What is a "Resin Tint"?
A resin tint is exactly what it sounds like—the process of adding a colored tint to the resin that is required to glass (or more accurately laminate) a surfboard.
A resin tint is not a coat of paint.
You can paint a surfboard, but by doing so you cover up the hand-made detail and the elements that give clues to how the surfboard is put together. Paint gives more control over the final shade and hue, but erases the layers that go into creating the final product.
The reason a resin tint is so beautiful, is because it accentuates the craftsmanship that goes into building a surfboard.
Laminating a surfboard is the process of laying fiberglass cloth over each side of the board and applying an actively hardening resin to saturate the cloth, allowing it to permanently bond to the foam.
Among the laminator's primary concerns during this process is applying enough resin to completely saturate the cloth, without any dry spots or air bubbles, while also ensuring too much resin is not used. Too much resin will make the board heavy and brittle.
Adding a tint to the resin adds an additional layer of complexity: it means every blemish and scratch will catch extra resin and show plainly darker than the rest of the board.
When the color is part of the resin, more resin = more color.
All of this explanation about the process, and we still haven't touched on the initial question: "what makes color matching so difficult?"
Pigments are hand-mixed in a paper cup using primary colors and stock colors of pigment available from the resin material supplier. In this instance below, Greg Martz is tasked with making a "denim blue" tint.
Greg likely started with straight out of the box blue pigment, added a little black to it to darken it up, and then added a small amount the complimentary color—in this case yellow—to knock back the saturation.
As you can see from the photo above, it looks nearly black in the cup. The pigment then gets strained and added to the bucket of resin.
This entire process sort of resembles dyeing an Easter Egg. You have this dark color in your bucket and you are about to apply a thin layer over a big, white object—in this case a surfboard.
The laminator really gets a true sense for the color-matching once the resin goes down on the board, and once he is to that point, he's committed. The resin saturates the fiberglass cloth, and there's no going back.
Greg will do side one today, and leave it in the rack to cure overnight before repeating this process on the other side.
Anywhere you see a darker shade of color, that's because there is more cloth (and therefor more resin) there. This will appear most prominently around the rails of the board, as well as any extra layers of cloth like a deck patch and tail patch.
Lamination is just the first step in the glassing process, if you want to see the rest of the process, here's a video we put together in 2013 following a board all the way through the process: How an Almond Surfboard is Made
The art of applying a resin tint to a surfboard is just that—an art. And it's a practice that I hope continues well into the future.
A resin tint is the go-to way to add color to any of our custom surfboard models.