How to Create Surfboard Decals

Professional surfing is common in Hawaii.
Professional surfing is common in Hawaii. (Image: surfboard wax 1 image by Scott McCarty from

Surfboards are often decorated with a variety of designs, logos and text. Though you can purchase pre-decorated boards, some surfers and artists alike choose to make their own creations. The process is fairly simple, and you can do it with a little artistic talent and the right materials. You can simply adhere the designs to the surface of the surfboard and give them a little added protection by glassing and waxing the surface of the surfboard.

Things You'll Need

  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Paper
  • Computer
  • Design software
  • Laser printer
  • Waterproof decal paper
  • Spoon or flat-edged tool

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Think up a design that you'd like to create. Make a simple sketch of the design with colored pencils or markers. Use this as a guide or template for further developing the design on your computer.

Launch your design software. This can be a program such as MS Paint, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. However, Illustrator may have the best control over elaborate texts and flourishes, which are common surfboard design elements.

Create your design in the design software. Reverse the image in the software. Printing a reverse image will allow you to apply the decal so that the design faces the right direction.

Insert decal material into your laser printer's paper tray.

Print your design to the decal paper. Allow the design to dry for 10 to 20 minutes.

Cut out the dried decal. Follow the outline of the decal with a pair of scissors.

Apply the decal to the surfboard. Place the design face down on the surfboard in the preferred location. Rub the back of the decal material with a spoon. Thoroughly rub all areas of the design so that it fully transfers to the board. Pull the decal material away from the board. The design will remain behind on the board.

Tips & Warnings

  • Protect your board and decals with a layer of glassing and waxing.


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