DIY Surfboard Traction Pad

So, after using my scraped off wax for the wax candle project, I wanted to put a tailpad/ traction pad on my 6’10” funshape. It doesn’t seem to hold wax all that great anyway, and since my back leg’s been causing me trouble- specifically my knee- I didn’t want to take any more chances with wax misses. I wanted to put some permanent traction on there.
These days, it seems that traction pads run about $40, which is not a bad investment if you find what you like.
Before they started selling separate cut traction for SUP’s, I used to go get sheets of marine boat deck traction to put on our SUP’s, and I would also use it on my custom made prone paddleboards since you could get it fairly thick and it was comfortable to stand on or lie down on for long periods of time, like during a race. Another bonus was that I could put it on as one big continuous sheet instead of having it in edged off pieces. I saved my scraps of traction from the sheets I used, but if you know someone who is putting traction on their boat, I wonder if they wouldn’t give you their cut scraps for a few bucks- it doesn’t take much for a tail pad.
I wanted a bigger traction pad for my board than what they offer in most stores, and I didn’t want the kick pad since my name doesn’t rhyme with Nelly Mater and I’m not on the WCT.
I had a nice sized piece of 2 mm thick microdot embossed scrap left over from an SUP project. The plain sheets were not cheap (why do you think I’m hoarding scraps?), but they are cheaper than if you have a company CNC cut them all fancy for you for large uses. I’ll admit, the CNC’d pieces can be beautiful and intricate, but, hey, I’m using up what I’ve got to the last inch! Plus, it’s easy to cut at home.

My scrap piece

Lucky for me, I wanted a pretty solid tail pad, but if you have odd pieces, puzzle piece them together in the style you’d like. You can be creative and not have a standardized pad. It’s really no more technical than thick tub tread.
Of course, make sure that you’re board is clean in the area where this is going to go, or it won’t stay on very long.
Before I started chopping into this one scrap piece I had, I made a pattern from my craft foam- or you can use plain paper. This gave me an idea of placement and general shape. I only marked out half of the pad, and I didn’t have enough foam to go all the way up to where I wanted to finish off, but I was going straight up from that point anyway.


You can see I wanted the pad ALL the way back to the edge of the tail, and I used the stringer as a guide line. I did want to have my tail pad cut into two, though, just separated enough to show the stringer wood completely, and so I could have a cheat to know where the center is with the feel of my foot.
I traced the template out on the foam, then flipped it over along the center line and did it again.

Tracing the template onto the foam

As long as I got the bottom of the tail straight, I finished marking. I didn’t care about the upper edge of the pad, since I was planning on doing some detail on that edge. I also made sure to mark where the leash plug was.

Tracing the shape- marked out where the cut for the leash plug is

Then, using regular scissors, I went ahead and cut the profile out and checked on the size, lining it up with the stringer. NOTE: if you are using thicker material, use an Exacto knife with a handle- this stuff was thin enough at 2 mm to cut with household scissors.

Basic shape cut out

Next, I went ahead and cut down the middle, cutting the pad into two halves. I then drew out a little sketch of waves at the top of one half, cut that out, then flipped it over to the other half and traced those lines to cut the other side.

Half cut, half traced
Both halves cut, leash area cut out

Now, I cut a little rectangle into the pad at the bottom for the plug, but I kept the little square I cut below the plug- I will stick this back on after I stick the whole pad down.
Before applying the pad, I did hand sand the edges a bit with some 80 grit just to neaten up the edges and give it a bit of a curve on the outer edges towards the rails. Not a big deal with stuff this thin, but a little chamfering on the edges of thicker stuff will be necessary.
My trick for applying these things is to peel back a little backing at a time, smooth everything out, then peel back some more and repeat. I go SLOW since this stuff can stretch a little. I know on small traction pad pieces, it’s not as much of a big deal, but if you ever deal with large pieces, trust me, they can bubble. A heavy duty rubber roller is a good thing to have around for large applications, like for PB’s and SUP’s, even with pre-cut traction. It really gets out those little bubbles you may not see because of the thickness.

Peeling off the backing using the stringer as a guide for placement- other half isn’t applied yet.

After taking some time, the pad was adhered to the board:

El Grande Traction Pad

Now, I know that this may be overkill to some, but I like to put some weight on the pad area, with the board supported and leave it alone for 24 hours in a room temperature area before taking it out in the water. The adhesive has more time to adhere, and I’ve got 6 year old paddleboards I’ve done this way that haven’t lost their traction even after a LOT of use and a LOT of wear.


The traction’s light blue (that’s all I had left), but it does clean up easier than you think!

Categories: Wax

2 thoughts on “DIY Surfboard Traction Pad

  1. Hello Crafy Surf, I stumbled onto your post/blogsite when trying to find info on making my own replacement deckpad for my prone paddleboard. Do you have any more info on the pads you made for your prone paddelboards, or recommendations for marine deck traction?


  2. There is so much trash from sandals. Seems to me is the same material from traction pads, any sugestión how to process this tipe Of waste into, traction pads. ..imagen have done some they work good but they look like shit…imagen have no idea what tipe of tools to use……any ideas?

    Luna from El Zonte, El Salvador.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s