How to paint your surfboard using airbrush, marker, paintbrush, decal or spray can.
Grown tired of your Colgate white board? Or has years of neglect turned the color indistinguishable? Perhaps you just want to liven things up? What you need is a how to guide that shows you how to rekindle your board’s forlorn beauty.
This guide will cover how you go about preparing the board for your art attack, what equipment to use and a basic explanation of how-to go about painting / decorating the surfboard.
– Cleaning your surfboard
– Equipment you will need
– How to use airbrush
Related user question: “How to air brush surfboards?” (Updated 26.06.2014)
– How to use marker / how to use posca pens
– How to use decal
– How to use spray can
– How to use stickers
– Some surfboard decoration examples…
Cleaning your board
A clean canvas, in this instance; your surfboard – is a important piece of the puzzle if you are to have any hopes of getting your board to look decent.
Wax, algae and other unrecognizable objects accumulate as layers upon layers on neglected surfboards – meaning about 90 percent of all boards (admit it). It is essential that these layers are removed before applying paint, ink or stickers to the empty canvas.
– Scrape off the wax using a wax comb (e.g. Pickle wax remover) or credit card (doesn’t have to be an American Express, but I’ve found that credit cards, due to their sharp yet flexible edges, are perfect for removing layers of old wax.)
– Pickle Wax Remover for Surfboards: This is sort of a two in one solution, as it provides both a way to remove the wax and the more stubborn stains (using the pickle). Fun product which works wonders – a must have for any surfer. Perfect prepping before ding repair as well. The Pickle Wax Remover is one of the easiest and quickest ways of removing wax from any surfboard.
– Alternatively, if you don’t have a picke wax remover… Use hot water / steam to remove the heavy wax / dirt stains (there are always some stubborn ones).
After you’ve scraped the worst wax of your board, you will notice that some of the stains seem to have set root deep amidst the glass fibers. Don’t keep on scraping – you’ll only damage the board. Use hot (nearly sub-boiling temperature. Disclaimer: This article takes no responsibility for damages due to hot water.) water in a casserole, dip a clean rag in the water and apply it to the stains while you gently rub it – the stain will disappear as the steam probes deep into the surfboard material; and the end result will be a (nearly) new-looking surfboard.
– Now would be a good time to take care of those DINGS!
To ensure you have a smooth surfboard surface, we suggest that you repair any dings or damages your board might have suffered – this is a good time to do so, as your board (if you’ve followed the guide) should be squeeky clean. Our favorite resin repair is Solarez ding repair.
“Solarez repair putty is the original UV-cure, 3-minute repair product. It contains clear polyester resin and fiberglass fibers along with adhesion promoters and an amazing solar activated catalyst. There is no mixing required. Just use it straight from the tube. It gels in 30 seconds, curing in 3 minutes but only when exposed to sunlight or artificial UV light such as a suntan light.”
Equipment you will need to paint your board:
– Wax Remover
– Cleaning cloth
– Ding repair kit
– Airbrush kit
– Posca pen
– Paintbrush / Spray can
Depending on which way you choose to go about – this is essentially the equipment you’ll need.
The cleaning bit has already been covered, so we’re assuming you now have a blank canvas, a sparkling clean surfboard. Next up, applying your artistic finesse.
Here’s a couple of examples you might find inspiration from – courtesy of surf photographer, Trevor Murphy and Swedish surfer, Timothy Latte. Be sure to check out their Facebook pages – as they are both fun-loving guys with heaps of talent.
How to use airbrush to paint your surfboard
“An airbrush works by passing a stream of fast moving (compressed) air through a venturi, which creates a local reduction in air pressure (suction) that allows paint to be pulled from an interconnected reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure. The high velocity of the air atomizes the paint into very tiny droplets as it blows past a very fine paint-metering component. The paint is carried onto paper or other surface.” (Wikipedia)
Airbrush kits used to be expensive… luckily, for the artistic ones out there, that is not the case any more. You can get a full kit (including compressor et cetera) for around 80 dollars.
Master Airbrush Kit: “Brand High Performance Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush Kit with 6 Foot Hose and a Powerful 1/5hp Single Piston Quiet Air Compressor – The Complete Set Now Includes a How to Airbrush Training Book to Get You Started.”
This is a great example of what we just said – a full airbrush kit for 80 dollars! This kit from Master Airbrush also enjoys great customer reviews, and a instruction manual training book – that will show you how to apply the paint to your board.
CLICK HERE to learn more about this airbrush kit.
This guide won’t go into depth about how you should apply the paint to your board, as that is controlled by your artistic mind and creativity alone – but we would recommend using the kit above.
How to use Posca pens to paint your surfboard
Using colorful water-based Posca pen markers to decorate your surfboard is another option. Surfers, skaters and snowboarders all use Posca pens and markers to liven up their boards – most often using colors that stand out such as fluorescent pink (see below), neon green or similar. Be sure to test the Posca marker on scrap paper before applying the paint to your board.
Posca Paint Marker Pen: Bold Point. Fluorescent Pink.
CLICK HERE to read more about Posca pens and see the different colors that are available.
To see an example where Posca markers have been used, check out Timothy Latte’s board pictured earlier in the article.
PS – Luca Sanna and Memo Gonzalez reminded us that you need to spray a top layer of protective translucent spray paint to ensure that it sticks. Thanks guys!
How to use decals and stickers to decorate your board
Decals and stickers specially designed for boards are perhaps amongst the safest ways to go about. You will find a variety of vinyl decals and stickers in online stores; such as this one:
Surf Life: The text is something we all can relate to.. surf life.
CLICK HERE to see the design in full resolution – and to browse other decals.
How to use a spray can to paint your surfboard
Most of us don’t have access to airbrush kits, and if you want to mind a bit of a rough look – a simple range of spray cans might be the answer for you. Montana Gold Series spray cans are probably the best spray cans you can get for any decoration job, as they are trustworthy and have a great range of colors and caps. Just check out the following spray cans, that are 100% certain to give your board a fresh look:
Montana: Flourescent Gleaming Pink – press the image or link to read more about this color.
Montana: Acid Green– press the image or link to read more about this color.
Montana: Flame Blue – Another spicy color that will brighten up your surfboard. Click image or link to see more.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Montana spray cans, and to see more colors. Like mentioned; Montana is the best. We speak from experience. Be sure to get a cap set with the spray cans though, as you will need to change these according to the work you are doing.
Summing it up
This article has mentioned several different ways of painting / decorating your surfboard, and we certainly hope you’ve been inspired to go out there and freshen up your old, boring board.
To summarize, airbrush is the professional’s choice, but rather expensive in comparison to Posca markers and Montana spray cans… if you want to go SAFE you can try out a couple of vinyl decals to start with.
Relevant websites / references:
– Luca Sanna, Memo Gonzalez, Mark Evans, Matt J. Valdez