Grip Tape Revival: Cleaning and Restoring Grip for Optimal Performance

grip tape revival cleaning and restoring grip for optimal performance
happy dark skinned guy wearing cap looking on his skateboard

When you need to clean and restore or replace your skateboard’s grip tape, you never want to fall short of restoring your tape and board to their optimal performance potential. If you are about to tackle cleaning, restoring, and replacing your grip tape, what should you do to make sure the process goes smoothly? Here are the best ways to clean, restore, and replace your grip tape!

To clean grip tape, use a sanding belt cleaner or a small amount of gentle dish detergent to remove gunk or built-up filth on your grip tape. When removing grip tape to restore it, consider using a heat gun to warm up the adhesive and make it easier to take off. Then research and buy a new pack or roll of grip tape to install.

What makes some grip tape brands different or better than others? What else should you be aware of and know before you jump into cleaning, restoring, or replacing your grip tape? Let’s go over in depth what to look for when it comes to all things grip tape, and how to best maintain a healthy layer of it on your board.

How to Clean and Restore Your Grip Tape

To clean your grip tape, use a sanding belt cleaner. These sanding belt cleaners can be purchased relatively inexpensively from local hardware stores and online stores like Amazon. There are even some skate brands that sell their own grip tape cleaners, such as Shake Junt, Grip Gum, and MOB, along with many other options.

To use a sanding belt cleaner to clean up your grip tape, rub the cleaner on your grip tape like an eraser. For the areas on your skateboard that have thicker or denser dirt spots, the grip gum may not help remove the detritus completely. If this is your situation, get a toothbrush and a little water to dislodge and remove the stains.

You could even use a bit of mild dishwasher detergent (like Dawn) or gentle soap to help get rid of the dirt. Don’t overdo it with water or soap. If you use too much of these cleaning agents or use cleaning agents that are too strong, this could result in weakened grip tape.

high angle view of man fitting up truck on wooden skateboard

Buying New Grip Tape

When it comes to using grip tape, do your best to research all the various types and select a brand and type of grip tape that serves your specific skateboarding goals best. The style and form of skateboarding that you aspire to do should inform the type of grip tape you end up buying. The options basically break down into standard, specialized, and non-abrasive. Non-abrasive grip tape is a relatively new addition to the market that uses molecular adhesion to produce friction and doesn’t damage your shoes!

How to Best Maintain Your Grip Tape

The best way to maintain your grip tape is to start by buying a high-grade type of tape. No matter what type of grip tape you choose to go with, clean it gently and mindfully so it will last for as long as possible.

Remember to avoid going overboard with cleaning or scrubbing your grip tape, especially with detergents. Should you clean or wipe at your grip tape too aggressively, the overall grip and hold will be weakened. Grip tape is at its core an adhesive strip with small crystal grains on top for your shoes to grip and gain traction on. If the crystal grains fall off excessively or get rubbed off, the grip will degrade until the grip tape is ineffective.

How to Remove Your Old Grip Tape

If your grip tape gets worn down from use or cleaning, take it off your board and replace it with a new coat. To start removing the grip tape, heat it. This may sound counterintuitive, but since the binding agent in grip tape is adhesive, heating it will cause it to weaken and detach much more easily.

Some ways that you can heat your grip tape include using a heat gun, a hair dryer, or just by leaving your skateboard in the sun for a short period. Some people will also use a razor to peel up one end of their grip tape to get the removal process started and finished fairly quickly. However, the heating process helps guard against accidental scratches on your skateboard.

Depending on the type of adhesive used in your specific type of grip tape, you can also put one hand on your deck and then peel it up and off, or place your skateboard deck on the ground, and put a foot on it to get better leverage, and slowly peel it back and off.

There will often be some leftover, stubborn adhesive tape residue left on your skateboard deck after you peel up and take off your old grip tape. Thankfully, this leftover residue is not a big deal. Applying a new layer of grip tape over it will cover up any old evidence of previous grip tape layers. If you still want to remove past coats of grip tape residue, use a product called Goo Gone. Goo Gone can be found and purchased at most skateboard stores, hardware stores, home improvement stores, or online.

If Goo Gone isn’t an option, you can also use WD-40 to remove tape residue. Even lighter fluid, alcohol, and acetone products (like nail polish remover) will work since they are strong chemicals that can break down adhesive bonds.

skateboarder standing on a bench in city park

Be aware though, that using these types of products could ruin the finish on your board, so only use them as a last resort, or test on a small patch first. This is why most people go with Goo Gone–it is an approved product that takes off the adhesive with a bit more care and delicate touch than other options.

Once the old grip tape is removed, and the adhesive residue cleaned off, it is time to choose a new layer of grip tape to restore your skateboard to optimal performance!

Choosing Your Grip Tape

When it comes to picking out your grip tape for the first time, or when it comes to replacing your grip tape, there are lots of brands to consider. Choosing your grip tape also depends on what type of skating you plan on doing. The most popular brands of skateboarding grip tape include Jessup, Mob, Diamond, Grizzly, Madrid, and Viscous.

People who have used these brands have reported that Jessup brand grip tape is often the least coarse brand of tape to buy. The Diamond and Grizzly brands are more coarse on average than the Jessup brands. Finally, Mob brand grip tape is usually reported as the most coarse type to purchase and use.

Nurturing and preserving the often overlooked yet crucial layer of grip tape on your skateboard is part of ensuring a smooth and controlled ride. Regular cleaning, strategic application of grip-enhancing solutions, and periodic replacement when wear and tear become unrepairable are essential practices in maintaining optimal performance. The grip tape not only dictates your board’s responsiveness but also plays a pivotal role in your safety on the streets or at the skatepark. By dedicating time and attention to the upkeep of this seemingly simple component, riders can extend the lifespan of their grip tape, enhance their overall skateboarding experience, and ultimately enjoy a more reliable connection between board and rider. As riders commit to these care routines, they not only preserve their equipment but also foster a deeper connection to the art and sport of skateboarding.

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