How to Tell if a Snowboard Needs Wax: [Signs to Look For]

Updated August 10, 2023 by Jessie Gonzalez. This post has affiliate links at no extra cost to you.

If you have a snowboard but don’t know if it needs wax, don’t worry. We will set it straight and give you a good idea of how to tell if a snowboard needs wax. There are a few key signs to look for to tell if a snowboard needs wax and were going to cover them. Not only will you be able to spot when your own snowboard needs wax but you can help out your friends on the ski slopes by pointing out the same key indicators to them too.

Read on so you can learn how to tell if a snowboard needs wax.

How to Tell if a Snowboard Needs Wax, visually inspect it.
Staring down the snowboard and scraping wax. Photo Credit: Bradleypjohnson (Flickr CC)

7 Signs To Tell If a Snowboard Needs Waxed

1) A Patchy Appearance to the Underside Of Your Snowboard

If you look at the bottom of a freshly waxed board and a board that needs wax, you can immediately tell the difference with a trained eye. Go to any ski resort and the outside board racks will surely have some of each. A waxed snowboard will have a hazy coat on the bottom of the board that is very thin. A freshly waxed board will let you see the graphic on the bottom of the board but it just isn’t the clearest.

A snowboard that needs wax will have hazy patches but often on the edges of the board, you will be able to see the wax has disappeared. Wax starts disappearing from the sides first since you ride on the edges.

An easy example to see if on a black snowboard. You can often see the color difference dramatically. The color difference is the area where a board has wax vs where it doesn’t. When you start to see this key indicator, it is time that your snowboard needs wax.

2) You Just Bought a New Snowboard But Have Ridden 5 Days

The great thing about new snowboard is that they come pre-waxed from the factory. The downside is that that wax will only last you the standard wax time. By 5 days, you should be looking to put on a new coat of wax on your snowboard. It doesn’t matter if your base is extruded or sintered.

3) Snowboard Not Sliding: Do I Need to Wax My Snowboard?

If your snowboard is sticking and doesn’t have that gliding feeling across the snow then you can literally feel a tell take sign that a snowboard needs wax.

Sticking snowboards are a common sign to take out the iron and give that board a hot wax. First, pick a wax.

WaxSpeedWhere to Buy
ZUMWax Rub on WaxGoodSee at Amazon
Swix Bio Degradable Ski/Snowboard Average Temperature WaxFaster See at Amazon
ZUMWax Ski/Snowboard Racing Wax – UniversalFastestSee at Amazon

4) You Ride Powder Conditions and It has Been 7 Riding Days Since Your Last Wax

A general rule of thumb for riding powder is that every 5 to 7 days, you should be putting on a fresh coat of hot wax. Knowing how often to wax your board based on the riding conditions is something that every snowboarder should learn.

5) The Last Wax You Applied Was Liquid or a Roll-on Wax to Your Snowboard

Some beginners only apply liquid or roll-on wax. It simply isn’t the same as a hot wax. If you are riding a full day on the ice coast, roll-on wax might not even last you the entire day. Skip the liquid wax and go for a proper hot wax.

Anyone can learn how to do it and you’ll save time from going to the shop and money by waxing yourself.

Stock Up on Wax

Don’t be the slowest K2 or board on the slopes. Get waxed up before you ride.

6) You Ride Icy Conditions and It Has Been More than 5 Riding Days Since Your Last Wax

Pile of wax on snowboard.
Pile of wax on snowboard. Photo Credit: Neko43 (Flickr CC)

Icy conditions call for more frequent waxing. A rule of thumb is every 3 to 5 days when riding icy conditions. By day 5, you should be able to tell that your snowboard needs wax.

You might think it is still sliding but part of that is the ice itself. Protect the bottom of your snowboard and give it a wax.

7) You Can’t Even Remember The Last Time You Waxed Your Snowboard

The tell tale sign that a snowboard needs wax is when the owner brings it into the shop, the shop asks how long it has been since the last wax and the board owner has no idea.

If you simply can’t remember the last time a snowboard was waxed then it is a sign to put a fresh coat on.

How Do I Know if My Snowboard Needs to be Tuned

There are certain factors that determine if you should tune your snowboard, such as if you have noticed any cracking or chipping, or if you are looking to ride more aggressive.

It’s important to tune up your board before the season starts so you don’t need to do it mid-season.

Get in early to the shop pre-season and have them sharpen up the edges, put on a wax and smooth out any blemishes. Tunes aren’t as frequent as waxing but if you are having binding issues, edge or base issues, take it into the shop and get it sorted.

Not Your Granddaddy’s Wax

If your buddies are riding faster than you then chances are they are using One Ball Jay snowboard wax.

Where Can I Get My Snowboard Waxed

There are many places that offer waxes for your board, but not all of them are created equal. Here are a few things to consider before you decide where to get your board waxed:

Price: Waxing can vary in price depending on the type and quality of wax used, as well as how much time is spent on the process. If you want to get a great deal, try asking around at local ski shops or call a few local bike shops.

Location: You should also take into account if you are getting it done at the resort or at a local shop

Time: You can wax it yourself but it will use a bit of time. It often won’t be much more than the time you spend driving to the shop or resort though.

Snowboarding waxing set up on work bench.
Home snowboard waxing set up. Photo Credit: Colin Flanders (Flickr CC)

Final Thoughts on How to Tell if a Snowboard Needs Wax

Waxing your snowboard is a very important step in snowboarding. The only step that is just is as important is identifying how to tell if a snowboard needs wax.

Being able to tell when your board needs wax will not only keep your board running as fast as possible but it will keep it in the best condition possible as well. Look out for the tell tale signs, learn to wax your board yourself and wax often. You’ll have the best snowboard on the slopes!

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