Welcome to “This Old Surfboard” in which I attempt all kinds of DIY surfboard improvement projects on boards lying around my garage.

This installment: Splash some color across an otherwise boring board’s rails. Rail bands are classy, elegant, and, more importantly, the least expensive board color options. But they’re not terribly difficult to paint yourself if your board didn’t come with them. I know because I did it myself this week, with no training or supervision or even a great deal of foresight.

Came out great. You should absolutely try it.

Here’s what you’ll need, or what I used, rather. You could probably achieve success with other materials:

Montana Gold Acrylic spray paint, #G5040 Light Blue
Masking tape
Wax remover
cardboard/newspaper to fend off overspray
Glosscoat clear laquer
sandpaper (I used 220 grit, you just need to rough up the glass a little)
Gin and tonic (optional, but highly recommended)

Clean your board. Get all the wax off the whole thing. Feeling lazy and thinking you’ll just clean the rails? That’s so sad. Just clean the whole thing, you’ll feel better, the finished product will look better, and the tape will stick better. Use the wax remover to be sure the fiberglass is clean and pristine.

Clean that sucker. Every little bit of wax must go.

Sand the rails. The paint won’t adhere well to slick resin. You don’t want to go crazy here though. Just score the surface enough to absorb paint. Don’t expose the fiberglass cloth, stop once you get a bit of resin dust going.

A light sanding touch is all you need here. Don’t go reshaping the rails.

Tape off the rails. I found that stripping long, long sections of masking tape made it easier to bend the tape around the outline of the board. Two feet at a time seemed to be the sweet spot. Once the rails were taped, I tried to cover the rest of the board with newspaper to prevent overspray. Not sure this was totally necessary, but it helps with piece of mind.

Longer strips of tape are easier to bend around the outline. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Pro airbrushers are often a little off too.

Paint, paint, paint away. I went with spray paint because I didn’t think paint markers would produce an even enough result, plus, I figured it would be a whole lot faster. I tried a few different painting techniques. The closer your paint can to the board, the more likely you aware to get drips. The further away, the harder it is to control overspray. I set up a piece of cardboard held flat against the deck to try to keep the paint where it was supposed to go. I was mostly successful.

Get down to the messy business. Be sure to protect everything within a ten-mile radius from overspray.

Once the paint has dried—I waited 24 hours—it’s time to apply the clearcoat. This is what will keep the paint on the board and not sloughing off into the sea, or scraping away every time you slide the board into your car. An important step. Give it two or three good coats, try not to inhale too much, and watch those rails shine!

The clear coat is like armor for your fragile paint job. The more the better.

THE BEST PART! Peel that tape off and check your handiwork. It’s an absolute joy to see a straight line of paint after the tape comes off, let me tell you. You might see little paint flecks or, in my case, blue clouds of paint that somehow evaded my cardboard defenses. That’s fine! Wax remover or paint thinner will easily take that paint off. I used wax remover with no issues.


Step back and marvel at what you did. Take a sip from your drink. Plan the next board paint job. Second guess your color choice. I’d give the board a solid overnight cure and you should be good to go!

Look at that. Classy, racy, rejuvenated.