The Future of Foam?

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Questing for an eco friendly foam surfboard blank that’s process in making absorbs carbon vs. carbon emissions.  

A formidable task to say the least, but man’s ability to dream landed him on the moon.  I say go for it! However, be skeptical of the results until fully proven.  We’ve been down this road before.

And yet another approach:

Artic Foam.

Great idea, probably wrong company.

They have enough problems with quality and consistency.

Varial is strong and has great flex caracteristics.

But seems over-priced.

I’m happy with US Blanks.

Consistant, and professional.

…hello, I never heard about Varial brand; so do you say that is worthwhile to try to find some?

I haven’t experienced the inconsistency you speak of with Arctic, and I use a lot of it.  I agree that U.S. Blanks is very professional and their blank catalog is deep offering many blanks in both polyurethane and EPS.  

Varial is a different approach altogether and I was recently approached by them which it turns out one of the partners (Peter Borneman) was one of my early day team riders as a kid.  I think the price is prohibitive in our current economy, but I applaud their efforts for pushing the envelope.

I still remain very skeptical of MDI foams and what they are capable of due to the merry go round we all rode after Clark Foam’s closure.  Sometimes toxic chemicals net good results for products albeit not for humans that work with them.  Then again, sometimes people have misguided fears about chemicals that they know little about and falsely place blame based on ignorance.  

I guess that’s the yin and yang of everything around us.  

Happy Thanksgiving BTW…

I posted these two directions from foam suppliers that are currently offering &  exploring merely as a suggestion that they are out there and perhaps worth spending a little time to reserach for yourself. I’m not making any claims on their worthiness nor if you should try one or the other or both.

I shape and sell both Millennium and Arctic.  I love’em both!  Consistent and great to shape.  Most of my longboards are Millennium because the glue ups are done state side.  Quick turn around.  They gotta a great catalog and get my orders ready super fast.  Arctic is quick and there blanks just keep looking better every order.  I think the Arctic is prettier when finished that any foam on the market.  Tight, white and “Sugaree”.  TheirAlgae foam may be in production by Spring 2016.  The Jaws Comp was just won on a Pyzel gun made from an Arctic blank.  Lowel

Ditto on the above.


The varial ive been pretty happy with as well.  its pretty solid and feels much more like my stringered polys than anything. We are building a few boards from them and the feeback is great. The poly and epoxy glass option is a nice feature as well.

Im currently trying to abuse the hell out of 1 locally and its holding up really great. Im impressed.

pricey, but the durability factor comes into play… is 125.00 more worth it if it lasts 2x as long? 

What I have seen in So. Cal. OC and San Diego shops lately is a mix of  Arctic/Millennium, with US Blanks thrown in and EPS of US Blanks and Marko.  Good  foam aplenty and good times.   Lowel 

From the short video about the Algae blanks it looks like they are pouring the mix into a normal mold so I’m guessing they are replacing one of the petro chemical ingreadients with an Algae grown petro chemical ingreadient? How sustainable is that? Slightly better but not much?

I’m no chemist but I think there’s so much marketing miss-information about sustainable surfboards.

Polystyrene is a ‘plastic’ made with styrene, a petro chemical. Its not any more environmentaly awesome than Polyurethane.

Most (afordable) Epoxy Resins are made with Petro Chemical ingedients same as Polyester. 

Fiberglass, Carbon fiber, urethane glues, plastic plugs/fins. not really sustainable…

Shipping materials all over the world to Asia then finished boards back to the ‘consumer’ market place?

I think sustainablility is longer lasting surfboards and locally available materials to reduce transport emmissions, also quality custom not consumer rubbish.

So I don’t think PU is that bad in comparison.  Ideally reducing waste with PU foam you’d have more molds which were close tollerance with perfect stringers for the design. But this requires more factory space which is expensive and longer wait times because of too much choice to the shapers.

In Australia the (not too far) future of surfboard foam will be interesting because the 3 biggest and best manufactures are well into their 70’s and 80’s. 

Is it ecconomically viable to buy these businesses? (even if they came up for sale, they might just go out like Gordon). Property is SO expensive in Sydney and to an extent Brisbane. Expensive property (and labour) also makes it hard to start a new business… 

The Future of Foam?


…hello Marsh, Im with you about the marketing stuff and as I mentioned several years ago here, the future of surfboards and this labor is ONLY sustained by the blanks factories; mainly the Aussie ones; so yes, the future will be uncertain after Midget etc retire or close. The future will be based on marketing and no educated kids and grow “kids” with pro circuit heads.
You can add what Slater would do with firewire etc to the mix…

I guess I breezed thru you comments on Arctic with regard to consistency and quality.  I know you don’t shape their foam ; so I’m thinking you must be referring to the Days when Marty and Andrew were using Midget’s Surfblank’s formula.  If that’s the case I can only assume that you are not familiar with their product over the past couple of years.  Their foam is at the top of the heap( although I put Millennium right their with them.  I never rag on US Blanks (your obvious favorite) because I have shaped and would if there was no Arctic or Millennium.  Suffice to say I’m taking it for granted you have no experience with either.  Shape what you like, but it’s not necessary to put down another product when obviously alot of people are very happy with it.

Good  level-headed discussion. With candor and good will. Makes me happy  

I may try some Virial just for the experience. 

All the best

Has anyone come across agave blanks from Indonesia?  I am not trying to start rumors but I have seen it mentioned in the marketplace.

How can there be a future for foam if major cities in the USA are banning its use, like NYC and SF?  The future of foam is to move away from it.  It is toxic stuff that can be replaced with natural or less polluting substances, just as humanity has done away with lead in products like paint and gasoline.


It is hypocrisy for the progressive culture of surfing to hold onto an outdated, and ultimately bad material.  We can do better, and the answers are out there.

Saw something that may be Varial foam recently. It was shaped by Rusty and sent to a glasser here. Very light and hard. Looked up their site, but it doesn’t look like they sell single raw blanks. You can get a machined blank from them, but I don’t know what those cost. If the raw blanks were available and they didn’t cost a lot, I’d certainly try one.

I’m still using inexpensive EPS for now, and adding balsa skins or more glass for added when strength when needed. Was planning on switching back to PU, but I’ve been getting good deals on EPS. It will be a while before I actually work with anything else.

The other blank I really liked was the XTR XPS foam I was lucky to try.

Wood blanks have all kinds of issues when compared to foam. Weight would be a big one, having a consistent even weighting across the whole board, and keeping it down. I haven’t found wood that makes a lighter board than foam. Starting with raw trees takes a lot of work and time, and if bugs get to the wood before you can use it, you’re screwed.

You lead the way big dog.  Trees take longer to replace than foam.  News to me that SF and NYC have banned it.  Can you foot note or site your source for that claim??  There’s nobody producing foam in those cities anyway.  Very few shapers operating in those cities as real estate and shop space costs are prohibitive.  In 2006 a buch of profits on this very site made predictions and claims such as yours.  To which none of those forecasts came true.  Other that SUP(poly for the most part is too heavy),  EPS foam surfboards and alternative foams account for about 10-12% of the total market.  Wood at less than 1%.  All for good reasons.  There are now three Poly Surfboard Foam manufacturers marketing foam in the U.S. and three EPS manufacturers.  If anything the loss of Clark has been a boom to the Surfboard Industry.  You can’t “supersize” your soda in NYC either.  Who gives a $#!t what they do in SF or NYC.  Follow that one right off the cliff.  That’s for sure.;

Here´s a list from the Surfrider website of cities with public bans on foam.  I over simplified the ban in SF, thinking it was across the board like NYC but in fact it only pertains to food packaging.


I live where agave grows abundantly and many people surf, although they are buying boards from the other side of the world in USA and other far off lands.  So yes, I am starting the agave movement here on this old colony.  What good is surfing if it is bringing people to my home islands to trash it by discarding busted boards in our land fills.  I understand how foam is not a percieved mainland problem but when we scale life down to the island level, we will need to find solutions for foam that never returns to the Earth, which is afterall, an island in our solar system.


Compared to all other materials for building surfboards, in my opinion, agave is the least amount of embodied energy.  I can spend an hour in the shop and turn hand cut stalks into a blank.  The mushrooms and balsa and all that require massive energy inputs to to harvest, transport, synthesize, cook off mold, etc.  Agave is the original foam.  I gather foam came from the word phloem, which describes the inner fibers of plants that transports nutrients, the soft foamy material.


PU makes for great surfboards but no one has fjgured out how to make it disappear when it is no longer in use.  I like the recycled EPS companies but in the end humans will have to close the pandoras box we have opened.


And, McDing is not using foam following others off the cliff?  If we know foam is bad in the long term in relation to humanity and life on Earth (sea life included) why are people blindly using it?  Wasn´t Clark Foam forced out of business for contaminating the environment they shared with so many people, at least, once they decided it was no longer making them MONEY?

First of all;  there is no reason for me to believe that building and surfing PU or EPS is following anyone off acliff.  Secondly make a good strong board of PU or EPS and when it is old you can build a fence around your yard of boards from you former quiver.  The idea that surfboards of any kind contribute significantly to landfills and the destruction of the Planet is complete blind exsintrict Bullshit.  Do what you like but don’t lay your Bullshit trip on me.  What about all those poor Agave stalks that you cut down that never grew into trees .  Abusive if you ask me.  A rip off of the planet.  Quit surfing so we can make Tequila.  L

The basis of my work and belief is I can promote positive change.  I have slaved in grocery stores and long wondered what person in their right mind would package fruits or meat or whatever on a white foam tray when they can use cardboard or a plastic bag?  That white stuff never goes away and it is nearly impossible to find a place to recycle it.  That´s the point.  I realize many shapers just consider their love for surfing and making things with their hands but why not also think about the material?


Like I said before, PU foam is archaic and bad for humans and the planet, no matter what form - much like asbestos, lead and mercury.  People have long used materials that they later find out to be harmful to themselves and the environment.  Dont be blind to the fact that foam is one of these harmful products, and there are alternatives.


I get it is more difficult to work with new and natural materials compared to foam but that´s where this craft will evolve.  It has always evolved through materials and how people adapt to the new form.


I found agave (because it grows wild where I live and is considered a pest) and there are many more alternatives to foam out there.  I have learned much through observing the plant life cycle.  I am willing to teach you a little about the plant if you are interested.  For one, it is a plant not a tree and the flower is the last stage of its life before it dries out and dies into organic material for the soil or part of a surfboard.


Its a lot of work to shape but for the machinists its all the same.  I mean no offense but I feel strongly about an evolving surf.

First of all I am not hot.  No need to cool down as I am already " cool, calm and calculating".  I’m just sick and tired (gag me with a spoon) of lame “save the planet” rhetoric.  Go off and make your very pretty, poor performance Agave boards.  Foam surfboards are here to stay.  Less  likely to run into objections from the likes of me.  Pretty damned obvious that you don’t know the differance between Asbestos and Foam.  Shows your lack of knowledge.  An obvious comparison that you hoped no one would point out as asinine.  Lowel