How To Put Griptape On A Skateboard

Griptape is the abrasive covering on the top of a skateboard deck that helps your shoes cling to the board.

It’s essential for most skating and can help you perform tricks.

Most skate decks come with griptape already applied.

But if you somehow end up with a naked deck or are refurbing an old deck, you’ll need to apply griptape to the surface. 

Luckily, griptape is easy to apply, or to change.

If you are working with an already gripped board, see “How to Change Skateboard Griptape” below.

How to Put on Griptape

To apply griptape to a naked (griptape-free) skateboard deck that is not attached to trucks, you will need a few things:

  • New griptape
  • Soft cloth
  • A block of wood or similar non-abrasive item
  • Craft knife or razor blade
  • Needle
  • Screwdriver

Then, follow these directions to apply the griptape:

1 – Lay the new griptape on the topside of the deck so you can get an idea of where you need to place it.

Leave on the backing.

You’re just getting a visual of how it should fit on the board.

2 – Clean the skateboard deck with a soft cloth to remove any dust and debris.

If any debris is stuck to the board, scrape it off with a fingernail.

3 – Start the griptape on the board.

Peel away the backing that covers the adhesive on the griptape at one end. (Pull it back one to two inches and fold it down so it won’t get in the way.)

Center the griptape over the deck and lower it onto the board again.

When you’re sure the grip is where it needs to be, press the end with the exposed adhesive down against the deck.

Use the block of wood to press so the grip doesn’t hurt your hand, and press firmly to make sure the grip is good and stuck to the deck.

4 – Press the rest of the griptape against the board.

Follow the griptape along the board, peeling back the backing that covers the adhesive and pressing it against the deck an inch at a time. (Use the block of wood to protect your hand!)

Slowly peeling away the backing and applying the tape helps prevent wrinkles and air bubbles in your griptape.

If you do get a ripple or air bubble, quickly lift the griptape and press it back down against the board.

It’s much easier to pull griptape back up when it’s first applied.

5 – Check the griptape once you finish applying it.

Make sure the griptape covers the entire deck and run your hand over it to feel for ripples.

If you feel any ripples or have missed part of the deck, try pulling the griptape back up.

If you can get the grip up, re-center it and smooth out any wrinkles.

If you can’t get the grip up, see “How to Change Skateboard Grip Tape” below.

If you find air bubbles in the grip tape, but no wrinkles, you don’t have to pull the grip up.

Simply cut a small slit into the bubble with the craft knife to release the air and press the grip flat against the deck.

6 – Cut off the excess griptape.

Run the piece of wood around the outside edges of the deck over the griptape.

This will help the grip adhere firmly to the deck’s edges.

It should also leave small marks behind in the grip.

Use the craft knife or razor blade to trim away the excess griptape from around the edges of the deck.

Make sure the blade is sharp so you get a smooth finish.

7 – Punch holes in the grip tape.

Turn the deck over so you can see the bolt holes on the bottom.

Press a needle up through the center of each bolt hole, wriggling it around a bit to make visible holes in the tape.

Turn the deck back over so you can see the needle holes in the griptape from the top.

Push through the needle holes with a screwdriver to make larger holes in the grip for the bolts to pass through. (Make sure you push from the top. It will make it easier to get the bolts in.)

At this point, you can attach the gripped skateboard deck to trucks.

How to Change Skateboard Grip Tape

Is this a design choice, or does this ripped grip need replacing?

As previously stated, the vast majority of skateboard decks are sold with griptape already applied.

When this tape starts to lose its grip, you may notice it in your skating.

You might feel less anchored to the deck and have trouble getting your board into the air.

If you notice your grip starting to lose its effectiveness, you don’t have to skate that way or buy a new deck.

You can change the griptape on your skateboard deck.

To replace griptape on a skateboard deck, you will need a few things:

  • Skate tool/socket wrench
  • Hair dryer/clothes iron
  • Palette knife
  • New griptape
  • A block of wood or similar non-abrasive item
  • Craft knife or razor blade
  • Needle
  • Screwdriver

Then, follow these directions to replace the griptape:

1 – Remove the trucks and wheels from your skateboard.

You do not need to remove the wheels from the trucks.

Simply loosen the nuts on the kingpins and slide the truck hangers off of the baseplates.

Once you have the hangers removed, unscrew the bolts from the top of the deck that hold the baseplates to the board.

2 – Remove the old griptape.

Heat the old griptape with a hair dryer. (A clothes iron makes the process a little more difficult, but will also work if it’s all you have.)

Peel the griptape away from the deck as you heat up the glue.

Use a flat, sturdy object like a palette knife to help break through the adhesive and scrape pull the tape up.

3 – Remove any leftovers from the top of the deck.

If there are any pieces of griptape left on the board, heat them with the hair dryer and scrape them off with the palette knife.

You don’t have to remove the old glue if that’s all that remains on the board.

However, if the glue looks dirty or has any debris stuck to it, you should scrape (or sand) it off.

Dirt and debris can interfere with griptape’s adhesive, making it come unstuck from the deck.

Just be careful scraping/sanding your skateboard deck, because you can make your deck uneven.

4 – Hold the new griptape above the deck so you get an idea of where you need to place it.

Don’t touch the griptape to the deck if you’ve left behind adhesive.

It might get stuck.

This will give you a visual of where you need to put the griptape on the deck when you are ready to apply it.

5 – Start the griptape on the board.

Peel away the backing that covers the adhesive on the griptape at one end. (Pull it back one to two inches and fold it down so it won’t get in the way.)

Center the griptape over the deck and lower it toward the board.

When you’re sure the grip is where it needs to be, press the end with the exposed adhesive down against the deck.

Use the block of wood to press so the grip doesn’t hurt your hand, and press firmly to make sure the griptape is good and stuck to the deck.

6 – Press the rest of the griptape against the board.

Follow the griptape along the board, peeling back the backing that covers the adhesive and pressing it against the deck an inch at a time. (Use the block of wood to protect your hand!)

Slowly peeling away the backing and applying the tape helps prevent wrinkles and air bubbles in your grip.

If you do get a ripple or air bubble, quickly lift the griptape and press it back down against the board.

It’s much easier to pull griptape back up when it’s first applied.

7 – Check the griptape once you finish applying it.

Make sure the grip covers the entire deck and run your hand over it to feel for ripples.

If you feel any ripples or have missed part of the deck, try pulling the griptape back up.

If you can get the grip up, re-center it and smooth out any wrinkles.

If you can’t get the grip up, or are dissatisfied with how you’ve applied it, you’ll have to get new grip and start from the top.

If you find air bubbles in the grip tape, but no wrinkles, you don’t have to pull the grip up.

Simply cut a small slit into the bubble with the craft knife to release the air and press the grip flat against the deck.

8 – Cut off the excess griptape.

Run the piece of wood around the outside edges of the deck over the griptape.

This will help the grip adhere firmly to the edges of the deck.

It should also leave small marks behind in the grip.

Use the craft knife or razor blade to trim away the excess griptape from around the edges of the deck.

Make sure the blade is sharp to get a smooth finish.

9 – Punch holes in the grip tape.

Turn the deck over so you see the bolt holes on the bottom.

Press a needle up through the center of each bolt hole, wriggling it around a bit to make visible holes in the tape.

Turn the deck back over so you can see the needle holes in the griptape from the top.

Push through the needle holes with a screwdriver to make larger holes in the grip for the bolts to pass through. (Make sure you push from the top. It will make it easier to get the bolts in.)

10 – Reattach the trucks.

Just reattach the trucks and you’re done.

How long does skateboard griptape last?

Skateboard grip tape is highly durable and lasts a while.

Many freestyle skaters who ride a lot of rails and curbs find they have to replace their decks before they have to replace their griptape.

That said, depending on how and how often you ride, how hard the soles of your skate shoes are, and your griptape’s level of grit (it varies by company), your griptape can wear out faster than you might think.

Some skaters change the griptape on their decks every one or two months just to keep the level of grip consistent when they skate.

Griptape can also get ripped or damaged and require replacing.

Basically, griptape on a skateboard needs changed when it no longer works the way it used to work.

If your griptape is damaged or losing its grip, it’s time for a fresh sheet.

Replacing Skateboard Griptape for a Better Ride

Putting griptape on a skateboard deck can be a chore (especially if you have to remove the old griptape first), but it can spare you the cost of buying a whole new deck.

If your griptape is no longer clinging to your feet the way it used to or you are having trouble making jumps, it may be time for a change.

By regripping your skateboard deck, you’ll improve your footing on the board and reinvigorate your ride.

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