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Choosing The Best Paint Materials

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Please note this is an outdated article as we have changed the way we make our boards and we don't recommend painting them. We have left this article up as it has some great tips on posca pen use

materials and paints for painting a surfboard or handplane

Choosing The Best Materials To Work With

Previously, we spoke more about how to put pen to handboard. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of the different painting materials that are available to you. The most important thing to remember when painting your Slyde handboard is that, if you make a mistake with your art, it is easy to lightly sand it off and start over. So do not be afraid to let loose.

Preparation is the key

We are discussing materials because there are so many choices for the job. We have made a few mistakes with the choice of paint materials in the past, so and I don't want you to make the same mistake. There is nothing worse than watching hours of work smudge or disappear after you used the wrong paint. The good news is you have quite an array of choices, and although some are better than others, we will give you our "BEST PICK". You would have to try pretty hard to get the wrong one. The biggest problem is, if you plan to mix your materials e.g. sharpie and clear acrylic gloss, they sometimes have a bad combination and will bleed! But, here we are to save the day and make your life a little easier

Board Preparation Before Any Artwork: Regardless Of Materials you use make sure your board is

  1. Completely clean from all sorts of grease and contaminates
  2. lightly sanded using a 300 grit sandpaper

The Slyde Team Top Pick

posca paint pens the best materials and paints for painting a surfboard or handplane

Posca Paint Pens

These paint pens are, in our opinion, the best to use on our boards and are used by prolific surfboard and handplane artists like Drew Brophyand our own Scott Metzner and Bob Langston. We like the Posca brand because of the vivid colors and range of colors these paint pens (when you know how to use them) can create. They produce amazing gradients and eye popping candy for art. We also like the variation in tip sizes and the smoothness in the tip (no flaring even after using for some time) that Posca pensoffer. In our mind, there really is not a better material to use on the boards.

Pro's vs Cons

Pros: Bright colors, great color variation, great for gradients, excellent for fine detail. There is no problem with using acrylic clear gloss over the top of the art you make with Posca pens.

Cons:Although the guys use them on bigger boards, it can be quite time-consuming (but that may not be a con for some). They are hard to find in stores, too.

Where to buy: Specialized art stores (not Staples), or online or right here at the Slyde store.

Sharpie Markers

The Sharpie Xylene markers are very easy to get a hold of, and come in many great colors. Sharpie makes a huge range of different styles of tips. They also have various materials, so be sure to do your research before just picking up a set at the local Staples. As we mentioned before, sharpies do make water-based paint markers, and these are a good choice if you cannot get a hold of Posca pens. The watercolor paint pens are harder to get, and may have to be special ordered.  If you do use the regular sharpie, be careful of the lacquer you use to finish the board. Most will have a negative reaction to the xylene markers.

Pros: Decent selection of colors when you can find them

Cons: These versions of sharpie (the paint pens) are pretty hard to find and your best bet is online

Board stix

Board stix Great for your boards! As far as we know, these are the new kids on the block. That is not to say their product isn't good. We have heard nothing but good things about these guys, and finally someone saw the market for art boards and are supplying a marker designed specifically for them.

Pros: great color and designed for surfboard and skateboard painting

Cons: the Nibs I found to be frayed and not as accurate as the Posca Pens

Montana Spray Paint

Montana, regarded as one of the best spray cans around for art, and used by Drew Brophy. comes in a huge range of colors and nozzle types to get just the spray you need. It is common to use spray paints on both the blank and on the glassed board. In fact, it is probably the most common form. This most likely has more to do with how easy it is to get a hold of spray cans. The common use is to use found objects like palm leaves, chains, etc., to make patterns. Beware, it is a little harder than it looks and can end up looking like a massive mess. Top Tip: Have a plan get all of your items together and then execute. Just going at it, unlike the paint pens, can turn out badly.

Pros: Easy to get a large range of colors

Cons:Spray paint or good stuff at least is expensive so you may only be able to buy 2 or 3 colors, and it will set you back $50

Acrylic Water-Based Paint

Not everyone likes to draw or use pens. This option is for you. Here are your options on paints that are made from acrylic that provide outstanding adhesion to the fiberglass surface area and also keep their color and quality for years. Water-based paints are much easier to work with and are a lot easier to clean up. The paint also offers a lot of flexibility as well as durability. That is crucial for handplanes, as you will be using it in the water and battering it about. You want a paint that can last with what you are about to throw at it.

Pros: Easy to get a hold of and relatively cheap to get a good array of colors.

Cons: Can be chunky and create a raised surface that can crack and will not wear as well as markers or spray.

Finish with Clear Sealant Coat Top Tips

For every type of material you use, If your design is exposed to the elements, you will have to spray a clear sealant over the top to protect it .

Always: Use a sealant, That is water resistant.

Always: Use a sealer or lacquer that will not yellow in the sun. You spent a lot of time on your design. To watch the overcoat destroy it with time would be a bummer.

Always: Make sure the over coat lacquer is compatible with the paint or materials you used to design with. I learned that lesson with a design that I had used Sharpie markers on. Even though the Sharpie was dry, the lacquer had a reaction with it and the sharpie bled. I had to start all over.

How to use

When your design is finished and you are sure that the paint is dry, you will need to apply a clear coat to the board, which will protect your design. You should spray on many thin layers (at least three) of a clear paint that is compatible with the type of paint you used for the design on your board. Many manufacturers offer a UV-resistant clear paint, which is excellent for this purpose.

For every type of material you use, If your design is exposed to the elements, you will have to spray a clear sealant over the top to protect it .

Do Not Use These Paints

Enamel-based paints

Enamel-based paint and sprays can and will turn yellow and may become brittle on a handplane. The artwork will start to crack and erode and in some cases, can start to peel off.

Latex-based household paint

Do not rummage around and find an old can of general purpose house paint. Those are meant for the walls in your house and have no place on a surfboard. You want your board to look good, not like a dog's breakfast, which is what will happen if you do not use the right materials.

Great tips

Most other paints, other than water-based acrylics or just straight water based paints, will react badly with the resin on your board. You want your board to look good, not destroy it. When in doubt, test your materials

These products and materials are by no means exhausted. There are probably much more out there to make your boards stand out in a crowd. We have brought what we have learned from doing on our own handplanes, and found out the hard way or from research. So, we advise doing your own and finding what works for you best. Every artist has his or her favorite materials to use. Remember, you are only as good as the tools you use, so find which ones suit you best.