Do You Have to Wax a Paddleboard?

Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world, according to Isle Surf & SUP. To increase traction on the board and make it easier to stand on, wax can be applied to the tops of some boards. However, certain types of paddle boards do not require wax to increase traction.

Traction Boards

Many stand-up paddle boards have built-in traction pads, or deck pads, on the top of the board. This traction pad provides traction so your feet can stay firmly planted to the board while you're in the water, which would otherwise make the surface of the board too slippery on which to stand.

Paddle boards that have built-in traction pads do not need to be waxed. These boards are convenient for those looking for a no-muss way to get out in the water without having to remember waxing supplies. Traction pads also add a bit of extra cushion underneath your feet.

Other Boards

Some paddle boards do not have built-in traction pads. These boards have a smooth surface that will become too slippery to stand on in the water without wax. Boards without built-in traction pads need to be waxed before each excursion.

Some people prefer these boards for aesthetic reasons. If you are attached to your board and would rather show off its beauty than have a built-in traction pad on the top taking away from its good looks, you can simply wax up the board before you enter the water.


If you have a paddle board without a built-in traction pad, you'll need to wax your board before heading into the water. Waxing your board is very simple and only takes a few minutes.

To wax your board, create a base layer of board wax by making small circular motions on the deck where you'll be standing. Next, move the wax lightly all around the area where you've applied the base layer. This will create tiny bumps, or sticky bumps, that will create good traction for your feet and keep you firmly planted on the board.


If your paddle board does not have a built-in traction pad but you don't want to wax your board each time you go out in the water, you can purchase an adhesive traction pad from most board shops. This adhesive pad sticks to your board and provides traction without the need for wax.

Spray traction products are also available. These products look like spray paint but provide a clear coat of high-traction material that doesn't need to be reapplied frequently. These sprays can take up to a day to cure -- dry completely -- but they provide up to six months of traction without the need for wax or a traction pad.