How to Paint Your Surfboard (with video)

Guide to painting your surfboard

So you want to paint your surfboard.

Something about that plain white surface is so boring. Sure it looks nice when you first buy it, and it’s bright white, but once it’s all downhill once it starts fading to yellow.

The solution is simple. Paint!

Surfboard painting
Fieldey knows how to use paint pens!

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Ok back to surfboard painting 😅

You can use paint pens (Posca, Boardstix, etc), cans of spray paint, or the classic paint and brush setup. They all will work with your surfboard, it just depends what kind of look you are going for.

I wanted a simple two-tone color scheme, so I opted for spray paint. I think a can of paint and a big brush would have also worked just fine. I used Belton Molotow Premium spray paint, but you can use any high quality outdoor paint.

If you are trying to paint something detailed on your board, paint pens are probably your best bet. You can get them in different thicknesses, for whatever detail you need. Some people paint objects onto their boards, and some people just paint designs. But for anything requiring detail, I recommend using paint pens.

Watch this video for a quick overview of the painting process, and then read the directions below.

Supplies you will need:
– Acetone (or nail polish remover)
– 200 grit andpaper
– Paper towels
– Paint

1. Remove any wax on your surfboard
Scrape the wax off your surfboard
Scrape the wax off your surfboard

Painting is the easiest if you have a brand new surfboard, but that’s not the situation for most of us.

If you have a new board, you can skip this step, but for the rest of us, we need to remove all of the old wax. All of it.

2. Rub with acetone
Remove wax residue with acetone
Remove wax residue with acetone

Any wax residue left on the board will cause the paint to chip off and ruin your hard work.

Even though you scraped all your wax off, there is still going to be plenty of wax residue left over, and you need to remove it with acetone.

Acetone can be bought for less than $10 at your local hardware store, but if you’re lazy like me you could use nail polish remover. Just make sure to check and make sure it isn’t acetone-free nail polish remover.

In hindsight, I probably should have bought acetone. Even though the nail polish remover’s main ingredient was acetone, I feel like it was pretty diluted. It really didn’t seem to help much at all, with removing the wax residue. A dry paper towel seemed to remove just as much as one soaked in nail polish remover.

3. Sand
Sand your surfboard
Sand your surfboard

Paint sticks better to a matte surface than it does to a glossy surface, so you need to lightly sand your board.

This will also help remove any wax residue that you missed in the previous step.

I used 220 grit sandpaper, but you should be fine with anything around 200 grit. Sand the entire surface of your surfboard, until the gloss is gone. This will not damage the integrity of your board, but it will give the paint a better surface to adhere to.

4. Wipe off with wet paper towel
Wipe board with damp paper towel
Wipe board with damp paper towel

To remove any dust from the sanding, simply wipe your board down with a damp paper towel.

Give it a few minutes to dry completely before you start painting.

5. Tape off “non-paint” areas

I was painting my entire board, so I only needed to tape off my leash plug. But if you want to paint stripes, you can use painter’s tape or masking tape to create perfect lines. Or use newspaper + masking tape to tape off entire sections of your board so no flying paint gets on it.

Put some pieces of cardboard under your surfboard, so the paint doesn’t get on the ground.

6. Paint
Painting your surf board
Now the fun part – paint!

The painting process is basically the same whether you are using paint pens, spray paint, or painting with a brush.

The quickest way (and the way I did it in the video) is to paint one coat, let it dry for a few minutes, and paint the next coat, repeating until it looks good.

This method works, but it might not give you a perfect finish. In my case, it actually gave my surfboard a really rough finish, kind of like sandpaper. But this was because I used spray paint. I think regular paint or paint pens would be fine.

The more professional method is to paint one coat, let it cure for a few hours, sand it, and repeat.

Had I done that, my finish would have been a lot better. Since you sand after every coat, you get a very smooth finish when it’s all done.

I waited to sand until after I had sprayed 3 coats of paint, and it did make the finish smooth, but it took a lot of paint off in the process. The board could use a few more coats, but I kind of like how it looks now.

7. Clear coat finish

Some people like to spray a few layers of an acrylic clear coat on top of their paint job to protect it. This is probably most important if you painted a detailed design on your board.

Since my paint job was nothing special, I did not bother with a clear coat finish. If you used a high quality paint, the clear coat shouldn’t matter.

8. Cure

Every paint is going to be different, some might recommend only 8 hours for the paint to cure, but I would let it sit and cure for at least 24 hours just to be safe.

Leave it in a dry, well ventilated area.

Take a picture of your new paint job, tag us on Instagram @ho.stevie, and go shred!


  1. Have you tried scraping old wax off a spray painted board yet?

    Does the wax come off? Can you get good bumps?

    • Yeah I’ve scraped the wax off, no problem. Perfect bumps! If anything, it’s even grippier because the texture isn’t quite as smooth as a non-painted board.

  2. Hi Stevie

    I want to paint an old surfboard and wall mount it. Planning an intricate design so I will need to use paint/brushes. Reading conflicting information regarding the best paint – some suggestions that acrylic is best, others enamel. Do you have any advice?

    Thank you

  3. Woo! Wish I could leave a picture comment, just totally re vamped an old board and it looks amazing! Thanks for this <3

  4. Hey, what’s up dude, was wondering if those boardstixs will cover the a 6’2ft board, and will an oil base paint be ideal?

    • Depends what size sticks you get, but you will probably need more than 1. And oil based is fine, I think what really matters is the clear coat after. I heard acrylic clear coat is best. Good luck!

    • You mean metallic spray paint?
      Or spray paint made for metals? Your surfboard isn’t metal so I wouldn’t use that… although you might be able to get away with it if you top it with a good clear coat.

  5. So you haven’t noticed and performance issues with painting the bottom? I assume a clear coat would help that? Thx!

  6. If my board has a lot of dark patterns on it at the moment and I’d like to give it a new neat and simple look, would you paint it all white before or does the acrylic paint will cover it up well enough?

    • I’m actually not sure… my board was all white when I painted it.
      Acutally, the “…Lost” logo was on the deck, and you can see that the paint mostly covered it up, but not all the way.
      So probably best to paint your surfboard all white first, if you can.

    • Probably not, if you want a solid color. But if you’re ok with the paint job being a little transparent, then yeah

  7. Hi Stevie, it’s unclear what material your board is made from, just wondering if this method/paints/clear coat works on plastic polyurethane boards- recently found and old Bic board. Thanks

  8. I spray painted my board and it’s very rough, took a lot to cover. I haven’t clear coated it yet, wasn’t sure if I should sand it first and with what grit?


    • It would probably work either way, but should be better quality / smoother if you sand before doing the clear coat.


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