Stand Up Paddleboard SUP vs. Surfboard: find out the key difference

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Difference Between Surf Board and Paddleboard

The difference between a stand-up paddle board (SUP) and a
surfboard may not be obvious to beginners in water sports, but we assure you
that there are plenty.

As paddle boarding has gained popularity over the years,
many of them are going above and above by sharing the waves with surfers all
around the world.

After learning that paddle boarders can ride the waves on
their SUPs, you may be left wondering: surely there isn’t much of a difference
between the two types of boards if you can surf on a SUP?

Even while the two have certain similarities, there are also
a lot of distinctions between them. We’ll go into depth about everything from
their functions and pricing ranges to the design of their hulls and rockers.

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So, if you’re curious about the differences between a SUP
and a surfboard, keep reading!

What is the difference between Stand-Up Paddle Boards (SUP) from Surfboards?

What They Are Used For

The board’s intended use is its primary point of
differentiation. SUP boards were developed to glide on the water’s surface,
whilst surfboards were made to ride the waves, even though they are both
intended to float.

Surfboards need to be easily mobile for their riders to be
able to rotate and spin the board to strike the water at the ideal angle since
they were designed to ride along with the wave rather than glide on top of it.

A SUP Needs a Paddle

A SUP board requires a paddle, which is an addition to their
intended use. Traditional surfers push out to the wave breaks while reclining
on their boards and swimming-like motions are made with their hands.

In contrast, paddle boards need a paddle that the user
utilizes while standing on the board to go through the water.

Paddle boarders have recently started using their paddles
during SUP surfing, using them as a tool to build even more velocity along the

Floating with a SUP

One of the biggest differences between the two is that both
boards float. A paddle board is made to support the rider’s weight plus some
more without sinking.

The core of foam core paddle boards contains about 100
liters of foam. Since foam floats on water, a foam board’s higher foam content
allows it to support more weight while still floating on the water’s surface.

There are several thicknesses for inflatable paddle boards
and the more air they can contain, the more buoyant they become.

How much foam is in the core of a surfboard depends on its
size and length. A short surfboard typically holds 23 liters of foam, but a
longboard often has 85 liters.

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Longboards must have more foam in their cores because of
their greater length; otherwise, they would be too heavy and sink when the
rider stands on them.

Most of the time, when riding a surfboard, the rider’s
weight is equally distributed along the board when they lie down. Because the
rider only stands for a brief length of time when riding a wave, a surfboard
doesn’t need as much buoyancy as a paddleboard.


It would be easy to perceive the variations in size between
a surfboard and a paddle board if you put them side by side.

When paddling, its additional thickness owing to a higher
foam volume or air volume offers more stability and keeps the board afloat.

Inflatable boards may be up to 5 inches thick, whereas foam
boards are typically approximately 4 inches thick. Keep in mind that a board
grows more buoyant as it becomes thicker.

The size and weight of the rider the surfboard is intended
for will determine its thickness. To maintain a semi-floating position, bigger
riders will need more foam in the core while smaller and lighter riders would
need less.

Images of a paddle
Paddleboard and it’s Paddle

A paddle board typically has a length of 10 to 11 feet, and
this length affects the board’s buoyancy and the amount of weight it can

However, depending on the rider’s weight, a regular
surfboard may be anywhere between 6 and 7.2 feet long, while longboards are
between 8 and 11 feet long.

Finally, a paddle board’s width and a surfboard’s width are
very different. Surfboards were made to be slimmer so that the rider could
straddle it and paddle with both hands.

Because a paddle board employs a paddle and therefore
doesn’t require a small deck, paddle boards were made broader to enhance
stability and provide the rider with more surface area to paddle on.

Hull Type

Planing hulls and displacement hulls are the two types of
hulls that all sorts of boards fall under.

The board’s planing hull enables it to glide over the
surface of the water. Only when boards are moving quickly along the water, such
as when you’re riding waves, can planning happen.

Displacement hulls move the water beneath you, as its name
implies. A displacement hull’s form is intended to effectively cut through the
water and steer water away from the hull.

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All other paddle boards have planing hulls so they may ride
on top of the water, while fiberglass paddle boards with displacement hulls are
used for touring or racing.

Surfboards fall under the category of planing hulls as well
because of the way their hulls are designed to allow for quicker wave riding.


Fiberglass, soft top boards, or inflatable boards are the
three types of materials that make up paddle boards.

A foam core is covered with fiberglass mesh and then covered
with epoxy resin to create fiberglass paddle boards.

The materials used to create soft top boards include
fiberglass, epoxy resin, styrofoam, and a soft mat on top. Soft top boards
resemble fiberglass boards, but they are less likely to dent and are better for
novice and inexperienced riders because of their supple mat.

Finally, to give the board its shape and durability,
inflatable paddle boards employ drop-stitching techniques and PVC materials.

NOTE: Surfboards and fiberglass paddle boards are made light and
maneuverable using this material mix.


The board’s curve from the nose to the tail is known as a
rocker. Based on the board’s intended use and the shape of the particular waves
it will be riding, each board will have a varied rocker. The rocker determines
how quickly you can go along the board and spin your board when catching a

Boards feature rockers at the nose and tail ends; the nose
rocker is at the front and the tail rocker is at the rear.

Surfboards must have rockers that conform to the shape of
the wave; otherwise, the board will nose dive and the river will launch itself
into the water. When trying to surf a wave, a board’s speed will slow down if
the rocker is bent too high.

To help in tracking and gliding, paddle board rockers are
generally long and flat. Paddle boards perform better in flat water because
they don’t need to conform to the curve of waves due to their flat rockers.


Other differences between surfboards and paddle boards
include their adaptability and the activities they may be used for. The sole
purpose for which surfboards were created was for surfing.

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However, paddle boards can be used for more than just paddle
boarding; they can also be used for other activities like SUP yoga, SUP
fishing, SUP surfing, and you can even use a kayak conversion kit to turn your
SUP into a kayak.


Prices for surfboards vary, and their length and intended
use have an impact. Advanced riders’ specialized boards are frequently more
expensive than standard surfboards, which range in price from $150 to $300.

The cost of paddle boards varies as well, depending on the
materials used and their intended use. A high-quality inflatable board costs
between $500 and $700, with touring and racing boards costing a little more.

Compared to fiberglass boards, which may start at $900 and
above, soft top boards are often less costly.

Read How Much Do Paddle Boards Cost for additional details
on paddle board price.


The reason for which the boards were created is the first
point of differentiation. SUP boards are meant to glide on the water’s surface,
whilst surfboards are made to ride the waves, yet both are made to float.

Surfboards need to be easily maneuverable so that surfers
may move the board to reach the ideal angle because they were designed to ride
with the wave rather than slide on it.


One of the most notable differences is the buoyancy of the
two boards. The practitioner’s weight can be supported by a SUP board without
it sinking.

About 100 liters of foam are spread over the center of the foam
core boards. The thickness of inflatable paddle boards varies, and the more air
inside of them, the more buoyant they will be.

How much foam is in the core of a surfboard depends on its
dimensions and length. A long board has 85 liters of foam, compared to a
conventional board’s 23 liters.

Most of the time, the surfer lies down with his weight
equally distributed. A surfer merely stands while riding a wave for a brief
amount of time.

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A surfboard does not need to be as buoyant as a paddleboard
because the surfer only stands for a brief time while riding a wave.

Fin Setup

In contrast to surfboards, which have several tiny fins for maneuverability , SUP boards generally have one or more huge fins that are
utilised for stability and tracking.

Can they surf the same waves?

The same waves may be surfed by both surfers and SUP
surfers. However, it is wise for SUPs to avoid locations where surfers are
surfing, and the opposite is true. Unless you are an experienced surfer who has
used both surfboards and SUPs, SUP boards are often bigger and less responsive
than surfboards.

Can You Use a Surfboard as a Paddle Board?

Surfboards frequently lack the stability and buoyancy that an
SUP provides, making it very challenging to remain afloat while standing on the

On the other hand, young people or skilled riders might be
able to stand up and paddle on a surfboard for a short while. Due to their
significantly lower weight than an adult, tiny children would require less
volume to float and would find it simple to stay on the board without sinking.

How Difficult is it to use a Paddleboard on waves?

Although it is possible to ride waves on a paddle board, the
size of the board limits your speed and turning options, which makes it harder
to gather enough momentum to catch waves.

The ability to master surging techniques on a SUP is
considerably more challenging, but even so, most boards and riders can easily
ride tiny waves.

SUP stand Up Paddleboard
Woman paddleboarding on the River in Summer. The woman is standing-up on her paddleboard. Rivière Vallée Bras-du-Nord, Quebec, Canada

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