Picture of Paddle Board
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I wanted a paddle board. If you have been to a beach this summer you have seen someone on one. But even the very bottom end Stand Up Paddle board (hereafter SUP) starts at $350- and that is for a what is essentially a really big plastic milk jug. Plus, that hollow plastic weighs a crazy amount. Even the kids-size SUPs weigh more than my beach babes could possibly carry, strong as they are. Clearly, that is something we can make for ourselves. Come see.

Step 1: Balance

Picture of Balance
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I have no illusions of actually using a SUP myself. The imitable Holly Mann (follow her at instructables.com/member/HollyMann if you don't already) could paddle one with her feet while standing on her hands, but I can't. My center of gravity is located just under my Adams apple because of my ponderous head (like a cake pop) and I will not be able to stay balanced on it. But a child would have a great time on one.
I used:
-One sheet rigid foam insulation 2" thick. ($25) but really it was free from Swap, who gave me a bunch of sheets he didn't need. I added some extra scrap to make it unnecessarily a bit longer. Boys are funny that way...

-Two tubes of construction adhesive $6 (the large ones. You'll be cutting them open so don't worry about a caulking gun)

-A fine notch plastic trowel $1.50

-A wood rasp. Garage sale price. Who on Earth know$?

-Orbital sander

-An optional 1/4" sheet of plywood (left over from a $8 sheet) for decking.

-Lots of heavy things for glue pressure. Sandbags work fine.

Total cost for DDC was low. You can buy everything you need for less than $50. But you will agree that price is only a small part of the cost for makers. The real cost- the only truly limited commodity- is time.
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e-beth made it!2 days ago
4 sheets of 1" thick Corning insulation board (hence the pink), Gorilla Glue and clear caulk. Paddle is 2 cheapo oars glued together.
Definitely needs a keel! Is there a formula for that?
I plan on making one of these in the near future and am curious, has anyone thought of using plasti-dip to cost and customize the foam? Or would that potentially dissolve or at to much weight to the SUP?
berard1 made it!2 months ago

I worked through this build. I am 165 lbs and 6'0" so I opted to making a wider version. This one is 32" wide and 8' long, which ended up being $80. I did it without power tools, all I used was a knife and a cheese grater. I let it dry for 1 day with about 100-130lbs on it, and it wasn't long enough. I did miss one of the edges up front tho, but it began to separate about a cm on its maiden voyage, so I will need to reseal it, probably with caulk and tape. It had a little bit of flexure, nothing major, but I intend to reinforce it with steel L beams from an old couch or something, by caulking them in the top of it, just to be safe. My friend who weighs 200 lbs made it look a little scarier, and where he sat was almost under water, and it was far less stable under his additional weight. It needs a rudder in a BAD way, or it will just go in circles, so definitely add that. I recomomend strapping a seat to it, cooler in my case, because lower your center of gravity is crucial. Other than that, a great project for virtually all sizes with a little more material and creativity, and it is SO MUCH FUN to play with. Can't wait to fix it.


That picture just made me laugh out loud, I love the cooler :) Good work on your SUP!

donedirtcheap (author)  berard12 months ago
Thank you for the picture. You Are The Best. When I think that other makers are using my idea with success it gives me so much joy. Keep it up, everyone.
Sean Mcandrew2 months ago
hey, I just wanted to say that this is AWESOME and I want to make one! I have several questions about use. do you think this would work and be stable enough for fishing or cleaning/ buffering the hulls of boats? it would be great if you could get back to me, thanks!

I plan to make one of these and I'll upload pictures if I do!
donedirtcheap (author)  Sean Mcandrew2 months ago
Thank you for the compliment.
I can honestly say that stability depends on the pilot. With me on top I would not be able to service a boat hull. I would be really wet and frustrated. The shallow draft of the SUPs make great out riggers for a canoe. Now that is stable. I sailed that particular rig all over Island Lake Reservoir (big) with a tarp sail and a black ash mast.
Please do post a photo, even of a half-finished project. It would make me very happy to see your work.
gc_instruct3 months ago

Just got ours out on the lake and it worked great, even better was that it cost less than $45 and took less than 4 hours. The 8' version was definitely the perfect size for my 8 year old at about 55 pounds and it worked pretty well for my 11 year old at about 80 pounds. I used the blue foam from Lowes. Does anyone know if there is a difference between the blue and pink foam? I am going to add the plywood top as it was flexing a bit when my 11 year old was on it, and it flexed a lot when I was on it. The pictures should show how light and stable it is.

Thanks again. Next up is a 12' version.

From what I've read the blue and pink foam are apparently supposed to be the same type, which is closed cell foam. Apparently white is open cell foam, and shouldn't be used because it absorbs water. You were able to find a 2" thick foam board? I went to Home Depot the other day and they only had the white board at that size, and Lowes online doesn't seem to have it either. I guess I'll go to the actual Lowes store and see if they have it in stock there.

I was able to get the 2" blue foam at Lowes here in Seattle. I think I saw 2" foam at Home Depot as well.

KurtisF3 months ago
Im doing it with styrofoam... Hope it turns out as well. Im thinking its gonna crumble bad when i start sanding. And im worried about resistance through the water. Well see
e-beth4 months ago
OK. Getting ready to make this. Home Depot has 2" foam for $20 a sheet. Will have to do more lamination I guess. Won't use any wood. Want it to be super stable, so I am thinking 8'x3'x4". Rubber mat on top. Also want to add a fin, but I would rather it be removable for transportation. Might try cutting a slot through the board somewhere. Hoping a tight fit will be enough to keep it in place. Thought I would just buy a paddle, but they are expensive too, so now I have to figure out how to make one cheap and light. Light is important, much better on your arms when you are in the middle of the lake trying to get back. I also envision doing a lot of sitting and paddling. SUP is GREAT for core strength, but when I tried it (Groupon SUP lesson) I realized I needed lots of breaks for it to be enjoyable.
Any advice as I start would be welcome.

hope this reaches you and we get a reply since the last post is 10 months old...

AWESOME! i want to try this. question, though. you used no fiberglass/epoxy to coat/seal this board? was it left the pink color of the foam?

thanks in advance!

donedirtcheap (author)  danielpena11 year ago

That's right, no epoxy or fiberglass. Fiberglass would make it a bit tougher but much heavier. As it is my six year old can carry it to the beach by herself.

It has been knocked around over the last year and I have used it quite a bit but it is as tough and strong as ever. I'm taking it camping on an island this weekend with about ten kids!

Do you think it shouldn't be pink? I figured that if it got too banged up I could always glass it later too. But cheap and easy wins for me every time.

Thanks for your questions. If you make one please post your improvements.


thanks for the reply. pink is fine if that's your color of choice. for me i'd want it white if that color is available for the foam, but cool none the less.

if i do decide to do this i will definitely post up!

You can get the foam in blue also. Do NOT use white foam. It is open cell foam as opposed to the blue and pink which is closed cell. The white stuff will not provide the stiffness or strength you need.
ferball1 year ago

Buoyancy is calculated conservatively at 50lbs a square foot (if i remember correctly) so an 8' x 2' x 6" would be good for 400lbs. 8x2x.5 = 8 x 50lbs = 400. A 12 footer would be could for 600lbs. Helpful info for this awesome project.

"would be could"?

You are far overestimating the buoyancy. Calculate it at about 33 lbs per cubic foot of material. Thus, an 8'x2'x6" board would provide 8 cubic ft of material or 264 lbs of buoyancy.

Thanks that will help me I want one for me and my weim. So I'll try a 9x2x7" just to be safe.

EStefonek11 months ago
has anyone tried covering it in duct tape? it would help protect the foam without adding much weight, plus you could personalize. I <3 duct tape.
joshua.emmons12 months ago

How does this hold up in travel... i've seen people with sheets of that pink foam ripped off the roof of their SUV's driving home from the Home Depot. I don't live on water, but this could be an awesome winter project to work on and take it on the river a few miles from my house.

My family made 4 of these following your instructions. We then went to Marsh Creek State Park to test them out and they worked beautifully! Literally 30-40 folks asked about them because they look potentially "home made" and we gave you credit and encouraged folks to check out your posting. Thanks a lot!!!

This comment is worth more to me than you can imagine. I bet you made all four for less than one would have cost at the store. Were they light enough for your kids to carry by themselves?
Another fun thing to do is to lash them as outriggers on either side of a canoe to make a really stable trimaran/ swim platform. My brother and my nephew and I sailed one on Lake Superior!
Your four SUPs tied together would make an amazing raft!
Thank you in earnest,
Yes, my kids carried them themselves. We spent sub $200 for all. The money savings was key, and I what I think was even more important was instilling in my 8 and 10 year olds the idea that they can build something on their own rather than spend so much for something we wanted! We would have spent just about that much to rent 4 of them for 4 hours! Thanks again. Marianne

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sandwiching a thin layer of thick plastic might help any fears of breaking. if it did then it would still be in one piece. strips of plywood might work too. for the bottom I might try the roll up sled material since I will be fishing rivers with mine.

emorcos1 year ago

Is there any disadvantage to starting out with a 4'' piece of foam?

donedirtcheap (author)  emorcos1 year ago
Do you have one?! That it's awesome. No disadvantage at all. Go nuts! Take a picture too, please.
erinw1 year ago
Love your posts! made my daughter a paddle board put gel resin pink paint on it and painted cherry blossoms on the top with white gel resin looks amazing and it's all thanks to you :)

Sounds like fun. Has anyone tried any different types of paint? Trying to round up some options for the board that I'm working on.

saosport erinw1 year ago

Do you have any photos you could share?

donedirtcheap (author)  erinw1 year ago
Thank you. Some people shop sales, some people clip coupons, some people just take what they want. You and I, we make what we want. Thanks for the comment/follow.
evgen_ru1 year ago
Is your board slippery?
Аpply the paint and sprinkle sand immediately.
And your board is not slippery :-)

Great idea. Do you think the grains of sand embedded in the paint would hurt the bottom of one's bare feet? Looking at making this in next couple weeks.

That is a great idea! When I make one I'll keep that in mind for sure!

This looks great! I have wanted one of these ever since I tried my friend's. Can't wait to build it this summer!

How does the foam hold up in the water, does it soak any? Do you think that salt or brakish water would eat away at the foam?

donedirtcheap (author)  papadezil721 year ago
The foam doesn't absorb any water at all. I can't swear to it but I don't think salt water would have any effect. The soft foam will take much more damage from dings and nicks of playful use than from salt. Please post photos if you make one and good luck!
dkrall1 year ago
Awesome. I have a pile of this pink foam in my garage. I am so making one for next season.
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