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How to: Gloss a Surfboard

August 24, 2017 / Pani

As elusive as the perfect wave, the perfect gloss is the holy grail of most surf shops. Every shop has its secrets, its methods. For the past thirty years we have been refining and perfecting the gloss resin that makes our gloss and polished boards the standard throughout Europe. Taupo Gloss is the secret; a resin unique to Seabase. We take a proprietary base resin and add five separate chemicals and ingredients in a precise process that gives a resin with the perfect combination of viscosity and tension to create that elusive flat, easily sanded and polished gloss coat.

Author’s note: We no longer sell, use or recommend the Stewart Surfboards shown in this video. This video was made many years ago when they were made here under license and the video will be updated. While all of the following is offered in good faith, and is the result of forty years experience, no warranties or guarantees are offered or implied as conditions and skill levels are beyond our control. No offense intended.

There are Three Essentials to a good gloss:

The right resin at the right temperature, warm & dry conditions, and preparation. When a hot coat (sand or filler coat) is sanded for preparation for glossing, keep in mind the wax in the sand coat is also being sanded, and if warm, will come to the surface in small peaks and troughs. These may cause rejection. So always dewax the board with a tack rag or use denatured alcohol to prepare the surface.

Taupo Gloss can be used on either Epoxy Resin (if not allowed to cure) or Polyester Resin. Both should be glossed within 12 hours of the hot coat, after sanding, to obtain a physical and chemical bond. If Epoxy Resin is allowed to fully cure, Taupo Gloss may chip or peel from the surface. (Best policy for Epoxy Resin is to simply sand and then polish the sand coat if Additive F is used).

Shopping List for your perfect gloss

Here is exactly what we do:

Dress properly: you need safety goggles, gloves, a quality mask with chemical and dust filters, a coverall and decent shoes or boots. Read the safety Sheets of all chemicals before beginning. These are available from www.seabase.eu.

  • Keep Taupo Gloss warm (21°C or more) at all times. If it cools, it all goes wrong as the wax content settles out (see below). If it has been delivered by carrier you must warm the resin slowly to room temperature or more (25°C+) over two days, shaking regularly. (If you get pinpricks in the resin surface it can be undissolved wax in the gloss resin where it has come out of solution).
  • Work in a warm (25°C+) and dry room. Use a dehumidifier to take out moisture from the room. A low humidity is essential for flat glosses.
  • Keep the Taupo Gloss can sealed at all times. The concentration of all the ingredients can diminish quickly as the solvents evaporate.
  • Shake the can thoroughly (1 minute) before use. The various ingredients layer out if left for more than two hours without shaking. Concentrations will change if it not shaken.
  • Leave the can stand for 5-10 minutes or more for air to release before using.
  • We use a fast catalyst but not a hot mix. The fast catalyst ensures the gel time is quick to avoid draining and help keep the structure of the resin intact.
  • Clean the board thoroughly with a solvent (alcohol) tack rag. Do not touch the board – grease from the hands causes rejection. Do not use acetone, which dissolves wax then leaves smears as it evaporates.
  • Tape to the mid-point of the rail around the whole board, ensuring you leave a drip rail for the excess resin to drain over the tape.
  • Dispense only the amount of resin needed for each side. Accurate measurements are important. Here is our suggested quantities and mixes at temperatures of 25°C:
  1. Shortboards: 1 lb (0.45 kg) with 3-4 ml of our fast (AM-50) catalyst.
  2. Funboards, minimals: 1 ¼ lbs (0.56 kg) with 5-6 ml of AM-50 catalyst.
  3. Mals up to 9’04”: 1 ½ lbs (0.7 kg) with 7-8 ml of AM-50 catalyst.

WARNING: Care! Measure Catalyst (Hardener or MEKP) accurately. This is a powerful oxidising agent and is dangerous to use. Too much or misuse can cause fire and/or explosion. Do not get into your eyes! Use with extreme care. Clean up spills and do not leave the bottle or dispenser uncovered at any time. If fitted, screw the child-proof lid on tight after use.

Use more catalyst at lower temperatures, less if it is dry or warmer.

  • Mix the catalyst into the resin using a flat stick and stirring well for at least one minute. A round stick causes poor mixing (try pigment into resin with a round stick to see the effect).
  • Let the resin stand for 30 seconds then poor evenly down and over the board.
    Spread quickly and evenly with a very clean 4” brush (we recommend the white bristle brushes) taking care to cover all the board down to the tape on the sides.
  • Leave in a warm room until tacky, remove the tape and leave for a further 6 hours before turning to coat the other side.

Keep the resin at room temperature or higher at all times. If the resin cools, the wax will settle out and it is hard to re-dissolve into the resin. The core temperature of resin will drop dramatically if it’s shipped and spends the night in a storage shed somewhere. If this happens, leave the can at 22° C or more for three days. Shake well twice every day. Add 2 ml – 3 ml of wax in styrene per kg of resin into the mix before using. Shake the can well at all times! If you can see wax on the top of resin in the can (there should not be any) means you must continue to slowly warm the resin. The different densities of the additives, together with the evaporation of the solvents, means concentrations and layering can occur at any time. Treat the resin carefully and you’ll be rewarded with flat, perfect glosses.

Shake the can each time before use. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before decanting for use to allow air to release from the resin.

We now go through four grades of paper to prepare the board for polishing. See Perfect Polishes for the secrets of getting the best out of Taupo Gloss resin.