Softboard vs Hardboard: Which Surfboard is Right for You?

In the world of surfing, there are two main types of surfboards: softboards and hardboards. The choice between the two depends on a variety of factors, including your skill level, personal preference, and the type of surfing you want to do.


Softboard surfboards are made from a variety of materials, including polyurethane foam, polystyrene foam, and polyester foam. They are often used by beginners because they have that soft exterior, making them safer to use and easier to ride and control. They're also generally more durable than hardboards, which means they can withstand impacts from rocks or other hard objects without getting damaged too easily. The soft exterior may dent a little bit, but it will not compromise the water-tight integrity of the board like it would on a hard surfboard. Softboard surf sessions are great for summertime small waves...maximize your fun!

TCSS owner Ryan Gerard says: "Soft surfboards have been all the rage the last few years for a variety of reasons: they're safe, easy to surf, and ideal for kids, new surfers, and even good surfers wanting to just have a little fun. Maybe best of all? They are more affordable than traditional hardboards."

Softboard Highlights:

  • Easy for beginners to ride and control
  • Durability – can withstand impacts from rocks, sandbars, or travel without getting damaged too easily  
  • More affordable price tag
Our favorite "foamie" brand? Catch Surf, a southern California-based company that has been making high quality softboards for years and has a huge line to choose from. Whether you're a total newbie, a family with kids, or a shredder looking for something fun and different to play around on, Catch Surf has you covered.

Check out our current selection of Catch Surf softboards HERE.

Hard surfboards are made from fiberglass-reinforced epoxy or polyester resin, which gives it the hard exterior. Hardboards are faster, lighter, and more performance-oriented but require more care than a typical softboard. If a hard surfboard dings or dents, you'll want to get it repaired before surfing it again so as not to compromise the integrity of the board's construction. Pro tip: buy a good board bag, which we like to call "insurance" for your expensive board!

Ben Sass, head of marketing and man of many talents at Third Coast, thinks starting on a softboard is a great idea before graduating to the benefits that come from surfing a traditionally made hardboard. "As soon as your skills allow it and you're ready to take that next step in your surfing life, get a good board that will work best for the type of surfer you are and the waves you want to surf," he says. "There are a lot of options, so do your research and talk to people with experience before making that big decision. And don't forget to get a good board bag!"

Hardboard Highlights:
  • Faster and lighter than softboards
  • Unmatched speed, maneuverability, and glide for more experienced surfers
  • Greater variety of shapes and sizes available to suit your skill level, preferences, and surf conditions
You can view our collection of 3rd Coast Surfboards - built specifically for us by the craftsmen at Bing Surfboards - HERE, then scroll around to see the variety of other hard surfboards we carry.
Lastly, did we mention how beautiful a traditionally glassed surfboard can be!?
In Summary
If you're just starting out on your surfing journey or want something safer for smaller waves or your kiddos, a softboard is probably the way to go. The ease of use, safety, and affordable price tag make getting into surfing much more friendly. However, if you have some surfing experience and are ready to up your game, grab a hardboard! The speed, maneuverability, and glide will get you where you want to go.

Questions about the right board for you? Call us at 269-932-4575 or pop an email over to and we'll be happy to help you narrow it down. Most important? Have fun!

See you in the water,