When you first start skating, the little things go unnoticed because there are so many bigger things to consider. After a while, though, the little details become more obvious. One of the things new skateboarders seldom take into account is the application of grip tape to a skateboard. A good skateboard deserves a flawless grip tape job. In this article, we will show you how to apply grip tape right the first time.
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to apply grip tape to a skateboard deck. There is an art to the process and, when it is done correctly, a deck looks finished. When done haphazardly, though, a deck can become hazardous. Little air bubbles may just be unsightly, but larger ones can cause slipping. The cushion of air becomes noticeable underfoot, and it causes the adhesive on the grip tape to let go.
When grip tape is improperly installed, it must be removed and replaced. If you’ve already put your grip tape on wrong, don’t worry. Watch This Video to learn how to remove it — and be careful! Be sure you have a full-length sheet of brand-new grip tape and a clean skateboard top with which to work.
Designs and Cutouts
If you have plans to make any designs with your grip tape, do so now. Do not wait until the grip tape is applied to remove any sections. If there is a cutout on it that you wish to remove, this is also the time to do it. It can be removed after application, but it can get messy.
To make a design, or to reveal a logo painted on the board’s top, lay the sheet of grip tape on top of the board with the backing still on it. You can use a paint marker to mark the places you wish to cut, or you can nick the ends with scissors or a razor knife. Cut out the shapes with sharp scissors or your utility knife, then affix the sections one-by-one. This Video shows how to cut grip tape designs.
Applying the Grip Tape
You only have one shot at this, so make it count. Lay the deck on its bottom and place the sheet of grip tape on top. Center it as best as you can, peel the backing off the first few inches and fold it out of the way. Stick the exposed adhesive side to the tail, leaving about an inch overlapping. Be sure there is enough grip tape to cover the whole thing and that it is straight. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just very close to perfect.
Keep the grip tape sheet straight up in the air and perpendicular to the deck. Peel a little of the backing off at a time, pressing the tape down as you go. Smooth the grip tape onto the deck in a back-and-forth motion to prevent any air bubbles from forming before peeling more backing. Continue this process until the grip tape is completely affixed to the board. If you still ended up with air bubbles, this Video shows how to get rid of them with a safety pin.
Trimming the Grip Tape
Before cutting, run a blunt metal object — an old hanger works great, as does a screwdriver — around the perimeter of the deck, pressing as you work your way around. You should see a white line develop where the grip tape meets the edge of the deck. This is where you will cut the tape.
Take a utility razor knife and cut through the tape along one of the board’s sides. Pulling the knife carefully toward you while holding it at an angle in toward the center of the deck, begin slicing the grip tape. Make sure to remain on the white line, while avoiding slicing the wood. Once you have made it all the way around, you should have a clean edge on your newly gripped deck. This Video provides a demonstration for trimming grip tape.
The Roll Away
If you skate for 30 years, you will never cease to notice the new kids and their haphazard grip tape jobs. The jagged edges and air bubbles they put out there say much about their attitude toward skating in general. A smoothly applied, clean grip tape job is one sign of a true skater, one who takes what he does seriously. And, if you are interested in customizing your own skateboard, I also have instruction for you about how to build a skateboard ramp as well.
If this article helped you out, please share it so the next guy can avoid looking the fool, and maybe spare him some change on an unnecessary grip tape replacement. We’d also love to hear from you in the comments section. Remember: A skateboard really only needs to be gripped when it is installed. Do it right the first time, and you should never have to worry about it again for the life of the board.