Wax On Wax Off
How To Use The Right Wax
It’s a good feeling waxing up a new board. It’s just one of the best feelings we get as surfers, and honestly between getting new Surfboards, Surf Accessories, barrels, perfect waves and no crowds, waxing up that fresh sled sits amongst them and there’s only a handful of other feelings as equal to it.
But still, it’s an interesting science how surf wax on a board works. Sure you have all the pretty colors each block of wax comes packaged in, however it’s how the stuff works what’s interesting.
Top coats, bottom coats, dream cream, etc - all have a purpose and when you go into a surf shop, they will tell you this and that, which is perfectly fine; they’re surrounded by it everyday. So too are we, and that’s why we thought we’d pass on some basic words of wisdom to you, so we are all a little more clued up on the stuff for your next trip.
From soft, hard and firm to sticky and stable, here’s our guide to making sure you have the right wax for your next surf or tropical island boat trip.
Soft and Sticky
, more or less, applies primarily to colder conditions. The softer the wax and stickier it is, the better in the cold it works. It does have its pro’s and con's so its purpose is still worthy.
Whilst it's stickier and easier to apply to your board, don’t be surprised if the pressure points where your chest lies, or front foot is planted, rub the wax away or feels squishy. It’s ok if it does this because hey, you're a nut job surfing in really cold water. Good on you good sir for braving the frigid temperatures and being the definition of a committed surfer. Some old guys I’ve seen in the car park at Snapper like to use cold water waxes to firmly plant their hoof to their board and not be flung off when committing to that bomb out on the shoulder.
Firm and Hard
Firm and hard waxes are a lot more stable and better suited for most conditions if the maximum wetsuit thickness you use is a 3/2mm. Again, the pro's and con's of harder waxes are going to be less sticky, which is needed as the water temperatures soften the wax slightly which helps the bond between your hoof and the board so you don’t slip on that turn.
Harder waxes also are somewhat more difficult to apply at first on a fresh board but once that work out is over, it’s smooth sailing here on out. The one good thing is that harder waxes generally stay in place and won't rub off or move around as easily as soft waxes. Just don’t use hard waxes in cold water conditions as it will flake off and that time you spent applying the perfect criss-cross pattern will be all but gone.
Single Coat vs Double Coat
Honestly, this one is as comparable to coriander as it gets. You either like it or don’t, and by that I mean some crew like a single coat, others like a double coat.
A single coat refers to using just one formula of wax repeatedly until it gives you the stickiness and stability you desire. If it suits you, why fix it if it’s not broken, right?
Double coat refers to a combination of wax formulas to achieve the adequate stickiness you want. A harder base coat lasts over time providing a surface that can bond and hold to the topcoat making it harder to rub away on those pressure points. Once that’s all good and kosher, apply your topcoat wax, which should be much softer than your base coat which can be any formula of wax softer than what you’ve used on the base.
There’s no golden rule to what works best; it comes down to personal preference.
So What’s The Best For Me?
That all depends on where you're surfing. If it’s colder places, like up in BC or Alaska, then more than likely a double coat will be the best thing for you or a single layer of gold dream cream.
For the warm water dwellers, a single coat is pretty much bang on and for those “freezing cold” winter days in southern California; bronze top coat just to be the charger you are.
If you're traveling or the temps are starting to change soon, you could probably apply a tough base coat for the warmer conditions that you’ll encounter, but soft enough for the cooler waters.
Finally, we have an honourable mention of the soap layer. This one goes out to all those in desperate times when you’ve run out of wax. Surprisingly, a layer of soap bonds incredibly well with a top coat of wax and it makes for a smooth and stable grip. Perfect for those bigger days when you don’t want to get caught out of place and need the grip on the critical and steep take offs.
Honestly, if you believe that, go try it...just not on a big day and see what happens. But really, if you're on a road trip with the boys and someone passes out early, yeah why not, let's see how much fun can be had and soap up his board.
Don't forget your trusty wax comb
to scrape off that old ugly wax before applying a fresh coat of the new, nice smelling block. Now that you've got some basics covered, check out our latest Ultimate Guide to Surfboard Wax
to learn all the tips and tricks to get the maximum grip from your wax.