Waxing has been around winter sports for a long time now, even though it wasn’t as advanced as it is today both in terms of materials used and in terms of the waxing process as a whole. It is without a doubt one of the best ways to preserve your snowboard over time but do you really need to wax a brand new snowboard? Well, that depends a lot on the manufacturer and your preferences…
In short, most new snowboards do come waxed. Still, the wax that they use is a factory one which, in most cases, isn’t temperature-specific wax (the best type) but rather a rub-on spray wax which is easy to apply and is cost and time effective. That isn’t ideal for you, though, so if you want maximum performance straight out of the box, it would be a good idea to apply a new coating of wax but this time around doing it properly and taking your time.
If you haven’t made up your mind yet or want to know a little more about waxing, the remainder of the article is just for you! We’ll go through a few important questions and end up learning how to apply wax to your snowboard, whether it is brand new or not.
What is waxing?
Simply put, waxing refers to the process of applying hot wax to your snowboard’s bottom surface. There are a few types of wax you can use but the most common one is temperature-specific wax which is applied with a waxing iron. Other types include universal waxes, rub-on, and fluorocarbon waxes.
In its essence, your board’s bottom part consists of a material called p-tex which has tiny pores that open up when you heat them up. If you guessed that the hot wax will go into these holes, you are absolutely right. This is the main way wax sticks to the board and stays there for a long while until it needs to be re-applied.
It isn’t a hard procedure but it can be a little time-consuming. You also need to buy a few items, which also makes it a bit expensive if you haven’t planned for it. I will go into more details about how it’s done and what you need for it further down the article.
Why are snowboards waxed?
Waxing isn’t mandatory but still, it isn’t too difficult to do and the advantages you get are numerous. That waxed bottom surface will glide better over snow and ice and will provide faster speeds. Waxing also improves your movement on flat surfaces and makes it harder for you to get stuck. Furthermore, you will need less runway to hit a park feature such as a rail or a box.
All that aside, having wax on the bottom surface of your board will improve its longevity and how it handles nature’s elements over time. The more you ride, the more frequently you will have to wax it, of course, but as a whole, it is one of the best ways to keep your snowboard healthy for years. A dry snowboard base is also one of the main reasons cracks happen when you hit something hard fast. Waxing regularly prevents this sort of dryness.
How to wax your snowboard
The process of waxing consists of a few steps and takes roughly 30-40 minutes. Still, there is a correct order of the steps and there are tools that you have to use to get the job done properly. The tools that you’ll need are:
- Wax (various types)
- Waxing iron (or a regular clothes iron)
- Plastic Scraper
- Scuff pad or structuring brush
Begin by removing the bindings. Why we do that? Well, imagine that one of your binding screws remains in and you heat it up with the iron while it is in its place. That can cause permanent damage to the screw and the hole of the board, making it almost impossible to hold tightly next time you put your bindings on the board.
Then, make sure that you remove any old wax and/or dirt from the base. That will allow the brand new wax to be fully absorbed into the board. You can use a base cleaner and a cloth but, in my opinion, the best method is the hot wax one. You apply a thin layer of hot wax with the waxing iron and then immediately scrape it off. That will act as a sticky layer that will take any debris out of the base pores.
Next up is picking your wax. There are a lot of types but in general, waxes are divided into hot wax, cold wax, and all-temperature (universal) wax. That refers to the temperature of the surface you will be riding on. Cold wax is for snowboards that will be ridden on sub-zero temperatures, while hot one will stay firmly on the board even in warmer conditions.
Once you’ve gone through all that, it is time to melt the wax onto the snowboard. You can use a waxing iron or a regular iron for that step. Put the wax against the heated up iron until it starts dripping on the base. Then, start dripping it around the edges and then zig-zag your way through the middle of the board. Pay particular attention to the edges as they are usually the driest part of the base. Once you’re done dripping, put the iron to the case and start moving it in circles. Don’t stop moving, as the iron’s surface can get too hot for the board.
One this is done, let the board rest for half an hour. That will give the wax time to cool down and set into it. Once that time has passed, get your scraper and start scraping the edges at a 45-degree angle from nose to tail. Make sure you remove any leftover wax.
The excess wax in the middle of the base can be scraped or brushed by a structuring brush or a scuff pad. That will give the base a smooth texture allowing it to glide on any surface.
If you want to learn more tips about snowboarding in general, click here to read my article!
How often should you wax your snowboard?
The frequency of waxing pretty much matches how often you ride. It also depends on another important factor which is the type of base your snowboard has. There are two different base construction types:
Sintered bases are far more porous than extruded ones and can absorb a lot more wax. That makes them hold to the wax for longer periods and they generally ride smoother and faster than extruded base types. Still, they will be slower if they aren’t waxed which is their main disadvantage over the extruded bases which are fast and smooth enough for most people even without waxing. Extruded bases don’t hold wax well, and might need waxing at least once a week if you are actively riding every day.
If you have all the means to do it and want to make sure you’re taking good care of your snowboard, I recommend waxing it every 3 days, especially if you are riding every day.
If you are looking for new all-mountain snowboard bindings, head over to my full Buyer’s Guide where I’ve covered the topic in great detail and have also listed some of my favorite models for 2020!
In summary, waxing is an essential part of snowboarding and if you’re still wondering if you need to wax your brand new snowboard, then I’d say go for it. The wax manufacturers use is nowhere near as good as the one you can buy and apply yourself. It will also give you a peace of mind knowing that your snowboard is properly taken care for and ready to hit the slopes!