The traction you get from your skateboard grip tape can make your rides sweeter, and your safety more assured. Knowing how to change grip tape like a pro can also make your board look more dope.
Like bearings, there are no hard and fast rules on skateboard grip tape design or performance values. Many board riders base their buying decisions on skateboarding brands they trust.
The most important thing is knowing how to change your skateboard grip tape for a flawless finish.
Not only does this keep you on the board for longer, but it can also help stamp your personality on your skateboard when you’re practicing your skateboard tricks.
When to apply new grip tape
Before getting to the step-by-step guide to applying skateboard grip tape properly, let’s look at why you might need to do this.
Primarily, it’s when you get a new deck or build your own board. Though if you start to feel your grip tape slip, you will need to swap it out for more reliable traction.
Some are lucky enough to have skateboard shops locally that can carry out this or other key maintenance takes. However, here’s how to go DIY with skateboard grip tape.
Types of grip tape
The first step is to buy the best grip tape for skateboards, of course!
The material (silicon carbide) used to add grip to your deck is pretty much universal across all brands. It is like fine sandpaper, with an adhesive layer on the back.
From the 1970s onwards, skaters started to swerve the commonly used black tape, to customise their boards with different colours and patterns, or to add their own artwork to grip tape.
The variation comes not just in design, but also in perimeters. Look for a size of skateboarding grip tape that matches your ride.
You need complete coverage, on a longboard, cruiser, or old-school skateboard for example.
You will also find that different brands can have slight differences in grit level. It’s why top skateboarding brands are best, as they balance good traction with not creating a surface that damages your sneakers!
This is why you can now also buy non-abrasive grip tape for boards.
How to take off old grip tape
- Remove trucks carefully stowing all the parts.
- Apply gentle heat to melt the adhesive on the compromised grip tape. A hair dryer works great.
- Razor off the old tape, using an angle that lifts it without scratching your board.
- Make sure you peel it all off, but don’t worry if there’s a sticky residue.
How to apply new Grip tape
Placing skateboard grip tape right can be tricky. The best method is:
- Peel off the backing carefully.
- Hold it at the short ends.
- ‘Hover’ it over your board, to decide the best angle to center it.
- Use one finger at the nose and tail to help deliver the tape centrally.
- Put it down end-to-end, starting with the end closest to you.
- As you place it, press the air out, so it lays perfectly flat.
Final touches for applying skateboard grip tape
Once in place, you could use your skateboarding tool to seal the edges and create indentations to show the end of your board. This helps you to trim your grip tape neatly.
Cut from underneath your board, and keep the blade steady.
Any excess you create is handy to fold up and use to sand down grip tape and board edges for a good finish.
Take care to be exact when creating holes in your new skateboarding grip tape, to re-fix your trucks.
If you want to see how it’s done, here’s a helpful video from Tactics Boardshop that will show you how to replace your grip tape.
Here are a few grip tapes we would recommend: