Best Surfboard Waxin 2023: A Guide to Waxing your Surfboard

Surfboard Wax

If you’re riding a poly or epoxy surfboard, you’re going to want to wax it. Surfboard wax goes on the deck of your board to keep you from sliding on it while paddling or riding.

Note that the wax goes on the top of your board. If you have experience with skiing or snowboarding, this may be the opposite of what you’re used to. Absolutely never wax the bottom of your surfboard, unless your goal is to be featured on Kook of The Day.

Surf wax can be made of synthetic or natural waxes. Most of the big surf wax brands use paraffin wax, but others opt to use more natural waxes. Again, poly and epoxy types of surfboards should get waxed.

Types of Wax

There are five kinds of surf wax that are used for different purposes and water temperatures:

  • Cold water: Waters under 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cool water: Waters 58-68 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Warm water: Waters 66-78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tropical water: Waters above 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Base wax for a primer or basecoat layer

Cooler water waxes are going to be much softer and have a lower melting point. Warmer water waxes and base coat waxes are going to be firmer with a higher melting point.

How to apply wax

First, you’ll need a clean deck. If your board is brand new, it should already be clean. If your board has some layers of old wax and you want to start fresh, you will need to strip the wax.

To strip the wax, leave your board in direct sunlight for 10-30 minutes to soften the wax. Then, you will take a tool and start scraping it off. There are tools made specifically for this purpose, but I generally just use the edge of a credit card for scraping.

Surfboard Wax Applying Wax

Once you’ve scraped off the existing wax, you need to apply a base coat wax. Base coat and tropical water waxes are essentially the same, so you can use either for this. Take your base wax and apply large crosshatches over where your board needs wax. I tend to apply long diagonal lines of base wax going one direction, then change sides to finish the crosshatch pattern.


Surfboard Wax Line

You’ll want to have wax on the parts of the deck that your body and feet have contact with while paddling and surfing. On longboards, this may be the entire deck. Even if you don’t have the skillset to nose-ride, you might as well apply some aspirational wax on the nose, just in case. On shortboards, your waxed surface will be much smaller.

Once you have crosshatched on your base wax, it’s time for the top coat. Choose the appropriate wax for the waters you’ll be surfing. Apply the top coat evenly in tiny circles over the base coat until you have small bumps of wax all over the board. Then, you’re ready to rip.

Surfboard Wax On Board

You probably want to strip and reapply your base and top coats of wax every few months. Most surfers add another layer of top coat to their deck before every session, though you can get away with skipping it every now and then.

Wax Brands

There are a variety of brands to choose from when picking out a surf wax, the two most popular being Sex Wax and Sticky Bumps. You can find these brands at most surf shops for around $1-2 per bar. If your local surf shop likes you enough, sometimes you can even score them for free.

The most important factor in a surfboard wax is tackiness, which is more often affected by the application than the brand of wax itself. You can research which brand is the most suitable for your needs, but in all honesty, many surfers’ wax preference is based on the smell (no joke).

Surfboard Wax Used At Board

Sticky Bumps

Sticky bumps formulates their waxes using natural ingredients: calcite, mineral waxes, tackifiers, and meadowfoam seed wax. These ingredients are also biodegradable and non-toxic.

Surfboard Wax Sticky Bumps

Sex Wax

The classic Sex Wax formulation uses a parrafin wax. Paraffin wax is also biodegradable and non-toxic. Paraffin wax does contain petrochemicals from crude oil, so while it may be non-toxic and biodegradable, it still comes from a non-renewable resource. Your choice of surf wax is a miniscule part of your carbon footprint, so it’s a personal choice whether the use of petrochemicals is a factor you want to consider.

Surfboard Wax Sex Wax

FCS Surf Wax

FCS Surf Wax is made by the popular surf accessory brand FCS. Their wax is formulated with paraffins, natural waxes, calcium carbonate, and tackifiers. Like Sex Wax, FCS Surf Wax also contains petrochemicals from the paraffin wax. If it makes you feel better about using a surf wax containing petrochemicals, FCS donates 1% of every sale to ocean conservation organizations.

Surfboard Wax Fcs Wax

Fu Wax

Fu Wax is a Brazilian wax with a bit of a cult following. Fu Wax has been called the “stickiest” wax available, making it a sought after wax for pros and advanced surfers who require the utmost traction when performing maneuvers like aerials. It’s no surprise then that Fu keeps their wax formula a secret. Some call it the greatest wax on the market, but you may not want to run out and buy a stick if you don’t need all that traction, the stuff is really sticky and might make a mess of your wetsuit, hair, and rig.


Frequently asked questions

Is surf wax needed?

You definitely need to be waxing a hard top surfboard. If you don’t, you’ll be sliding around like a fool. You probably don’t need wax on a soft top, due to the built-in grip of the deck. But, if you’re serious about traction, you can add a little wax to your soft top for good measure.

Why do I need a base coat of wax?

The top layers of wax tend to rub off as you surf, but the base coat stays in place longer, making up for any top coat that rubs off during your session. The base coat also will help you get those nice “bumps” of wax when you apply your top coat, keeping your deck sticky.

Do you wax the rails of your surfboard?

You should avoid getting wax on the rails of your board. Having wax on the rails can affect the way your board rides. Try to keep the wax 1-2 inches away from the rails.


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