How to Wax a Soft Top Surfboard

A lot of new surfers ask if they need to wax a soft top surfboard. For almost all foam top boards, the answer is yes.

Here’s a basic diagram of where you should apply wax on a soft top surfboard. On a brand new board, apply 2 coats of wax to start. Just be sure that you’ve covered the major areas that will come into contact with your body. 

Where to wax a soft top surfboard

If you want to see the process in action, here’s a quick video demonstration on a soft top longboard:

Now I’ll answer more detailed questions about how to wax a foam top board.

Why Wax a Soft Top?

In order to stand up on a surfboard, your hands and feet will need to be able to grip the board. When you are paddling, wax also helps your body control the board, and keeps you from sliding off. 

You won’t have to wax a soft top if it comes with a full-length grip surface. Even if it does, you may still have to wax the rails, so you have grip when standing up.

Although it may seem like soft tops have enough traction when you first get them, they will get very slippery once you get them in the water.

Some boards can also have an extra coating on the surface, making them slipperier than others. So you may need to use more wax on those boards.

Applying wax to your board will go a long way to helping you enjoy your session.

Nothing is more frustrating than having great waves, but not being able to catch them. 

How to Decide Which Type of Wax to Use

The type of wax that you use will depend on the temperature of the water you are surfing in.

There are basically 2 types of wax:

  • Warm water wax (Above 70° F / 20° C )
  • Cold water wax (Below 70° F / 20° C)

Wax companies have their own custom formulas for various temperature ranges, but it’s not absolutely necessary to match the water temperature exactly…especially with a soft top.

Why does water temperature matter you ask?

Well, if you use warm water wax in cold water, it will get too hard and you won’t have enough grip. Using cold water wax in warm water will melt the wax faster and it will rub off easily. 

So pick the right wax for roughly the temperature of water you will be surfing in. If you have any doubts, visit your local surf shop and they’ll be happy to help you.

I personally like Sticky Bumps, but there isn’t a huge difference between the various brands, on a foam top board.

Just pick one that appeals to you and go with it. 

Do I Need a Wax Base Coat with a Soft Top Board?

A base coat is a special type of wax that is used with hard surfboards. Since fiberglass and epoxy boards are so smooth, surfers apply a base coat to a brand new board to make it easier for the surface wax to adhere to the board.

However, the surface of a foam board is much rougher and you don’t need a base coat with a soft top. When applied to foam, wax is very easy to apply and does not come off easily. 

Some sites will tell you use a base coat, but that’s totally unnecessary and is a waste of time and money.

Is it Possible to Put Too Much Wax on a Surfboard?

Yes it’s possible to over-wax.

If you put too much wax on a board, a lot of it will rub off on you, your wetsuit, your car and your couch.

So don’t go crazy with the wax.

Just like almost everything else, moderation is best.

Even if you do end up putting too much wax on your board, it’s not a problem. Don’t wax it again for a few sessions and you will figure out what the right amount of wax is.

Should I Wax the Traction Pad on a Soft Top?

The traction pad is the big pad on the tail end of the board. Most soft top longboards come with them already installed.

You don’t need to wax that part of the board because it’s already designed to give your back foot grip.

If your board doesn’t have a traction pad, then you’ll want to wax that area too.

Surfboard manufacturers don’t put a traction pad on the front of the board because it would be uncomfortable for your chest and stomach.

How Often Should I Wax My Surfboard?Surfer with soft top board

It’s generally a good idea to put a light coat of wax on your board before every session. Some of it rubs off when you are surfing and needs to be replaced.

The foam on soft top boards don’t need as much wax as hard boards, so you may even be able to get away with waxing every other session.

What’s the Best Place to Get Surf Wax?

Your local surf shop is the best place to get wax for your soft top. Buying from a local business supports the local economy and you can usually get some great surfing tips from the people who work there.

If you don’t have access to a local surf shop, then buying your wax online works too. Don’t obsess over which one to buy.

There’s no special wax for soft tops. You can use any wax out there, provided you get the right type of wax for the temperature of water you will be surfing in.

Should I Take Wax Into the Water With Me?

It’s not necessary to take wax out into the lineup with you. These boards retain wax well and you won’t have to reapply.

Being sure to carry wax is also just another thing to worry about.

Remember that soft boards are meant to be fun!

So the less things to think about, the better.

Should I Put Wax on the Bottom of the Board?

If you have gone snowboarding or skiing before, you may be wondering if you need to wax the bottom of the board because ski wax makes those boards go faster.

The answer is no, you should not put wax on the bottom of a surfboard. 

A surfboard is designed to be as smooth on the bottom, so it moves as fast as possible through the water. Introducing bumps to the bottom of the board will just slow it down.

That said, it can be useful to apply a little bit of wax to the bottom of the board in the small areas where your finger tips grip the board. This is generally not necessary because most foam top boards are pretty thick and your fingers won’t reach the bottom of the board.

But if you have a thinner board and you want to add a little extra grip to the bottom, a small amount of wax in those areas won’t have a noticeable effect on performance.

Does it Matter How I Apply the Wax?

There’s no secret sauce to applying surfboard wax.

No “tree of life,” “rail-to-rail” or “grid” pattern needed.

Just apply wax where your body will come into contact with the board, and where there’s currently little to no wax. 

It’s as simple as that.

Do You Wax a Wavestorm?

Yes, they are quite slippery if you don’t wax them.

Is it Possible to Remove the Wax From a Foam Top?

Yes, but you should be very careful when doing so.

Surf shops sell small wax combs that you can use to remove wax from hard surfboards, but those can damage soft top boards.

The best way to do it is to use a hair dryer to melt the wax a little, then wipe it off with a rag or old t-shirt. Don’t use anything hard to remove the wax because it can easily puncture the foam.

Also be sure to not heat the surface of the board too much or the top layer of foam will start to separate from the core of the board and you will get air bubbles.

A Pickle Wax Remover can also be a great way to remove wax from your surfboard.

You might want to remove wax if you are going to sell the board and you want to make it pretty, or you’re going to be surfing in different temperature of water and want to change the type of wax you are using.


So that’s how to wax your soft top surfboard. It can be a little confusing when doing it for the first time, but if you follow the tips in this guide, you will be out enjoying the waves in no time.

Hugh Kimura

I grew up in Hawaii and I've been surfing since I was 9 years old. Since then, I've learned to ride all types of boards from bodyboards to standup paddle boards. I started Stoketopia to share the stoke of being in the water.

Recent Content