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

Plain white surfboards are less expensive but boring. However, its blank canvas allows surfers to customize their preferred color and design. Plus, painting a surfboard is one of the fun things that come with a little effort. You just have to choose which paint works well with water and what design would you like to design.

Before painting a surfboard, there are two options: Painting directly on the surfboard or painting on the foam.

Painting directly on the finished board allows surfers to cover any imperfections and hide repairs while painting directly on the foam lasts longer since the fiberglass protects it.

How to Paint a Surfboard?

Do surfers know how to paint a surfboard properly? This article provides the easiest steps on how to give any surfboard a brand new look. This is the same way how professionals customize their boards.

#1. Prepare the needed materials.

Before proceeding with painting, you must have the following materials:

  • Acetone
  • Sandpaper (320 grit)
  • 1 whiteboard marker
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Paint pen assortment (minimum of black)
  • Acrylic paints (desired colors)
  • Different sizes of brush
  • Mixing tray (for blending colors)
  • 1 can of clear coat spray (preferably UV resistant)
    • Gloss for a glossy board
    • Matte or satin finish for non-glossy boards
  • Face mask
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection

#2. Clean the surfboard.

For new surfboards, wiping the entire body is enough. But if it is an old board, make sure to dewax the board first. To melt the wax, put the surfboard under the sun for five to ten minutes. Afterward, remove the old wax using a wax comb. Spray some surfboard cleaner on a clean cloth and wipe it through the board.

Make sure to remove all residue since any residue can affect the quality of the painting.


#3. Rub the surfboard with acetone.

The key to painting a surfboard perfectly is to make sure all wax residues are removed. If some wax cannot be removed by a wax comb, applying acetone would help. Acetone can be bought at any convenience store, and it only costs less than ten bucks. Some people use nail polish removers, but these products are not highly suggested since some of it contains added moisturizers. For that reason, it can hinder the paint from sticking well on the board.

Start applying acetone on a paper towel and rub it on the board gently until no wax and stain residues are available.


#4. Sand the surfboard.

Once finished removing all the residues, professional surfers recommend light sanding, especially for glossy surfaces. This way, the acrylic paint can stick better. Make sure to have extra-fine sandpapers (280-320 grit) for best sanding results.

Alternatively, surfers can also use an electric sander if they have one. It is easier and quicker to use compared to using sandpaper.

After sanding the surfboard, wipe off the dust and make sure nothing is left.

Some people do not sand their surfboards, but most experts do. Therefore, it would be better to implement the expert’s technique.


#5. Draw the design’s outline.

For this step, it’s time to draw the outlines and shapes using a whiteboard marker. However, if the surfer is still not sure about the design, using a pencil would work, too. It can allow him to correct any mistakes before applying colors.

To keep the design neat, use a painter’s tape or masking tape to protect certain areas. Surfers must choose between the two since it works great on surfboard materials. Plus, it won’t rip or tear easily while peeling off. Make sure to mask those that need to be maintained, especially the edges and logos. Experts suggest using long strips of tape to have a smoother paint result.

Alternatively, surfers can also tape down cardboard or newspaper for bigger sections that need to be maintained.


#6. Paint the design’s base.

It’s time to spray the acrylic paint evenly as the background color. Surfers must hold the spray paint eight inches away from the board to ensure the even coating. To achieve the smoothest results, spraying multiple layers evenly is highly recommended.


#7. Start painting the designs.

With paint pens and acrylic paints, it’s time to put more colors. Paint pens are suitable for a small design, while acrylic paint is best for bigger designs. Surfers can also add some dark shadowing on some designs to create an illusion of depth. Shadows can make the surfboard more attractive and engaging. If the surfer prefers color combinations, he can use the mixing tray to blend the paints.

Moreover, artists suggest surfers use slighter colors, especially near the focal point of the design. It can draw eyes.


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

Adding black lines can make the surfboard look brighter and defined.  Surfers can use a thick-tipped marker to outline the big designs. If he uses paint tapes, the design’s edges must be sharp enough, and there’s no need to add black outlines.


#9. Dry the painted surfboard.

After finishing the designs, it’s time to place the surfboard outside. It will take time for the paint to dry. Therefore, surfers must allow the board outside for at least 24 hours. This way, the paint is completely dry before removing the tape, newspaper, and cardboard.

If the paint is completely dry, the surfer can pull off the tape carefully. He must not go too fast to avoid tearing.


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

Spraying a glossy or matte clear coat can prevent the paint from wearing off. It can also restore the shine and smoothness of the board’s body.

After applying some clear coat, surfers must sand the board again to smoothen the surface. Make sure to use light sandpaper to keep the paint’s good quality. After sanding it lightly, wipe off the dust with a wet rag and let it dry.

If the surfboard is dry, it’s time for another coating, sanding, and wiping. Surfer must repeat this part three times to make sure its painted area is smooth and blends well with the rest of the board.


Experts Tips on Painting a Surfboard

  • Make sure to choose painting supplies with the same brand. This way, the acrylic paints, and pens can blend smoothly with each other. It can also reduce the possibility of color combination errors.
  • Make sure to choose the right tip sizes for the design. A perfect tip for the design can bring to a precise and detailed output. Thick tips work great for larger areas, while fine tips work for smaller areas.
  • Do not forget to wear a face mask and eye protection before sanding the surfboard
  • Wear gloves to prevent skin irritations caused by the materials.

Expert Tips on Painting a Foam Board

Foam boards are popular among beginners due to its lightweight but durable materials. Considering its white outer layer, painting the entire board would be nice. Here are some of the helpful tips for surfers who are planning to paint their foam boards.

  • Due to a foam board’s materials, spray paints work better compared to brush-applied paints. Spray paints can allow the surfer to coat the foam board evenly since it does not leave streaks when applied.
  • Acrylics paints work great for foam boards compared to oil-based paints. These paints dry faster, which will save time.
  • Can you sand a foam board? Yes. Sanding applies to this type of surfboard. It will help the paint to stick better.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

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

The best paint to use for this type of surfboard is a water-based acrylic paint. This product works excellent with a fiberglass surface. It can also retain its shine and colors for a longer time compared to other paints. The water-based acrylic paint also has outstanding toughness and flexibility in battering the waves. Being a water-based paint, it will be easier for you to clean any spills and dirt from your surfboard. Do not use enamel-based paints on your surfboard. These products can turn yellow and brittle after long-time use. You should not also use latex house paints since it does not stick well on a fiberglass surface.  Make sure to test different water-based paints since some of these products also react poorly with the surfboard’s materials.

Q: How can I paint the rails?

Painting your surfboard’s rails is similar to how to paint its body. You have to cover the areas that you need to maintain before splashing the colors on your rails. You can use old cardboard or newspaper to protect other areas. You must also allow it to dry 24 hours before applying the clear coat. Plus, two to three coats of clear coat spray is recommended to bring the shine back.

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

In general, it will take one to two week/s to finish. You have to decide on your preferred colors, design, and materials. After deciding, you will start applying it on your board, which can usually take a week, depending on the design’s complexity.

 Related Resources

Leave a Comment