For many skateboarders, their deck is more than just a piece of equipment; it’s an extension of themselves. Caring for your deck ensures you are able to keep doing what you love.
Adopting a monthly maintenance routine will extend the life of your skateboard deck and improve performance. Wooden decks and decks made from a composite material require different types of care. Grip tape and guards can be helpful for preventing frequent damage to the deck.
Whether you’re a seasoned skater or just starting to roll, understanding how to take care of your skateboard is essential for longevity, performance, and, most importantly, your safety. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of deck care, offering tips and techniques for how to protect and preserve your skateboard.
Why Deck Care Matters
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of skateboard maintenance, let’s first explore why deck care is so crucial.
Proper maintenance can significantly extend the life of your skateboard. A well-cared-for deck can last much longer than one that’s neglected because you will be addressing any issues before they become serious. Neglected boards can develop structural issues that compromise your safety. Regular maintenance helps identify potential problems before they threaten the structural integrity of your board and become a safety hazard. A poorly maintained deck may fracture or bend unexpectedly, possibly hurting you in the process.
Well-maintained skateboards perform better, provide better control, responsiveness, and overall riding experience. Taking care of your skateboard can save you money in the long run. Regular maintenance is often more cost-effective than completely replacing the deck.
Now that we understand why deck care is essential, let’s delve into the specifics of how to protect and preserve your skateboard.
What Kind of Deck Are You Riding?
Before you can even start caring for your skateboard, you need to identify the type of deck you have, because deck material plays a significant role in its maintenance requirements. There are two primary types of skateboard decks: wooden and composite (e.g., carbon fiber, fiberglass, etc.). Each has its unique characteristics.
Wooden Skateboard Decks:
Wooden decks are the classic choice for most skateboarders. They are known for their natural feel and flexibility, but they require specific care:
- Grip Tape Maintenance: The grip tape on wooden decks can wear out quickly due to constant use. Regularly cleaning and replacing grip tape is crucial for optimal traction.
- Moisture Protection: Wooden decks are susceptible to water damage. Avoid riding in wet conditions, and store your skateboard in a dry place to prevent warping and delamination.
- Checking for Cracks: Wooden decks are prone to cracking, especially with heavy use. Regularly inspect your deck for cracks and replace it if necessary. Riding on a cracked deck can be dangerous.
- Varnish or Sealant: Some skateboarders apply a varnish or sealant to protect the wood from moisture and wear. This can help extend the life of the deck. The packaging on the sealant will instruct you on how often you need to reapply.
Composite Skateboard Decks:
Composite decks, such as those made from carbon fiber or fiberglass, are known for their durability and resilience. They do not require as much care as wooden decks, but still need maintenance.
- Cleaning: Composite decks are generally easier to clean and may require less maintenance in terms of grip tape. Regularly wiping down the deck is usually sufficient.
- Durability: Composite decks are more resistant to moisture, so they are less likely to warp or suffer water damage. However, it’s still a good idea to keep them dry when not in use.
- Crack Resistance: Composite decks tend to be more durable and less prone to cracking than wooden decks. However, they can still develop stress fractures, so periodic inspections are advisable.
- Customization: Composite decks are often chosen for their performance characteristics. Upkeep may involve maintaining other components like trucks, wheels, and bearings to optimize performance.
Regular Maintenance Routine
Once you’ve chosen the right skateboard deck for your needs, it’s time to establish a regular maintenance routine. There are two key steps to include. You should perform this routine at least once a month, or any time you notice a lot of dirt buildup.
1. Cleaning Your Skateboard Deck
- If possible, take off the trucks and wheels to clean the deck thoroughly.
- Use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently remove dirt, dust, and debris from the grip tape and deck surface.
- In a container, mix a small amount of mild soap (such as Dawn dish detergent) with water to create a soapy solution.
- Dip the brush into the soapy water and scrub the grip tape, paying attention to any areas with stubborn stains or dirt.
- Wipe down the deck with a clean, damp cloth to remove soap residue, then pat it dry with a towel.
Cleaning your skateboard deck not only keeps it looking fresh but also ensures that the grip tape maintains its traction.
2. Checking for Wear and Tear
Regularly inspecting your skateboard deck can help you catch issues early before they become major problems. Here’s what to look for:
- Examine the deck for any cracks or splits in the wood or composite material. Even small cracks can weaken the deck over time. Typically cracks cannot be repaired and you will need to make plans for replacement. Keeping your board clean and dry reduces the risk of cracks.
- Check for any signs of warping or concave changes. A warped deck can affect your riding experience and aerodynamics.
- Ensure that all screws, bolts, and nuts on your skateboard are secure. Loose hardware can lead to accidents, injuries, and further damage to your skateboard.
In addition to regular maintenance, you can take protective measures to safeguard your skateboard.
Applying grip tape is one of these measures. Grip tape is crucial for maintaining control and preventing slips while skateboarding. To apply grip tape, you will need a file and a razor blade.
Start with a clean, dry skateboard deck. Carefully peel the backing off the grip tape and align it with the deck, making sure it covers the entire deck surface.
Use your hand or a flat object to press the grip tape firmly onto the deck, starting from the center and moving outward. Use a razor blade to trim the excess grip tape along the edge of the deck and gently file the edges of the grip tape to smooth them out and prevent peeling. Use a screwdriver to poke holes in the tape for your hardware as needed. Properly applied grip tape not only enhances your performance but also prolongs the life span of your deck.
Another protective measure you can take is using nose and tail guards, also known as nose and tail bumpers or skid plates. These are small protective pieces typically made of plastic or rubber that attach to the nose and tail of your skateboard.
Guards protect the deck from damage caused by sliding or dragging the nose and tail on the ground during tricks. Guards help extend the life of your deck by reducing wear on the edges. They can also improve the slide and grind performance of your skateboard.
In conclusion, the longevity and performance of your skateboard are directly tied to the care and attention you invest in its maintenance. By incorporating a simple monthly maintenance routine into your skateboarding regimen, you not only enhance the overall riding experience but also significantly extend the lifespan of your deck. Regularly cleaning and inspecting your skateboard, tightening loose bolts, and addressing minor wear and tear can prevent more severe issues down the road. This proactive approach not only saves you money in the long run but also ensures that your skateboard remains a reliable companion, ready to take on the streets and skateparks for countless sessions to come. So, don’t overlook the importance of proper skateboard care – a little effort today goes a long way in preserving the life and performance of your beloved deck. Happy skating!