Buying used surfboards is a great way to save money, find treasures and help the environment.
Giving a second home to a surfboard reduces your overall environmental impact because the energy it takes to make that surfboard has already been spent and no new resources are required.
I want to answer a common question that comes my way: “What are your top tips for buying a used surfboard?“
Buying a used surfboard is a great way to save money. The best advice when buying used surfboards is to take the posture of a coiled rattle snake. Maintain your patience and composure, but be ready to strike when the right deal comes along.
Shopping for used surfboards can be time consuming. It takes effort to shop around for boards, assess the condition and negotiate the deal.
However, it is worth it when you are walking away with a great deal and a new (to you) surfboard under your arm!
Keep Reading for the 28 Tips on How To Buy a Used Surfboard!
1. Buyer Beware
Buyer Beware, or Caveat Emptor in Latin, is a saying that means the buyer assumes all the risk and responsibility of determining condition, quality and value during a transaction.
There are no warranties when buying used surfboards and it isn’t the seller’s responsibility to point out any damage, defects or dings.
So this is your Don’t get Screwed reminder!
Are you sufficiently scared? Great, let’s start building your knowledge and review everything you need to know!
2. Personal Safety
If you are buying a used surfboard at a surf shop, second hand store or a thrift store, you probably don’t need to read this section.
But if you are shopping online with the intention of meeting up with a stranger to look at or purchase used goods (like a surfboard), you should take steps to ensure your personal safety.
Every year there are terrifying stories about robberies and killings related to transactions linked to the sale of used goods.
According to ABC13.com, law enforcement officials recommend the following tips to keep yourself safe when meeting up to buy or sell used goods.
- Talk on the Phone first to learn more about the Seller
- Let the Seller know you Won’t be Coming Alone
- Meet in a Public Place or at the Police Station
- Bring a Friend or Family Member
- Don’t Give out Personal Information
- Cancel the deal at any point if you feel uncomfortable
According to CNN.com, some police stations in the United States are offering their lobbies and/or parking lots during business hours for people to meet up and buy and sell items related to online purchases. Click on the link to check out the full article here.
3. Know What You Want
It is important to know what type of surfboard you want before you start shopping. If you are a beginner or you just aren’t sure about what surfboard to buy, then do some research to narrow down the choices.
Check out the video below to review some of the different shapes and styles.
You don’t need to determine the exact surfboard that you are looking for in the beginning, but once you have decided on the general size and style, you are ready to go shopping!
4. Set Your Budget
Setting your budget will help you focus on the surfboards you can afford rather than the surfboards you want. If you only have $200 to spend, then you are really looking for the best surfboard under $200!
Keep in mind that the lower the budget, the more compromise you may need to make. But I am a big believer that there is a surfboard for every budget.
5. Be Patient
Buying a used surfboard takes patience because it may take a while to find what you are looking for. If you want instant gratification, you can go into any surf shop and buy a new surfboard.
But if you enjoy finding a good deal and saving hundreds of dollars on good quality surfboards then you must be patient!
6. Shop Around & Do Research
Shopping around is a great way to start your research and gain knowledge about used surfboards for sale in your surrounding area.
The most convenient way to shop around for surfboards is through online classifieds, like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Varage Sale. As well, you can check out surfboard specific websites like SecondHandBoards.com.
If you have a local surf shop in your area, you should go check out their selection of used surfboards. It is a great way to look at used surfboards in person and talk to knowledgeable staff about different surfboard shapes and styles.
Most surf shops will post the used surfboard inventory online, like UsedSurf in San Clemente, California.
You can also find amazing deals at thrift stores, garage sales and local surfboard swap and shops if you are willing to invest the time. You may get skunked (come up empty), but you might also find great deals on long forgotten surfboards.
7. How Much Should a Used Surfboard Cost?
The value of a surfboard will depreciate over time.
Although it seems obvious, used surfboards should be much cheaper than new surfboards. The whole point of buying a used surfboard is to save money!
If you are looking at a used surfboard in “like new” or “excellent” shape, you should expect to pay at least 20%-30% less than the new price.
A good example is the Wavestorm surfboard sold at Costco. You can buy it at Costco for $99 in certain locations but you will often see them for sale on Craigslist for $150-$200. I have even seen one for sale as high as $300.
It isn’t rocket science, but if the asking price for a used surfboard is near or above the price for a new surfboard, just go buy a new one!
8. Ask for Photos
If you are looking at surfboards online, don’t be shy about asking for more photos.
Photos from different angles will help you see the overall condition of the surfboard. It is important to ask for close ups of any damage or repairs.
Some sellers may say something like “a few repaired dings” but close up photos of each ding will help you determine the extent of the damage.
Asking for photos in advance will save you time because you will get a better idea of the surfboard condition before you invest the time to take a look.
9. Go Look at In Person
I wouldn’t recommend buying a used surfboard without looking at in person. Although photos are a great way to assess the general condition, the surfboard could look completely different when you see it in real life.
Most used surfboards will have a few dents and dings so it’s important to look at it, pick it up and check out the condition to know if it is the right surfboard for you.
If you are going to buy a used surfboard without looking at it in person, then review Tip #1 – Buyer Beware!
10. Pick it Up!
Picking up and touching a surfboard is the only way to begin to understand if it is the right board.
Picking it up is almost like sitting in a car, you haven’t driven it yet but you can start to imagine what it would be like if it was yours.
The first thing you will notice when you pick up a surfboard is whether it is light or heavy. Heaviness can be one of the first indicators that a board has taken on water at some point, which is not a good thing.
If you are looking at a surfboard and the seller won’t let you pick it up then just walk away.
11. Hold it Under Your Arm
Holding a surfboard under your arm is the time honored way surfers decide if it is worthy. It is a great way to connect with a surfboard and learn about the overall feel.
If you are holding it under your arm, you can feel how it is balanced. If it is heavier in the nose it will tip forward and if is heavier in the tail it will tip back.
Holding it under your arm will also let you know if you can carry it!
Is it too heavy? Is it too big to carry to and from the beach. These are questions you should be asking yourself.
12. Handle with Care
Be careful when you pick up a surfboard that isn’t yours. Surfboards are fragile and will become damaged if you drop them on hard surfaces like asphalt parking lots.
Handle surfboards with care and make sure to be extra gentle. Your actions will show the seller that you have a respect for surfboards.
If you are careless and damage a used surfboard while you are looking at it, you may be forced to buy it for full price!
13. Ask Questions
Asking questions is a great way to uncover facts about the surfboard that you may not have noticed at first glance.
Try to make your questions sounds natural and give the seller time to provide an answer. The following is a list of questions that I usually ask at some point in the process.
- Why are you selling?
- Is the surfboard water tight?
- What Accessories Does it Come with?
- How long have you had it?
- Has it ever taken on water?
- Were all the dings fixed right away?
- Is there any damage I might not notice?
- What conditions does it work the best in?
- What did you like about it?
- How did you come up with the price?
Remember that you are in a fact finding mode and you don’t need to start negotiating at this point. Give the seller time to point out all the good and bad points about the surfboard.
14. Make Small Talk
Surfers love to talk about surfboards! Use this fact to your advantage.
When you are looking at used surfboards, you can find out a lot about different boards just by making small talk with the seller. Seller’s may share tidbits of information that will help you decide between different surfboards.
A few months ago, I was selling a 6 foot long surfboard. It was a shortboard shape that was designed for intermediate or advanced surfers.
After making small talk with a prospective buyer, I actually talked him out of buying the surfboard because it wasn’t the right shape or style for his current skill level. Basically, he would have had a hard time catching waves if he bought my board.
He mentioned some other styles that he had been looking at and we agreed that the other options would be better for him.
Because he made small talk, we ended up having a general discussion about surfboard design and he made the right decision to not buy my board because it wasn’t right for him.
15. Go with Your Gut
Assessing the overall condition of a used surfboard is just a quick visual scan to decide what you think about it.
A few questions to ask yourself when first looking at a surfboard include:
- Is it in poor/fair/good/excellent condition?
- Is the board in a better or worse condition than I was expecting?
- Is it worth the asking price?
Remember that this is just your initial gut reaction. Trust your intution because it is usually correct.
You don’t want to be talked into a used surfboard if your initial reaction was to run away.
16. Check the Nose, Tail & Rails
While you are making small talk, place the nose of the surfboard on a soft surface, hold your palm under the tail and look down the deck of the surfboard.
Looking down the length of a surfboard is a great way to spot imperfections and see if it’s straight and symmetrical.
Because the nose, tail and rails are common areas that get damaged, you should look at those areas closely. Like really closely!
Check out the tail first for any cracking, chips or dings. The tail is a fairly common area to damage so make sure to inspect any previously repaired areas closely. Poke around with the tips of your fingers to make sure the repairs feel solid.
The nose of a surfboard takes a lot of abuse because it is the thinnest area of the surfboard and the first part of the board that will come in contact with hard objects including reef and rocks.
If the surfboard has a sticker or tape over the nose, ask if you can peel it off to check out the condition underneath. If the surfboard has a plastic nose guard, you won’t be able to peel it off but use your fingers to poke around it to see if their is any evidence of damage or cracks.
In addition, make sure to have a long look at the rails. Check for cracks, dings or any softness.
16. Has it Been Buckled or Broken?
Some people may disagree, but I wouldn’t recommend purchasing previously broken or buckled surfboards unless you are going to use it for an art project.
When a surfboard is buckled or broken, the strength of the original construction has been fundamentally changed.
Some seller’s may tell you that the broken surfboard “has been professionally repaired” but I still wouldn’t recommend buying it!
17. Look for Dings & Check Repairs
Unless a used surfboard is being sold in like-new or excellent condition, you should expect some scuffs, dings, dents, damage and previous repairs.
Ask the seller to point out any dings or damaged areas.
Do a quick assessment of the number of damaged areas because surfboard repairs can add up quickly with each ding repair will cost you approximately $25-$40 each.
As well, check out the repaired areas to determine if they have been professionally repaired.
18. Inspect the Fin Boxes
Fin boxes are an important structural component of a surfboard because they hold the fins in place. Surfboard fins provide stability and control and transfer considerable forces to the fin boxes.
Superficial damage in the form of cracking around the fin box is fairly common. Check out the photo below.
In some cases, fin boxes can be ripped completely out of a surfboard and a replacement fin box will need to be installed. Check out the photo below of a fin box that has been replaced.
Check out the fin boxes thoroughly to make sure there isn’t any major damage. If a fin box has been replaced, you should expect the surfboard to be sold at a discount.
If repairs are needed, make sure to factor that into the price because most damage will need to be professionally repaired.
Delamination (delam) occurs when the hard outer shell of the surfboard separates from the foam inner core creating a bubbling effect.
Delam is more common in older surfboards where water has been allowed to leak through a damaged area into the underlying foam for a prolonged period.
It is fairly easy to spot and not easy to fix. You can ride a surfboard with delamination but it is the beginning of the end for a surfboard.
Unless the surfboard is considerably discounted (almost free), I wouldn’t recommend buying a used surfboard with delamination.
Most often, discoloration is when different areas of the surfboard change from the original colour like white to shades of yellow or brown.
Discoloration is an indicator of age, damage or water penetration.
When water infiltrates a surfboard and then dries out, it will stain the surfboard in that area. The best practice is to allow the damaged area to dry out before repairing.
Discolouration isn’t always a bad thing. Keep in mind that repairs won’t necessarily match exactly to the original colour of the surfboard.
Check out the repaired area on the bottom of my orange surfboard. Although the area was repaired professionally, they weren’t able to find an exact colour match.
21. Stringer Cracks
A stringer is the wood piece running down the centre of the surfboard blank. Stringer cracks occur when the area around the stringer becomes damaged from stress or wear.
Although stringer cracks are more common on the deck of the surfboard or near the nose, make sure to check out the entire length of the stringer on both the top deck and bottom of the surfboard.
Cracks around the stringer occur when the deck of the surfboard starts to compress below the level of the stringer. It is more common in older surfboards.
22. Wax, Stickers & Paint
Wax, stickers and paint may be hiding damaged areas. Ask the seller if you can remove any stickers to check the condition underneath.
If the surfboard has a bunch of stickers (or duct tape) then you should probably just assume that they are covering damaged areas.
With paint or excessive wax build up, it will be difficult to determine the condition of the surfboard so make sure to check it closely.
In my opinion, paint or stickers will devalue a surfboard so make sure to factor that into your offering price.
23. Check Around Traction Pads
Traction pads are most commonly installed on the tail of a surfboard to keep your back foot from slipping.
Traction pads also help protect the deck of a surfboard and can be an added bonus because you don’t have to pay extra if it is already installed (most traction pads are around $30-45).
Make sure to check out the edges of the traction pad to make sure it is adhered to the surfboard. As well, check for any cracking or evidence of previous damage the traction pad may be covering.
If you want to know more about Traction Pads, click on the link to check out my blog post titled, Do you Need a Surfboard Traction Pad? 10 Pros and Cons.
24. Ask What’s Included
Some times the best part about buying a surfboard is all the extra accessories that are included in the deal that will save you money in the long term.
Surfboards are expensive and the costs will keep adding up if you have to buy fins, a leash and a bag.
Ask the seller if the surfboard comes with a leash, fins or a bag.
Often, sellers won’t include any accessories in the advertisement but then will just throw in fins, a leash or a bag to get the deal done.
Don’t be shy, just ask!
25. Negotiating Tips
According to Harvard Law School, the development of strong negotiation skills will help you achieve success. The top negotiation tips that you may want to use when buying a surfboard includes:
- Listen & Build Rapport – Listen carefully to what the Seller is saying and resist the urge to speed up the discussion. Spend a couple of minutes getting to know each other.
- Use Anchoring – Research shows that anchoring is one of the most effective negotiation strategies because the first price mentioned will impact the direction of the negotiation. If you say something to the Seller like “I can’t really afford to pay more than $250 for this surfboard”, it anchors the discussion to a specified number and it becomes difficult for the Seller to change the course of the negotiation.
- Present Multiple Options – Offering multiple options during the negotiation helps to define certain limits but also gives the seller the freedom of choice. That way buyer and seller can work together to come up with a solution together.
Feel free to click on the link to read the full article titled, Top 10 Negotiation Skills You Must Learn to Succeed.
26. Enough Cash to Make the Deal
For safety reasons, only bring enough cash to make the deal.
Bringing cash to the negotiation will help show the Seller that you are serious. If a seller knows that they will receive the money as soon as they say yes to the deal, negotiations will be impacted positively.
If you don’t want to bring cash, you can always leave after the negotiation is complete and return with the cash later.
27. Getting your Surfboard Home
Congrats! You just bought a surfboard.
Now you need to get it home.
If you are transporting it by car, make sure to bring a bag (or a towel) to protect it from damage in your car.
As well, you can bring soft racks or straps and attach it to the top of your car.
If you aren’t sure about how to transport surfboards, click on the link to check out my blog post, 17 Tips on How to Strap Surfboards to Your Car.
28. Ask Me Anything
Hopefully you found the tips helpful!
If you are still unclear about what to look for when buying used surfboards, click on the link to the About Us page to learn more about how to sign up for a personalized surfing consultation called Ask Me Anything About Surfing!
You can ask me all the questions you are too shy to ask anyone else.
I have asked every dumb question and embarrassed myself at countless surf shops so now you don’t have to!
I am always ready to talk about surfing and I am happy to help you find the perfect surfboard for you!
Go Surfing, have fun, repeat!