How to Apply a Tail Pad to a Surfboard

Installing a tail pad to your board is actually pretty easy. But the first time I ever did it, I had to ask, so I thought I’d pass on some tips just in case you might be thinking about doing this, but were hesitant to ask. (Click any images to enlarge.)

  1. Get Tail Pad – Get your board and tail pad together.  If you are having trouble picking out a tail pad, bring your board into your local surf shop to help compare sizes.  Sometimes eyeballing it just won’t do.
  2. Pickle and CombClean the deck – Get our your comb or wax scraper (and Pickle if you have one) and clean off the back end of the deck really well.  REALLY WELL!  Any debris can compromise the adherence of the pads.  You want it clean like the day you brought it home.
  3. Decide on placementPlan grid arrangement – Lay all the bits out on the board and decide how you’d like the puzzle laid out.  Do you want a narrow fit or do you want some spacing between pieces?  Do you want it to run to the edge or zero in on the middle?
  4. Lay down base piece firstApply base piece – The base piece will dictate the rest of the layout, so start with this bit.  Usually, you will want this just above the leash plug on most boards.  But again, personal preference.  All other grid pieces will work outward from this piece, so use steady hands when you lay it down.
  5. Layout the rest of the gridApply remainder – Carefully apply the rest of the pieces.  If you have OCD, be especially careful at this point because you can’t start over once you start applying.
  6. Wait – Don’t take the board right out after you lay on the tail pad.  Give the glue a chance to settle and cure (if necessary).  I’ve seen dude put one on in the parking lot and come out with half the pieces missing. Let it sit overnight.  My buddy Jake actually takes the fins out and lays books on top of the pad for a night to make sure everything sticks.

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