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Learn How To Wax a Surfboard With These 4 Simple Steps

by Grant Draper

If there’s one thing you need to know as a surfer, it’s how to wax a surfboard. Without wax applied to the top of your board, you’re going to find it ridiculously difficult to find any kind of balance, and popping up is going to be nothing short of a nightmare. 

This quick-fire guide shows you exactly how to wax a surfboard for maximum grip, using 4 simple steps.

How to wax a surfboard

Step 1: Get your surf wax kit together

First of all, you need to get a few things together to wax your board. 

  • Wax - any brand at a surf store will do fine, you’ll need one bar of base surf wax, and one bar of top coat surf wax
  • Wax scraper and comb combo - this is used to remove and then apply the surf wax

If you want to make your life easier, you could buy some wax dissolver. Removing surf wax isn’t particularly easy, and this makes the job easier. However, we’d suggest avoiding it if possible, as it might react with your board. 

Step 2: Remove old surf wax

Now we’re going to explain something really important; how to remove old wax from a surfboard. The more old wax you remove, the better your new wax will take to the board, giving you optimum grip for the longest amount of time.

The hotter wax is, the easier it’s going to be to remove. So, either leave it outside in the sun, or in your house next to a radiator. Failing that, you can CAREFULLY use a hair dryer to get some temperature into the wax. If all else fails, use a light coat of wax dissolver. 

You’ll then use the smallest edge of the wax comb and remove wax in long consistent strokes and lines. You don’t necessarily need to remove all the old surf wax, but the more you remove, the better the new wax is going to stick. And that's going to mean optimum grip for your feet.

If you do use dissolver, make sure you wipe your board down with water, otherwise what’s left is going to eat into your new wax. Then, let the board dry off.

Step 3: Apply the base and top coat

You’ll need both a base coat, and top coat; you’ve already purchased two different bars of surf wax for this reason. The aim is to create a light but rough layer of wax on your board, rather than a smooth surface, as it will be these bumps that provide the grip. 

You can either wax your surfboard using circular motions, or by making a cross-hatch pattern. Either is fine, just make sure you apply the wax lightly, as this will create bumps. Waxing too firmly will create a smooth surface, that is basically, useless!

Work the comb into the wax to help distribute it evenly and create bumps.

And remember, you only need to wax where your feet will be placed. Those riding shortboards need to wax around a 2ft patch from rail to rail at the nose and tail. Whereas if you’re riding a longboard and use all of the board, you’ll need to wax the lot (and therefore, might need a little more surf wax).

Step 4: Re-apply a light coat of wax before each ride

Typically, once your board is waxed, you won’t need to remove it and apply a completely fresh coat for another few months.

However, every ride is going to result in your wearing off bits of wax. In particular, you’ll wear down the bumps of wax that give you the most grip. 

So, stick a bit of top coat surf wax in your bag, and give it a light rub before each ride. As you layer up the wax over a couple of rides, you’ll get more and more grip.

Surf Wax FAQ

How long does surf wax last?

A fresh application of surf wax should last around 3 months. Even if you don’t surf much, after a few months, you’ll see your wax going brittle and start chipping off; and that means a loss of grip. 

How much surf wax should I use?

Some riders use up to 1 bar of base wax and 1 bar of top coat when waxing a board (this depends on size). Start with around ½ a bar of each, and work upwards from there, as every surfer has their own preference when it comes to the amount of wax they use.

Should I wax a foam surfboard?

As waxing a foam surfboard can lead to it being slippery, most foamboard surfers tend to not wax their boards. Instead, they focus on buying a foam surfboard from a manufacturer that has purposely made their board deck grippy.

Do you wax the top or bottom of a surfboard?

You wax the top (deck) on a surfboard, as waxing is designed to provide grip for your feet. Waxing the bottom (rocker) of a surfboard will achieve nothing. Worst case, for shortboard surfers, it’s going to provide instability.

Are there different surf waxes for different water temperatures?

Yes. Below 15°C you’ll need cold wax. Above 15°C water temperature go for warm wax and above 20-22°C you’ll want hot/tropical wax.

In summary

And that’s it. Nothing too complicated. That’s exactly how to wax a surfboard. 

Remember: 

  • Remove as much wax as possible, so the new wax takes to the board
  • A small circular motionand/or cross-hatch patterns are both fine for wax application
  • Don’t use to much pressure when applying surf wax
  • Give your board a quick rub of fresh surf wax after each ride.

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