Before buying a board from a surf shop, ask an assistant for some advice. If they can't offer any, or appear uninterested, go elsewhere. Some shops have 'attitude', some don't.
They're there to help you and although it's only their opinion, most surf shop employees are experienced surfers. Have a look through our list of local shapers and pop in for a chat.
Remember everyone had to learn sometime so don't be afraid to ask questions and be honest about your own surfing ability or you'll end up with a shape, totally unsuitable for your needs.
If you're buying online or from a magazine, take someone along who knows about surfboards so they can make an informed decision on your behalf.
Don't buy the first board you see, just so you can get in the water quickly - it could be a costly mistake. Shop around, do your research and don't buy a board because you like the colour, logo or make.
What to look for in a second hand board?
The quality and condition of the surfboard you buy depends on how much you are willing to spend, so set yourself a budget. Boards will range from around £120 upwards depending on age and condition but you might find the odd bargain on ebay.
Surfing equipment is relatively cheap. After your initial outlay you have very few expenses other than petrol and the waves are always free.
If a board is on its last legs, tell tale signs will show up. If you find a board with discolouration, lots of stickers or paint on it, compare it's weight with other surfboards the same size. Stickers and wax can be used to cover up dings.
A heavier board could mean that the board has taken on sea water. Gently squeeze the darker areas and dents to see if any water comes out of the board and check for holes in the tail, rails and nose.
If water does leak out, water has probably sunk into the foam under the glass so it's best left alone. Nearly all second hand boards will have some dings or damage. If a board is water tight then it's fine and boards can always be dried out and then repaired properly to give them a new lease of life.
Don't be afraid to have a look under the wax. It's definitely worth scraping it off if you notice any discolouration underneath.
If you do buy a dinged board, make sure you take the time to repair it properly.
Repairing your own will save you money and be a valuable skill especially when travelling abroad where ding repairers may not always be readily available.
A basic repair kit costs around £10 and can be bought online or from any surf shop. Sometimes however, these jobs are best left to the professionals.
A professional ding repairer will charge between £10 - £30 depending on the severity of the ding.
Feel around the rails (edges) of the board and especially the deck to make sure there are no soft spots.
This is known as delamination and can occur due to a ding not being repaired properly, heavy footwork from a previous owner or sun/heat damage.
If your board has glassed in fins, make sure the fins are secure and look for any cracks at the base where they join the board. Fins can be re-glassed or strenghtening patches applied but it's best to start off with a solid board in the first place.
If the fins are removable e.g. FCS, Lokbox, Future Fins, check that the screw threads are okay and in working order. There are no hard and fast rules for the number of fins the ideal beginner's board should have but the more you have, the more stable the board will be.