How To Take Care of Your Skis

Get the most from your skis or snowboards with a few simple steps right out of the box, during the season, and when it’s time to store them for next winter.

So, you got yourself a new pair of skis. Congratulations, you’re almost ready to take them out and have more fun than ever schussing the slopes. But before you do, there are a few things you need to do to take care of them, both as soon as they come out of the wrapper, throughout the season and over the course of the summer. Assuming your bindings are mounted and adjusted by a certified professional, use the following tips to get the most out of your sticks or your new snowboard

Out of the Box

Believe it or not, your skis aren’t ready to go as soon as you buy them. While tolerances and quality are a lot better than they used to be, some skis may still need a few tweaks. 

Base vs edge height

One of the first things to check for (or have your shop check), says Will Martin of Colorado’s Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, is if your skis are flat, and not base- or edge-high. Base-high and your edges won’t grip; edge-high and your bottom won’t glide. To check, run a flat bar along the bottom and look for any daylight between the edges. If you see light along the bottom, that means your skis are edge-high, meaning your edges should be filed down. If you see light along the edges (instead of the base), your skis are base-high. To fix this, your shop will put them on the grinder to bring it down.


While most new skis come with wax integrated into their bases, they can always benefit from more, says Martin, to further embed wax into the base’s pores for a smooth, fast glide. (If you don’t know how to do this yourself, have your local shop do it.) “Most manufacturers have their skis’ base structure pretty dialed out of the wrapper,” he says. “But the more you put on the better. With our Nordic skis, we put six layers on before they go out the door.” 


Many skis in the old days benefited from a quick “de-tuning” of the edges near the tips and tails to make them less grabby. While that’s not so much the case anymore, have your shop technician check them just the same. “Most now come factory-tuned, but it’s a good thing to check,” Martin says. “If they’re too sharp in the tip or tail, a little deburring can help.”

During the Season

A few easy measures can extend the life of your skis and increase their performance on-hill.

Dry them off

Don’t just store your skis wet at the end of the day. To prevent rust and corrosion on both your edges and bindings, dry them off after use by taking a small towel and wiping off the water created by melted snow.

Burrs begone

Smooth out any burrs that your edges might have picked up from errant rocks during the day by running your thumb up and down each edge, feeling for tiny nicks. Use a diamond or aluminum-oxide deburring stone to fix any rough spots by rubbing it up and down the sides of the edge.

Hot wax

Apply hot wax to your ski bases every so often during the winter (hint: colored bases might turn cloudy; black bases might turn gray when it’s needed). It’s relatively easy to do using rub-on versions or drip-on wax with an iron. (Make sure to move the iron back and forth so it doesn’t rest in one place on the base for too long). 

Sharpen your edges

This is more difficult to do yourself but will help your skis carve packed snow. Take them into your local shop if you’re not sure. See more tuning tips below.  

Off-Season Care


Clean and wax before storage

Before storing your skis away for the summer, wipe the bases clean and iron on a coat of hot wax (no need to scrape). Then give them a good scrape and another wax for the conditions when the next season rolls around. 

Store dry and cool

Store your skis out of the sun in a cool, dry location such as a garage, closet or crawl space. (Note: Try to keep them out of direct sunlight and areas of high temperature.)

Waxing skis in a workshop


Ever have your skis or board not glide like you want, or your edges skid out instead of carve? Tuning your skis or snowboard will help remedy this, keeping you gliding fast with the edges needed to turn at will. There are three main steps to tuning: repairing your bases, working on your edges (often best left to a professional), and waxing. Following are a few DIY pointers. 

Assess the condition 

Turn over your ski or board and look at the bases. Examine them for everything from small scrapes and abrasions to bigger gouges that cause the base material to stick out and/or expose the core. (Smaller scrapes can be fixed at home; the bigger divots should be brought to the shop.) Also, run your finger along your edges to check them for burrs. Keep your eyes out for other areas that aren’t smooth or have rust. As with base repair, you can do simple edge work at home, but leave major sharpening or big repairs to the experts.  

Base prep

First, secure your skis into a vise (see Gear You’ll Need below). Next, get your ski brakes out of the way by pulling them up and securing them with a large rubber band or other strap going across the top of the ski. Next, wipe down the bases with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, dust and other debris. 

Base repair

Identify any scrapes or gouges you can repair with P-tex (any gash that doesn’t expose the core). Light the end of your P-tex stick with a lighter, scraping the carbon away from the burning area so it doesn’t drip onto your base. After it’s dripping consistently, hold the lighted end near the gouge on the base, allowing the melted P-tex to fill it. Pass over it a couple times if necessary to fill the hole. Once filled, blow out the P-tex and set it aside. (Hint: Locate all your gouges beforehand and fill them at the same time while your P-tex is still burning.) Let the base cool for 5-10 minutes and then scrape off the excess P-tex with a metal scraper until smooth (hold the scraper horizontally, with your thumbs behind while pushing away for leverage). Repeat for any other gouges.  


Next, it’s time to tune your edges for better grip and carving. Start with a stone to remove any rust or burrs from your edges. Grasping it firmly in your hand horizontally, rub the stone from tip to tail across the edges at a 90-degree angle. (Note: Never run it at an angle to your edges, which will dull them.)  

Sharpening is a little more complicated (if you’re not sure how to do it, take your skis or board into your local shop). Use either an edge-sharpening tool or a special ski file with file guide, and decide what edge degree you want (usually between 1 and 3), which comes down to personal preference. A 1-degree bevel creates a sharper edge with more bite, while a 3-degree bevel is less sharp and more forgiving. (If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s recommendations.) 

If using a tool, place the length of the file parallel to the edge at your desired degree setting and draw it toward you from tip to tail, overlapping your pulls. Continue until you meet no resistance. If using a file guide (which is more difficult) follow directions and place it onto the ski edge and secure the file to it with a clamp. Use the same sharpening movement, pulling it toward you. Some skiers and riders also like to dull down the edges at the tip and tail with a couple light brushes with your stone. 

Wax on

Finish your tune by waxing your skis or board—something you should do even more often than edge or base work. Get wax specific for the temperature you expect to encounter (or use an all-purpose wax). To start, plug in your iron and set it at its lowest setting (don’t get it too hot). Once hot, press your wax up to the iron’s base and drip it onto your bases, moving up and down the base (about a drop or so every inch). Next, with your iron flat, “iron” the drippings (as you would a shirt) into the base evenly, keeping the iron moving at all times (note: never set the iron down on your base). Let your ski or board cool down to room temperature while you iron your other ski (about 15 minutes). Then, with your ski or board still in its vise, use a plastic scraper to remove excess wax from tip to tail, by holding the scraper at an angle and pulling it lengthwise across the base, removing any excess wax. Finally, use a brush to give it a fine-tuning and buff. 

Rub-on waxes

While they don’t penetrate the base quite as well, you can also use rub-on waxes like Zum Rub On Wax, which comes in a push-up container for easy use on-hill. It also works in all temperatures with an easy two-step application by simply rubbing it onto the base and then buffing it with the included cork.   


Vise/clamps: Ski-specific vises work best, especially for edge work and base repair. Set them up on a workbench in your garage or other area where wax fumes can ventilate.  

Metal and plastic scraper: Get a metal scraper for scraping P-tex and a plastic scraper for hot wax. 

Wax: Find sticks of either all-purpose or temperature-specific wax at your local ski shop. If buying temperature-specific, get a range to cover various conditions (i.e., red for warm, blue for cold). 

Iron: While you can use an old iron from home, your best bet is to buy a ski-specific iron from a ski shop. 

File, file guide/edge tool: Get a file guide and file specifically made for edges at a ski shop, or an edge tool, which makes sharpening (and getting the correct bevel) easier. 

Brush: A soft-bristle brush can buff your bases down after scraping off the hot wax. 

Stone: Small, smooth and rectangular, ski stones are useful for removing burrs and rust from edges. 

P-tex: Shaped like a fat pencil, use P-tex for filling minor base gouges. (If the hole is deep and exposes the core, take it into the shop for a base weld, as P-tex won’t hold.) Match the color of the P-tex with that of your base, or get clear.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.