How To: Waxing Your Surfboard

Waxing your surfboard properly is essential to maximizing your surfing skill. A well waxed surfboard can be the difference between standing and slipping, glory and defeat, wellness and injury, and overall fun.

The first thing to consider is what kind of wax to buy. All of the leading brands are comparable. But while brand name isn’t important, whether or not you buy warm, tropical, cool, or cold water wax is important. Using wax intended for the opposite water temp can cause the wax to not work, and you will slide off the board, which is exactly what you will do if you don’t have any wax on your surfboard.

The cutoff between warm and cold water waxes varies slightly with brand name, but is always printed clearly on the outside of the package. Simply be aware of the water temperature where you will be surfing and the corresponding recommended temperatures on the package.

Once you have your wax, you need to get the old wax off your surfboard. (If this is the first time you are waxing your board, you are lucky. Don’t worry about this stuff.) The easiest method is to lay your board out in the sun so that the wax already on the board softens. One it softens, scrape it off gently with a wax scraper (plastic) made for just that task and sold at surf shops. If you don’t have one of these combs, a variety of things will work: any flat edged surface of soft plastic or hard rubber, the end of a swim fin, etc. Just try to avoid metal– it will scratch up your surfboard.

Once the old wax is gone, its time to start with the new wax. If the surface of the surfboard is still hot, cool it down with some cool water or move it into the shade and let it sit. Then, when the board is dry, apply the wax in a circular motion. You don’t need to put wax on the entire board– only where your hands and feet will come into contact with the surfboard (never on the rail where you leg will slide back and forth). That means anticipating where you will spring up, and where on the rails you will push up with your hands. Remember, there’s no harm in putting wax somewhere and ending up not needing it. Better too much wax than not enough.

Finally, be sure you don’t leave your waxed surfboard in the direct hot sun, or the wax will melt right off. Also, avoid getting your fresh wax sandy, because it will feel like sandpaper on your skin. If you put your surfboard on the hot sand in summer, it will become gritty and sandpaper like.

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