Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deck Traction Part 2. Padded Decks

In part 1 we covered waxing and to veteran surfers, accustomed to the culture of waxing their board, its no problem. Newcomers see the padded-traction decks as the most sensible solution.

Many of the factory-made boards are supplied with padded traction decks. Some pads wrap around the rails, some are applied on the deck only with bare rails, and a new method recesses the pad into the deck.

The padded decks that wrap around the rails are very user friendly. They make the rails easy to grab and are easy on your body if you're whacked by your board. They protect the rails from your paddle too, but if your blade is sharp you can cut or chafe the pads. You can even dent the padded rails with your car-rack straps or setting the board down on its rails. If he rails get rough it causes drag and your board will be slower and won't turn as smoothly in the waves. Damaged rail pads can be patched and sanded smooth but prevention is better. Use an edgeguard on you paddle edge and carry the board in a boardbag to protect the soft rails.

Boards with with pads attached to the entire center of the deck leave the rails bare and smooth. They are not as user friendly as padded rails but higher performance and more carefree. The edge of the attached pad can drag a little, if your rail is buried deep, catch on things or trip you. The pad can also delaminate, but it's easily repaired with glue.

A new and unique application is the recessed deck pads as seen on the '08 Laird models. The rails are bare and the pad is applied in a recess that's carved into the deck. The pads edge is not exposed to snag or drag, giving the board clean and smooth lines.

One advantage of all factory-installed padded decks is that they can be up to $500 less expensive than their full-gloss counterparts. The savings come from deleting the labor of painting, glossing and polishing the deck. Many of these boards have matte finish white bottoms which makes invisible repairs easy with white Ding-stick or Marine -tex

The higest performance deck pads are applied custom to a gloss deck board. This way there is a huge variety of brands and types of pads available which can be personalized exactly to the riders demands and color preference. Various textures, sizes and shapes of pads can really make a performance difference. Also, you can combine pads and waxed areas or XM film. XM is a clear un-padded traction application that can also be used on the entire deck if you like. Keep in mind that all this personalization comes with a price. Custom deck traction can easily cost $50-$200 depending on what you choose to do. When you consider what it costs for the highest performance bicycle its OK!


  1. i'm just getting into sup. it will be flat lakes almost all the time. i was wondering if just standing on "hard top" is better than the flex of a pad? see surftech laird boards don't seem to have pads, hobie and others do? thanks for any/all feed back.

  2. You can buy a soft top Laird board in both the 11'6" length and the 12'1" length. As for which board style is better - gloss versus soft, either will be good for flat water. Most of our gloss SUP boards come with a pad, if they don't (or you don't like the factory pad) we can sell you a nice pad. Because you'll be standing "still" (instead of moving a lot like in surf) you will want some padding underfoot, so just waxing a gloss board (rather than having a pad) won't be comfortable.

    A gloss board is easy to add Attachment tie downs to the deck of your paddle board so that you can bungee down a dry bag to carry supplies.

    Laird 12'1" soft top

    Laird 11'6" soft top

    Custom Deck Pad for Gloss boards

    Attachment for Tie Downs