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Soft Decks

Progression & Symptoms


After run-ins with hard objects, soft decks are the most common complaint coming into my shop. Almost without exception, soft decks are the result of fatigue, i.e. repeated, excessive flexing. Almost without exception, then, an observant owner could remedy (or cause to be remedied) such a problem, before it leads to extensive failure or intrusion of water. Almost without exception, though, soft deck cases come to me leaking profusely :(

The following photos, then, are to aid in the recognition of the early symptoms, as well as the inevitable progression of the dreaded soft deck disease, if allowed to go untreated.

Early phase of the soft deck disease: outer fiberglass, Divinycell, and inner glass are intact. Adhesion between the layers is good. The structural layers flexed repeatedly and excessively, causing the EPS foam to separate.

When pushed, the area flexes some, but does not make crunchy sounds.

At this point, injecting Urethane would fix the consequences of the excessive flexing; adding some Carbon to the deck would reduce further flexing.

Another early-stage case, where the flexing caused the bond between inner glass & Divinycell to fail. Semi-custom boards tend to fail this way. Cobra-built boards never do.

When pushed, the area bottoms out distinctly, and makes crunchy sounds.

The fix would be to cut away the delaminated area and vacuum-bag new Divinycell & outer reinforcements, since injecting resin would be a total crap-shoot.

Half a season after the EPS first failed: the EPS compacted further, causing the Divinycell to flex beyond its elastic limit, and fail in shear.

When pushed, the area flexes with ease, and makes crunchy sounds.

At this point, the fix requires a reconstruction of the crushed EPS core, as well as replacement of inner glass, Divinycell, and outer reinforcements. Getting expensive!

Non-sandwich deck in the final throes of the soft deck disease: the EPS is in layers and permanently compacted, the outer fiberglass separated into layers and devoid of any stiffness it may once have had.

When pushed, the area feels like a sponge.

If extensive, it is almost not worth fixing at this point.

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