One advantage of painting a surfboard after it has been glassed is that the artwork can be removed by sanding if you make a mistake or do not like the design. Many paints are used on surfboards, although some are not appropriate and will not stand up to heavy use. To prepare your board for painting, make sure it is completely clean, especially if you have applied surf wax to it already. Sand it lightly with a 300-grit sandpaper to make the surface slightly rough.
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Best: Acrylic Water-Based Paint
Paints that are made of acrylic have excellent adhesion to the fiberglass surface and retain their colors and shine for a long time. The paint also has a great deal of flexibility and toughness, which is important when a surfboard is used in the way a surfboard is: for standing on and being battered by waves. A water-based paint will be easy to clean up if there are any spills, and it does not mean that the paint will be any less durable in a water-intensive environment.
Do Not Use
Enamel-based paints can turn yellow and brittle on a surfboard after use. This causes cracking in the paint and can make the paint peel off in strips. If you know that your board was made with polyester resin, do not use latex house paints on the board, because the paint will run. Many types of paints, other than water-based acrylics, will react poorly with resin and so you should test them on an object that has been painted with the same type of resin used on your board, if that is possible.
One method commonly used by surfboard artists to paint a pre-glassed board is spray painting. You can tape off sections of the board to create designs or spray a design on freehand. It is also common to drip dish soap onto the board before painting it, which leaves the areas that were covered with dish soap free of any paint.
Although it is less common, it is fine to paint a design on your board with paint that comes in a large paint can or that you bought at the art store in small jars. You can use a paint brush or roller to apply the paint to the board.
Surfboard artists that want a great deal of control, and who plan to create a detailed illustration or mural on the board, use paint pens. Paint pens can be purchased at an art supply store or online, come in many varied colors and can have different pen tips for different types of effects.
Clear Sealant Coat
When your design is finished and you are sure that the paint is dry, you will need to apply a clear coat to the board which will protect your design. You should spray on many thin layers (at least three) of a clear paint that is compatible with the type of paint you used for the design on your board. Many manufacturers offer a UV-resistant clear paint, which is excellent for this purpose.