Waxing a surfboard

Jörg Matzdorff
Jörg Matzdorff

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Waxing a surfboard is the process of coating it with wax to reduce friction. Done regularly, it will make your surfboard last longer and be easier to use. Surfboards are made from different materials, which means they require different types of surf waxes. It is important that you know what type of board you have before deciding what type of wax to use.

There are a number of different factors, which affect the durability and performance of your surfboard, including its shape, weight, length, and width but also the type of surfboard wax what needs to be applied. Beside this the main indicator is the water for which you need to choose the right temperature wax. 

In this article, you will get an insight into:

  • the procedure of surfboard wax
  • the tools you need to remove surfboard wax and apply the new wax
  • two main methods of wax application

What does waxing a surfboard do?

Waxing is an important process for surfers because it protects their boards from breaking down and reduces friction between the board and water. Waxing also makes it easier for a surfer to catch waves because due to the thin layer of wax they can glide on top of the water with ease.

Another important purpose of waxing a surfboard is, that a good wax job stops the surfers feet from slipping while surfing, because the surface of surfboards (even soft boards) can become very slippery without topcoat wax. As wax is a temperature sensitive material, it is necessary to pick the right product. There are surfboard wax for different water temperatures and other indispensable accessories.

Where to wax a surfboard? 

A surfboard’s performance is greatly influenced by the wax that is applied to it. Waxing a surfboard can be difficult and time-consuming, so it is important to know how and where to do it.

You should apply the wax on a surfboard wax deck zones, mainly in the working foot zones of the surfboard. Add an extra area in case you know that you might move into unusual sections of the boards at some moments.

How to Wax a Surfboard?

To wax your surfboard requires a bit of preparation. To complete the waxing procedure by yourself, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Base coat wax
  • Top coat wax
  • Wax comb
  • Wax remover
  • Some tissues to protect the working surface

The process of waxing a surfboard 

Waxing your surfboard manually might take some time, but gives the freedom of personalization of the wax application, according to your usage. It is not easy to do the perfect wax job, but with a little bit of practice you can get satisfying results at home. 

You should repeat the surfboard wax every second month, but more frequently if needed. 

You always start by removing any existing wax on the surface of the board with a wax comb. Then you clean off the wax residues with the wax remover to make sure that your surfboard looks shiny. Apply the wax by rubbing it in so that you can get a smooth finish. In the final step, put on the base coat wax before the top coat. Make sure, that you choose the right topcoat wax, according to the waters you are surfing in.

Waxing a Surfboard: Step by step 

Step 1: Clean the surfboard

If you have a new board, you can skip this step and go straight to step 2. If you want to re-wax a used surfboard, you have to clean the deck first. To do this, first scrape off the old wax with a wax comb. If possible, you should not do this when it is cold outside, because then it will be more strenuous. In a pinch, a hair dryer or placing the surfboard briefly in the sun can help. Now only a thin film remains, which you can either leave on the board or remove with a special wax remover.

Step 2: Apply base coat

Professionals always wax their board with a special base coat wax first, this makes the surf wax last longer and the top coat wax is more economical and easier to apply. If you don’t have base coat, however, that’s not a problem either, and you can continue with step 3. Once you’ve waxed with base coat, you won’t want to do without it. Besides, a block of base coat will last forever.

Step 3: Apply surf wax / Top Coat Wax

This wax is softer than base coat Wax and stickier. The Surf Wax should be carefully matched to the water temperature. A Cold Wax will eat into your board shorts in tropical temperatures, and with a Tropical Wax you will have no grip in cold temperatures. A surf wax with a wide temperature range can only ever be a compromise. In a pinch, you can always use a wax meant for a colder temperature, but never the other way around.

Step 4: After surfing / Before surfing

During surfing, you will lose some surf wax that will stick to your wetsuit or shorts. Also, the small wax bumps are pressed flat, so they have less surface area. Therefore, before the next surf, you should roughen the wax with a wax comb in diagonal lines and re-wax if necessary. The base coat only needs to be renewed every few months. Except after a complete de-waxing or changing the water temperature range.

Methods of Waxing

There are two different waxing methods you can use: the circle method and the criss-cross method. The difference lies in the movement with which you apply the wax. The methods are used when applying the base coat wax.

Waxing in a circular motion might be more difficult for beginners. The criss-cross method is faster, used therefore by most professionals.

The circle method

For this method, you need to hold your wax bar in your hand so that the thinner side touches the surfboard. Start by waxing the surfboard in small circles using “very light pressure”. As you do this, slowly move along the deck of your board with each new circle that. due waxes. 

Be aware that this first layer of wax serves as a primer, so it should be very thin. Apply as many wax circles to the board until you have covered the deck from rail to rail in the places where you will stand with your feet and where you will place your hands when you pop up. 

The criss-cross method

Touch the thinner side of the board with your wax rod. Again, use “light pressure” but this time draw long diagonal lines across the deck of your board at the points where your feet and hands will touch the surfboard.

Once you’re done with the lines, fill in the squares you’ve created using very circular motions. 

Removing Wax

Don’t worry, you don’t have to strip your board and reapply every time you’re about to head out to catch some waves. You’ll know you’ve got to strip it when the wax is dirty, or you see it peeling off. Simply cover your board in sand, and leave it in the warm sun for like 10 minutes to let the wax melt. Then, take a wax comb and scrape all the wax off. If you find some annoying spots that you can’t get off, put wax remover on a rag and wipe it off.

Conclusion: Surfboarding waxing is a necessary part of your surfing preparation

Surfboard waxing is an elementary part of a well-prepared surfer. You should wax your board every two months at most, which you can do well yourself with the right tools and wax.

Jörg Matzdorff
Jörg Matzdorff

Outdoor and surfing enthusiast.