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How To Wax A Surfboard

   August 19th, 2016   Posted In: How-To   Tags:

Learn How to Wax a Surfboard at Wetsuit Wearhouse

Congratulations! ♥ If you’re reading this post you’ve probably just purchased a shiny new board, picked out the perfect wetsuit, and are ready to hit the waves! Before you go, we want to make sure you have all the tools necessary to ensure a great first surfing experience. We get asked how to wax a surfboard all the time, and whether you’re a beginner or a pro, waxing a surfboard is incredibly important for ensuring you have a great experience. So go ahead and watch this instructional video and feel free to read on for step-by-step written instructions! 

Why Should I Wax a Surfboard?

The last thing you want to do is be in position to catch the perfect wave – perhaps your first wave – and your foot slips, causing you to lose balance and fall. Waxing your board gives you the grip you need while also aiding in avoiding injury from slipping and falling, which is a common way to injure ankles, knees and legs. Waxing your board will give you far more control, and you’ll feel more planted and confident.

Fast Fact: It may be hard to believe, but modern-day surfers owe a big debt to how your great-grandparents canned fruits and vegetables! During the early 1900’s, housewives used paraffin wax to seal cans and jars. In 1935, a surfer by the name of Alfred Gallant applied this wax to his board, quickly realizing the benefits of added traction. From there, waxing a surfboard became the norm, and paraffin still remains the main ingredient in modern wax.



What You’ll Need To Wax a Surfboard

Before you head to the beach, make sure to purchase a base layer wax (depending on your surf climate), a topcoat wax, and a wax comb. We recommend buying both forms of wax in a bundle – wax is cheap. Each of the below items are available on our website, and one of our lovely team members will be more than happy to assist you if you have any questions.


Base layer wax – The purpose of waxing a surfboard with a basecoat is to create an “anchor” for your topcoat, which will rub off much faster. A basecoat is nothing more than a harder wax that is going to help your top wax stick and provide the foundation for your top wax.


Top coat wax – The topcoat wax is what gives your board its stickiness and is applied before each surf session. It will melt or rub off much faster than the base layer, but will give you far more traction. Before purchasing your topcoat wax, be sure to research the water temperature of your surf destination. Different water temperatures require different waxes – a wax designed for cold water is going to melt in warm temperatures. Likewise, a wax designed for warm waters is not going to provide the best traction in cold waters. Every wax has a different rating system, so be sure to make sure your wax matches your surf destination’s water temperature.


Wax comb – When you wax a surfboard, eventually the wax will deteriorate or become smooth, and will need to be removed. A wax comb is used to remove wax from your board, or to add texture to existing wax. A good wax comb will have teeth on one side, and a smooth edge on the other. The side with teeth is used for adding texture, the flat side is used for removing wax.



Getting started

The goal of waxing a surfboard is to create small, sticky bumps on the surface of the board to create traction on the board.

  1. Give your new board a quick rub down with a rag to remove any residue.
  2. Determine where the wax should go.

    • Typically, long boards are waxed on the entire length of the board, which allows you walk the deck and hang 10. Even if you’re a beginner, you may pop up on parts of the board you didn’t expect, and having wax cover the entire length of the board will be beneficial. Short boards are waxed to approximately two-thirds the length of the board, just beyond where your front foot will be. Wax should be applied to within 1-2 inches of the rails (side of the board), and should not be applied to the rails, or bottom of the board.

  3. Apply the base layer.
    • Grab your bar of base coat and apply a very thin and even layer to the entire section of the board that will be waxed. Apply using horizontal or vertical strokes to cover the entire wax area. You don’t have to press too hard, just apply with a firm pressure.
  4. To apply your topcoat layer, grab your wax and break in half. Then use the corner of the wax to “draw” on the topcoat. There is no one way to wax your board, but we recommend applying a “crisscross”, diagonal pattern with lines drawn diagonally from the lower left rail to the upper right rail of the board. Then reverse directions to create a woven pattern. This will create ridges which will create more grip.
    • Once you have applied this to the entire wax area of the board, then lay your wax bar flat and apply in circles across the entire board. You will see the ridges rise in bumps from the board. Be sure to not press too hard, or you will flatten out your bumps. Remember, there is no one way to wax your board, less pressure will create smaller beads, while more pressure will create flatter, larger beads. It’s up to you to experiment!


Removing Wax and Applying a New Layer

We recommend applying a top layer before every surf session and completely removing and re-waxing your surfboard every month or so. You will want to remove your wax any time you get a build-up of sand in your wax, or your wax becomes smooth. Use the teeth on your wax comb to add texture to your wax after a few sessions and remove completely with the flat end of the comb.


Tips and Tricks for Waxing a Surfboard:

  • When you have a new bar of wax, break it in half to use the extra edges, which makes it easier to apply the wax.
  • If you plan to remove your wax completely, let your board sit in the sun to warm up the wax, making it easier to remove.
  • Apply wax to a room temperature board. If your board is hot, the wax will melt when applied and won’t form bumps as well.
  • There’s no such thing as over-waxing your board, so don’t be afraid to apply more if you’re uncertain. Avoid putting wax on the rails.
  • Wax is messy. If you get it on carpet, a trick for removing it is to heat up an iron, place a paper grocery bag over the wax, and heat the bag with the iron. It’ll soak the wax into the bag. Just be careful not to overdo it – wax in your carpet is better than burnt carpet!
  • Lastly, don’t eat your wax 🙂

*Editors Note: This post was reviewed and updated 8/23*

Carl is a green-tech entrepreneur with a passion for writing and travel. He grew up in the mountains of Colorado and spent the last 3 years based in South China. He's had the opportunity to surf in Sri-Lanka, Taiwan, South Africa, and Hong Kong and dive in the Philippines, Zanzibar, Mexico and South Africa.

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