How To Paint A Pair Of Skis

Published by Harry Sowers on

Painting Skis

It is quite frustrating to many skiers who find the perfect type of ski that they want, but it has an ugly design or color. Skiers who have a particular style have to search for a pair of skis that match their equipment, or their entire ensemble will look off. But if they know how to alter their skis, they won’t have to search any longer. Painting your skis is a great way to have the design you want without searching for days and days through every kind of ski manufacturer to find a color that vaguely matches what you wanted. Unless you have a pair of skis with a specialty coating on it, ski painting is an easy and straightforward process. You just need the right type of paint, a wide space to paint in, and a few small tools if you need them. 

man painting pair of skis

What Should I Know About Paint?

So you have decided to paint your skis? How exciting! There’s nothing like seeing your personal artwork every time you look down at your feet. Don’t be surprised if other skiers stop and ask you where you got your skis so they can pick up a pair for themselves as well. They might even be shocked when you tell them that you painted the design yourself.

There are many different kinds of paint that you can use, but you definitely should not purchase cheap paints. The colors may bleed into each other while they are drying. Cheap paint is more likely to have a very thick viscosity, so the paint will look like it is coming up from the board. You should also not use oil-based paint because it may interact with the seal coat and ruin the base.

You can use most types of paints to paint your skis as long as you apply it generously and evenly. 

After you are finished painting your skis, you should add a clear seal coat over the new paint. You don’t have to add this paint if you don’t want to, but it will prevent the paint from chipping off. The colors will last much longer, and they will be protected from the weather. 

How To Prime Skis For Paint

Okay, so before you get your paintbrush or spray can land anywhere near your skis, you must prepare them first for painting. 

First, remove the ski bindings if they are on the skis. Do not be lazy. If you do not remove the ski bindings and you try to paint around them with a paintbrush, it would not look as good as it could have if the binding was removed. And if you are trying to spray paint your skis, forget it. No matter how well you cover the bindings, small flecks or spray paint will land all over the bindings. It will look like you did not put in any effort.

Once the bindings are off, wash both of the skis thoroughly and not leave any grime or dirt in any small cracks or the binding holes. The skis need to be washed, even if they are brand skis that never accumulated a single dirt particle. You can wash the skis with either a washcloth or a sponge and dish soap or a special liquid called base cleaner. This is also the 45time to wash your ski bindings too if they have bits of dirt and debris in-between the small interlocking metal parts. If you use soap, ring out the sponge or washcloth to remove all of the soap. Then wet it again and wipe away all of the soap suds. 

After cleaning your skis, wipe them down with a dry cloth or let them air dry if the temperature permits. While you are waiting for the skis to completely dry. It is time to sketch out the design on paper if you have not done this already. 

If you are painting a design:

If you would like a bit of flair to your skis and paint them with a design that requires several different colors, don’t be afraid to use markers and tape. Mark the skis’ base with a marker, so you know where to stop painting one color and begin another. 

How To Paint Skis

Now, you need to select an area to paint your skis where the paint will not ruin anything important or valuable. Do not paint your skis in your room or in the kitchen. Take your skis outside or in the garage. If you are using spray paint, do not paint your skis in your house at all. Take your skis and your paints to the back or front yard and away from any nice lawn furniture. 

You should have all of your colors mixed and ready to apply. The first coat that goes on your skis is the base coat. Paint the base with a generous amount of paint, so the original colors do not come through.

Once you finish painting the top side of the base of the skis, wait for the skis to dry and then flip it over and paint the underside if you want to. 

After the underside is done, if you painted that side, now it is time to create your design. Use tape to protect the areas of the design that you don’t want to color and take your time while painting small details.

Once both of the skis are completely dry, now you must apply the seal coat. You should use a completely new brush that has never been used before. If you use a used paintbrush, there is a high chance that any paint left on the brush will streak across the new design on your skis and ruin everything. After the seal coat is done, you will have to wait for it to dry one final time. 

What NOT To Do While Painting Your Skis

As a general painting rule, don’t wear any clothing you actually like and want to keep using. When you are painting, always wear an old t-shirt and some shorts that your dog or cat chewed up one time, but they weren’t so chewed up that you thought of getting rid of them. I shouldn’t have to explain the following to you, but I think I will, just in case. Don’t wear any skiing clothing or equipment! Move all of your skiing equipment far away from the area where you plan to paint. 

Do not apply spray paint on a windy day. The paint will go everywhere except the baseboard, and it may even get on your skin and hair, depending on where the wind blows. If you can’t wait for the wind to die down to paint your skis, then track where the wind is coming from and paint behind a large obstacle that will block the wind. It is also a great idea to put on some cheap plastic google so the spray paint won’t get into your eye. 

Do not leave any excess wax on the base of your skis. The paint will chip off as the wax chips off, and all of your hard work will be for nothing. Buy a wax remover to completely remove all of the wax on your skis.

Don’t paint your skis without drawing the design on a piece of paper. Very few people can freehand paint or spray paint and paint their design perfectly the first time. If you want to paint your skis one or two colors, you won’t need to do this step. But if you want a complex design on your skis with several different colors weaving together, break out the markers and the printer paper. 

Don’t forget to match your skis with your helmet! Many skiers who paint their skis also repaint their helmet with the same colors or the exact same design. However, you may have to use a different type of paint than the one you used on your skis. If you are part of a ski group, then you and your group can all paint your helmets the same colors or design. It will then be easier to find each other if there are many skiers and snowboarders out on the slopes. 


If you are a skilled artist, then there should have no problem with your using your artistic skills on your skis. But if you are terrible at drawing, painting, or just taking the designs in your mind and putting them to paper, you can always hire an artist to paint your skis for you. All you must do is prime the skis by washing them and removing the bindings, and the artist can take care of the rest. Once they finished paiting skis, let the skis dry for about twenty-four hours, and then the artist or yourself can apply the clear coating. Turning store-bought equipment into something uniquely yours is just the next step in becoming an advanced skier. If you still have questions about painting your skis, head over to one of the many skiing forms online and ask any of the users if they have any experience in this area. There should be at least a dozen skiers that redesign their skis. And be sure to pass on any information that you learn about painting skis, so people in the community will know it as well.

Categories: How toSki


Harry Sowers

Harry grew up outside of Denver Colorado and has been skiing and snowboarding since he was 3. He is most passionate about skiing and when he was in college at UC Boulder he even participated in the olympic trials for the USA Olympic Downhill Ski team.