How To Give Your Surfboard A Custom Paint Job

Here are five easy steps to turn your surfboard into a piece of art. Make a new cool looking stick from your old brown board. This is the same way the pros do their boards.

What You Need to Spray Paint Surfboards

Make sure you get the right equipment and materials for the job.

What Paint to Use on Your Surfboard

Some colorful quick dry spray paint, (the link is to some high quality fast drying acrylic spray paint with revolutionary nozzles to get different effects-see more info below)

The colors are light fast and guaranteed for 10 years. The colors are extremely opaque and the colors are brilliant and intense. In addition Montana acrylic paint is 100% lead and CFC free. It is the cream of the crop in artist quality spray paint

**This is the paint that we recommend and is the best seller from Saltwater Dreaming Website**

Why Acrylic Paint?

The reason we use acrylic paint is that acrylic has excellent adhesion, colour and gloss retention, long-term flexibility, and toughness. Where enamel-based products can yellow and become brittle, causing cracks and peeling of your beautiful spray job.

You could also use paint markers which can give a bit of a streaky effect, which is actually quite good, paint pens let you pull and blend the colours, giving depth and character to your surfboard masterpiece, but you have more control over your artwork.

A combination of spray paint and paint pens gives great results. The best paint markers for painting a surfboard are Posca or Sharpie paint pens.

It is always best to do your art on a new surfboard with a sanded matt finish that is clean from wax and grease. But if it's an old board just take your time cleaning it up. Once all the wax is removed use some wax remover or paint thinner (acetone) to get the board as clean as possible.

Other Equipment

You will also need some masking tape, low tack masking tape works the best, it may cost a little more, but when you are peeling it off your board it won't rip or tear.

A Stanley knife and a can of clear acrylic sealant coat quick dry types are best. The brand we recommend is Krylon.

Painters Masking Tape Painters Masking Tape

Planning Your Design

Because a small design won't show up, you need to make your spray job big. Try to be original and spend some time on your design. Remember this piece of art will be an extension of yourself on your surfboard.

Basically, if you can draw it and paint it, it can go on a surfboard. Look at boards that have been spray painted when being made for ideas and any piece of artwork that you like can be done with paint pens.

You could also get the kids to do a design for you. OK it has flowers, hearts, stars and sunburnt dolphins, but it was fun and she is proud her dad is now riding her very own piece of art!

Surfboard Art

Spray Paint or Paint Pens?

This needs to be decided during the design planning stage, unless you are a professional spray painter, spray designs are best for solid colours, straight lines and maybe over-spray effects around the solid colours.

Paint pens are probably the best way to get a real mural effect. Drew Brophy a famous surfboard artist uses these and the results are amazing.

As I said before, you can use a combination of the two. Spray the big solid colours (especially if your surfboard is going brown) and use paint pens for the detail and to blend colours together.

Have a look at some of the surfboard paint pics below and decide for yourself.

We've also put together a resource page on books and DVDs about painting your surfboard that will help you to decide and Drew Brophy's DVD is a must have if you decide to go for paint pens.

Preparing Your Surfboard for Spray Painting

One thing we forgot to stress a lot is to clean your surfboard, I am not just talking about a quick wipe over with a cloth, I mean really clean your board well. It is vitally important that you clean every bit of surfboard wax, grease and anything else off the board, or that beautiful spray job will start peeling after just a few surfs.

Once you have taken all wax off, give your board a wipe down with some acetone.

Once you are totally sure your surfboard is clean give the entire area you are going to paint a good sand with a 300 grit sandpaper. This gives the paint something to stick to.

Spray Painting-Cutting Your Design

Tape the surfboard from rail to rail all the way across the board. Make sure to overlap the tape on top of itself about ¼" inch with each piece of tape. This will keep other areas of your surfboard clean from paint.

Once you design is decided upon, draw it on top of the tape in the area of the surfboard that you think will look the best.

Then you will cut the design out with the Stanley knife. But make sure not to press to hard because you do not want to cut into the glass on your surfboard.

Once you cut out the design peel off the excess tape from where you want the paint to go. Leaving the protective tape on to keep paint off the rest of your surfboard.

If you are doing simple lines and shapes you can tape off these areas and then cover the parts of the surfboard that are not going to be sprayed with paper.

Preparing the surfboard for spray painting

Painting Your Surfboard

Cover up anything else with newspaper that you do not want over spray paint to get on, my mum keeps reminding me about this as now our kitchen cupboards have a really cool looking over-spray effect.

Using a light coat of paint, you can spray over the tape. Try to let the colors or layers dry before you move onto the next color. Allow this area to dry before you add any more colors. Remember heavy coats of paints will only run and make a mess.

Try to spray your board with about a foot of distance between the spray paint and the surfboard. The design will look great once you the extra tape is peeled off.

spray painted surfboard

Spray Paint and Paint Markers

The Clear Coat

Once the extra tape is peeled off and the design is finished you will need to apply clear coat.

The clear coat as with the colorful quick dry spray paint should be a quick dry brand It will protect your design from being peeled or scratched off.

Its probably best to wait a few hours or better overnight before you apply the clear coat, to let your masterpiece completely dry.

It should take about 3 or more layers of clear coat

Apply the clear coat very thinly. You could use a whole can on a shortboard by applying many thin coats if the design covers the entire board.

When the clear coat is dried it is time to go surfing.

So be creative and remember if you mess up, all you have to do is re tape and spray a new design.

Got any questions?

Go here to see our recommended range of spray paints, clear coats and spray painting books

Go to Surfboard Repairs

Some Excellent Spray Paint Examples

Done by us with Posca Paint Pens

Surfboard paint with paint pens

The boards below were painted by Adrian Wiseman from Kirra Hill in Australia, using paint pens. If you would like Adrian to paint your board you can contact him here Adrian

custom surfboard paint pen jobs

These boards were sprayed by Ash Devine from Mooloolah. If you would like Ash to spray your board you can contact him here Ash

custom surfboard spray paint jobs
custom surfboard spray paint jobs
custom surfboard spray paint jobs

The above pics were taken from global surf

A paddleboard paint job done with paint pens, by the famous Drew Brophy. Click the photo to see his book on painting surfboards

Painted surfboard by Drew Brophy

custom surfboard spray paint jobs surfboard spray job

Not a clear pic above, but this spray paint job is very nice when you see it for real

surfboard spray job surfboard spray job surfboard artwork

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28 thoughts on “Paint Surfboards

  1. Thanks bro for all of your help. out of all of the site i’v look at on the topic of ” painting your surfboard” your article by far THE BEST.

    i’m new to it and my rather paint my board myself. your step by step guide saved me time and money. You ROCK!

  2. hi!
    i am new to this whole surf scene, (east coast) anyway, i got a used longboard from a neighbor it has a ugly repairable ding, anyway, i was wondering if it was possible for me to paint the whole board! and start fresh… it is 7 feet 7 inches i think…. do i buy acrylic spray paint?

    do you sell something for whole board? i am a snowboarder, but i think i pick it up fast on longboard!


    1. Hi Yes you can paint the whole surfboard. But first make sure the board is clean of all wax and grease and after that I would go over the areas that you will paint with a fine 300 grit wet and dry paper to make sure the paint will stick.

      Use the acrylic paints we recommend on the website and finish with a clear coat of acrylic.

      The paint might chip easy on the rails, so if you can I would try not to paint the rails. If you have to paint the rails too, you can touch them up if you need to.

      Happy designing

  3. Hi, I was wondering if you could help me; I recently bought a Bic surfboard (MiniMal) and did my own art work on it with oil based opaque paint markers.

    I now need to seal it, but i dont know what to use, it would have to be quite durable, and not react with the paint or the board.

    I dont know what type of laquer or spray to use… I would greatly appreciate any suggestions, the shop I bought it off couldn’t help me.

    Thank you,

  4. Hi, I was wondering if it was possible to spray paint a surfboard blank directly (straight onto the foam) then glass over it. If so, what is the best paint to use and what is the best tape to use that will stick to the foam. I want to paint the bottom a solid color and i dont have an air compressor or spray gun… please help! Thanks in advance.

  5. Hi,
    I’m shaping the surfboard completely by myself.

    Would appreciate your valuable advise what is better – to do painting (I use acrylic paints) on sealant layer and the put fiberglass or firstly do fiberglassing, hot coat, sanding and paint over this sanded layer? And after that laminate.

    I consider the first option is the best for securing your painting from water

        1. Not sure why your foam would melt with acrylic paints, is it water based acrylic paint?

          Are you spraying PU foam or EPS foam?

          PU foam with water based acrylic paint, such as Montana Gold should not melt the foam.

          1. It’s my fault.

            That paint contained spirit or smth like that which is melting EPS. finally, I found perfect one suitable for me.


  6. Hi I have a Surf Betty board with dark purple and pink flowers which is a little too floral for me! Would I be able to pain over it in any colour or would I need to go with darker colours , will repainting it even work?
    Thank you ☺️

    1. Hi Lisa
      Yes you can paint over a Surf Betty board. Make sure you follow the cleaning your surfboard section and remove all wax, grease etc.. and sand with a 120 grit for the paint to stick. Whether it will cover the original design is largely dependent on which paints you use. Posca pens are very good at covering old designs and Montana spray paint will cover it too, with a few coats.
      Hope this helps!

  7. Thanks for the info. How many 400ml cans would it take to cover both sides of a 7′ surfboard with two coats?


  8. hi! I really wanna spray my board, but my friend says his always comes off in the water, does the sealant you’ve recommended prevent the spray paint from coming off?

    1. Hi Bella
      Yes the sealants will stop the paint from coming off. We have never found that just water alone will take off the paint, but scratches from sand etc. will. I have a few boards with painted decals that have been there for a few years now. Just make sure you prepare the board well before painting.
      I hope this helps and happy painting!!

  9. hi! I’m thinking about painting some things on my brand new surfboard which is copolymer Foam. I’m wondering does acrylic paint and paint markers are working well on it? how to keep my painting longer ?


    1. Hi R
      Copolymer foam is pretty new, but I am sure acrylic paint will be fine. Whenever you paint on foam or flexible materials the paint will not last as long. This is definitely a time to do a test first on an inconspicuous part of the board. Clear coats will help it last longer, but it should be acrylic and once again do a test first.

  10. Hi! I am painting a surfboard for my first time and I am wondering if regular acrylic paints (the type artists would use for painting on a canvas) would work for the design? I plan to spray paint a base color with Krylon hand paint the design with the acrylic paint then seal with Krylon uv resistant clear.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Anais
      That should work fine, it’s always best to do a test with the clear coat over your acrylic paint, just to make sure they are compatible.
      Some acrylic paints don’t like clear spray on top and can dissolve or become soft, but 99% of acrylic paints work well with the clear coat.

      I hope this helps and happy painting!

  11. Hi, a friend of mine spray painted her tomo evo and also applied a clear coat on top
    She is unhappy with the look and wants to remove
    Is it possible to sand down the spray paint, or should we use a paint thinner? Or lightly sand and prep and just start again?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Paula
      I definitely wouldn’t use paint thinner. If you are going to respray it, a light to medium sand should do it. Taking off the clear coat and creating a key for the new paint to stick to is the aim.

      I hope this helps

      Thank you 🙂

  12. Hey! I have a soft-top surfboard and want to paint it (top and bottom). What type of paint would you recommend using on the top, since it’s more foamy than glassy?

    The bottom of my board has a bright pattern that I want to cover with white–do you think that’s achievable with spray paint or would you recommend keeping it darker?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Liz
      What ever you want to paint on a soft top, won’t last very long. On the deck you could try posca pens, but it won’t last long when you wax it. The bottom if you want to cover the dark colour you can spray paint it, but you would need a few coats to cover it.

      Whatever you do on it, it will wear off. We have really only used posca pens on the white bottom of soft tops, with a clear coat, but because the bottom is not hard, the slight flex of the bottom slick material does cause the paint to flake off over time.

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