When should you wax your snowboard?


So you just started with the sport and you just realized: “wait a minute, we have to wax our boards?!“. Yup! What a funny thing to discover huh: waxing a piece of wood. Who would’ve thought. So yes, yes you need to and I will tell you in another article how to wax your board but for now, this article aims to answer when to wax your board.

The quick answers to the question are:

  • when your base (the bottom/underbelly of your board touching the snow) is faded
  • when you’re going slow (especially when you’re riding your board flat and you know you should pick up speed but you aren’t)
  • finally, there actually isn’t a hard rule on when to wax it

If you just bought your board, there’s nothing to do about waxing. Assuming you bought it new, it comes out factory-waxed already.

What I would suggest is, take a good look of the bottom of your board, take a mental photo or a real one of it, memorize the colours, design etc, because it’ll make sense with the first point

When it’s faded

As you use your board more often, you’ll notice that it’ll start to look faded and dried out on certain parts of your board. That’s normal. snow and ice are causing constant friction, not to mention some dirt and rocks, so it’s bound to be worn down.

Here’s a visual to make more sense:

what a faded board looks like with my annotations (source)

This is an example of a faded/used/worn down board. see the sides are so used up it’s almost white? This is an example of an extremely used board. So what are the coloured boxes and circles?

Imagine this board being brand new. The entire bottom of this board would be black all throughout, evenly, from top to bottom like the red box. You won’t see the fades toward the edges at all. It’ll be completely, evenly solid black everywhere.

Now as you ride more and more, you will notice the sides to fade first. Why? because it’s the edges of the board that you use to turn and more importantly, to brake. Depending on the type of board you’re riding, the fades will start at different positions of the bottom.

If you use your heel more than your toe edge, the heel side (whichever yours is) will wear first. If you’re riding a rocker board (boards that are shaped like a banana on the table or a smile), then the areas in the pink box will probably wear out first. Conversely, if you’re riding camber (boards that are shaped like a frown or upside down banana), the teal box will go first.

Personally, I would start to wax my board when my newly waxed board (red box) starts to look faded like the white circle.

Now you get everything?

When you feel you’re going slower than usual

Sometimes seeing your bottom as faded is too late of a basis already (though a good start for beginners). Sometimes you notice that you’re going slow when you don’t want to or when you don’t see any reason why you should be slow.

Maybe you’re going down the same trial, same time of the day, same snow conditions, same board, same everything than what it was 2-3 weeks ago but for some reason you notice you’re going slow even when you’re riding your board flat to get speed.

Your most likely cause is maybe your board needs waxing now.

This is very noticeable if you’re riding park. In my experience, I’ve ridden a board that needs a wax so bad that if I ride flat from the top of the jump and do no speed checks (quick turns to slow you down and position yourself), I’d still come up short on the landing.

Conversely, I’ve ridden my freshly-waxed snow and if I’m in the park, it’s so fast and slippery that I’d have to do 5 speed checks when I normally do 2-3.

It comes handy too when you’re riding a trail with a flat ground; you slide much much farther when your board’s waxed.

Basically you don’t want to be slow when you want/need it fast and vice versa. That might make you knuckle a jump or have to unstrap and walk because your board didn’t have enough speed to come up a bump on the hill.

No hard rule as to when you should

Ultimately, there really is no hard rule as to when you should wax your snowboard. I could’ve led with this but I know this is unsatisfying of an answer. The two tips I wrote above are from my experiences and I find them a measurable and noticeable scenario that you can use instead of “it depends”.

You could wax your board after every ride like pros. You can barely wax them per year (but be responsible and don’t do that to your board lol).

The type of base your snowboard has (e.g.: sintered base) will dictate how fast it’ll fade.

The type of wax you put on your board too dictates how long it’ll last.

I say just use the “visual fade” key to start.

For me, it may take 3 weeks (assuming I board once a week, regular intensity) before I wax my board. I’ve also had ski trips though where you ride 5-7 days straight, back to back, open to close, big mountain, and by day 5 I’d start to see the fade. I’d wax it if I want optimum performance but it’s still workable and it’s not slowing me down hard so I’d just ride it away (not to mention I didn’t bring my waxing equip).

Wrap up

Lastly, just take care of your board. Your call when you want to wax it but don’t leave it so dry like that internet image I have above omg. That’s a disrespect to your board lol. Waxing your board will improve your ride quality, the structural integrity, and not to mention the longevity of your board.

If you want to ride slow, wax your board and start slow, and do lots of brakes and turns. Don’t force your board to be naturally slow by keeping it unwaxed. That’s like saying you want to drive slow on the road therefore you will forego oil change and all maintenance so the car breaks down slowly and it’ll run slower.

Just maintain your car and step less on the gas pedal!

So go out there, have fun, and take care of your board!

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