Learning how to wax a surfboard is a key skill that every beginner surfer needs to learn if they want to stay on their board! Surfboards have slippery surfaces, especially when they’re brand new.
When you wax your board, you’re making a sticky layer to grip onto on your board. The extra friction translates to better balance, fewer falls, less chance of injuries, and more time riding the waves!
Here’s our World Surfers guide on how to wax your surfboard. It’s a pretty easy process – just follow these tips, and you’ll be ready to get out on the waves!
Step 1: Grab Everything You Need
The first step to waxing your surfboard is to gather together everything you’ll need. That includes a wax comb, surfboard wax remover, basecoat wax, top coat wax, and of course, your board.
You’ll need the wax remover to get rid of any build-up of old wax that might be uneven, dry, hard, or flaky. Dirt will collect on your board over time, reducing the stickiness of your wax. It’s not a good idea to apply new wax on top of old wax – it will stick much better on a clean surface.
The comb can help you remove old surfboard wax, as well as providing extra grip by scratching patterns into wax that has become flattened.
Step 2: How to Remove Surfboard Wax
The next step is to remove any old wax so you have a clean surface to work on. You should completely remove any surfboard wax before every big surfing trip, or around every 2-3 months if you surf frequently.
You can soften the wax first to make the job easier for you. If you don’t have time for this stage, you’ll have to put more effort into scraping it off, instead.
The best way to soften the wax is to leave it outside in a sunny spot for a few minutes. The heat of the sun should warm the wax up quickly, making it malleable and easier to scrap off. Alternatively, you can use warm to hot water – pour it all over your board (be careful not to burn yourself!)
Wax combs have a straight side and a curved side. Start by using the straight side to scrape off the old wax. When you get to the rails, use the curved edge. If you don’t have a surf comb, you can try using a credit card or something similar instead.
Once you’ve got most off, you can use a surfboard wax remover to remove any residue. Make sure you use something designed for surfboards, and avoid any harsh products that could damage your board. You can also try using melted natural coconut oil, too.
Step 3: Apply Base Coat Wax
Now it’s time to apply your new layer of wax! Most surfers prefer to do two layers – the base coat, and then the top coat. Using base coat wax, surfboard will remain stickier for longer and it will provide something for the top coat of the wax job to cling on to.
Take extra care when applying the base coat of wax – if you miss a spot, you can’t make up for it with the top layer. When you get the base coat right, it should do you for several days of surfing. It’s worth putting the effort in, so that you get it right the first time.
Apply wax to the part of the board where your feet will be to create traction pads. If you’re surfing on a longboard, the wax job should cover the entire board.
There are lots of different techniques: Vertically, horizontally, at random, in circles, or in a crosshatch. It doesn’t really matter which way you do it. Just make sure you apply pressure and don’t miss any spots! Rub the wax into the board until you feel little bumps and spots of wax forming – this is what will create that amazing hold!
Step 4: Apply Top Coat
Some surfers choose to skip the basecoat entirely. But if you decide to go this route, just know that you’ll lose surfing time, as you’ll need to get out of the waves and re-apply your top coat more often.
Topcoat wax feels very different from base coat wax. It’s stickier, softer, and easier to apply. Our tips for topcoat wax is to apply generously with gentle pressure, and to make sure you have the right type for the water temperature (or it will melt away!) If you’re surfing in warm water, go for a tropical surf wax.
See our reviews of the best surf wax brands here.
And that’s it! Now you know how to prepare your surfboard so you can get out on the water!
Step 5: Re-Apply as Needed Throughout the Day
You might need to re-apply wax throughout the day. If your surfboard is feeling less sticky, you can add another layer of your topcoat. Another helpful tip is to use your wax comb to create a criss cross pattern in the wax for extra grip.
How to Wax a Surfboard FAQ
You need to wax the top of your surfboard, particularly where you will be standing and moving. Don’t wax the bottom of your surfboard, as it won’t help you – it might even slow you down in the water!
Do you need to wax foam surfboards?
Yes, you do need to wax foam surfboards as they can still be pretty slippery when wet and offer little grip. Use basecoat wax and then apply a layer of surf wax designed for soft boards and bodyboards.
Can you use candle wax for surfboards?
No, you need specific surf wax. Please don’t use candle wax on your surfboard, it may damage it!
How do you use basecoat surf wax?
Basecoat surf wax goes on your surfboard first. Apply a generous layer until you feel little bumps, then you can add a thin layer of top coat wax. Basecoat wax ensures that your top wax will cling on for longer and give you that amazing hold!
The Wrap Up
Waxing your surfboard is an essential step you shouldn’t miss before you hit the waves. Now you know how to wax surfboards, you’ll be sure to have a firm hold on your board, and you’ll fall off less often when surfing. All you need to do next is to get out there for some epic surfing fun!
Don’t miss our guide to the best surf wax on the market, plus more surf articles and reviews on the blog. If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Get in contact by dropping us a comment below or sending us an email.