Ways to Paint a Surfboard


If you've ever envied the colorful designs painted on a professional surfer's board but don't have the big bucks to shell out, you can try painting your own board. With a little artistic imagination and some acrylic paint, you can ride the waves with your own masterpiece underfoot. There's several ways to apply color to your board -- use a brush, use paint markers or simply spray it on.

The Perfect Paint

  • While there's many types of paint out there, acrylic paint adheres best to a surfboard and resists fading. Unlike enamel paints, acrylic won't yellow, crack or peel. If you choose the method of painting on colors and designs with a brush, choose a water-based acrylic paint for fast drying. Use a natural-bristled brush for the smoothest application. Acrylic spray paint works well for a base layer of color over the entire board, or for applying large designs. You can add intricate details, outlines and artwork to your board -- and sign your masterpiece -- with acrylic paint pens.

Prep Your Surface

  • Whichever method you choose, you'll need to prepare your board to make sure that the paint adheres well. Remove all wax, grime and dirt from your board or the paint will begin peeling after a few times out on the water. Place your surfboard out in the sun, wax side up, to soften the wax, or apply a layer of mineral spirits. Use an old credit card or wax comb to scrape away the wax once it softens. Rub away the waxy film with a soft cloth doused in mineral spirits or acetone. Once you're sure your board is completely clean, burnish with 300 grit sandpaper to give a rough surface to which the paint can adhere.

Tape and Apply

  • For all three methods, use low-adhesion masking tape to outline your design for sharp edges and prevent paint from going where you don't want it. If your design is just going on the top of the surfboard, run masking tape around the rails, overlapping the tape onto itself by at least a quarter-inch. For spray painting or stenciling on paint with a brush, draw out your full-size design on paper, cut out the areas to be painted and tape it to your surfboard. Apply paint in very thin layers, allowing each to dry completely before adding another layer of paint.

Seal It All Up

  • Whether you've applied paint with a brush, by spraying or via marker, you'll need to let it dry for a minimum of 24 hours before applying a sealant. Remove all tape and masking paper before you begin, except for the tape around the rails. Apply clear acrylic spray in a thin layer, keeping the spray can a minimum of 12 inches away from the board to prevent unevenness. Allow the first coat to dry completely -- this should take about three to six hours. Apply two more coats in the same manner. Let your board dry completely for 24 hours before heading into the surf.

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