From the Tool Bench: Grip Tape, by KPC
Topic: Grip Tape
Almost every brand offers grip tape.
Grip tape is a petroleum based product that has adhesive on the underside of the grip tape that will provide a strong adhesion to your deck. On the top of the grip tape is a 'grit' that will provide traction while riding.
There was a time before grip tape, that "grip" was made by using a combination of glue and sand. Glue was applied to the surface area and then sand was sprinkled into the glue.
Once the glue dried, you would be ready to ride.
As the skateboard industry matured, grip tape became widely accessible in sheets or in rolls. Branding soon became an important part of the mix, and today we see full color graphics on grip tape from many brands.
In the Scoot game, we have a lot of choices.
Hella Grip is the current leader in this category, along with Friendly, SCT and several others.
When considering grip tape, there are a couple basic facts to keep in mind:
There are a variety of 'grit' types offered. The grit that is adhered to the top surface of the tape can come in fine, medium or course textures. This refers to the size of the grains adhered to the surface of the grip tape.
Most grip tape is medium grit, while some riders prefer course grit. Course grit provides the most aggressive grip, and is great but it does wear out a bit faster then the medium grit. Fine grit is pretty uncommon, and is mostly found on entry level completes.
The size of the grip tape you choose should be wide enough and long enough to cover what you want to cover on your deck. If your deck is 5.5 inches wide, then be prepared to shop for a width of tape that works with this size deck. Most "park" decks run 5 inches wide or less, while most street decks run 5" wide of more.
1st - Preparing the deck to be gripped.
Strip the old grip tape off the deck. I find that using a heat gun for 30 to 60 seconds to heat up and soften the adhesive under the grip tape makes it a lot easier for you to peel the old tape off. A hair dryer also works.
Some adhesive will remain on the deck. This usually does not matter.
2nd - Applying grip.
Determine whether you want:
a. Pro Grip (from back of the head tube to the front side of brake only)
b. Semi Pro Grip (from back of the head tube, around the brake and all the way to the back end of the deck.
c. Full. Covering the whole deck, which requires some extra time and can turn out great or janky, depending on your ability to cut and trim around the head tube and brake.
I use kitchen scissors on my bench. These are really tough and the grip tape tends to not do much damage to these. Ask Mom or Dad before you take these out to your workbench.
3rd - Getting it done.
So, you have the old grip tape off? It needs to be TOTALLY off. You can use a scraper or chisel if you have to, to get the bits of fuzz that are left, so your new grip tape lays flat and feels right.
Then, if you are new to the job of applying grip tape, go with option a. The Pro guys use this 'Pro' grip tape style cuz its easy and fast and gets you back to riding the quickest.
Otherwise, measure and cut the tape to fit around the brake, and/or the head tube prior to peeling away the paper backing on the grip tape. Once you are happy with the way your grip tape fits on the deck, peel away about 2 inches of the paper (that protects the adhesive) from the front of the grip tape and then fold the paper back under the tape, so you can lay the sheet into the best position before pressing that front couple inches into place. From there, reach underneath the grip tape and slowly peel back the paper while pushing the grip tape onto the deck, getting all the air bubbles out to the edges so the grip tape is totally flat all the way back.
Once this is done, grab a razor blade if you have one and trim the sides so the grip tape is no longer hanging over the edge. Razor blades or razor knives are sharp and dangerous, so ask for help until you see how its done, if you are not experienced handling something this sharp. Holding the blade at a 45% angle will allow you to cut the tape in such a way as to minimize the final step.My final step is to always file the top edge of the grip tape all the way around. I do this to insure the grip tape doesn't peel up on the sides... You can use a file, or even just a screwdriver or whatever. Hold the tool at a 45% angle and push downward and along the edge. This will remove any grip tape that is hanging over the top edge to keep the job looking good and the grip tape not peeling off of the deck. If you are concerned about scratching up your deck, then take it easy on this step, cuz you are gonna scratch the deck a bit. Its totally standard and normal, but I ask before I do this on new decks, as a way to share the reality that files do scratch, and so do any of the other tools you might use to clean up the edges of the grip tape.
I have probably gripped 50,000 skateboards and scooters over a career spanning decades.
The best thing for me still, is to focus on being creative, and looking at it as an art project. The better the result, the better your equipment will look and will treat you long after the job is done.
Using scraps, using clear grip tape with a favorite sticker under it.. using contrasting colors and just doing your own thing -- all are an important part of the fun and what this is all about.
Enjoy the ride!! - Kevin Campion