10 Easy Steps on How to Paint a Surfboard (Step-by-Step Guide)

Flo Farmer
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How to Paint a Surfboard?

Surfboards are usually made of hard foam (usually EPS or Polystyrene) or fiberglass which can be shaped in the form of a surfboard. Some surfboards are also made of wood or a combination of wood, foam or fiber glass.

Depending on the place you go to in the world, surfboards can be shaped in different styles. The board shape of preference varies from place to place and even from one surfer to the other.

In general, surfboards can be classified into 3 different shapes: Long, Flat and Round.

#1. Prepare the needed materials.

Step 1: Collect the materials needed for your project. Here's what you will need:

Air compressor.

Air hose (or airless paint gun).


Dust mask.

Face mask.

Paint gun.

Paint gun extension tube.

Painting tape.

Shaving cream.

Tack cloth (rough).

#2. Clean the surfboard.

Before you paint the surfboard, you should first clean it. Use water to remove any dirt or slime that has already formed on the surfboard. Make sure that no dirt is left as dirt can affect the painting process. After cleaning the surfboard, lay it down on some newspaper or paper towels, so that no paint will fall onto the floor.

#3. Rub the surfboard with acetone.

Acetone removes print, tape and any other type of solvent-based paint. This is very crucial because the epoxy must overlap any remaining traces of the other paint to bond effectively.

#4. Sand the surfboard.

Sand it lightly all over to remove any stenches or dings that you wouldn’t want in the painting stage. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure when sanding, just go gently. Let your sander do the job. Don’t scrub, just do an even sanding. Take one hour to go all over the board. Take your time in the abrasive process, as you want the surface super smooth.

#5. Draw the design’s outline.

Now that you have made sure the whole surfboard is dry, take a stencil that has the shape of the design you have chosen, and place it on the canvas part of the board. Use the pencil to go around the outline of the design, leaving about 2 mm surrounding the lines. If the design pattern extends to the rails of the board, you can use the pencil as well.

#6. Paint the design’s base.

The stencil design on this board is the Loggerhead turtle. Its shell was stenciled on two layers of light brown, while the eyes were only painted on one layer of the base color.

#7. Start painting the designs.

When the entire board has dried, it's time to paint the designs. If you are using a white pentel magic marker, it is best to use it while the board is still wet and before you have applied the polyurethane.

It is not a difficult process, but it does take some time. Prepare yourself by disassembling your base layer of glassing that has a bit of 5200 mixed with it. To prevent the marker from bleeding, don't use an excess amount of 5200. The goal is to help the marker to bond with the board.

First, if you are planning on using the Magic Marker, it is better to start on the bottom of the board so that stains don't go up onto your glassing.

If you are using a toothpick, make sure you don't get too much pigment on it. Make diagonal lines going forward on the top side of the board, and if necessary, go back and make more lines covering the original ones.

#8. Use the black pen to add outlines on designs.

Naturally, you will have to have already drawn the design on the board first.

#9. Dry the painted surfboard.

After you have completed the painting process, it’s time to allow the surfboard to dry. This can take up to a week, depending on the amount of layers you put on the board.

You can use a hairdryer to speed up the curing process. Start with low heat and finish with high heat.

Also, there are special airbrush cleaners that you spray on your board to allow the paint to dry quicker.

Just make sure that the board dries naturally before applying a coat of varnish or polyurethane. You can tell if the paint has dried by lightly tapping the board. If it’s dry, the board won’t ring like an old bell.

#10. Cover the finished painting with clear coat spray.

The mayo, slices, and cheese hold the wood together.

Wrap the sandpaper around the sanding block. Use the coarse sandpaper for sanding.

Always try to use two hands on your right. In this was, you get more control for the tricky process.

Make sure you dry the wet/waxed area before you start to apply the oil.

Do not sand your board before applying oil. The oil will help the sandpaper glide smoothly over the wood without the need for pressure.

If you want a color that is not on the palette, mix the colors yourself. Always choose a color lighter than the original color.

The Sandpaper Should Be Applied on Wet and Semi-Waxed

Oil makes the paint go on smoothly, imparts a lustre to the wood and prevent oxidation.

Pour more than you think you need. The wood will absorb the oil and the paint will last longer.

Make sure you use a cover/garbage bag or an empty container as a space for emptied paint cups.

You may use an oil-based color or an acrylic-based color. Always use oil-based color for the first time and acrylics for the next times.

Apply a base coat of white or any color you like for the painting. This will make future painting easier. Add more water if the paint seems to be too thick.

Experts Tips on Painting a Surfboard

{1}. Prepare the Surftboard
{2}. Sand the Surfboard
{3}. Clean the Surface of the Surfboard
{4}. Apply a White Primer
{5}. Apply a Black Gloss Enamel
{6}. Seal the Newly Painted Surboard
{7}. Apply Clear Sealant
{8}. Do a Test for Curing Time
{9}. Apply a Clear Spray Varnish
{10}. Patina the Surface

C Lick Here to Read Step by Step Guid E to Paint a Surftboard

Note: the process for painting a surfboard may vary for different board types so be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Expert Tips on Painting a Foam Board

One sure way to make your board unique and stand out from the crowd is to paint or add graphics to it. Nowadays, many board manufacturers are providing graphics directly on the board upon purchase. However, there are just as many us us that would rather have the freedom of designing something unique for our surfing board or just plain having a cool blank board. If you're like me and you fall into the latter category, you'll love the following how-to guide on how to paint a board.

It's really quite simple to do your own board. And, if you can brush your teeth, you certainly have all the skills necessary to craft your own board design.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Which paint should I use?

The answer to this question lies in knowing the purpose of your board, meaning the conditions you are riding in, the type of water, the gender and the size of the rider.

If you are a beginner surfer, choose the lightest color possible as a beginner surfer will mostly be riding in flat, sandy conditions where the chance of crashing is minimum.

If you are a light weight, skinny, female surfer, lighter paint is also a good choice as the board will be easier to handle and maneuver in small waves.

If you are riding in water which has a bit more chop or a lot of rocks and reef, white is the most preferred color (or anything other than black) as it will be the easiest to see, especially in high glare situations.

If you are intermediate or advanced surfer and want to ride in all conditions all the time, then a thicker coat of darker paint would be for you.

If you want your board to be more durable and a lot less susceptible to scratches, then consider 3-3.5 layers of mid-range paint which should cost around 50-60€. Paint is not only about the looks but also about functionality and durability, so don’t be tempted by cheap paint which is just the same.

Should I wet sand my board?

Q: What paint products can I use on a pre-glassed surfboard?

It’s true that paint can be a great option for the DIYer, and perhaps even the “Average Joe” of the neighborhood. While the use of spray cans should be avoided, it is possible to accomplish a really nice looking paint job using spray paint.

But before we delve in, please remember that a paint job is not the same as a professionally-glassed and finished surfboard. A nice paint job is just a paint job. Spray paint surfboard finishes can be among the best, but are unlikely to be a top-quality restoration.

Be aware that there is a lot of turnaround in the surfboard world, and many small operations that take care of the less-glamorous surfboard aspects of life. Such boards will usually sell for a lot less than boards that are painted well and finished. You are free to make your own judgment calls.

Lastly, let’s quickly go over the common types of paints available today. These paints are divided into three categories:

Acrylic : More durable and flexible than encapsulating paints.

More durable and flexible than encapsulating paints. Encap : Very durable and hard, but not flexible like acrylic.

Very durable and hard, but not flexible like acrylic. Polyurethane: Durable and flexible, but can be brittle if it gets cold.

Q: How can I paint the rails?

A: The rails will be the most difficult but the more important step. The rails are the colored part of the board that shapes the outline and limits the wet and dry line. In most cases the rails will be the finishing touch to your paint job, so make sure to take your time and experiment until you find the method that suits you best.

Q: How long does it take to make a custom-made surfboard?

If you order a custom-made surfboard from an overseas manufacturer, it will take anywhere between 4-6 weeks for you to receive your board from when you actually place the order. However, this is not the case with Australia-based surfboard makers when you order from them. Surfboard makers in Australia pride themselves in personalized customer service, so they will offer a 2-7 day custom craft period from when you place your order. This is because they custom-make your board based on your every specification, and they want to make sure that every detail is just how you want it.

All in all, you can expect to have your custom surfboard hand-made within 8-16 days after you order it from an Australian surfboard manufacturer.