How to Polish a Surfboard

How to Polish a Surfboard

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You'll hear surfers talking about sand- versus gloss-finished boards. Sand finish gives you a lighter board and faster ride, but the unsealed surface can collect debris and deteriorate more quickly. The added weight of polish gives you more control and a slower ride. The polish also acts as a sealant to protect your board. But you'll have to give your board a sand finish before completing the job with a layer of polish.

Items you will need

  • Surfboard

  • Bucket

  • Dish soap

  • Hand towel

  • Sandpaper, varying grits from 320 to 1,000

  • Heavy-duty buffing compound

  • Compounding pad

  • One 1800 to 2500 RPM air or electric polisher

  • Surfboard polish

  • Paintbrush

  • Polishing pad

Step 1

Fill a bucket with water then add a few drops of dish soap. Wet the entire surface of the board using the mixture and a hand towel. Keep the board wet through the entire sanding process for the best finish.

Step 2

Sand the entire board with 320-grit sandpaper. Use long, even strokes or small, circular strokes to avoid digging into the fiberglass cloth layer beneath the laminating resin. Take your time to sand down any irregularities in the board.

Step 3

Sand the entire board again with a finer grit. Remove all the sandpaper marks left by the thicker grit. Keep sanding the board using finer and finer grits -- 400-grit, 500-grit, 600-grit -- until you work your way to 800- or 1,000-grit paper.

Step 4

Let the board dry then apply a heavy-duty buffing compound using a compounding pad and the polisher. Slowly remove any sandpaper marks while keeping the polisher moving to avoid heat build-up and burn-through marks. Clean the pad regularly throughout the process.

Step 5

Apply about seven dabs of surfboard polish to a paintbrush. Wipe polish onto a two square foot area of the board. Repeat until the entire board is covered.

Step 6

Put a polishing pad onto the polisher. Polish the surface until clear and dry. The board should shine with a glossy finish.


  • Take your time when sanding the board. You can't take back any scratches, dings or irregularities you put into the board, especially if you cut into the fiberglass cloth layer beneath the laminating resin.


  • You can sand the board down and choose not to apply the polish for a sand-finished board. Most professional surfers use a sand-finished boards because they are light-weight, fast and made for extreme surfing.
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