Got a new surfboard and want to know how to wax it?
In this article you’ll learn:
And a whole lot more.
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DO YOU NEED TO WAX A NEW SURFBOARD?
Wax is what gives the deck of a surfboard grip, and without it, it’s incredibly slippery.
Granted, it can be painful to wax a new surfboard because they look so damn pretty, but it’s unavoidable I’m afraid.
HOW TO WAX A SURFBOARD FOR THE FIRST TIME
Alright, there are some pretty wacky - insanely complicated - ways to wax a surfboard that people have conjured up over the years, many of which are overkill, so we won’t be covering those here.
Instead we’ll cover the two main approaches:
SINGLE-COAT WAX JOB
A single coat wax job uses just a single block of wax appropriate for your water temperature.
This is usually more than enough traction for most people, in fact most of the pro’s use just a single coat.
And if it's good enough for them, it's likely good enough for you.
DOUBLE-COAT WAX JOB
A double-coat wax job uses two blocks of wax - one harder, one softer.
The harder wax is used as the base-coat to create small hard bumps for traction that won’t smudge or slip underfoot as the temperature increases.
From there, a softer wax is applied on top for extra traction.
We'll cover how these coats are applied in just a moment.
HOW TO WAX A SURFBOARD STEP BY STEP
Seven simple steps to waxing a surfboard for maximum traction:
STEP 1. PREPPING THE DECK
The first step is to make sure the deck of the board is clean and free from dust, dirt, and old wax.
Old wax can be removed with a wax comb, followed by either a wax removal tool, Methylated spirits, Turpentine (or similar).
Once your board is clean and dry, move onto the next step.
STEP 2. WAX SELECTION
The type of wax you use will vary depending upon the temperature of water you're surfing in.
If you're surfing in warm water you'll use harder wax, and if surfing in cold water you'll need a softer wax.
All the different wax brands will be colour-coded to make this selection process easy, and failing that just ask the clerk at your local surf shop and they'll be able to advise.
STEP 3. DIAGONAL LINES
Using the edge of the block of wax, lightly begin to apply the wax on to the deck of the board in diagonal lines - making sure the lines are close together.
Repeat the process with diagonal lines running the opposite way.
STEP 4. HORIZONTAL LINES
Continue the same wax application process, however this time apply the wax in horizontal lines.
And remember, don't apply too much pressure at this point.
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STEP 5. VERTICAL LINES
After the horizontal lines are complete, switch now to vertical lines up and down the board.
STEP 6. REPEAT UNTIL SMALL BUMPS ARE FORMED
The goal of steps 1-5 is to create small traction bumps in the wax, these bumps help to make the wax more grippy.
So, continue steps 3-5 until you have bumps approx 1mm high.
Once you're there, move on to the next step.
STEP 7. CIRCULAR MOTION
Now that the bumps are fully formed, switch to a circular motion.
This is where you can be a bit more aggressive, and apply more pressure during the application process.
The goal here is to build on the bumps already created - making them taller and more pronounced.
Keep applying wax until it's around 3-5mm thick
And that's it, you're done and you're ready to hit the water.
*HOW TO APPLY A BASE COAT OF WAX
To apply a base coat of wax to your surfboard you can simply follow the steps 1-6 above - using a harder wax for the process.
Once complete, proceed to step 7 and apply a top coat of softer wax in a circular motion from there.
CAN YOU PUT TOO MUCH WAX ON A BOARD?
No, not really.
Sure, some people apply a little more than others but you’re still only talking about a ¼ of a block of wax or so.
So don’t stress that you’re putting too much wax on your board.
A more common issue is surfers not putting enough wax on their boards, so better to load it on just in case.
SHOULD YOU APPLY WAX TO YOUR DECK GRIP?
So I'll leave this one up to you, as an optional extra.
*Interesting fact: Some pro's even wax the tops and the bottoms of their feet for additional traction.
HOW FAR UP THE BOARD SHOULD YOU WAX?
Up until about 10 years ago surfers would only ever wax the board up to where their chests lie, however things have changed a little since then.
With elite surfers doing air-rotations, and spins, they increasingly rely on the nose of their board as a functional foot placement area for balance.
For that reason, elite surfers will wax their boards right to the very nose.
However for the everyday surfer waxing to the chest point is more than enough.
DO YOU WAX THE BOTTOM OF A SURFBOARD?
The bottom of the surfboard should be kept wax free as this area has no need for traction, instead its surface is designed to be smooth to allow water to flow over it freely for speed.
In short, keep all wax on the deck of your board.
HOW TO AVOID BEING A KOOK WITH YOUR WAX JOB
Now I’ve seen some pretty interesting wax jobs in my time, and it’s often a tell-tale sign of kookiness…
So here’s what to avoid:
Follow along to the above and you'll avoid the kook trap just fine.
WRAPPING IT UP
There's no better feeling that waxing up a new surfboard for the very first time in anticipation for your first surf.
And now, you should have all the knowledge you need to get the best grip possible from here onwards.
Any board waxing tips I missed?
If so, chuck'em in the comments below.
Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.