Why use wood in a pickleball paddle?

Brick House paddles are a true hybrid paddle using a honeycomb core with a natural wood playing surface over a carbon fiber or fiberglass substructure.
There are way easier, ways to make a paddle but our wooden playing surface gives our paddles a unique feel. As an illustration its like the difference between standing or walking on a cement floor vs a true hardwood floor. A hardwood floor has a much softer feel than cement and is easier to walk on. The same is true when playing our paddles, the wood surface makes them easier to play for a longer period of time.

All materials impart a feel to a paddle, different woods are no exception. Each wood type used in our paddles is selected for its strength, physical properties and appearance then paired with a meticulously designed composite substructure for performance and all around playability.

  1. How strong is wood? Well depending on the wood, it can have a strength to weight ratio of 20% more than steel. The directional properties of the wood grain also impart a rigidity to the paddle similar to a unidirectional carbon fiber or fiberglass but without the bulk. 
  1. Flex tests show wood is more durable when it comes to repeated flex than fiberglass or carbon fiber because wood is a natural product. According to testing by a leading materials manufacturer in the marine industry, “an equal weight of fiberglass composite is initially stronger, but after being exposed to repetitive stresses becomes considerably weaker, as compared to a wood/epoxy construction”. This is because the bond between the strands in the composite eventually break with the resins holding them together.
  1. Wood has a compressive quality which allows it to absorb an impact and retain its shape which helps dampen both vibration and sound.
  1. A natural wood playing surface is slightly lighter than straight carbon fiber or fiberglass while providing superior strength.
  1. Manufacturing a hybrid wood composite is more environmentally friendly: When used in our paddles wood reduces non natural products like resins and fiber materials by 50% to 65%. This has a significant impact on our carbon footprint. 

Using a wood surface also has a significant impact on reducing waste and disposable items associated with the manufacturing process of straight composite paddles.

Further as a paddle wears and losses its appearance it is possible to have a Brick House Paddle refurbished and refinished to factory specifications, keeping it out of a landfill site longer.

  1. Control: because the wood playing surface compresses slightly due to its natural properties, the amount of time the ball stays on the paddle increases which facilitates better control in our paddles than paddles constructed of a straight fiberglass or carbon fiber.
  1. The compressive properties of the wood surface help generate spin by compressing slightly at ball contact, increasing the contact area and providing more grip and dwell time. Further the grain pattern in the wood also helps to grip the ball, as the grain is harder than the surrounding wood. At contact the softer wood compresses slightly more, giving the grain a more pronounced profile to create spin.
    The other reason a wood surface can generate spin, is the wood surface allows a wider range of finish types to select from. We choose finishes with not just great durability but a high coefficient of friction which further enhance spin.
  1. When it comes to aesthetics, for us at least, you just can’t beat the appearance of a beautiful hardwood. 
  1. What about durability? We already talked about how wood and epoxy have great performance when subjected to repeated flexing. Our finishes are also chosen for durability and because they flex with the paddle they are in many cases less subject to chipping and premature wear. Wood provides an excellent bonding surface for the finish.
  2. An issue a lot of manufacturers face is loose trim. The natural wood provides an excellent surface for glue to adhere to creating a superior bond between the paddle and the trim. We also use a stiffer trim than most as it provides support to the outer edge of the paddle to help prevent core damage.

There are way easier methods of making a paddle but for us none yield the same performance, feel and playing characteristics that we achieve with a natural wood playing surface. Each wood type has its own distinct properties and it is how it is combined with the core and the composite substructure that really imparts the unique feel of our paddles