Choosing the Right Skateboard Deck

Choosing the Right Skateboard Deck

Skateboards have a lot of different parts, but the most important part is the skateboard deck. The skate deck is the flat board that you stand on when skateboarding. A shortboard, as opposed to a longboard or cruiser, is ideal for street  and vert skateboarding. And remains the undisputed best option for doing tricks, whether you are a beginner or a pro.

There are a few things to consider when building a complete skateboard, and picking the right size of deck is the first of many lots of decisions you’ll make. Choosing board shape is also extremely important. The length, width, materials, and concave of your skateboard deck determine what you can be able to do on the skateboard.

Depending on how abusing you will skate, you’ll want to replace your skateboard deck anywhere from after a couple weeks to a few years. Once the sides, nose, or tail of your skateboard deck show signs of splitting, it’s time to start with a fresh board. Riding in damp or freezing areas can also warp the shape of your board and make your skateboard wheels not even, always sure to replace your board if you feel or see any signs.

What size skateboard do I need?

What Size Board do you Need?

Opposite to what you may think, width will be the most important part of choosing your skateboard deck, not length or wheelbase. Skateboard decks vary in width from 7.5″ to 8.25″. Depending on your height, shoe size, skating style, and personal preferences will tell you the width shoe you need .

If  too-large of a board width is chosen, you will need to exert excessive power, which can make skateboarding and trick riding ruff. If you choose a board with a too-small width for you, you’ll have trouble balancing and won’t feel stable. Most teens and adults will want board that’s at least a 7.5″ width, but a wider board may feel more stable depending on your build and shoe size. Below are general guidelines.

Choosing a style of skateboard deck

If just getting into skateboarding, its helpful to become accustom with the 4 main styles of boards. Each deck style is designed for certain kinds of skateboarding, so the board shape you choose should match the style you want to skate. From there, you build your custom complete using components that will match your skateboarding deck and skating style.

Shortboard
Shortboards are the shortest style boards in skateboarding. The shape of the design is for getting air and performing tricks. If you’re leaning towards street or park skating, a shortboard deck is would be perfect for you.

Cruiser
Cruiser boards most of the time have kicktails, but most use them for cruising. They are typically mid-length. Cruisers are versatile and maneuverable, perfect for cruising the streets.

Old School
Older style boards typically have a flat nose and kicktails and sually asymmetrical, with a wider nose. Old school boards are a great choice for skating pools, ramps, or carving the streets.

Longboard
Are you interested in doing tricks and want a skateboard to push around on for transportation, longboard skateboards, or cruisers, are a great option. Longboards are specifically designed for downhill racing. Downhill longboards have a symmetrical shape, sit lower to the ground, and include wheel cutouts, which allow the larger wheels to be used.

Features of skateboard decks

Skateboard decks vary in size between 7″-10″ wide, made of seven-ply wood, bamboo, resin, carbon fiber, or plastics. Deciding on what skateboard depends on what you will be skating and personal preference. Check out the information below to help you consider what skateboard deck will be best for you.

Width
Choose your skateboard decks width, not length. The average skateboard deck width is 7.5″- 8.25″. The right width depends on the riders shoe size and skating style. Purchase a deck that is too wide for your height and size shoe, more power will need to be excreted, which makes skateboarding and trick riding more difficult. Choosing a board that is too narrow, you will have trouble with stability. Generally, teen and adult riders will want at least a 7.5″ width. Larger skateboarders and those skating ramps and vert ramps should go with a wider deck, and on the streets skaters usually need a smaller deck.

Length
Skateboard length is the distance from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Shortboard length is around 28″- 32″ most advanced skaters refer to length. Width and wheelbase will be top in your consideration when building your skateboard, rather than length.

Wheelbase
Wheelbase is the distance between your board’s inner mounting holes. Distance between the mounting holes determines what the distance of the front and back wheels will be. Manufacturers drill the truck mounting holes based on the wheelbase on the deck. The average wheelbase is 13″-15″. Most decks feature one set of holes, some skateboarders have multiple mounting holes for trucks “wheelbase options”. Adjusting wheelbase affects the performance dramatically. Experience levels indicate the right wheelbase for you.

Nose and Tail
The front of the deck is called the nose and the tail is the back. It can be hard differentiate what side is what, however most decks provide you with graphics to tell the two apart. Many skateboard decks have a bigger kick on the nose and mellower kick on the tail.

Mounting Holes
Pre-drilled mountain holes are drilled on the deck for trucks to be attached. Arranged as two sets of four holes; one set is near the nose, the other near the tail.

Ply
Ply is wood that is thin and tightly pressed together to make the skateboard deck. Rather than making a deck from one solid piece of wood, layered in a cross-grain pattern to create a supremely strong board. The typical skateboard is seven-ply, and most of the boards on the market will not be over nine-ply.

Concave
Concave is curved wood thats between the deck’s nose and tail. Concave allows for more controlled ride and a stronger skateboard.

EFP
EFP summed up equals Effective Foot Platform. Unlike the wheelbase, that measures just distance, EFP describes the area on the topside of the deck that riders stand on to control the board. EFP indicates the part of the deck between the front and rear trucks.  EFP can be thought of as the space of a skateboard deck that isn’t the nose or tail.

Rails
Rails are the side edges along the length of a skateboard, and their shape can make a difference in how your board rides. Rounded rails are more common for skateboards, and the shape of them is the best flip tricks. Sharp rails have a blunt edge, these aid in keeping your shoes securely on the board during wicked slides. Gas pedal rails some call them GP’s and are a specialized rail shape where areas of the rails have been cut to a beveled edge. GPs subtract the rail’s sharpness, and decrease the concave. Gas pedals offer better control and comfort when doing slides. What your rails can do also depends on the concave of the board.


Skateboard concave shapes

Concave is a major factor on how your board performs. Skateboard designers are always experimenting with new concave shapes to accommodate different types of skateboarding. Most concave shapes allow riders more foothold than a flat skateboard, which can take sliding, drifting, and turning to a whole new level.


Camber & Rocker

Camber & Rocker Skateboard Decks

Lengthwise curve of a skateboard deck will play a role in how the deck feels and what kind of skateboarding you can do on it. Skateboard decks that have raised middle are known as camber skateboards, and those that use dropped middles are called rocker skateboards. The angle of camber and rocker is typically mellow, but even the subtle difference in shape can affect the flex of your board.

Majority of skateboard decks have a neutral deck camber (this is not to be confused with deck concave), though some cruisers and longboards feature camber-style decks. For skateboard decks that use a positive camber, there will be a higher center of gravity because there is much more flex . Rocker decks have low center of gravity, and many skateboarders find the sloped shape even more comfortable to stand on. The minimal flex makes rocker boards a good choice for carving and going downhill at high speeds.


Kicktail

Kicktail Skateboard Decks

Kicktails are the upward curves on the ends of your skate deck. A requirement If you plan on doing tricks with your skateboard. Kicktails make it possible to ollie, which is the first step to the vast majority of skateboard tricks. Most decks come with a kick on both the nose and tail, which allows for those more advanced skate tricks. Kicktails and kicks are important for sharp turns, pivots, slides, and general maneuvering when street skating.

Most longboards feature a kicktail, although it is typically mellow.  Kicktails still help during turns, and lifting the front trucks over sidewalk cracks and debris even though most riders don’t do advanced tricks on their longboards.


Skateboard decks construction

Before learning to ride your skateboard, it’s always a good idea to learn how your skateboard deck is actually constructed. Though building processes are tweaked to achieve specific results, the basic steps and materials have remained the same for decades.

Maple wood is the most ideal wood type used in skateboard construction; flexible, yet durable, easily shaped while maintaining strength. Maple wood is still the most common material used for skateboard decks. Even within maple decks, the amount of ply can vary. Ply is the measure of how many thin sheets, or veneers, of wood make up the deck. These types of wood veneers combined make for a stronger board than a single, solid plank. The most common construction is 7-ply, though decks may increase or decrease veneer to either increase strength or decrease weight.

Constructing skateboard decks start with combining veneers on top of one another. The direction of the grain on the wood can make a big difference with the performance of the board. Alternating veneers that run lengthwise and veneers that run widthwise, or cross-beaming, can increase durability. Once in place, they are formed under a hydraulic press, which compresses the wood layers into a single, sturdy strip. This is the stage in the process where the unique nose, tail, and concave of the board are formed–the press bends the wood layers into shape. The board is left in the press while the glue sets, and this will also play a part in the board’s end performance. The longer the glue sets, the more naturally the board is held together.

Holes are next and drilled into the deck to allow trucks to be attached. Next, a band saw is used to cut the deck’s shape from the large piece of formed wood, which after is rounded and sanded smooth. Once completed a varnish and seal is applied to protect the wood against warping and getting damaged. Lastly, graphics are affixed to the deck. Many skateboards are screen-printed, though some companies offer custom hand painting as well. The skateboard deck will dry and set in the factory until it is ready for the end user.

Skateboard Decks: Construction & Size

Normally, a skateboard deck is 28”-33” (70-80 cm) long.

A board is divided into three separate pieces: the nose (front), the wheelbase (between the trucks) and the tail (rear). To find out which side is the  front and what is the back, take a good look at your deck. The nose is usually slightly wider and steeper than the tail.

The design of the deck will also distinguish the nose from the tail end. Most graphics are designed so that the nose is the top, or left, respectively.

The nose and tail are the rounded ends of a skateboard deck, typically more steeply curved upward. Based on the type of board there are flatter and steeper styles. In theory steeper nose and tail ends lend additional pop to adeck because of the increased leverage. In contrast, a flatter nose and tail provide a better board feel.

Pop = the effect of kicking the tail of the board against the ground in order to propel the board upwards and become airborne

A standard wheelbase on average is 12”-15” long. This not only impacts overall length of a board but also the handling of the board. When a deck is shorter, the agiler it feels, and the longer the deck, the smoother and more stable it feels.

 

Skateboard Decks: Concave

Concave equals the longitudinal curvature of the deck. The higher this curvature, the more pressure you can put on the edges of your deck, this will improve steering and allows you to flip your board more easily. Skateboard decks can be distinguished by low, medium, or high concave. You can decide which level is most comfortable for you by trial and error. Most recommend beginners to start in the middle and go with a medium concave skateboard deck.

 

Low Concave: (1)

Low concave skateboard decks have just a slight curvature. Allows a more stable ride, also hinders agility. Low concave decks are also more difficult to flip.

Medium Concave: (2)

Medium concave decks provide a compromise between the low and high concave skateboard decks. If you’re not sure then go with a medium concave board. The majority of skateboard decks are medium concave.

High Concave: (3)

High concave decks have a extremely pronounced curvature, this makes the board easily more agile and easy to flip. You need to remember that, high concave decks aren’t nearly as forgiving of errors as medium or low concave decks.

Skateboard Decks: Shape

Different shapes have been developed to best suit the respective requirements. Street skating, bowl, vert, and cruising all place different demands on a skateboard deck.

 

Street Skateboard Deck (1)

Standard deck shapes for street and park skating are Twin-Tip. Meaning that the boards nose and tail are basically the same shape so that you can quickly ride switch. This has been the standard for years when it comes to skateboard decks form, also know by the term “Popsicle Shape”.

switch = The position forward when you’re riding, but the foot that would normally be on the tail, is on the nose. Essentially, the rider is “switching” his or her stance from regular to goofy (or vice versa), not to be confused with riding fakie. Fakie describes riding backwards, with the tail facing the direction of movement while both feet don’t change position.

Pool / Bowl Deck: (2)

Transition skating decks are almost always a bit wider. You’ll normally find decks with a width upwards of 8.25”. In addition to the more normal but broader street skateboard shapes, there are also decks reminiscent of old school skateboards. Know commonly referred to as “shaped decks.”

Shaped Decks: (3)

Shaped decks have established themselves as the hybrid form of new school street decks and old school pool decks. Originally developed for transition skaters who wanted to enjoy an occasional street session. Respect to their pronounced concaves, as well as curved noses and tails, you not only have the perfect transition board, but also the possibility to skate the streets and still do tricks.

Cruisers:

There are many different types of materials used to make cruisers. In addition to the traditional pure maple, bamboo can also be combined with maple or even used exclusively. There’s also the more popular cruiser made of plastic, better known by its name “Pennyboard.”

Cruiser skateboards differ in length, width and shape. The offer softer wheels and easy maneuverability. Perfectly suited for cities, to get you from one point to the other. Cruisers commonly have a small curved tail and a flat nose. Cruisers generally come already assembled. If longboards are too large for you, or just isn’t your cup of tea, then a cruiser is the right choice for you.

Shoe Size

Finding the correct deck width can be determined by using your shoe size. The bigger your shoes, the wider the board should be.

Body Size

Mostly, the size of your body will generally help guide you to choosing the right length of your deck. The smaller you are, the shorter your skateboard deck. This is best at the beginning, a slightly smaller board should be easier to control and you can get a better feel for the reactions and movements of your deck.

For those taller riders, longer decks are more typical and easier to keep your balance on. The table below should will give you an overview of what deck length is best suited for your height. These are just recommendations. You’ll find the specifications that work best for by trying different boards.

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