Installing a traction pad on your surfboard is easy, but there’s a couple things you need to know to do it correctly.
Do you need to use a traction pad?
No, but I definitely prefer to. (For any surfboard shorter than 7′ anyways)
The ball of my foot gets sore if I don’t use a tail pad. I also like knowing when my back foot is in the correct position, which you don’t really know if you aren’t using a pad.
And of course, the main reason they were invented, traction pads give you better traction. You can wax the tail of your board all you want, but that just can’t match the grip of a traction pad.
I prefer the softest pad I can find, because my knees get scraped up with the harder pads when I surf in boardshorts. Go to your local shop and feel the difference between all of the foams used.
I also prefer a 3-piece pad over a 2-piece or 1-piece.
When I used a 2-piece pad with a center arch, the arch started to come unstuck and I had to superglue it to the board. This is just because of the way the center arch is molded into the pad. It works much better when you use a 3-piece with a center arch.
Use a quality traction pad.
There are a bunch of cheap ones out there on Amazon, but they rip off after a few surfs.
I admit, I didn’t want to pay $40 for a name brand tail pad, but those are the only ones that will stick to my board.
Installing Your Traction Pad
1. Clean the tail of your surfboard. If you have a brand new board, just wipe it down with some water (or Windex) and paper towel. If you have already been using your board with wax on the tail, scrape the wax off and remove the residue with acetone. You need to have a perfectly clean surface, otherwise the traction pad won’t stick to the board, and you will have wasted your money.
2. Lay out the pieces and trace the outline onto your board. This will let you find the perfect position before you stick the pad to your board. Most people like to spread the pads apart (see image) if there are multiple pieces, but it’s all personal preference. It’s also a good idea to put the pad back as far as possible against the leash plug. You want the pad (and your foot) to be directly over the fins.
3. Peel off the backing on the pads, line them up with what you traced, and carefully press them onto your surfboard. Try not to screw this part up, because the pads won’t be easy to pull off after you stick them on. Press firmly all over the pads, to make sure they adhere to the surfboard.
Wait at least a couple hours (I like to wait overnight) and then you’re ready to shred!