Have you ever asked yourself, “how do I hot wax my snowboard?” Well here you go.
Waxing your snowboard on a regular basis is a good practice for a number reasons. Snowboards undergo a lot of heavy friction and impacts even on a normal day of riding. You don’t have to be wall riding, slamming rails, flat basing across bare asphalt or dirt roads all the time to gouge and wear your base and edges out. Hard pack conditions with boilerplate ice and shallow snow packs will also grind away at your board leaving your base wax starved and edges dulled. If you’re riding in the trees or off the groomers a lot in an area with a low snow base you will fill find plenty of tree stumps, roots, dirt and lots of rocks that may be impossible to avoid.
This is all a normal part of the snowboarding experience whether you are riding at a lift service area, backcountry or back yard. So after each day of riding it is a good idea to give your board a once-over and see how it is holding up. Here are some suggestions on how to maintain your snowboard so that you not only get the most life out of it, but also to keep it performing its best the whole season.
It’s no secret that a freshly waxed board turns better, and is faster and easier to ride than a board that needs to be waxed. Snowboards have P-TEX bases, which is a porous plastic that absorbs wax like a sponge. As the wax on the surface of the base gets worn off, the wax stored in the pores of the base rises up to replace it. Eventually the wax reservoir dries up completely and the base will begin to dry out. When this happens your base colors will begin to fade and turn white especially along the edges where the most contact pressure happens.
There are two types of P-TEX snowboard bases: extruded and sintered. Click here for information on extruded and sintered snowboard bases.
Waxing your Snowboard
Wax your board by first laying it down on a flat surface. Some companies make clamps designed for waxing that attach to table or bench. You will need wax, an iron, a plastic scraper, a brush and a fiber-tex pad. All temperature wax is good for all weather and snow conditions. Try to get an iron, such as a small travel iron, that does not have steam holes in the bottom where the wax can collect. You want to melt the wax onto your board evenly. You can pick up the scraper, brush, pad and wax at your local snowboard shop.
First, heat up the iron to a medium setting. If it is too hot the wax will start to smoke and you want to avoid that. Start by running a bead of wax along the edges of the board where most of the wear will be. Don’t worry about the tip and tail as those areas rarely come in contact with the snow. Always wax, scrape and buff your board starting from the nose and moving towards the tail.
Second, fill in all the space between the beads with drops of wax about four inches apart. Go lightly as the more wax you put down the more you will have to scrape off and that is not an easy task. Put just a few drops on the tip and tail to keep those areas from completely drying out.
Third, melt the wax into your base by spreading out with long, slow passes making sure all the dry areas are covered evenly. Don’t stop in any one place because if the board gets too hot you can damage it. Feel the underside with your hand and if it is hot to the touch you need to stop and let it cool down. Melt the wax on the tip and tail sections and then let the board sit for 30 to 45 minutes. The wax will absorb into the base and harden during this time.
Fourth, take your scraper and in long passes going from the tip towards the tail of the board start taking the wax off. No need to be shy, it will take a bit of effort and it will be messy. If you are doing this in an area you want to keep clean throw down a drop cloth. There will be wax shavings everywhere. When you have scraped off all the wax so that there is absolutely none left to scrape off then you can take your brush and using the same long passes start brushing the board tip to tail. Again, really lay into it and work the brush forcefully. This structures the wax so that it is aligned with the length of your board. Lastly, take the fiber-tex pad and repeat what you just did with the brush. You can use a block of wood to hold the pad down and get even pressure on your board. You will notice wax build up on the pad so use the areas of the pad that are clean as you go along. After the whole board is buffed out slide the back of your hand over the base. If you feel any tugging or sticky areas then you missed that spot. Re-scrape that area and buff it out- and you’re done!!
If the base of your board gets a gouge you can fill it in using a p-tex candle. Make sure that the area is free of dirt and debris. You will need the p-tex candle, a lighter and a metal scraper. You also want to get a tin can or something similar that will not melt. Heat the end of the p-tex candle with the lighter over the can until it catches fire. You will see some black carbon rising up in the plastic as it melts and drips into the can. Once the carbon is gone quickly move to the gouge a let the plastic drops fall in starting at one end and slowly moving to the other. Try to fill it completely in one shot so there is no chance for it to dry before you are finished. Let it set in and cool, approximately15-20 minutes.
Now take your metal scraper (don’t use this one for scraping wax) and in long passes going in the direction of your board from tip to tail. Make sure you scrape all the way through the repair on each pass, and continue until the p-tex is completely flush with the base. If you are going to wax your board make sure you get the p-tex repair done first so you don’t mess up your wax job.
So that’s how to hot wax and repair the base of your board. The more often you wax, the better your board will perform and the longer it will last. Of course, if you don’t have the workspace or time to do it on a regular basis, bring it in to your local snowboard shop. Most shops will do it in a timely fashion for a small fee and they usually include the wax, edge tune and any gouge repairs that might be needed. Stay tuned for our next post on how to tune your edges and fix top sheet damage.