Grip tape is an essential part of the skate setup, because it provides the traction necessary to keep your foot on the board, especially when doing tricks. Some boards come pre-gripped, while others do not. No matter what you’re riding now, at some point in your skating career you’ll need to grip or re-grip a deck, so read through this article and learn how! You can also check out our how-to video here if things are still unclear after sifting through this tutorial. Good luck!
To get started, assemble the following materials, which you’ll be using to apply the grip tape.
You’ll need a sheet of grip tape, which usually comes pre-cut for installation (about 8? x 33? in size).
RAZOR BLADE OR BOX CUTTER
An individual blade or a box cutter is used to cut the grip tape. Your job will be a whole lot easier if it’s sharp.
To grind down the edges of the grip tape, you’ll need a rounded metal rod. An old screwdriver works great for this purpose.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you are gripping the entire deck. Once you get an idea of how the process works, you can customize all you want. You can cut out designs in the grip tape or even make windows to display the board’s graphics if they’re just way too cool to cover up. To keep it simple, we’ll lay down the basics:
LINING IT UP
Start at one end of the deck – nose or tail, it doesn’t matter. Take the sheet of grip tape and lay it on the deck so that it sticks over the end about an inch. (This will ensure that you have some extra material to work with when you’re edging with the screwdriver in a few minutes.) Now check that the sheet of grip tape, when flush with the deck, extends all the way to the other end of the deck, plus an inch or two. If everything looks good, you are ready to apply the sheet permanently.
GLUING IT DOWN
Start by cutting off a small corner of the overhanging grip tape, and using it to sand down the deck. (Make sure this is a corner of the material that would otherwise end up in the scrap pile.) Now you can peel the grip tape backing off JUST A LITTLE. Starting at the end of the deck, lay the sheet down as you did when lining it up – center it across the width of the board but leave about an inch of overhang at the tip. Use your hand to flatten the grip tape as you work your way down the board, peeling off the backing as you go. When you reach the other end of the deck, you should find that the grip tape is straight and extends over the edges a little.
ROUNDING DOWN EDGES
In this next step, you’ll want to work your way around the deck, grinding an outline of the board into the sheet of grip tape. Use the rounded stem of the screwdriver to rub the grip tape down along the edges of the deck, eventually creating a visible white line in the material. This line indicates that you’ve ground the grip tape down along the edges of the skateboard, providing a secure edge that won’t peel easily. (It’ll also make it easy to see where you need to cut off the extra material during the final step.) Now it’s time to finish off the job.
CUTTING OFF EDGES
Using a sharp razor or box cutter, carefully cut off the edges of the grip tape. Follow the white line that you made with the screwdriver in the previous step; not only is it an excellent guideline, but the material there is weak so it’s easier to cut through. When the scrap pieces have been removed, your board should look nearly complete. All you need to do now is take that screwdriver and round down the edges again. Rub them into the skate deck to provide a good transition between deck and grip tape, and to make sure that the material won’t peel off. Tada! All finished.
Now you are ready to assemble all of the parts and build yourself a complete skateboard.