: You need wax on your board in order to surf unless you have a full deck grip which is unlikely. Wax comes in all shapes and sizes and different formulas for surfing in cold or hot water temperatures.
We obviously don't use much tropical wax over in the UK so you'll be asking for cold water wax but most shops will automatically sell you this so you don't need to ask. Popular brands are 'Mrs Palmers' and 'Dr Zogs' . It's a personal preference which one you use at the end of the day. Recently I've found 'Might Mounds' from Mrs Palmers to be rather good and it smells great!
Applying: Starting from scratch on a new board - I normally mark out with lines where I want to wax up to. You don't need to wax the whole board, just from the rear foot area up to about two thirds of the way up the board.
If you're unsure, take out your fins or sink them into the sand carefully. Lie on your board and have a look where your chest is on the board when as if you were paddling. This is where you need to wax up to.I use the tip of the wax block and draw a line showing where I'll stop waxing. I then draw a grid pattern either diagonal or criss cross all over the deck of the board.
Once this is done I start building up the wax, using a circular motion from rail to rail all over - think Karate Kid - 'wax on, wax off'. After a while you'll notice the wax is forming little circular beads of wax which is what you're aiming for.
Build them up nice and high if you want them to last and not smudge so easily. Apply evenly and concentrate on the areas where your feet will go. Most surfers opt for a rear deck grip nowadays in which case, you'll only need to wax the middle and never need to worry about waxing the back again!
If it's particularly cold outside, a good way of making the wax go on easier is to drop it into a cup of hot water. The wax will become warmer and instantly easier to apply! Similarly if your wax is too warm and slips everywhere, dunk it in some cold water before waxing.
If travelling abroad, to say Mexico for instance, make sure you buy tropical wax and apply to your board before you go (clean the old wax off first) as you'll quickly find that your old wax simply melts off in warmer waters. Check in the surf shop that it actually says tropical on it!
I wax my rails(sides) where my legs go when sitting and where my hands go when duckdiving. You don't need much, just drag the bar of wax up both sides and it's done. It's entirely up to you but i find it stops me slipping off when sitting, especially on a new board!
Cleaning: Surfers are pretty lazy when it comes to cleaning boards. I probably only do mine once or twice a year if I'm honest. There's not much point cleaning your board regularly. Wax is bad for the planet so it's better to make it last as long as possible. Buy a wax comb and draw a criss cross pattern into your old wax. It will be instantly transformed from brown slippery gunk, into the best grip you've ever had!
A wax comb will also come in handy for removing old wax. Scrape off as much as you can, the comb's come equipped with various edges and angles covering every part of your board so you can reach every part of it, including the rails. Once satisfied that you've removed most of the wax - grab some white spirit and an old cloth.
Soak the cloth with spirit and rub the remaining wax off. The spirit will dissolve the wax and turn your board into a pristine, sparkling, object of desire! The downside is that all your little creases and cracks will suddenly appear... but you'll be waxing back over them soon!
Using a different cloth or kitchen roll give your board a good wiping over to remove any traces of the white spirit and then you're ready for waxing or applying deck grip.
Deck grip: When using deck grip on a board that you've already waxed, it's imperative that you remove any traces of wax from the rear so that the deck grip sticks properly to the surface of the board. It's important to get your grip in the correct position on the board.
If in doubt ask a more experienced mate to help. I generally aim to get it so that the rear of the grip is lined up underneath, between my rear and two front fins for a thruster and and bang on for a single fin.
You can mark where it should go with a pencil first and try to keep your fingers away from the sticky side of the pad! Applying gentle heat from a hair dryer to the board will warm it up so the glue on the grip sets better but don't over do it!
Heat is bad for boards at the end of the day! Deck grips come in all shapes and sizes so ask in the shop if you're unsure of what to buy. They generally retail at around £20 upwards so aren't cheap but you can pick up some bargains via the internet.
Lara: How do I get wax off my board?
Hobie: Use white spirits on a cloth and wipe it off.
Lara: what about the hairdrier/credit card approach?...I don't have any white spirit and can't be bothered to go to the shop!
Grd: If you haven't got a wax comb, you can use that or a lamp works just as well but a hair dryer is better. Don't USE HOT WATER though 'cos it delaminates your board!
Noahs Arc: Couple of points - always rinse the white spirit off with soapy water, otherwise over time it'll have a detrimental effect on the glass. And soften the wax in the sun for a few minutes before scraping - it'll come off loads easier. But steer clear of hair dryers!
And someone posted earlier about taking a board out of it's bag if leaving it somewhere hot, to stop the wax sticking to the bag - bad move, the bag will offer some protection from sun/heat and delamination. If it's getting hot enough to melt the wax to the board bag it ain't going to do the board any good.