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How to Wax a Surfboard

How To Wax a Surfboard

How to wax a surfboard – Surfboard wax helps you to stick to your board while you are surfing.  The hard outer skin of a surfboard (the deck and bottom of a surfboard) is generally very slippery.  This is great for the surface of the board that glides across the water, but not so great for under your feet!   A well waxed surfboard creates undulating bumps across the deck.  This allows your feet something to grip to when standing on a surfboard.

So, if you have never waxed your surfboard before or you are just looking for suggestions to get a better wax job, here is our quick guide to waxing your surfboard, supported by Global Surf Industries – GSI.

How To Wax A Surfboard Before you Hit the Surf

What You Need

To wax your surfboard, you will ideally need a few essential items.  Mainly: basecoat wax, topcoat wax and a wax comb.  If you are going to put wax on a used board or you’re reapplying wax to your surfboard, you will also want some cleaning solution (wax cleaner) and a few wipes, as things can get messy.

You should clean The Surfboard

Are you waxing a brand-new surfboard?  If so, this stage is not as important.  However, if you are waxing a used board or you are re-waxing your surfboard, it is important to first clean the deck and remove any old wax or dirt that has stuck to the surface.

To clean your surfboard, first scrape off all of the old wax using your wax comb.  Make sure you get all of the wax off of the rails (sides of your surfboard) by using a curved side of your wax comb.

You then want to use some wax cleaner of suitable cleaning solution to remove any remaining wax and residue.  There is usually a really thin layer of wax still remaining that you can see if you tip the board sideways in the light.  Glass cleaner, or a light washing liquid will often dissolve the excess wax and allow you to wipe it clean.

Once your board is clean and dry, you can begin putting on a new coat.

Putting on A basecoat

The basecoat wax is often considered the most important step of waxing a board.  The top-coat wax is quickly worn out and rubbed off as you surf, but the basecoat generally remains until the next time you completely re-wax your board.  If a patch of your basecoat rubs off, you will have an area that is almost constantly without wax, even if you apply more top coat, it will quickly rub off.

The purpose of the basecoat is to create a ‘lumpy’ pattern that will last.  Basecoat surfboard wax is a harder wax which enables it to stay adhered to the surfboard for longer.  But this also makes it harder to apply, so always ensure you push down on the wax a little harder sit rubs off and onto the board.  While you are rubbing on the wax, the wax might skip along the deck, but that’s ok, it just means lumps and bumps are forming and the wax is bouncing over them.  You will want to start by making broad strokes on the board and continuing until you see a ‘lumpy’ pattern emerging.

There are many different techniques surfers use to apply wax.  Here are some popular techniques to try as you get started:

  • Circles: Rub the wax in little circles, moving up and down the board
  • Front to Back: Rub the wax in a straight line parallel to the rocker
  • Criss Cross: Go diagonal one way and then go perpendicular to that direction
  • Random: Go every direction, make spirals, do whatever


The top-coat wax is much softer than a basecoat wax which allows it to be ‘tacky’ and stick to your feet better.  Top coats are much more affected by the water temperature than the basecoat.  Because of this, you want to make sure to use a wax grade that is good for the water temperature where you surf.  Waxes generally comes in temperature ranges marked on the packaging.

Wax get softer as the water gets warmer.  To make sure the wax is at an ideal level of softness in a specific water temperature, different chemicals are added to the wax.  A tropical temperature wax will be the ideal level of tackiness in warm water.  A cold temperature bar of wax will be tacky even in cold water where most wax will have hardened up.

As a rule of thumb, you can occasionally use a warmer wax in cold water if you get stuck, but don’t use a colder wax in warm water.

The top coat of wax is applied in a similar way as the basecoat.  But since it is softer, you will not need to push down quite as hard.  Like with the basecoat, try a few varying application techniques.  Eventually you will find something that works for you and your surfboard.

After You Surf

When you surf, it is more than likely that some of your top coat will flake off.  Some of the wax will end up in the water and some will be stuck on your wetsuit; board shorts; rash vest; etc.  To account for this loss, you will need to add a bit of top-coat wax before each time you go surf (or every few times if you’re lazy).

Sometimes the wax will get really smooth and appear flat. If this happens, use the comb side of your wax comb to scratch diagonal lines into the wax, making a checkerboard pattern.  This will ensure you stick to your board for a few more sessions.

If you find yourself doing a lot of combing, it might be time to start over and put on a new basecoat.  You should probably put on a new basecoat every 2-3 months or so depending on how often you surf.  You will probably find its actually a relaxing ritual to get you into the surfing mood!

Where To Put Wax On Your Surfboard

To understand this, you should watch the video at the top of this article.  Keep in mind some people like to create wax-grips for added grip when duck-diving.  Traction pads or deck grips are sometimes a smart idea because they keep your back foot locked in and also protect the surfboard from dings.

How Much Wax To Use On A Surfboard?

There are probably a lot of varying views on how much wax you need on your surfboard.  You will soon find you develop a preference, but a lot of this depends on your surfboard and your style of surfing.

Longboards are often waxed al the way from nose to tail.  This allows the rider to move from the back of the board all the way to the front tip.  On the other hand, shortboards are often only waxed from the tail to the front foot.  There’s not the requirement to move around quite as much, and it helps keeping overall weight down.

Generally speaking, if you find yourself slipping off any part of the surfboard…either with your feet or with your hands, it’s probably worth adding a little more wax!

Global Surf Industries


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