How often you should be waxing a snowboard with a sintered base is a question that is up for debate.
There’s no exact answer, but there is a definite range of time which is ideal and strikes a good balance between performance and convenience, which I’ll get to further down the post.
To start with let’s first learn how long you shouldn’t leave it for!
Don’t Leave It Too Long
I did an experiment – one that was very painful towards the end.
I rode one snowboard (with a sintered base) for 25 days last season without waxing it.
I also didn’t wax it at the end of the season or before the start of this season!
O.k. I know this is snowboard cruelty – but I wanted to see what happens at the extreme end of not waxing a sintered base.
I discovered 2 main things from my experiment.
- 25 days is too long to go without waxing a sintered base!
- If you leave your board unwaxed all summer and don’t wax it before the first day of the new season, it’s not good (even worse when you didn’t wax it the entire season before)
Things that were probably obvious already. But I also learned some other valuable things about waxing.
Note: I didn’t ride the board the whole day for those 25 days, so I might even be better to say that it was 40-50 hours of riding.
What a Sintered Base is like Without Wax
After a while I found the board started to become very slow, especially on flats. There wasn’t a flat I could get through without having to unbind and skate – unless it was very short or I hit with some serious pace (which I had to do more often than not, because I hate skating for long distances).
But it also felt slow in general and I found myself falling behind, even when I was pointing and shooting.
I also found that the snowboard base was louder against the snow – I’m guessing because there was a lot more friction.
The Start of this Season
As bad as the snowboard got in terms of speed and smooth riding during that season, it was nothing like it was after leaving it all summer and then not waxing it before the start of the season.
It must have dried up quite a bit more over the summer because on the first day of this season, it was seriously worse than it already was after 25 days.
So, let’s tell a little embarassing story. I go up the first lift of the day – looking forward to an awesome day on the mountain (with really good early season conditions). I get to the top of the lift and plant my board and go to stand up off the chair.
The board just sticks to the snow! It won’t glide at all!
This lead to not only taking myself out but also the guy next to me. I haven’t taken out anyone off the lift for years!
Now, it did get a little better after that. I’m not sure if getting a bit of snow on the bottom of it improved it, but it was still pretty painful to ride for the next couple of hours.
The Next Day
So once I got back to the hostel I was staying at, the first thing I did after checking in, was wax the darn thing!
It was a the most enjoyable wax job I’ve ever had………… I mean done ;-)
Getting back on the mountain the next day, I discovered just what a difference waxing can make.
I was gliding through all the flats effortlessly – skating was a breeze compared to the workout it was before and just general smoothness and acceleration were hugely improved. I can’t describe how much better it felt.
And to be honest, I did a pretty bad, rushed wax job the night before!
How long should I wait between waxes?
Obviously this is an extreme case and 25 days is obviously too long. But it was an interesting experiment for me. So what conclusions did I come to?
Performance wise, the most optimal would be to wax your board after every time you ride.
But who has the time or can be bothered doing that? Especially when you won’t notice that much difference. The 1st half of day 1 might be noticeable compared to day 2, 3, and 4.
If you’re a racer, then yeah, every time you ride it’s a good idea. But for most of us it’s not convenient and not necessary.
Convenience wise, the most optimal would be never of course – but I can tell you first hand that never is not optimal for the performance of your snowboard!
What’s a Good Balance?
Waxing every time you ride is pain, especially if your riding a lot in a season and never waxing leaves you with a slow, sticky board that just becomes un-fun eventually.
How often you should wax your sintered base does really depend on a few things but there is a time that’s too long and there’s a time that’s too short.
Even if you have the time and can be bothered, waxing after every time you ride probably isn’t the best thing for the environment, even if you use wax without fluro-carbons.
So, I would say that every second time should be the most that you need to wax.
On the other end of the scale, I wouldn’t leave it for more than 4 days of full riding.
Now this does depend on a few different things.
First of all it depends on how long you ride each day. That’s why I’ve specified “full days” above.
By a full day I mean like 9am to 4pm with a lunch break and a couple of coffee breaks – that kind of thing.
If you only tend to ride for a couple of hours at a time, then that doesn’t count as a full day. However, if you have a long time between days, the base can dry out just sitting around – especially if you have low humidity where you keep your board.
But let’s say you go quite regularly, but you only go for a couple of hours at a time. Then you can wait for around 6 or 7 riding days before waxing.
It also depends on:
- The conditions you ride in; and
- How fast you want your base to be
How often you wax your sintered base will depend on a few things but in general:
- Wax a sintered base every 2-3 full days of riding
- If you’re not that concerned about your base being fast and smooth, then you could leave it for up to 4 full days.
- If you have a lot of days between riding, then you’ll need to wax it sooner. E.g. If you do one day at the start of the season and then not again until the end of the season – it would pay to wax it before the latter season day.
- Wax your board before the start of a new season, regardless of how many days it has gone un-waxed (you should also wax your board at the end of the season for protective reasons)
I tend to wax after every 3 full riding days. I find this is a good balance of keeping up good performance and also not being too much work.
How often do you wax? Do you have any other ideas on the ideal waxing time? Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.
Photo by Lance Fisher [CC BY 2.0], via Flikr
Just wondering if you have and experience with stoneground or structured bases?
Do you know if you have to wax them? And if so, how? Or do you not wax them and just get them re ground/tuned/structured if it wears down haha
Thanks for your message.
Yes you should still wax a stone ground/structured base, as far as I know. Pretty sure it’s unlikely to remove the structure – I think you’d have to do a base grind to remove that. Maybe it removes a little? But I haven’t noticed it do too much when waxing a structured base.
Thanks for all the research you’ve done.
I was wondering how long you could wait until the next wax job in terms of time during the season?
I go snowboarding every 3-4 weeks during the season (usually for 1 full day) and was wondering what you recommend in terms of how often I should wax my board?
Thanks for everything!
Thanks for your message.
I think it depends on how long your season is and where your board is stored.
If you’ve got like a 6 month season and you end up going let’s say 8-10 times, then you’ll probably get away with once during the season, if your board isn’t stored in too dry a place. If it’s in a dry place, then I’d probably do 2 during the season.
If it’s a shorter season and you only end up going like 5 times or something like that, then you could probably get away with just waxing at the start of the season, if it’s not stored in too dry a place. But you could still do a mid-season wax to increase gliding performance. If it’s stored in a drier place, then I’d do a wax mid-season regardless.
Also, keep an eye on the base to watch for signs of it drying out.
Hope this helps
Hey Nate, thanks for going through the pain of research, although I did the same thing out of negligence. This season I want to do a much better job of waxing up but I was wondering if there’s any chance of permanent damage to my unwaxed sintered base? There aren’t any huge gauges or scratches on the bottom but it’s pretty dry. If I took better care of it this season would I ever notice the past tortures?
Thanks for your message.
I don’t the answer for sure, but my guess is that there shouldn’t be any long term damage (hopefully!). Sintered bases need regular waxes for performance, but I’m not sure if that long term neglect will affect performance in the future if the board is well waxed. If there’s no major damage to the base, I think you should be good so long as you keep it well waxed from now on.
have you heard of this?
Never wax again!!!
Phantom 2.0 Snowboard/Ski Permanent Treatment Base Glide Service
I have not used it but just wondered if you or anyone one else have? Just wondered if it works as well as it states?
Can’t say I’ve heard of that. You learn something new every day in this industry!
So yeah, can’t give you any insight into that one, unfortunately. If anyone else has had any experience with it, feel free to chime in.
Ok Cheers Nate.
Hey, great experiment! Thanks for sharing your results! (Suffering in the name of the many 😉
I was wondering if you had any experience/ideas over waxing the ‘sintered spec’ yes are now putting into some of their boards: recycled sintered base material reformed for a new base through extrusion. The base material is obviously hard and pourous, but would the extrusion process ‘reduce’ these properties?? – my tech knowledge here is extremely limited :s
Whether you investigate or not, thanks again for the above article, among the other many great ones you’ve put out: I’m a big fan of this little website of yours !
Thanks Guy! And thanks for using the website.
I haven’t waxed any of Yes’s sintered spec bases yet. When I’ve ridden them they’ve already been waxed, and I don’t ride them long enough to tell when they might need a re-wax. I own one YES board, but it’s the Greats which has a sintered “true” base.
But I imagine, from how sintered spec is described, that it’s somewhere in between a base that is a “true” sintered base and an extruded base. According to YES, they make it sound closer to a sintered base than an extruded one, but it’s hard to say. Certainly from riding the sintered spec, it feels like it has more speed/glide than an extruded base, but not as much, certainly vs some other, pure sintered bases.
From a waxing perspective, I guess they would also be somewhere in between an extruded and sintered base. Though my gut tells me you’d likely want to wax it more like you would a sintered base than an extruded one, to keep it performing at it’s best. But that’s just a guess, as I haven’t experimented with one.
But yeah certainly the extrusion process would reduce these properties I would say. The heating process would soften the base for sure, and probably make it less porous too.