Sanded finish instead of wax?

Has anyone here tried the #16 sanded finish recommended by “SurferSteve” on their own boards? I would like to know first hand results from this technique. I am aware of several stick on or spray on traction substitutes, but am interested in first hand accounts of the rough sanded alternative to wax.

Link to site:


I know the Liddle guys did this back in the 70’s and 80’s.  It’s pretty scary the first time you try but it works…when you are standing up.  If you are wearing rubber its slimey-er than snot on grease.  Your wetsuit seals off all the scratches from one another, effectively eliminating the “tread” created by the sanding.  Their answer was a piece of adhesive non-skid tread used on ladders (probably from KP’s pool kit).  Put a strip where your chest hits the board when you are paddling.  Works too well.  You’ll go through wetsuits at an alarming rate.

Use wax unless you can’t get it…it helps protect the deck from scratches and minor dings.

Isn't there a law against mentioning the ''Liddle guys'' and ''SurferSteve'' in the same thread? ;-)

Lee, thanks for the input. Hard to believe the 70’s holds the answer to my question. Wax is $2 a bar or less so I’m not interested in a $100 dollar replacement. I thought someone here might have tried the sanding, but I’m not sure about taking 16 grit to the deck of aboard I just made.
Mike, I keep lurking here because this place is like that. You never know WHO is going to compare what to what. Always entertaining.

I have sanded finish (I think I stopped at about 400 grit) on my flatwater SUP (hollow wood). As Lee mentioned, slippery as snot on a wetsuit, but pretty solid for your feet. I don’t have any problems keeping my footing, even with booties. For a flatwater board that may spend a fair bit of time in the sun without getting wet, it was either a sanded finish or deck pads, and damned if I wanted to hide the woodwork!



400 provides traction? I’m thinking 16 will work based on that. I stop at 220, but it did not occur to me  not to use wax.

Thanks for your time your boards are beautiful.

I live in Hawaii and don’t have to wear long sleeve wetsuits, ever. 

I sand the bottom, but always wax the top. My boards get dirty easily because of the sanded surface. I think that you’d have to maintain a clean surface or it will get slick and if you’re sanding it to keep it clean you’ll be running out of surface material after just a few cleanings.

I bought a pro sand finish board once and it was useless in about a year. Other boards last years by comparison. I have found that the scuffed surface must be from reasonably high grit like 400 or higher or you will get torn up. I have had my arms scratched up pretty bad from rails left a bit too rough. I think you’ll be wearing out wetsuits faster than you want.


Thanks Jerdog. I’m pretty sure I stopped at 400 wet sand–no visible scratches, just sort of cloudy. I think I’d go coarser grit if I were surfing and having to pop up, but even on choppy days with a decent windswell I don’t have problems with the footing. But again, this is a flatwater paddle board, so your results may differ. Mike