Not very many people would, for even one second, consider the game of darts as a contact sport. After all, contact sports are characterized by high-octane action, dazzling speed, and bone-crunching violence; none of which can be readily found anywhere near a typical game of darts.
You are far more likely to conjure images of frothy beer steins and bowls of salted snacks with the game of darts than say the violence of gridiron or nines. However, there is a level of violence inherent in darts that is not immediately evident to the untrained eye, and thus it is not apparent nor easily gauged.
By now you are probably thinking, what violence? Darts ranks amongst the most laid-back sports, at least in terms of non-competitive play, on the planet. While this is true from a player-side perspective, the tale is entirely different if we try to imagine the action from the dart’s perspective.
It is quite evident that both darts and dartboard take a beating during regular play, which translates to unavoidable wear and tear. So how do you maintain your dartboard?
To properly maintain your dartboard you must take care to keep it clean, dry, rotated regularly. You must also make sure your darts are not damaging the board unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, not many people think about this and thus end up with worn-out gear that ends up breaking prematurely.
Now for the Good News, Bad News section of the article.
The bad news first: Your gear will inevitably break down. While fancier equipment, for the most part, should last quite a bit longer than bargain-bin accessories, no equipment is going to last forever and it will eventually need to be replaced.
The good news: With sufficient foresight and some proper tender loving care, the useful lifetime of your darts equipment, especially of your dartboard, can be significantly extended.
Luckily, properly maintaining and taking care of your darts and dartboards is more straightforward than most people realize. By following the simple guidelines outlined found in this article, you will find yourself actively adding years to your gear’s practical life.
So, let’s get started:
Do No Use Water On Your Dart Board
This is rule number one because there is just so much misinformation out there about using water to “restore” your dartboard or keep it from drying out.
Most modern dart boards are made from Sisal. Sisal dartboards should never be exposed to water or moisture. Not one component of your dartboard will benefit from getting wet. The sisal will absorb the moisture unevenly and cause your dartboard to look like a mountain range.
If it gets deeper into the wooden backboard, it will start to warp. Also, glue is used to attach the sisal to the wood. Getting the glue wet will cause the sisal to begin falling out completely.
If you expose your dartboard to continued moisture, it will bubble and warp. You will ruin your board! Do not get your dartboard wet at all.
Rotate Your Dartboard
All of the recommendations found in this guide are essential, but perhaps none will be as influential to your dartboard’s longevity as proper rotation.
This concept applies to cheap cork boards and expensive high-quality sisal fiber boards: Rotate your boards regularly.
Darts is a game of skill, meaning more skillful players are far more likely to accurately control where they land their throws than unskilled players. Because of this, some spaces in your dartboard will inevitably see more action than others over its lifetime
By rotating your board, you are reducing the probability of any one section receiving repeated dart hits over time (we’re looking at you triple 20).
Thankfully, most new boards come equipped with wire metal frames that easily disconnect from the scoring sections, so rotating the board is as easy as unclipping this frame, turning two or three spaces, and reattaching the frame.
Whether you play every day, or just a few times a week, I recommend rotating your board at least once a month or more.
Mind the environment
Often, a dartboard’s lifetime gets prematurely shortened not by direct action from the players but rather from a lack of understanding of how environmental factors affect the materials with which the board is constructed.
For example, bright lights can wreak havoc on fabrics and fibers. Direct sunlight or light from high-potency lightbulbs can cause severe discoloration of the colored sections of the board.
Additionally, prolonged exposure to light can dry out the fibers of sisal boards and turn brittle any plastic surfaces.
Therefore, to extend your dartboard’s lifetime as much as possible make sure to set it up in a room with a diffused source of light. Or better yet get a dart cabinet to protect it when not in use.
Moisture is another overlooked environmental variable, but one that can cause severe damage to your dartboards. Be especially vigilant if you use your basement, which tends to be notoriously humid, as your designated game room.
Take Care of Your Darts
The entire premise of our beloved game revolves around dart and dartboard coming together over and over again. Doesn’t it make perfect sense then, that the one thing which comes into contact with your dartboard the most exerts the most influence on its longevity?
In order to maintain your dartboard in tip-top shape and protect your investment, it is essential that you never forget also to take care of your darts. Over time and through the wear of repeated play, darts become damaged and begin to wear out the striking surface of the board.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check your dart tips for burs before and after every game session. If you find any, use one of the many tip sharpeners available on the market to give them a good rub.
Think of a burr as a hook that will pull sisal fiber out with it each time you pull the dart from the board. Burred darts can rip a board apart in no time.
I even recommend staying away from any of those new dart tips that have the grooves cut into them for better grip. A standard tip that is appropriately maintained should have no problem staying in the board.
Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
This is a more generalized tip that is highly impactful in various aspects of life, and the game of darts is no exception. Keeping a clean and tidy shop can bring forth a multitude of benefits including, but not limited to, extending your dart gear’s lifetime.
Because the grand majority of us play darts in a casual context, which includes plenty of food and drink, our darts and dartboards often come into contact with grease and other staining substances.
Therefore, it is not a bad idea to keep a box of sanitizing wipes in your game room so that your friends and family can clean their hands of any dirt and grime that can cause damage to your gear. The darts themselves can be cleaned with a solution of clean water and mild dishwashing soap.
Depending on the material that your board is made of, repeated use can cause the material to flake or become loose. Use a soft cloth or lint-roller to gently remove any loose material before it further unravels.
Keeping your area clean can also encourage play. I have limited space and can assure you that my dartboard gets much less use when the surrounding area is cluttered, and stuff has to be moved before we can start up a game.
Thankfully, the sport has come a long way from its early days of wood and cork boards.
Dartboard maintenance then used to involve nightly soakings and other wacky procedures that were necessary to ensure the board lasted more than a dozen games before it ended up becoming useless.
Modern material science has allowed dartboard manufacturers to offer durable equipment that is of high quality while remaining inexpensive.
Nevertheless, even modern materials will wear down after repeated use, so it is worth it to put some time into preserving our gear as much as possible.
These tips will go a long way in helping you to properly take care of your gear and allow you to maintain it in top shape for as long as possible. Ultimately, efficiently taking care of your dartboard boils down to common sense.