Why Do Dartboards Bulge? (3 Reasons & How To Avoid It)

For dart-playing enthusiasts, an immaculate dartboard is often their pride and joy and many serious plays invest a lot of money in a quality board. Unfortunately, dartboards can disintegrate quickly if not well maintained. One indication of a damaged board is bulging or bubbles on the surface.

Dartboards are manufactured out of sisal fibers which are bundled and packed together tightly before being fixed to a backboard. A dartboard bulged when enough fibers dislodge from the backboard causing sufficient pressure to force the surface of the board outward.

You don’t want to replace your board more frequently than every 2 years, but for this to happen, you need to ensure that you take proper care and maintenance of your dartboard and inspect it regularly. Bulges on a dartboard are easy to spot, a glaringly obvious imperfection that cannot be ignored. The dislocating of the fibers is a result of wear and tear on the board or environmental influences.

Why Do Dartboards Bulge

Here is a list of 3 possible reasons that are causing bulges on the surface of your dartboard and what you can do to resolve the problem:

Reason #1: Wear and Tear

Overuse of your board will cause the surface to deteriorate a lot quicker, much like any other item like an electric gadget or a vehicle.  If you don’t invest in a quality dartboard you will find yourself needing to replace the board that much faster.

Premium dartboards stand out for their solid sisal bundles. However, purchasing a quality board is not enough. Dartboards should be maintained by rotating the board frequently to spread out the damage to the surface more evenly. Rotating your board ensures that you are not consistently throwing at the same section of the board. Repeatedly striking the same area is likely to cause a bulge.

There is a wrongly-held belief that spritzing your dartboard with water can help it heal, and while this may be a temporary solution to recuperate the surface of your board, the moisture remains on the bundles and will destroy your board in the long run. Being able to wet your dartboard came from when boards were originally made of wood, specifically elmwood. To prevent the board from fracturing, owners would spray the wood with water nightly. Spraying the wood would close up the holes as the wood bloated in reaction to the water.

Reason #2: Moisture

Sisal fibers are very sensitive to moisture. If the board is not protected from water, this can cause the fibers to become engorged and start to dislocate from the back of the board. It is important to note expose your board to outside elements such as rain or other wet substances.  If you prefer throwing darts outside, perhaps you prefer to avoid holes in your walls or don’t have much space inside, remember to carry your dartboard back into the house once you’re done.

No matter how dusty or grubby your dartboard is looking, you should never use water on the surface of your board. This is catastrophic and can severely damage your board and lead to bulging as the glue is water-soluble (able to be dissolved by water) and will deteriorate when exposed to moisture.  

A bristle board, what most modern boards are made of, is made up of sisal fiber glued to a wooden backboard. When the fibers become soaked, they will swell and absorb the moisture and carry it through to the glue fixing the bristle bundles to the wooden backboard. Once the glue begins to dissolve, the fiber will dislocate from the backing and the surface area will begin to bubble as the bristles push out. Your board will be wrecked, and you may even see bunches dropping from the surface.

Reason #3: Humidity

Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors, factor in the humidity of the area you live in. Humid climates mean the surrounding air contains a lot of moisture which as mentioned above can negatively impact the sisal fibers in your dartboard. Unfortunately, you cannot do much about the climate, but keep this in mind when you’re wondering why you’re replacing your dartboard so often. Some dart-throwing hobbyists have used dehumidifiers to regulate the temperatures of their house and to protect their dartboards.

You should also ensure that your board is not placed near a heat source – for example, hot water pipes in the wall, or the board is set up too close to a lamp. This could also soften the bondage on your board. As with avoiding moisture, ensure your board is not exposed to direct sunlight as UV rays and the heat can be harmful and make the bundles of fiber weaker.

Tips On How To Clean Your Dartboard

A gleaming red, white, and backboard that you can show off to your friends and family when they come over to visit is always a must. You’ve invested in your dart playing hobby, purchased a top-quality board, and are doing what you can to regularly maintain it. However, life happens and sometimes your board still looks grubby. Here are a couple of tips to help you clean your board, leaving it looking as awesome as the day you purchased it.

  • When cleaning, detach the metal frame or “spider” from the board to make cleaning so much simpler. You’ll be able to remove unwanted grime and dust that have accumulated beneath the frame. Keep in mind that some older dartboards don’t really allow you to remove the frame so do what you can.
  • Take a vacuum or a bristle brush and dust the surface of the board. This will help with dislocating large dirt deposits that have accumulated.
  • Use a dry cotton cloth over the face of the board to get rid of leftover dirt. You can even use cotton swabs to get into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Remember, never use a wet or damp cloth to clean your board or you will cause some major damage.

How Often Should You Clean your Dartboard?

You’ll be relieved to know that you don’t have to clean your dartboard that frequently. Proper maintenance, especially if you’re cleaning and inspecting the surface when you’re rotating the board. Try to maintain and clean simultaneously so that grime doesn’t accumulate for too long in harder to reach areas.  

Can You Wash A Dartboard?

Absolutely not! Never soak, submerge, or think of bathing your precious dartboard. As mentioned above, don’t even spray or mist the board’s surface. Your dartboard should never be exposed to water or other moisture.

Help! Mold And Mildew Are Growing On My Board!

Unfortunately, this does happen. When you’re inspecting the surface of your dartboard, you may notice spots of mold. This occurs if your board is stowed in a chilly, dank space like a garage or a shed. Mold loves wet conditions. Remove your dartboard and bare it to direct sunlight to destroy the mold. You can also take a container of compressed air to force off the mold or use a tough brush to scrape it off the surface.


Hopefully, this guide has proved useful as to why dartboards bulge. Usually, this happens when owners do not take good care of their boards. Now you know some more effective ways to ensure your board remains in its prime.

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