Your Guide to Perfect Paddle Board Maintenance

Stand up paddle boards have become more affordable in recent years, but they’re still a significant investment. Learning to paddle board safely and enjoyably is essential. However, unless you want to be buying a new SUP every season, you also need to know about paddle board maintenance.

This article is going to show you the vital maintenance tips you need to look after your paddle board. Read on, and I’ll demonstrate that SUP maintenance needn’t be a chore, and the result will be a board that will look great and lasts you for many years to come.

Essential Paddle Board Maintenance Tips

This is the vital maintenance you need to do to look after your paddle board. It doesn’t have to take a long time. Try not to skip it after you’ve been out, and your board will be in perfect condition for your next adventure.

The Correct Way to Clean Your Paddle Board

Washing your board after every trip will help it look good and protect the board’s structure and components. Let’s look at the essential steps for cleaning your paddle board.

1. Rinse The Board

At a minimum, always try to hose your paddle board with fresh water after using it. It’s a good idea to do this even if you’ve been paddling in a freshwater lake or river. This water often contains dirt and algae that will decompose to discolor your board and make it smell bad.

If you’ve been out in salt water, you should consider washing your board as essential. The salt water can cause corrosion to metal components and may make materials and seams degrade over time.

Hose your paddle board down with plenty of water, and pay particular attention to thoroughly washing crevices like the fin boxes. It’s easy for sand and dirt to collect here. Your deck pad can also collect grime, so give this an intense rinsing too.

If your board was pretty dirt-free, then rinsing it might be enough, and you can move on to drying and storage. If not, then let’s look at giving it a proper clean.

2. Clean With Soap

If your SUP is a bit dirty, or you want to give it some extra care, you can use a biodegradable mild soap cleaner to give it with a proper wash. Check before you start that the cleaner is suitable for use with your board’s materials. It must not have any harsh chemicals or abrasives. You shouldn’t use harsh cleaners or regular dishwashing detergent. They can contain salt amongst other damaging chemicals.

Follow the instructions for your particular cleaner. There are some that you spray directly onto your board, while others will need to be diluted in a bucket with warm water.

Use a soft microfiber cloth or a soft bristled brush to gently rub the cleaner onto your paddle board to remove dirt. If your traction pad is especially mucky, you can use mild soap or baking soda in a paste with water. Special cleaners are available to remove stains from the EVA foam. Whichever you use, make sure that you don’t aggressively scrub the deck pad as it is easily damaged. 

Cleaning your board with a mild detergent will remove salt deposits. It will also help to prevent stains from mildew or bacteria appearing on the surface. 

3. Rinse The Board

After cleaning, give your SUP another complete wash with a hose or several buckets of clean water to remove all the detergent. Again, make sure that you thoroughly rinse out any hard-to-reach areas like the fin boxes.

4. Dry Thoroughly

After rinsing, you should dry your board. It’s good to keep some clean old towels around for the job. Try and dry your board as fully as possible, particularly if you’re going to be packing it away for a long time. If you use your board in strong sunlight most of the time you can apply a coating of UV resistant spray for added protection from the sun’s rays.

5. Lubricate Metal Parts

It’s a good idea to periodically use a lubricant to clean and protect the metal components, including the D-Rings and fin box parts. Properly made stainless steel compartments shouldn’t rust. However, lubricating now and again will keep them looking shiny and working smoothly for a longer period.

However, you need to take care not to get the oil onto your board. So if you are using a spray, apply it to a cloth and then carefully rub it onto the components.

6 a. Clean a Hard Boards Vent Plug

Hard boards often vent plugs built in to release gasses from inside their foam core. Some boards have self-regulating vent plugs, and you need to make sure that these are free from debris when you clean your board before you store it. 

Other boards have screw cap vent plugs that are closed during use but that you need to open for transportation and storage. Before washing your board, ensure that a screw cap vent is closed and when it’s dry check the plug isn’t blocked with sand or similar dirt.

6 b. Clean an Inflatable Boards Air Valve

If you have an inflatable, you should always wash and dry the SUP with it fully inflated. Ensure that the valve is completely clean outside. When it comes time to deflate it, check that no sand has managed to get into the valve stem before you close it for storage. Luckily the air pressure release will clear most dirt.

Storing Your Paddle Board

Store your paddle board in a place with a stable temperature, away from a heat source or direct sunlight. Protect it from freezing temperatures. Avoid large air temperature changes. Keeping a hard board in a location with strong temperature fluctuations could cause it to delaminate.

Ensure that the board isn’t resting on anything sharp or a pressure point that may damage it. Don’t store anything on top of your board. Remove the fins so they can’t get knocked. A board bag can help keep your SUP clean while you’re not using it.

You should usually store inflatable boards in their storage bag. When your inflatable SUP is fully dry, you can deflate it fully, remove the fins and roll it up. Take care not to roll the SUP up too tightly. If it is in storage for a long time, you should unroll the board occasionally to release any pressure and check the PVC material for mildew.

You can store an inflatable stand up paddle board inflated. This is a good option if you’re going to be using it again soon. However, you should let some of the air out to ensure there is room for expansion if the temperature goes up and the air pressure inside increases. 

A commercial paddle board storage rack is an excellent way to store your boards. They’re designed to hold your SUPs off the floor and can be wall or ceiling mounted. The arms are padded to protect your board.

Repairing Your Paddle Board

If you have damage on a rigid board, it’s often best to take it to a professional for repair. 

You can fix minor pressure dings or holes using an epoxy syringe, tape flex patches, or epoxy putty. You must make sure that the board is completely dry before starting any repair. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions fully.

You can fix an inflatable stand up paddle board using the repair kit that most SUPs include. Typically, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the air hissing out. But if not, you can usually find a hole by inflating the board and applying water with soap to the suspect area. It will bubble as the air escapes.

Completely clean the area to remove dirt, body oils or other residues. Make sure that it is absolutely dry before you continue. Follow your repair kit’s directions to glue a PVC patch onto the leak. Always follow the directions thoroughly, particularly when it says how long to leave the patch before inflating. Usually, this will be for at least 24 hours.

Nine Maintenance Tips for Your Paddle Board

Common sense goes a long way to protecting your board from damage. Take a look at these tips to keep your SUP in perfect condition.

1. Don’t Leave Your Stand Up Paddle Board in Direct Sunlight

While we all hope for good weather when we’re paddle boarding, leaving your board standing in direct sunlight is really bad for it

Even when it’s not very hot weather, the high temperature from direct sunlight can cause rigid boards to delaminate. Inflatable SUP boards left in the sun can quickly exceed their max air pressure. This can lead to severe damage to the seams, valves, or even the board catastrophically bursting.

UV rays in direct sunlight can also cause the graphics and colors on your SUP to fade. Leave your board in the shade when it’s out of the water, and you don’t have to worry about sun damage.

2. Watch Out for Sharp Objects

Modern paddle boards are pretty hard wearing. However, you still need to take care when moving or storing them to avoid coming into contact with anything sharp.

Never rest your paddle board on anything sharp. When carrying your SUP, move slowly and recognize that you need to take extra care of what’s around you due to its large size.

3. Secure Your SUP for Transport or When Leaving it Standing

Always tie your stand up paddle board down, even if you’re only transporting it a short distance on a cart or vehicle. Similarly, if you’re leaving your board standing, you should tie it in place to avoid it falling accidentally.

4. Lift your SUP, Don’t Drag

Get help if you’re struggling to carry your board on your own. Dragging a board can quickly damage the surface on rigid boards and cause leaks on an inflatable SUP.

5. Think of Your Fins

Take care of your fins, and remember that damage to the boxes is tough to repair. Always lie your board down with the fin facing upwards. 

To avoid damaging your fins while carrying your stand up paddle board, consider fitting removable fins once you are safely in the water.

6. Know How Your Inflation Valve Works

The valve on an inflatable board works in a specific way, and you need to operate it correctly when inflating and deflating the board. Make sure that you thoroughly check how yours works before using it to avoid damaging the valve.

7. Take Care in Shallow Water

Shallow water carries an increased risk of damaging your paddle board on submerged rocks, corals, or branches. Consider wading out with your SUP into waters at least waist deep before you get on. Stay away from paddling in shallow water unless you are confident that nothing could cause damage.

8. Only Inflate with a Hand Pump or a SUP Electric Pump

Never use an air compressor designed for vehicle tires to blow up an inflatable SUP board. They can produce air pressure far higher than an inflated board needs and could easily cause damage.

Always use a hand pump or electric pump designed explicitly for inflatable stand up paddle boards.

9. Use Your Board Frequently

Finally, remember that stand up paddle boards are designed to be used, not stored. The more you use your board, the more you will enjoy it. Don’t leave it wrapped up in a board bag any longer than you have to.

Paddle Board Maintenance FAQs

These are my expert answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject of SUP board maintenance. Follow these tips and you won’t go wrong.

How Do You Maintain an Inflatable Paddle Board?

You maintain an inflatable paddle board by washing it with fresh water after every use. Clean it if necessary with mild soap. Rinse with fresh water and dry it thoroughly before storing in its bag. Never leave an inflatable stand up paddle board in direct sunlight that could damage it.

How Do You Clean a Paddle Board?

You clean a paddle board by rinsing it thoroughly with fresh water. Wash it with mild soap using a soft-bristled brush if it is dirty. Make sure that you clean muck and sand from the fin mounts. Rinse the soap off and dry the board thoroughly before storing it.

Is It OK To Leave Inflatable Paddle Boards Inflated for Storage?

You can leave an inflatable SUP inflated for storage so long as it is out of direct sunlight. It must also be away from heat sources and protected from freezing temperatures.

Never put any objects on your paddle board when storing it as they could deform it. Release some pressure so that the board can cope with a slight temperature increase causing the air inside to expand.

Do You Need to Wash a Paddle Board After Use?

Yes, it would be best always to wash your paddle board after use. Washing your board with fresh water will remove salt water deposits and dirt that can cause the surface of your board to degrade. It will also keep it looking and smelling fresh.

Should You Wax a Paddle Board?

No, you don’t need to wax most paddle boards as they come with a foam traction pad that gives you all the grip you need when paddling. The only paddle board that needs wax is a hard board without a traction pad.

What Do You Clean Paddle Boards With?

You should clean a paddle board with fresh water and a mild soap or a specialist paddle board cleaner. Always rinse it fully and dry before storage.

Can You Leave an Inflatable Paddle Board Outside?

It’s best not to store your inflatable paddle board outside. It is essential to protect your board from direct sunlight, UV rays, and freezing temperatures. If you need to leave your inflatable SUP outside for a short time, make sure that it is in the shade. Check that it won’t get too hot or cold, and can’t fall over or get otherwise damaged.

How Long Do Inflatable Paddle Boards Last?

A properly looked after inflatable stand up paddle board should last for at least five years, depending on how often it is used. A frequently used board that’s kept clean should last between three and five years. If you don’t clean your new board and store it properly, you will severely impact how long it lasts.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you have enjoyed my paddle board maintenance tutorial. I love paddle boarding as often as possible. I’ve found that putting in just a little maintenance effort after each trip has resulted in my board looking better and lasting longer. 

Let me know what you think of these tips in the comments. Are there any critical points that I’ve missed? Finally, please feel free to share this article with anyone you think might find it interesting. Enjoy your paddling.