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How to Apply Wax on a Surfboard

Niharika Arya
Waxing the surfboard is important to maintain grip while surfing. A normal process of applying wax to the surfboard consists of some simple steps like scrapping of the old wax, applying basecoat then topcoat and finally finishing off with combing. Here, we will provide you with some tips and a detailed step-by-step process of waxing a surfboard.

Important Tip

Do not leave your surfboard in the sun, as the wax will melt off.
A new surfboard has a plain and glossy surface which, though makes it look nice, is not good for the surfer. The hard shell of the surfboard does not offer any grip which may result in slips, and the surfer may get wiped out under the waves very easily.
So, to get good grip on the surfboard, waxing it is very important. Wax creates a bumpy surface which increases contact of the feet intact with the board surface. So, you can say that waxing a surfboard is an essential part of surfing. It can be easily done at home by following these easy steps.

Things Required

  • Surfboard
  • Basecoat wax
  • Temperature wax (soft/cool/tropical water wax)
  • Wax comb
  • Plastic scraper
  • Mineral spirit
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Cold water

How to Wax a Surfboard

If you have just bought a new surfboard, then you will be waxing it for the first time, and hence, it will have a clean surface. But, if you are going to wax your old surfboard, then you will have to cleaning it before applying wax it. Following is a step-by-step process of waxing a surfboard.

Step #1: Clean the Surfboard

It is very important to clean the surfboard and scrape off the old wax before applying the new coat. Even a residue of old wax will affect the new wax coat, and will flake off earlier than usual. Hence, to prevent the wax from flaking off the surfboard, make sure that the old wax is cleaned properly, and the basecoat is applied directly on the surfboard.
Keep the waxed board in the sun for sometime. This will make the old wax soft and it will be easy to scrape it off. Once the old wax gets soft, you can scrape off the wax with the help of a plastic scraper.
After scrapping the old wax, you can clean the board with mineral spirit, followed by denatured alcohol. This will remove the remaining old wax. Once the board gets rid of all the old wax, the board will appear glossy and clean. Do not use acetone, as it might affect the artwork on the surfboard.

Step #2: Get a Proper Wax

You need two types of wax for your surfboard: basecoat wax and topcoat wax (temperature wax). Temperature wax is used according to the temperature of the water you are surfing in. You can select from different temperature wax to match your requirement. Following are some of the temperature wax available.
  • Tropical Wax: Is best for temperatures above 75ºF (23ºC).
  • Warm Water Wax: Is best for temperatures between 68 to 74ºF (20 to 23ºC)
  • Cool Wax: Is best for surfing in 60 to 68ºF (15.5 to 20ºC)
  • Cold Wax: Is best for surfing in 50 to 60ºF (10 to 15.5ºC)

Step #3: Apply the Basecoat

If you don't have the right basecoat or you don't apply the basecoat at all, the topcoat will not last for a long time and will chip off soon. Basecoat is a harder wax which is a little difficult to apply. But this provides a stronger grip to the basecoat on the surfboard. 
You will have to apply the wax coat in a particular pattern. Just hold the block of wax and start applying it horizontally, along the axis of the surfboard. Once you have completely covered the board horizontally, start applying the wax vertically or across the board.
Surfers can also use his own techniques to apply the basecoat. You can use a circular pattern, straight-line pattern, crisscross pattern or any random pattern. Keep applying the basecoat until you see a bumpy coat. Cover the entire board, and maintain a uniform layer on the board.

Step #4: Apply Topcoat

Topcoat wax or temperature wax is usually softer than basecoat wax. It is sticky, which allows it to properly bind with the basecoat. You have to select the temperature wax carefully, as the wrong wax may become soft or hard depending upon the temperature of the water, causing you to slip from your board.
Apply the topcoat in the similar way as you applied the basecoat. Use a different colored wax, as it will be easier to track the unwaxed parts against the basecoat wax, and can be waxed accordingly.

Step #5: Comb the Wax

Once you have applied the wax, take a plastic comb and just run over it. Run the comb diagonally, and then in a crisscross pattern. This will provide a better grip on the board. Use a comb every time you surf, as this will maintain the grip. Do not apply too much force while running the comb, as it can scrape off the wax. If you comb too much, you might have to start scratching and waxing again.

Step #6: Spray Cool Water Over the Board

Once you are done with the waxing and combing, you just have to spray cold water over the board, in order to make it hard. This will also allow the wax to stick properly to the board. Avoid getting sand on your surfboard, as it will stick to the board, and will feel like sandpaper on skin.
You should get your surfboard waxed in every 3 months or at least once every year, if not used frequently. Applying too many coats will only add to the weight of the surfboard. Hence, cleaning the board on a regular basis will help in maintaining it properly.