Waxing a snowboard directly affects how well your board will perform when it’s out in the snow. Many new boarders haven’t heard of wax, but experienced riders wax all of the time. No matter how much time you’ve spent on the mountain or what type of board you use, a good wax job is essential.
You don’t have to learn how to wax your own board, but if you’re serious about the sport and want the best possible performance out of your equipment, learning the basics of snowboard maintenance can help you out quite a bit. In this article, we will teach you how to wax a snowboard so you can add a new coat and get your gear in tip-top shape before every run.
The Importance of Wax
Wax creates a smooth, slippery layer between the base of your board and the snow. It may not seem like much, but that layer plays a large part in reducing friction and allowing you to effectively ride. Sure, in theory, even an unwaxed board is going to slide downhill, but it will drag and snag in a way that’s not ideal. A properly waxed board is key to having fun and making the most out of your time on the mountain.
How to Wax a Snowboard
1. Gather Your Tools
The first step to waxing your snowboard is making sure you have all of the items you need to get the job done. If you don’t already have these items, head to your local ski shop or pick up a wax kit online. Here are the basic tools you’ll need:
- Waxing iron
2. Take off Your Bindings
If you leave your bindings on when you wax your board, you’ll risk ruining the screws and screw holes that hold them down. Some people don’t do this when waxing, but it’s an easy step that I would recommend to everyone. Simply unscrew the screws that hold your bindings in place and then remove the items.
3. Prep Your Work Area
Next, you want to clean off a flat area where you can lay your board. This can be a workbench, kitchen counter, or table. Just make sure you clear enough room so that you won’t knock anything important over while you wax. You should also put down an old tablecloth or sheet to protect surfaces from wax or debris.
4. Clean It Up
Before you apply new wax to your board, you want to clean up the base. You need to get rid of the old wax that’s on your board so that new stuff will grip and hold in place more effectively. You can do this by applying a base cleaner to the base and then wiping it clean. Once the base is clean, you can properly begin the waxing process.
5. Preheat the Iron/Pick your wax
Before you can melt the wax and apply it to the base of your board, the iron needs to be hot. If you let the iron preheat, you will have a uniform temperature. That will then allow you to more easily apply the wax and control it throughout the process.
You also want to decide what type of wax you’re going to use. Depending on the snow conditions, different waxes are better at different temperatures. Choose a wax that’s best suited to the conditions you are going to ride in or choose a general-purpose wax that will work with most snow types.
6. Melt Away
Now the fun begins. With your iron preheated and your wax in hand, you can begin to melt the wax all over your board. Hold the iron in one hand and the bar of wax in the other. Carefully touch the wax to the bottom of the iron while holding them both over the base of the board.
Move across the board to get an even amount of wax everywhere as best you can. Some people like to make circles or figure 8’s with their drip patterns. Others will make crisscrosses. It really doesn’t matter. The goal is to shoot for equal amounts of wax. Also, try to get a good amount near the edges as those areas dry out more than the ones on the inside.
7. Smooth It Out
Once you’ve dripped wax all over your board, set the bar down and start to iron the base. This process is just like how you would use an iron to get wrinkles out of clothing. Slowly move in a circular pattern to melt the wax even further and get a nice layer spread evenly on every last inch of the board. Be careful, though. You don’t want to let the iron sit in one spot for too long as that can damage your board.
8. Cool and Scrape
Once you have the wax evenly melted all over the board, you want to let it cool before you proceed any further. This usually takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the temperature in the room you work in. You will know it’s cool by touch and feel.
Once the base cools off, the next step is to scrape away any excess wax so you have a nice even layer. Hold your scraper tool (usually a thin-but-strong piece of plastic or metal) in your strong hand and angle it at about 45 degrees. Now scrape the board in a slow but steady manner across the entire length of the board. Repeat that process until you’ve scraped the entire base surface. The scraping process will lead to plenty of wax shavings, so clean them up as best you can.
9. Brush Your Board
The final step is to brush the waxed base of your board. This is as simple as it sounds. Use the brush included in your tuning kit or another fairly stiff brush to rough up the waxy surface. That may seem like you’re ruining your wax job, but the process actually opens up the natural surface of your board a bit to help you naturally move downhill.
Now that you know how to wax your board, the next question is how often should you wax it. That comes down to how much and how hard you ride. If you’re an aggressive rider who wants peak performance, you might consider waxing your board a few times a week. I know a few diehards who will even wax every day.
If you only ride occasionally, you don’t need to wax your board as often. Maybe once a month or at least a couple times a season. It’s hard to make an exact call on this because each board and everyone’s riding style is different.
An easy way to tell if your board needs to be waxed is to simply run your fingers across the base. If it has enough wax, you should see some of it scrape off under your fingernails. If you don’t scrape any off, it’s time for a new coat.
How often do you wax your board? Do you have a favorite type of wax? Let us know in the comments below!