What are paddleboards made of?

You are only as good as your equipment. The knowledge of your paddleboard’s construction enables you to make informed decisions. This comes in especially handy if you are competing in tournaments or just touring the waters.

And suppose you just found yourself poking at the question, ‘what are paddleboards made of.’ In that case, you are in luck, as this post will be extensively picking apart the most common materials used to construct paddleboards.

You can construct your own paddleboard using these materials:

  1. Plastic
  2. Wood
  3. Foam
  4. Carbon Fiber
  5. Fiberglass and Epoxy resin
  6. PVC and Polycarbonates

Continue reading to find out how each material compares with its advantages and drawback

Let’s go!

6 Common Materials used in the production of paddleboards

1. Plastic Paddleboards

This is the perfect paddle board for beginners. Ideal for families looking for a durable SUP for the occasional family trip due to its relatively affordable plastic build.

You can construct Plastic SUPS in two ways:

The first is rotomolding (rotational molding), where a heated hollow mold in the shape of the paddle board is filled with plastic powders. The mold is then gently rolled about two perpendicular axes to maintain consistent thickness across the board as it takes shape. 

The other way involves constructing a rigid plastic shell of cooled molded polyethylene around a foam or hollow-core using thermoplastics.


The affordability of this paddle board comes in handy if you are still figuring out how to stand up paddle board.

The toughness of the plastic makes this paddle board durable and near resistant to wear from use. 


It lacks specific aerodynamic properties due to its plastic nature, making it slow and difficult to maneuver.

2. Wood Paddleboards

If you are not new to the paddleboarding world and primed for a cool-looking board with loads of performance, you should look no further than wood paddleboards. 

The main attraction is that they are highly customizable. Unlike plastic boards, where the significant difference is just the color, wood boards allow you to get knee-deep into the customization. 

The boards are made from a hollow wood frame with the top and bottom of the board carved out by taping strips of cypress, pine, cedar, or other wood types to both ends of the board. The whole board is then waterproofed with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin.


The best wood SUP builds are easily maneuverable and offer a lot in terms of speed

They are aesthetically pleasing and highly customizable


The custom nature of this order makes it one of the more expensive board types on this list

It is relatively cumbersome to store away

Fixing the board can be expensive

3. Foam Paddleboards

Some would argue that foam paddleboards are the perfect option if you are not covering a significant distance or intend to go about at high speeds. It is suitable if the plan is to paddle around the bay, taking in nature and appreciating the wildlife.

No two foam paddle boards are the same because there are quite some ways you can apply foam in the production of the board.

One method involves using only foam to make the board which is not advisable. It is good enough if you are new to paddleboarding, but it can damage easily. Another method makes it possible to create soft top paddle boards. This is achieved when high-density polyethylene (PE) foam laminates the top and bottom of a solid core.


Foam boards are cheap and readily available for sale in stores near you.

They are lightweight compared to their plastic and wood board counterparts

Foam boards are more accessible to store than the boards as mentioned above


They are very fragile.

It requires a sizable amount of space to store away.

4. Carbon Fiber

Did you ask for speed? Well, that’s what you get with these carbon fiber reinforced boards. They are designed to be light and easy to maneuver. The recipe for raw speed makes them excellent for racing pros trying to meet and beat the competition.

Carbon fiber boards can maintain top performance and stay durable because one layer of carbon fiber is more rigid than multiple layers of fiberglass. Although some carbon fiber boards feature fiberglass elements so the board can have a smooth finish and a layer of paint to reflect sunlight, keeping it from overheating.


One significant advantage above the other board types is that it is much lighter, easy to maneuver, and can attain much greater speeds.

The lightweight nature of this board type makes it very mobile and easy to store.


All these excellent properties do not come cheap. It is one of the more expensive options, and you would need a custom order more times than not to lay your hands on one.

Carbon fiber boards are solid but brittle and would need to be reinforced by other materials, usually fiberglass.

5. Fiberglass and Epoxy resin

Fiberglass boards are constructed by wrapping fiberglass layers around a foam core using expanded polystyrene and secured using an epoxy resin. A wood veneer is placed over the board and encased again in fiberglass and resin to create a sandwich of layers that confer the durability and strength of the fiberglass. 

Fiberglass can be used in SUP construction in two ways. Wood sandwich construction and advanced sandwich construction, with the significant difference being that there is no PVC in the advanced sandwich fiberglass construction, while the wood sandwich requires the addition of some PVC in the middle of the board. The PVC is added to the board section where you will stand to give it additional strength. 

The durable build of fiberglass boards makes them excellent for surfing, long-distance paddling, and racing.


The precision of the design makes fiberglass boards easy to maneuver and carry at incredible speeds.

Fiberglass boards are lightweight but weigh more than their carbon fiber buddies.


The uniqueness of design makes them relatively scarce and costly to own

They are somewhat fragile and can easily be damaged in storage or transit. Fixing a fiberglass board is not cheap. 

6. PVC and Polycarbonates

Inflatable paddleboards are constructed using PVC and Polycarbonates. This is made possible by a process called Dropstiching. This technology allows the construction of other inflatables like high-pressure rescue lifting bags and floating docks. 

This process can involve as many as 400 needles that join two pieces of woven polyester fabric with thousands of fine polyester threads. An air-tight coating on either board surface then seals the construct. 

There are two types of inflatable paddle boards. Single-layered, and the other double layered. The former has one layer drop stitched, while the latter uses an additional layer of PVC to reinforce the first layer.


Inflatable SUPs are cost-friendly.

These boards are lightweight and easy to store away.


An improvement in the quality of the board is crucial. One errant nail on your trip can render the board useless due to its inflatable nature.

The board’s performance is mid and far from impressive.

Considerations when choosing materials for paddleboards

The following are some factors to consider when choosing material for your paddle board:


The material’s durability is very important when going board shopping. Unless you are willing to change boards every other week, you should investigate the toughness of the material and how it will affect the board’s performance.


You also want to factor in your pocket. You must have a budget when shopping for a new paddleboard. If you are new to the SUP world, you can consider affordable options and leave the higher-end options till later.


Arguably the most crucial determinant of the board material is the board’s purpose. If you are a pro paddle boarder, you need a board made from lightweight material and durable enough to stay in one piece at high speeds and long distances.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make a paddleboard out of wood?

Yes. You can make a paddleboard from wood. The construction process is different from what you will get using other materials, but the performance is right up there.

Paddleboards are made from what type of wood?

There are a number of wood options for you to choose from:

  • Cypress
  • Paulownia
  • Cedar
  • Pine

Paulownia is the most popular option because it is light, strong, and durable. Western red cedar is the next best thing because it is readily available at most lumberyards and is knot free and lightweight. 

Can surfboards be used as paddle boards?

One look and you might assume your surfboard could work as a paddle board, but you’d be wrong. This is because surfboards are not nearly as large, thick, or heavy as most paddle boards. The surfboard design makes it easy to cut through the waves, while paddle boards allow the user to stand still for relatively long periods.

Are bamboo paddle boards good?

Bamboo is an excellent alternative to carbon fiber and fiberglass. It is a cheaper material, but it makes the board heavier than carbon fiber boards and weighs less than fiberglass boards.