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How To Paint & Decorate A Surfboard

   August 24th, 2020   Posted In: How-To   Tags:

How to Paint a Surfboard

Ways to style up your board whether it’s rideable or not

Everyone knows the classic shape of a surfboard. Long, tall, with a unique nose, and those cool looking fins. Many boards out there are white which means it’s perfect for adding your artistic flare. It is not a simple process and takes some money and time but as I will show you, the results you can get when you paint a surfboard can be awesome. Plus, adding a custom paint job to your board will definitely make you stand out.

There’s a big difference between painting a surfboard you still want to ride and painting a surfboard that is going to be used as a wall decoration. Painting a surfboard you still want to ride requires much more care but can produce some super cool, professional-looking results.

how to paint and decorate a surfboardSpray Paint A Surfboard

The first thing you have to do is clean the surface you are going to paint with acetone. This will remove all the wax, dirt, and oils that could prevent the paint from sticking. You’ll also need to get some fine 320 grit sand-paper to rough up the slick surface so the paint will hold. Make sure you’ve hit every inch of the board or the specific parts you want to paint. Watch how the sanding is done in this YouTube video and try to be just as thorough. Dust it off and get ready to paint a surfboard.

Get Creative With Painter’s Tape

Assuming you have the color scheme you want already decided it’s time to start masking off where each color will go. The first thing to do is tape off any logos, fin housings, or basically whatever you don’t want the paint to get on. It might require some tape in different sizes as well as masking paper to make sure overspray doesn’t get on places it is not supposed to go.

Make sure to take your time and get any logo cut out with precision with a razor blade as you see in this YouTube video. If not you risk paint bleed that will not look great. You’ll notice in that same video he uses dish soap as a way to mask off lines on the board. Paint won’t stick to the soap so after the paint dries you can just hose off the board to reveal your new design.

Take It One Section At a Time

Once you have a section ready to paint. I recommend using a primer first, preferably in the same color as what the paint is going to be. But before we go further into how to paint a surfboard, you have to ask yourself if you know how to work a can of spray paint. It’s not as easy as it looks and it is very easy to apply too much in one spot and not get an even coat. If you have never spray painted something watch this tutorial before you go any further.

Once you got it down, lay down a nice coat of primer. Let it dry and then go back over it with the sandpaper. Dust it off and you are now ready to start the surfboard painting. I would apply two thick coats of whatever color you choose. I also recommend using an acrylic based paint because it has very good adhesion while retaining its color and gloss. It also has more flexibility than enamel-based products which can become brittle and crack. This can ruin your surfboard painting and we don’t want that.

Clear-Coat it and Move On

Once you have the paint in that section looking good it is best to use some sort of clear spray coating that will help preserve your board from the harsh elements of surfing like saltwater, direct sunlight, sand, and wax. I recommend doing 2 to 3 coats of clear protector to make sure you are getting the utmost protection. When the final coat dries you are ready to remove the masking and start on another section where the entire process above will start all over again.

As I mentioned earlier. Painting a surfboard can be a lengthy process depending on how intricate the designs are. So if you plan of doing multiple sections in different colors be prepared to dedicate several hours to the project.

Here are a few cool designs I found that use the same process




how to paint and decorate a surfboard

Blending Colors

Maybe you don’t want nice lines and solid colors. There are ways to use spray paint to make sections that aren’t so well defined which can also add a nice touch and save loads of time. This YouTube video is a great example of how to use a sponge to give your board a unique paint wash look.

This other video gives you an example of how to paint a surfboard by freehand spraying the sections for a look similar to this picture.

Using Paint Pens

This is a great way to paint a surfboard if you want small, detailed, custom drawings. You can hand draw them right onto your board. The process to do this is the same as I explained above but instead of using spray paint, you’re using pens. This makes the process of customizing your board a little less daunting if you are a good artist. You can also get incredibly intricate with your designs. Just makes sure you still sand the board in the spot you are going to draw.

Make sure that you buy the highest quality acrylic paint pens so they withstand the elements as long as possible. Always clear coat your designs as well so they don’t rub off.

One trick is to use dry erase markers to practice your design before you lay it down with the actual paint pen. This blog has some fantastic ideas and step by step instructions. This webpage also has some very helpful tips.

If you use the methods mentioned above you will no doubt have a board that will stand out in the lineup and it should last for years and years.

Here are some cool designs:




Painting A Surfboard That is Not Going To Be Surfed On

If you are going to paint a surfboard that is going to be used for decoration on your patio or in your home you can certainly use the same process as above. But you most likely won’t need to spend so much time with several coats of primer, paint and clear coat. Since the board won’t be seeing sand, and saltwater on a regular basis it is probably safe to use any old house paint. That means you can also just paint a surfboard using a brush or roller if you want to change the entire color.

The fact is, decorating a surfboard for a house doesn’t require such a strict process to preserve the surfboard painting. That means you have a lot more freedom when it comes to what you can paint onto it. You also have cheaper options when it comes to what paint you can use.

Get To Work

Now that you have some inspiration and some ideas it’s time to start your own project.

If you don’t know where to start with your design, get out a pen and paper and draw a surfboard shape, and start designing. I’m sure you’ll figure out something that is very original and cool!

Wes Severson is a fitness enthusiast and bodyboarder from San Francisco, CA who is always at Ocean Beach hitting the waves. He is also an Emmy Award-winning broadcast news writer and producer and a recording artist who goes by the name Wes Magic.

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