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Paddle Board Paint (A Comprehensive Guide)

paddle board paint

So, you want to paint your paddle board, but don’t quite know how to do it? If you don’t have enough experience with proper preparation and painting of paddle boards, which types of paints are the best and healthiest choices, you may find yourself wondering if you should even start doing it by yourself.

When painting boards, try to use the same brand of paint as much as possible, as this will ensure that the colors blend better into each other. If your design is more complicated, sketch on paper, and then paint the board itself. It would be best if you can paint your board outside. Be sure to use a face mask and gloves to prevent possible injury from hazardous fumes or chemicals.

To help you learn how to achieve the best results in this kind of fine art, we have created a detailed guide on how to prepare your paddle board for painting, how to properly paint both types of SUPs (plastic and foam), the advantages, and disadvantages of various paints, and the best types of paints you should choose for this type of painting.

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But first things first:

Can I Paint my Paddle Board? 

In order to paint your paddle board properly you can follow the rules and instructions of professional artists who specialize in painting surfboards and skateboards. First, you need to do a couple of preparatory activities to get the board ready for painting.

To prepare your paddle board before painting it you will need the following supplies:

  • mineral turps, surfboard cleaner, or surfboard-friendly cleaner,
  • acetone,
  • rags and safety gear (gloves, masks, goggles, etc.),
  • 240-320 grit sandpaper or electric sander,
  • wax comb, and
  • low-tack masking tape.
Read also: Can You Use An Inflatable SUP In The Ocean?

How To Prepare My Paddle Board For Painting

If you want to paint on the deck of the board you will need to remove the wax. The easiest way to do this is to take the board out in the sun for 10 minutes to soften the wax, or if it’s cold and cloudy outside, use a hairdryer. Scrape off all the wax from the board with a wax comb.

Read also: SUP Paddles (All You Need To Know)

Step 1: Cleaning

Then, start cleaning. This process is divided in two steps: The first one is to thoroughly clean the paddle board with mineral turps, a surfboard cleaner, or surfboard-friendly cleaner and cloth. Make sure there is no debris, dirt, or wax on the board, and if you notice residual wax or dirt, wipe with the acetone until no traces of wax or dirt remain. Acetone will also help your color absorb better.

Step 2: Sanding

The second step of the cleaning process is sanding the board. This step is best done outside or in the garage because it creates a lot of dust and dirt and is quite messy. You need to sand the board in order to to get rid of the gloss coating that’s on the fiberglass so that the paint has something to stick to. You can do this with fine-grit sandpaper or an electric sander. For best results we recommend to use 240-320 grit sandpaper. This step will help the paint stick better, but be careful not to damage the fiberglass.

You can rub the existing paint and varnish finish using 400/800 wet and dry paper. Immerse the paper in water to which you have added a few drops of dishwashing detergent.

Also, you can use a rubber/cork block to hold the paper to get a better level finish. Use the palm/fingers of your hand to feel the surface and a fine filler that dries very quickly. Stop to remove cuts and grooves, and then sand the area again.

Clean the board with a damp rag to get rid of sanding dust. Wipe the board with acetone or a similar product. In the last step of the preparation process, you will have to mask up the rails with masking tape so you get a nice and clean edge on them.

What Kind of Paint Can I Use to Paint my Paddle Board?

Water-based acrylic paints are ideal and the safest option for paddle boards because acrylic binds to the fiberglass of your board without damage. These paints retain their shine for a long time and are very waterproof.

Read also: Can You Stand Up Paddle Board in Rain?

Natural paints are derived from substances such as citrus, balsam, and minerals and do not off-gas biocides and fungicides. However, they often contain terpenes, which are VOCs derived from plants. Latex paints are safer for the environment than solvent- and oil-based paints, and epoxies and they also need to be used with great care due to the strong terpenes.

different kinds of Paddle board paint

Enamel-based paints are not recommended, as they damage your paddle board and make it brittle and colorless. You should use water-based paints without biocides, made with beeswax or carnauba wax.

We recommend using paints that have zinc oxide as the fungicide to avoid polluting your indoor air and outdoor environment. Avoid oil-based paints because of their high VOC content and paints from old cans that may contain mercury or lead.

How Do You Paint Foam SUPs?

Foam SUPs should be painted with spray paint, as their texture and materials are not suitable to be painted with a brush.

When sanding a foam SUP, you must be very careful not to damage it, because they are not as durable as hardtop boards. You should stick the tape along the edge of the board to prevent the paint from passing over the top of the board or for masking off the bits you want to save.

Read also: What Size Paddle Board Should I Get For My Height?

Spray the first coat to make an average coverage and let it dry for about ten minutes. The topcoat should be quite “wet” and thick. Do not spray it in direct sunlight if you are doing it outdoors. The paint should flow out a bit and not dry out immediately due to a hot board, as this will give a better finish.

How Do You Paint Plastic SUPs?

Draw the design you want to paint with a whiteboard marker to help you correct any mistakes before painting.

Read also: Costco Paddle Board (Is it worth it?)

The necessary supplies that you will need for painting your plastic SUP include:

  • acrylic paints,
  • brushes,
  • mixing tray (if blending colors),
  • 1 can of clear coat spray (preferably UV resistant), and
  • safety gear (face mask, gloves, and eye protection).

If you use a combination of spray paint and acrylic paint, I suggest spraying the paint first, letting it dry, and then using a brush-on acrylic. Then, fill in the details with paint pens. Allow the board to dry for the next 24 hours.

woman in the sea with a painted paddle board

You should wipe off all dust with a cloth before applying the clear coat and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the other coat. Coat the board 2-3 times with a glossy or matte clear coat. It will prevent the paint from wearing off and increase the gloss of the board, giving it a new look.

You can polish it with “T Cut” or any paint restorer polish. Also, you can spray several coats of clear lacquer which will add more weight.

For some inspiration, check out this video: SUP Paint Mash Up

Best Paddle Board Paints

Environmentally friendly paints have to meet three health requirements that include:

  1. low VOCs– no more than 250 grams per liter (gm/l) of VOCs in “low-VOC” latex paints and no more than 380 gm/l for “low-VOC” oil-based paints, low biocides, and natural pigments, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,
  2. low biocides, and
  3. natural pigments.

Lists of the businesses that sell eco-friendly and “green paints” include:

Research by Forbes has shown that milk paint, mixed from powder form, lasts only 1 – 7 days while acrylic paint lasts 2 – 15 years. Latex paint lasts 2 – 10 years, chalk paint 1 – 5 years, and milk paint, premixed in a can, 1 – 2 years.

Some of the water-based acrylic paints that are best rated by customers on Amazon include:


Some of the spray paints that are best rated by customers on Amazon include the following:

Final Thoughts on Paddle Board Paint

To paint your paddle board, you need to take all the necessary materials and carefully follow the instructions from experts to achieve the best results.

yellow paddle board on the beach

Four important takeaway points are:

  1. Prepare the process properly: Remove the wax, clean and sand the board, and mask up the rails.
  2. An ideal and safe option for painting plastic SUPs is water-based acrylic paint.
  3. Foam SUPs should be painted with spray paint.
  4. Eco-friendly paints that contain low VOCs, low biocides, and natural pigments are the best choice.

I hope this guide has provided you with the information you need to decide to try painting your paddle board.

Use the comments section below to tell us about your experiences with painting paddle boards! If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them as soon as possible.

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