The Difference Between Stand Up Paddleboard and Surfboard

by Kyle
The difference between stand up paddleboard and surfboard

The roots of both paddleboarding and surfing lie in ancient Peru. As per history, Peruvian fishermen used a special kind of equipment which was a unique blend of paddleboard and surfboard. Today, specialized boards are used for both sports. If you are new to both these sports and want to know about the differences between stand up paddleboard and surfboard, then this is the perfect article for you! Read on to find out more about these items.

What are the differences between stand up paddleboard and surfboard?


Both stand up paddleboards and surfboards are meant to float. Therefore, the construction is also similar. However, the two boards are used for two different sports. So, their basic designs are different. 

Stand up paddleboards are designed for smooth gliding over the waves. They generally work better in stable water. Surfboards, on the other hand, are designed either to ride with or ride along the waves. They need much more mobility. 


The differences between stand up paddleboard and surfboard also include flotation. Paddleboards are designed in such a way that they can bear the weight of a rider without sinking. This implies that they should have enough flotation so that a rider can stand comfortably without any fear of toppling or sinking. 

Paddleboards generally have foam volume amounting to 100 litres in their core. With an increase in the level of foam core, the floating capacity of a paddleboard also increases. 

Surfboards differ in foam volume. A typical surfboard has a foam volume of around 23 to 24 litres. A longboard that comes with 85 litres of foam volume, lies close to a surfboard. However, it can also sink if a rider stands on it for a long time. It is difficult to manoeuvre and balance on a longboard except by expert riders. 

Surfboards are normally not required to have much buoyancy. In the case of surfboards, the rider normally lays or sits on the board. This distributes his or her weight over a larger area. 

If in case, the board tends to sink a little bit in the water, the rider does not find it difficult to control, unlike paddleboards that have a sinking tendency. As the rider stands, the board’s speed and the movement of the waves enhances the buoyancy and prevents the board from sinking. 


Paddleboards are normally thicker and wider as and when compared to surfboards having the same length. This is due to the higher foam volume which gives more stability to the board. Paddleboards are normally around 4 inches thick while surfboards can be of varying thickness depending on the weight and size of the rider they are built for. 

Paddleboards either have a gripping surface or a textured surface on their tops. This is very effective in preventing sliding. 

Paddleboards are generally very long and wide. The length of a paddleboard is around 14 feet. Paddleboards and surfboards are different in shapes and also in maneuverability. 

The length of a typical surfboard ranges from 5 feet to 10 feet. They are made thinner so that riders can easily straddle them while sitting. 

Surfboards are generously waxed so that they have the required grip which allows a rider to maintain his or her balance and stand up properly.


The differences between stand up paddleboard and surfboard also involve the kind of decking. Paddleboards should have proper decking. The decking, without reinforcement, can sink slowly. It can also break down due to the rider’s weight. 

A reinforced decking adds to the thickness and the weight of the board. This decreases the speed of the board and makes it less manoeuvrable. Paddleboard decking can be also be reinforced using a special material. This would make paddling more comfortable from the kneeling position.

Some paddleboards also have padding or reinforcement in their decking. This helps rider practice yoga or do fishing right on the paddleboard. Lightweight paddleboards are likely to sink before the decking gives them stability as a result of reduced reinforcement. 

In the case of surfboards, reinforced decking is not required since riders do not stand for the entire time. When riders sit or lie down, their weights are evenly distributed and do not require any reinforcement. Surfboards are fast, lightweight and manoeuvrable. A fibreglass layer normally covers surfboards, creating a hard outer top. 


Rocker refers to the board’s curve that begins from the nose and continues till the tail. The curvature of a board depends on the purpose for which it is used. The main purpose of the curve is to make the board fit properly with the curvature of the waves. 

Both paddleboards and surfboards are equipped with rockers. Surfboards consist of more rockers that make it easier for the surfers to drive them into the waves. The rocker assists the surfers to respond at a higher rate. It also enables them to change directions at a quick pace. 

The rocker of paddleboards is generally long and flat. This helps in tracking and gliding. It also enhances glide efficiency so that the riders can paddle effectively with less effort. For this reason, paddleboards perform better on flat water like an open ocean, a lake or a bay.

Riders do not need to have much energy or skill to help paddleboards go straight. Some paddleboards also come with additional rockers that make it easier for riders to use them in waves. 


One of the main differences between stand up paddleboard and surfboard is related to the types of both. Surfboards are typically meant for surfing. They can be of various shapes and sizes. 

A paddleboard is mainly used while paddling through the waves. They also have a number of other uses. Therefore, different types of paddleboards are available according to different purposes. Some multipurpose paddleboards can also be used for multiple activities. 

However, before buying a paddleboard, a rider must know about different kinds of boards that are designed with different purposes in view. Each specific design comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. The shape, size and stability of every board differ according to the purpose.

Touring and all-around paddleboards provide more stability and are suitable for young riders and beginners. Inflatable paddleboards are also available in the market. 


The price of surfboards depends on whether they are long or short. Surfboards for advanced riders that are meant to tackle extreme waves are often expensive than the simpler ones. A typical surfboard will cost you around $150 to $300. 

Paddleboards generally start from $500. Good quality custom made boards are available for $3000. The additional cost is mainly for customisation and the inclusion of extra materials. Some paddleboards are also uniquely designed to enhance the overall buoyancy. This, again, increases the overall price. 

Can you use a surfboard as a paddleboard?

It is normally not advisable to use a surfboard as a paddleboard. Surfboards normally lack the stability and flotation required by riders. These boards are difficult to balance on and have the tendency to sink. Only a young or a very experienced rider can use surfboards for stand up paddleboarding but that too for a very short time. 

For longer and regular usages, a rider can find surfboards uncomfortable and unsuitable for paddleboarding. Using surfboards for the purpose of paddleboarding for a long time can also cause damage to the board. 

Whether one can use a surfboard as a paddleboard, also depends on the weight and expertise of the rider. If the rider is small, he or she would require less volume for floating. Small kids generally find it easy to stand on a usual surfboard and still have paddling experience. 

The difference between the rockers, make using a surfboard as a paddleboard even more difficult. Regular surfboards are normally equipped with more rockers. This helps generate straight drives on the waves. Contrastingly, paddleboards possess a long, flat rocker that helps in tracking and gliding. 

Can you use a paddleboard as a surfboard?

It is generally not recommended to use a paddleboard in place of a surfboard. Most paddleboards turn slower as compared to surfboards. Their response time is low and they do not even help the rider to move fast enough along with the wave. 

They are less maneuverable than surfboards. However, presently some manufacturers are coming up with the concept of paddleboards that can be used as surfboards. They are known as “surfing style” boards. 

After reading this article about the difference between stand up paddleboard and surfboard, you might be wondering which one to buy. You can go for specially designed paddleboards that also help you surf comfortably. Go through some professional reviews and then choose the product that will fulfil your needs and also fall within your budget. By purchasing a paddleboard that works as a surfboard too, you can get hold of waves earlier and also have an awesome and enthralling riding experience. So, what are you waiting for? Go for some paddling or surfing sessions and get ready for breathtaking sea adventures!

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