There are 2 main options for waxing your snowboard.
- Pay someone else to do it
- Do it yourself
This post is going to focus on how to wax a snowboard yourself, of course. As you don’t need to know anything about paying someone else to do it, except for dropping it off, picking it up and paying for it.
But let’s take a quick look at paying someone else to do it and whether this is the best option for you or if you think you’re better off doing it yourself.
Paying Someone to Wax Your Snowboard
No matter what anyone tells you, this is a perfectly legitimate way of having your snowboard waxed. You will always get die-hards who won’t think you a snowboarder at all if you pay someone to do it for you!
Some reasons that you might want to pay someone else to do it:
- You have the money to get someone else to do it and you have no time and/or inclination to do it yourself
- You only ride a few days per season and it’s just as economical, and less fuss, to get that one wax job done per year at your local resort
- You like the idea of waxing yourself and would otherwise do it except that you have no practical place to get it done (e.g. you live in a small carpeted apartment without a balcony)
- You’ve tried doing it yourself and found you didn’t enjoy it
There are probably other reasons too – but these are some legit reasons why you might want to pay someone else to do it.
Of course, there are some places that do a better job than others and some that are more expensive than others.
I’ve never seen a ski resort that doesn’t offer waxing services so there’s always somewhere you can get it done, even if there’s nothing around in the place you live.
Waxing Your Snowboard Yourself
O.k. with that out of the way, let’s get into the real purpose of this post. If you’ve read through the above and you’ve decided you want to wax yourself (wax your snowboard yourself that is!), then read on.
First let’s look at some reasons why you might want to learn to wax your snowboard.
- You wax several times per year and you want to save money on waxing
- You want to make sure that your snowboard gets the most attention to detail and you don’t trust others to do this
- You like the idea of doing it yourself
- You like the process of waxing a snowboard (to be honest, I do)
How to Wax a Snowboard (Step by Step)
O.k. so you’ve decided to do it yourself. Here are the steps.
Step 1: Get the tools and supplies you’ll need
To wax your snowboard you will need the following:
- Wax (get cold wax if you know you’ll be in cold conditions, warm wax if you know you’ll be riding in warm conditions or all-temperature wax if your conditions are changeable or if you’re not sure).
- Waxing Iron (some people use a regular clothing iron. I’ve never tried it so I can’t vouch for the effectiveness. I use a snowboard waxing specific iron. Keep in mind if you use a clothing iron, you won’t be able to use it for clothes again once you’ve used it to wax your board)
- Scouring pad
- Base Cleaner
- Nylon Brush
- Horse Hair Brush
Step 2: Find an appropriate place for waxing
- Waxing a snowboard can be quite messy. So make sure you wax in a place that can handle the mess. I find doing it over carpet to be a bad idea. Wax scrapings are sticky and hard to clean up.
- Preferably you’ll want a bench that you can place your snowboard on – and if you still have the bindings on you’ll want a couple of wood blocks to suspend the snowboard above the bindings.
- If you don’t have access to a bench then simply suspending the snowboard over a couple of chairs is the next best option – just so long as it’s a safe setup that won’t endanger your chairs. Having an old sheet or newspaper or something underneath is also a good idea – to catch the wax scrapings and any hot wax that goes over the edge.
- Make sure there is somewhere that you can safely stand your iron
- Wear old clothes preferably – you are going to get wax scrapings on them
My setup for the pictures in this post isn’t ideal (mainly because it’s too low) but it does illustrate that you can do it pretty much anywhere.
Step 3: Cleaning your snowboard
This is an important first step in the actual waxing process. You want to make sure there isn’t any dirt or grime (or excess wax from a previous waxing) that is going to hinder the absorption of wax into your base.
To clean your snowboard, the most common method is to use a citrus based cleaner.
- Cover the base of your snowboard with a thin layer of base cleaner (apply it to the cloth before wiping it onto the board – don’t apply directly to the base).
- Scrub your base with a scourer (scotch brite pad or the likes)
- Pay particular attention to any areas that are particularly dirty looking – but remember to clean everywhere as there will be some dirt that you can’t see
- Wipe off any excess cleaner with a cloth
- Dry off thoroughly
I don’t personally use base cleaner every time I wax. But you can if you want. Some people say it damages your base over time but I think as long as you use it sparingly and apply it to the cloth and not directly to the base, then it would take a long time to damage the base.
I give it a wipe with a damp cloth, give it a quick scrape and go over it quickly with the nylon brush.
Sometimes you just need something extra to get your base properly clean and that’s where base cleaner comes in for me. This is usually the case come spring time when your base picks up a lot more crap it seems.
Step 4: Waxing your snowboard
O.k. now that you have all your supplies, are set up in an appropriate space and have cleaned your base you are ready to wax.
- Turn on your iron: Start with a low setting and turn up as you need to – you’ll get a feel for a good temperature.
You don’t want the iron too hot – a. because it could damage your base and b. it could damage the the wax and make it less effective
- To make sure that the board is nice and dry after your cleaning efforts, and so that the board is prepped ready to absorb the maximum amount of wax, it’s a good idea to heat the base up.
If you’ve got a heat gun you can use that – otherwise a hairdryer or using the waxing iron itself will help to dry and heat the base up.
- Apply the wax.
Do this by holding the iron and your block of wax over the snowboard base. Press the wax against the iron and when it starts melting run it over the snowboard.
I like to start by moving around the edges of the board first and, once the edges are covered, then zig zag across the center of the board.
The edges of your snowboard will be the driest so make sure to get enough wax on them (you’ll be able to insure this in the ironing process too).
- Iron your board.
Now that you have wax on your board you need to iron it in. This process not only heats up the wax and the base so that the wax can absorb into the base – it also ensures an even spread of the wax.
Some like to wax in a circular motion – some like to go up and down width ways and then as a final pass go along and iron length to length. In my experience one isn’t better than the other. The important thing is to make sure that wax is getting into every part of the base.
Don’t leave the iron in one spot for too long – keep it moving all the time. You don’t want it to heat up one part of the base too much as it could cause damage. That said, you may need to leave the iron in spot for a couple of seconds to get a spot of wax to melt properly – but just be careful not to leave it there too long.
Pay good attention to the edges (not the actual metal edges themselves but the base right next to the metal edges) and make sure they have enough wax on them – these are the parts of base that get the most contact with the snow.
Don’t worry if you get wax on the metal edges. That’s perfectly fine – we will be scraping that off in the next step.
Step 5: Let the base cool down
Once you have spread the wax evenly over the entire base you’ll need to let it cool before you scrape the excess wax off.
It will be much more difficult to scrape off the wax if it’s still warm. Also, you might effect the wax job that you just did.
I like to leave it for at least 15 minutes before scraping – so go pour yourself a drink or make a cup of tea or coffee and relax and take a load off for a while!
Step 6: Scraping off the excess wax
Right, now that your wax has cooled it’s time to scrape.
The wax on the actual exterior of your base will not make your board ride faster – in fact, it will have the opposite effect – it will slow it down considerably. So don’t be tempted to not scrape properly, or you’ll probably end up with a base that was slower than when you started the process!
The only exception is when you are waxing for summer storage – then you do want to leave the excess wax on both the edges and the base.
- Scrape off the wax from the metal edges.
You know how I said it was fine to get wax on the metal edges? Well, it is fine (and unavoidable really) but it’s important that you scrap that wax off (particularly if you’re going to be in hard/icy conditions). So, I always like to start here.
Snowboard waxing specific scrapers usually have a little notch in the side that makes it easier to scrape edges – but if you’re using something else to scrape you can still get the wax off the edges – it’s just not quite as easy/fast.
- Scrape the rest of the base
Don’t be shy and don’t make the mistake of thinking that you might scrape off some of the useful wax. All that useful wax has absorbed into the base (so long as you let your base cool sufficiently before scraping). So, make sure you scrape off as much of the excess wax as you can (we’ll be fine tuning this in the “finishing touches” in step 7).
When scraping, I find it best to pull the scraper towards you. I find if you start to push the scraper away from you, you greatly increase the chances of gouging your beautiful wax job!
I like to also scrape length ways along the base.
- As you go brush or scrape the wax away off the boards surface so you can see any spots you’ve missed.
It’s a good idea to have a waste basket to brush the scrapings into – this will make cleaning up at the end much easier.
- Scrape the entire base several times to make sure you have removed all of the excess wax. I find even after several scrapes, wax is still coming off. The above picture is after already scraping the base for 5 minutes – and minimal wax was used. Don’t worry eventually wax does stop coming off.
I couldn’t find the exact scraper that I use online but there are some options for scrapers at the link below.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
I’ve called this step finishing touches – but this is still an important step that you shouldn’t skip if you want a properly waxed base.
- Go over the base with a Nylon brush. This is a little coarser than the horse hair brush which is our final stage.
This works to buff the base and helps to get any excess wax that you missed when scraping.
>>This is the Nylon Brush that I Use
- The final step is to go over the base (length to length) with the Horsehair brush. This is a finer brush than the nylon brush and acts to really give the base a good polish.
>>This is the horsehair brush that I use
You can use a cloth to help to wipe off scrapings before and after using the horsehair brush too.
Or to make it easier…
UPDATE: Since I wax a lot of boards, I’ve since invested in a drill attachment with nylon and horseshoe hair brushes. This makes it a lot easier on the body to do this step – and a lot quicker too. The setup I use is at the link below:
Note that you can buy the Roto handle and the brushes separately, but works out cheaper to buy the kit, I think.
Step 8: Cleaning Up
Now all you have to do is clean up and you’re done – you now have a nicely waxed snowboard that’s ready to shred smoothly and quickly and glide you through those flat spots and up-hills!
Check out the video below for a visual representation of waxing your base. This isn’t exactly how I do it, mainly because he has more tools and what not (e.g. the Electronic Buffer!) – but if you want to get a visual look at it, this is the best video I’ve found.
Getting the Tools & Supplies
I’ve bought all of my waxing tools separately. But I kind of wish I’d just bought a kit. The main reason is that then you’ve got a case to put everything into – my stuff just sits loose on a shelf.
>>Here are some options for kits
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading and I hope you now know how to wax your own snowboard – or have used this to decide that you’d rather pay someone else to do it 🙂
Personally, I enjoy the process.
And it saves a good bit of money. Of course, this is only really the case if you wax more than once in a season – because you’ve still got to buy the wax and the iron etc and other supplies.
Do you wax your own gear? If not do you think you will in the future? Or do you prefer to have someone else do it for you? Or maybe you don’t wax at all!? Would love to hear people’s waxing experiences/habits in the comments section below.
Related: How Often Should I Wax
Related: Do I need to Wax a New Snowboard
Happy holidays! Thank you for all you do! Your site has been incredible for me. Do you find waxing an extruded base feels different/harder to spread the wax than on a sintered base? I just started waxing my own gear and my wife rides an extruded which felt much different waxing than waxing my sintered boards.
Happy holidays to you too.
Yeah I do find it different and generally not as nice to do. Not sure why, but maybe because the base is a little softer?
steve burkett says
i took your advice and bought a cold wax (blue bar) for a cold day (5 to 0 degrees F). everything went well until i had to scrape cold (very hard) wax off the snowboard. omg, that was almost impossible…very difficult. is there a secret? (other than NOT using a cold wax, instead using a all temp wax?). seriously crazy hard to scrape an entire snowboard with cold temp wax.
Thanks for your message.
I have noticed cold wax is a little harder to scrape but not to the extent that you’re describing. Only thing I can suggest is making sure your scraper is sharp (I sharpen mine before every wax. A blunt scraper is like torture!) and making sure that the wax is fully dry/cooled down before scraping. If you’re not sure if it’s fully dry, try waiting longer – like 30 minutes, to be sure, particularly if you’re waxing in a warm environment. Otherwise, not sure what else to suggest.
Hope this somewhat helps
Thank you again Nate! This is really helpful! I was wondering if you would be interested in writing an article about how to sharpe edges of snowboard.
I have to admit, this is an area that is the biggest blotch on my snowboarding record! I have always just paid someone to edge my snowboards. I’ve never taken the time to invest in the tools/time to do this myself. Shameful I know! When I do get around to filling in this gap in my knowledge I will certainly write a post on it. In the meantime, check out the following:
>>How to Sharpen Your Snowboard Edges
Sorry I couldn’t be more help on this one