How to Paint On A Surfboard

Let’s face it, a surfboard is only complete when it has a gnarly design showing that you mean business when you get into that water to hit the waves. Now that your surfboard has faded and lost its fresh and colorful stand-out appeal, it's time to learn how to paint on a surfboard!

The best part is that you’re designing it this time around! To help you bring your surfboard back to life, we’ve put together a bunch of helpful tips and tricks!

How to Paint on your Surfboard

First step - No Fear! It might seem like a daunting task to take on, but I promise, it’ll be worth it in the end! Pretty soon you’ll be tube riding in style with your brand-new board.
I hope your creative juices are flowing because we’re bringing out the spray paint, the paint pens, and the fun!
Prep your space
Find a clean and big enough working space where you can comfortably work for the duration of the project. There will be a lot of dust involved in the sanding stage, so make sure that there’s nothing around that could get dirty in the process.


Let’s first take a look at the materials needed:


  • Acetone – you can pick this up at a local hardware store
  • 200 – 300 Grit Sandpaper
  • Paper Towels
  • Masking Tape – to cover the areas you don’t wish to paint
  • Spray Paint – water-based acrylic paint only - enamel-based paints will damage your board, making it brittle and discolored
  • Paint pens – for detailing the board, such as Posca are recommended
  • Paint brushes
  • Design stencils
  • Face Mask and Gloves


Clean Your Surfboard

Scrape all of the old wax from your surfboard with a wax comb, or credit card, making sure it’s perfectly clean. TIP: Lay your surfboard out in the sun for a short while to soften the wax. Cold wax can also be removed, it’s just easier with warm wax.

Rub with Acetone

Any wax residue left on your board will hamper your paint project. So, although you’ve done an amazing job at getting the wax off, there will still be some unwelcome wax residue that you can only remove with acetone. Dampen a cloth with acetone and rub your entire surfboard with it.
Sand your board

Paint doesn't stick as well to a glossy surface as it does with a matte surface, so you’ll need to give your surfboard light sand. Using the 200/220 grit sandpaper, sand the entire surface until the board has a dull look to it. You might need to go over it a couple of times to fully remove the shiny top coat. Once that’s done, remove any dust from the sanding, by wiping your board down with a damp paper towel and waiting a few minutes to dry completely before you start painting.

Taping your surfboard: Pre-paint

Before you paint on your surfboard, start with taping the “non-paint” areas by lining the edges of the design, as well as any other areas you don't want to paint. Long strips of tape will give you smoother lines. You can even use newspaper or cardboard to cover large areas that you don’t plan on painting.

Time to Paint!

The fun part has arrived! Start by using acrylic spray paints to coat the background area of your surfboard. You will likely need to do this over a few coats to achieve a solid and smooth background color. As a safety precaution, wear a face mask and hold the paint can about 8 inches away from the board while spraying. Wait for your paint to dry thoroughly before continuing onto painting the foreground.

For the design part, you may have some store-bought or homemade stencils ready. Tape those down and spray the stenciled area with your desired colors, or use your posca paint pens to fill in the delicate areas. TIP: Don't remove the tape or stencils until the paint is completely dry and remove slowly.

Clear coat finish

Once your surfboard paint is dry, it’s recommended that you spray a few layers of an acrylic clear coat on top of your paint job to protect it. This part of the process also restores that gorgeous, brand-new-looking shine and smoothness. Spray approximately four coats and wait for it to dry.

Cure the Paint

Curing your paint is a crucial part and the culmination of the entire process. Not all paints are the same and come with various curing times recommended. We recommend that you cure it overnight just to err on the safe side. Make sure it’s in a dry and ventilated area.

Helpful tips for painting on a surfboard

  • Purchase high-quality spray paint and always shake the can for at least a minute before you begin painting.
  • Always wear a face mask and gloves during the project.
  • Take your time, and don’t rush any part of the process – not only will it ensure the best finish, but it’s also more enjoyable!
  • Make sure that you’re in a space where nothing else around you will get coated in dust or paint.
  • Always wait for your paint to dry properly between coats and give very light sand between coats if necessary to create the ultimate smooth finish.
  • Connect With South Bay Board Co. Services Today

If your surfboard has started to fade, looking a little dull and tired, or you’re just bored with the dated design that you’re sporting out there in the surf, then learning how to paint on your surfboard is a must! We hope that with all the steps, tips, and materials we’ve listed, you’re oozing with excitement to get started with your board.

At South Bay Board Co. Services, we want to get you started with the process. Connect with us today and let us guide you in the right direction and bring that old faithful surfboard back to life with a fresh lick of paint. Pretty soon you’ll be riding the waves in style! We don’t only know how to paint on a surfboard - we are surfboard specialists.