoxy surfboards

Now, for the true surfboard nerds among us, we’re going to get technical, going into detail on how, exactly, the materials and manufacturing processes for PU boards vs. epoxy surfboards differ, and what impact that has on your ride. 

PU Surfboards (Polyurethane Surfboards)

Surfer riding a PU board on a right hand wave with light shining through

PU surfboards are boards that have been made with a polyurethane foam core, which has been the go-to core material for most surfboards since the 1950s! 

They’re favored amongst experienced and professional surfers thanks to their responsiveness underfoot and versatility, making them suitable for a range of conditions. 

Once the polyurethane foam core of a PU board has been made, the board is glassed with polyester resin to create a solid and protective shell around the board’s foam core. This creates a durable and most importantly, waterproof board. 

PU boards can also be glassed with epoxy, but this isn’t as common.

How PU boards are made

shaping a PU surfboard by shaping down the foam blank

There’s an impressive amount of work and craftsmanship that goes into creating surfboards, especially PU boards. The process starts with a polyurethane foam blank, which is a big piece of polyurethane foam that’s roughly in the shape of a surfboard. This will need shaving down and shaping into the right size and style of the board, and will make up the board’s core. 

Here’s an overview of how a PU board is made:

  1. Adding the stringer: The first step in the process is for the surfboard shaper to glue a wooden stringer down the center of the polyurethane foam blank. This stringer acts as the board’s spine, giving the board its strength and flex.
  2. Shaping the foam core: Once the stringer is in place, the shaping process really begins, with the shaper using tools like saws and planers to sculpt the board into its intended shape. This includes carving out the rocker (the amount of curve the board has), the board’s rails (the sides of the board), and holes for the fin boxes and leash plug.
  3. Artwork and logos: If the shaper will be adding any artwork to the board, they can do so directly to the sealed foam blank before laying the fiberglass.
  4. Glassing: Once the board’s foam core has been shaped, the shaper will lay fiberglass cloth over the core and then apply polyester resin over the top. The resin is what hardens the fiberglass cloth to create a protective and solid shell around the core, giving the board its water resistance. The more layers of fiberglass and resin are added, the stronger (and heavier) the board will be. 
  5. Adding fin boxes and other features: The shaper will then add the leash plugs and fin boxes to the board, and seal them in with an additional layer of resin.
  6. Sanding and finishing: Once the resin has set, it’s time to sand the surfboard to make sure it’s smooth and free of any imperfections. This isn’t just a beautifying step – since sanding affects how water will flow against the board’s surface, it can affect the board’s performance too.

And there you have it: a brand new Polyurethane Surfboard!

Pros and Cons of traditional Polyurethane surfboards

PU surfboards lying in the sand close to the ocean


✔️ More responsive and controllable flex and feel underfoot, providing a classic ride.

✔️ Slightly added weight offers a balanced ride, with enough weight to keep momentum up in smaller or choppier waves.

✔️ Best maneuverability and speed for tight control and sharp turns

✔️ Faster to fix, as polyester resin cures faster than epoxy.


Not durable. PU boards are far more likely to get dinged, dented, damaged, or even snap in half compared to EPS boards! 

❌ Can take on water if the dings aren’t repaired quickly, ruining the entire board.

❌ The manufacturing process of polyurethane foam and polyester resin is more toxic for the environment than the manufacturing process for EPS boards. 

❌ PU foam is not recyclable.

❌ The flex of PU boards can weaken over time, leading to a less responsive feel in the water.

❌ Fixed density of polyurethane foam means limited variability of buoyancy for PU boards.

EPS Surfboards

Woman holding an epoxy surfboard on the beach with stormy waves

EPS surfboards are the new kid on the block when it comes to surfboard construction technology, only hitting the mainstream market in the late 90s and early 2000s.

So, what’s the difference between Pu boards vs. epoxy surfboards? At their core (pun intended) it’s the material used for the board’s blank. EPS stands for Expanded Poly Styrene and this is a different foam to the polyurethane used for the core of PU boards.

Another key difference is the resin used on EPS surfboards. EPS boards are usually glassed with epoxy resin, which is why you may hear people calling EPS boards epoxy boards – the two names are used interchangeably. 

Epoxy is stronger and more flexible than the polyester resin used for PU boards, leading to my first surf instructor describing epoxy boards as “bombproof”.

He even went so far as to say that you could throw an EPS board off a cliff and it wouldn’t break! A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it just goes to show how durable these boards are. That’s also why you’ll find that most beginner boards, and boards used as rentals, are EPS/epoxy. 

When it comes to the feel of the ride, EPS surfboards are usually lighter and have a more buoyant feel in the water than the more traditional PU boards. The difference in weight will be more felt with long boards than shortboards.

How EPS boards are made

Image detailing the breakdown of Torq Epoxy Surfboards and what they're made of

Torq makes high-quality epoxy surfboards


Although the process of making an EPS board largely follows the same pattern as PU boards, there are a few key differences. Here’s the process:

  1. (Optional) Adding the stringer: Unlike PU boards, which almost always have a stringer, the use of a stringer in EPS boards is far more variable. This is because EPS boards’ strength from epoxy resin reduces the need for a stringer. However, if a stringer is added to an EPS board, it’ll be to add even more strength or better control of the flex, which is more commonly needed with longboards and stand up paddleboards.
  2. Shaping the foam core: Just like with PU boards, the process begins with a blank, but this time, the blank is made of EPS foam, a lighter material formed from small beads of polystyrene fused together. The shaper then carves out the rails, rocker, and creates the overall shape of the board, cutting holes for the fin boxes and leash plug.
  3. Artwork and logos: If the shaper will be adding any artwork to the board, they can do so directly to the sealed foam blank. While not all EPS foam surfboard blanks need to be sealed, it’s typically done if there will be any artwork applied, to create an easier surface to work on. 
  4. Glassing: Once the core has been shaped the shaper will cover it with layers of fiberglass cloth. This time, though, the shaper will apply epoxy resin over the fiberglass, rather than the polyester resin used for PU boards. Since epoxy takes longer to set than polyester resin, the shaper needs to keep the board in a controlled environment for the resin to create a strong and even bond with the foam core.
  5. Adding fin boxes and leash plugs: Just like with PU boards, the shaper then places the fin boxes and leash plugs into their holes and seals them in with resin.
  6. Sanding and finishing: The sanding process for EPS boards follows the same process as PU boards.

Pros and Cons of EPS surfboards


✔️ Super lightweight

✔️ Extra buoyancy makes catching waves and paddling easier. Thanks to this added buoyancy, you may be able to surf on a shorter EPS board compared to your usual PU board.

✔ ️ Durable, well-suited to rough handling like road trips or air travel.

✔️ EPS foam is recyclable

✔️ Manufacturing of EPS boards releases less toxic omissions. 


❌ Some surfers find the ride too light or “corky”. 

❌ Stiffer flex may not suit those who prefer the traditional flex feel of a PU board.

Adjusting to EPS boards’ buoyancy and response can take time for some surfers.

Polyester Resin vs. Epoxy Resin

As we’ve covered, polyester resin is typically used to make PU boards and epoxy resin is usually used to make EPS boards. 

Polyester resin is known for its ability to cure quickly and for being easy to work with, making it one of the most popular and traditional choices for surfboard making. However, it’s also known for being more fragile than the alternatives available nowadays, and its production emits more toxic compounds than epoxy resin. 

Epoxy resin, on the other hand, offers better strength, durability, and water resistance than polyester, reducing the risk of the board getting damaged and absorbing water. It’s also more environmentally friendly, with lower toxic emissions, but in turn it costs more and requires a longer curing time than polyester.

Should I get a PU, Epoxy, or Epoly surfboard?

line of fish shaped surfboards in a row


So, now that you’re all clued up about the different types of surfboard out there, you probably have one pressing question: what type of surfboard should you get?

Well, that totally depends on what you’re looking for. 

Beginner surfers tend to prefer epoxy (EPS) boards, since they’re lightweight, have more buoyancy, are very durable, and are less damage-prone, meaning you won’t need to worry about nicks and scratches like you would a PU board.

Are you a beginner surfer? Check out our guide on the most helpful longboarding tips for beginners!

Experienced surfers and traditionalists generally go for PU boards, thanks to their classic feel and their ability to perform on many different types of wave.

Epoly boards are the middle ground between the two, and a fairly new addition to the surfboard industry. They combine the best parts of PU and EPS boards – the lightweight and strong characteristics of epoxy, along with the classic flex and feel of PU boards. They’re perfect for intermediate surfers looking to try out different wave conditions and carve out their own style.

If in doubt, it’s best to head to your local surf shop to ask questions or speak to your local shaper. They’ll be able to advise you on the best type of board for your ability and the local breaks.

Popular Epoxy surfboard shapers/brands

  • NSP (Nature Surfing Products): Known for their near-indestructible epoxy boards, NSP has a massive range of all sorts of board shapes to choose from. The founder’s vision was to design a board you could throw in the back of your truck, leave in the sun, or lend to a friend without worrying about damage.
  • Firewire: With a motto as compelling as “the future under your feet” it’s clear that Firewire isn’t messing around with its approach to creating some of the most innovative and high-performance epoxy boards on the market.
  • Torq Surfboards: Combining environmentally-conscious construction and durable materials, Torq Surfboards create epic epoxy boards in all shapes and sizes.

Surfers walking down the beach with torq surfboards made from epoxy

Popular PU surfboard shapers/brands

  • Rusty Surfboards: Rusty Surfboards have been pumping out some of the coolest and most reliable PU boards for almost 40 years, catering to all surfers and waves.
  • JS Industries: Famous for their PU “carbon fusion” surfboards, JS Industries has become the go-to choice for top competitive surfers thanks to their research-driven approach to board design.
  • Sharp Eye: Sharp Eye surfboards are growing in popularity since their boards have been ridden by world champion Felipe Toledo and won the Stab in the dark competition in 2021.

PU and Epoxy surfboard FAQs

Can I use Polyester resin to repair my epoxy board?

Absolutely not! The Polyester resin will make the EPS melt after a while. 

Can I use epoxy resin to repair my PU board?

If you have a PU surfboard you can actually fix it with epoxy resin or polyester resin, but it’s better to fix it with polyester resin.

Tip: taking a surf trip? Be sure to pack a little ding repair kit with the appropriate resin for your board! A ding repair kit is one of our favorite surf gear essentials.

PU boards vs. Epoxy surfboards: Final thoughts

While it’s clear that PU and EPS/epoxy boards do offer a different experience to surfers, the material your board’s core is made out of isn’t the be-all and end-all. The board’s volume, the way it’s glassed, its shape, and even the use of other materials in the board’s construction can all impact a board’s rideability and durability.

We hope this post has cleared up all of your questions about Pu boards vs. Epoxy surfboards! 

If you’re keen to test out some different types of boards yourself, join us in Costa Rica to surf spectacular, warm waves at our beachfront surf and yoga retreat.