Grip tape, as mentioned in the summary, is one of the most important elements of a skateboard. Yes, the wheels allow you to move, and the trucks keep the deck off the asphalt, but what keeps you attached to the board? Skateboard grip.
This stuff is basically just a piece of black sandpaper with a sticky backside that keeps it stuck to the skateboard. Skateboard grip doesn’t wear down as fast as sandpaper, though. Skateboard grip is also quite sturdy and reliable.
This stuff is actually so sturdy, that even if it becomes a little bit dirty, it retains its grip. A little bit of dirt or water is not enough to keep the grip tape on a skate deck from working correctly. Grip tape is also versatile enough to be painted on, without losing grip. Some skateboard shops have pre-colored tape, with cool patterns on it, eliminating the need to paint the tape.
The very first skateboards were crafted from a slippery fiberglass material. Fiberglass is very slippery, and doesn’t make a very good skate deck. Originally, the manufacturers simply added a waffle pattern to the skateboards to combat the slipperiness. This kind of worked, but the fiberglass was still too slippery. The solution was grip tape.
Grip tape probably showed up on the scene in the late sixties, with the dawn of the first mass-produced skateboard decks. These massively produced skateboards often came pre gripped. This means that skateboard griptape was already installed on the boards so that the buyers did not have to fret about putting on the tape themselves.
Grip tape can be fairly tricky to apply to a deck. There are many videos on YouTube that can help a person apply grip tape to their board. If you’re looking for a text description of how to apply grip tape, continue reading.
Skateboard griptape can be applied with a tiny bit of effort and some light. Before installing skate grip, you will want to make sure you have enough. Some skate decks are wider than others, and you don’t want to apply grip tape that won’t cover the entire deck. Check your local skateboard shop if you get the wrong size.
Now that you know whether or not you have enough grip tape for your skateboard, you are ready to apply it to the deck. Peel off the backing, and lay down one side on the tail/nose of the deck, then work your way to the other end. Try to smooth out any bubbles that show up in the grip tape by pushing them to the sides with your hands.
If you do come across bubbles in the grip tape, it’s easy to remove them. Simply take a sharp knife, and poke a hole in the bubble. This should let the air to get out from under the grip, giving you the chance to flatten out the bubble.
Once you’ve installed the grip, you will need to remove the excess tape surrounding the deck. Start by removing some of the grit on the edges by scraping the tape with a nail or other metal object. Removing the grit will make it much easier to remove the extra tape, giving you a clean finish.
Now that you have removed the grit, remove the extra grip with a razor blade. You will want to cut in one smooth motion, as it will help the end result look smooth and appealing. You can take some of the excess grip and sand the places you cut if you are unhappy with the result. It is sort of difficult to ruin up a grip install; try to have some fun with it.
Since you now know the history of the magical black stuff, how to install it, and why skateboarders need to have grip in this modern day and age, you should go out and skate. But don’t forget your grip, and be sure to have a blast!