Intro: Grip Your Longboard Deck!
Do you have a longboard that needs to be re-gripped with some rougher grip tape or do you have a new deck that you need to grip for the first time? Well I've been in that situation many times as the more you skate, your grip tape wears out or you get a new deck so I've decided to create a easy step by step instructables so you don't need to pay a skate shop to do a 30 minute task. In longboarding, it is important to always have fresh grip tape on your board to keep your feet locked onto the board because you are subjected to a lot of sideways force while you slide or try to grip a turn going 40 mph. So what is keeping your feet on the board is your grip tape and that's why it's important to have fresh grip tape at all times. Also, in case you are not gripping a brand new deck, I will go through the process of removing your old grip tape if you are re-gripping your board as well as starting with a brand new deck.
Step 1: Things You'll Need
There are a few tools and other miscellaneous items you will need to gather before you get started.
1) Obviously, you will need your longboard deck. In my case, I will be starting new from a blank deck as in the picture on the page, but I will include instructions on replacing grip tape as well.
2) Next, you will need new griptape to install. I decided to go with Vicious on my board.
3) Grab a hair dryer. It doesn't need to be anything fancy but it will come in handy. Especially with removing the old griptape
4) A fresh pack of razor blades you can pickup cheap at almost any store. The ones in the picture is much easier to use.
5) You will also need a file. If you don't have a file, you can substitute with anything hard like a rock or an old allen key you don't use anymore.
Once you have these things prepared, you're now ready to move onto the next step.
Step 2: Removing Your Old Griptape
This step only applies to those of you who are re-gripping your old, worn out grip tape. If you are starting with a brand new deck, you may skip this step and move on to the 3rd step.
For this step, this is where the hair dryer will come in handy. First, take the hair dryer and heat up the old grip tape where you will start removing the old stuff. Usually, you can just use the hair dryer on that spot for about a minute before you use a razor to peel back an edge. Once you have that edge peeled back, you can just use your fingers and start peeling back the old grip tape. Go slowly to prevent ripping the old grip tape up into a bunch of little pieces. If at any point, the grip tape starts to feel very sticky, don't force it because you'll end up just ripping it, causing you more work. Just stop right there and break out the hair dryer again. Heat up the grip tape and start again. This should make it much easier because the hair dryer heats up the glue and makes it stick less. If you find you need more leverage, you may also put the deck on the ground and use your feet to hold the board down while you use both hands to peel back the old grip tape.
This step should only take about 5-10 minutes. Once you have the old grip tape completely removed, it's time to move onto the next step in this process.
Step 3: Deciding What Design
Alright, now that you have a blank deck to put new grip tape on, we need to decide what kind of design we want to put on the board. You have many choices like gripping the whole entire deck from nose to tail, or just grip where your feet go to save grip tape. High quality grip tape like Vicious usually is pretty expensive you want to be conservative. You also have the choice of creating a custom design grip tape that you cut out before you apply the grip tape to your board.
If you chose to go the route where you cut out custom shapes and designs, I won't be going over how to do that because there are already many other great tutorials on how to do that online.
I have attached a few images of a few different boards with different design ideas for you to ponder over.
Step 4: Cutting the Grip Tape to the Correct Size
When you buy your griptape, you're able to purchase it in many forms. It can either be purchased by the foot and gets sent to you in a roll (1st picture), or you can buy precut blocks of grip tape like the Vicious 3 pack that comes cut already to 11"x10" rectangles (2nd picture).
In the previous step, you should have decided on what design you wanted for your deck already. I decided to chose to place grip tape under where my feet go. The grip tape I purchased came in a roll so I cut out two feet of the grip tape as one foot each in the front and back of the board is enough for your feet. If you purchase precut grip tape, you may just take it out of the packaging and you're ready to move on.
Now you have the proper length of grip tape you want cut out of the roll or sheet, now we can move onto the next step.
Step 5: Grip Tape Placement
This step is extremely important or you will end up not having grip tape where you want it to be. Put the board on the ground and step onto the board. Everyone rides their board differently so step onto your board and decide where your feet are comfortable and where they will be placed when you're riding.
Keep your feet in that position and trace an outline of your feet with that pencil. Now you've done that, you know where you absolutely need to cover the deck in order to get coverage where it matters.
Step 6: Applying the Grip Tape
Now, at the point of the process, you are now ready to lay down the first piece of grip tape. Start at the front of the board and make sure you cover where you previously marked the board for the correct placement of the grip.
Grip tape usually has a paper backing that you can just rip off. When you're applying the grip tape, start a little bit at a time and press down from one end to the other to prevent any air bubbles or any wrinkling. Once you do this for the front of the board, it's time to do the same thing for the back of the board.
At this point, your board should look somewhat like this, with all the excess grip tape still hanging off the edges.
Step 7: Bubbles or Wrinkles
After you've laid down the grip onto the deck, you may have some air bubbles or wrinkles on the surface where the grip tape isn't sticking very well onto the wood. Here are a few tips to help you get rid of these.
If you have air bubbles, grab a pushpin and poke 3-4 holes where the air bubble is and then now just push down on the air bubbles to release the air. Another common issue is where the grip tape seems wrinkled and it doesn't seem to stick well to the wood. The hair dryer would come into handy again if you have this problem. Since some grip tape is stiffer than others due to the glue they use, so take the hair dryer and heat up the grip tape and press down on the new grip tape while you do this. This will help the new grip tape bond tighter to the wood of the board.
Step 8: Filing Down the Extra Griptape
This step is pretty straight forward and is exactly like it sounds. Since grip tape is made up of little tiny rocks, it will be very hard to just use a razor to try and cut around the edge of the board, not to mention you going through ten razor blades before you're done with one board.
The trick here is to take the file you had prepared. You're going to run the file along the edge of the board where you have extra grip tape hanging off. If you don't have a file, you can use anything that is hard and won't wear down very fast. In the past, I've used everything from an old allen key or a rock I had found outside. The point of this step is to get rid of all the little rocks along the edge of the board so there will not be any obstructions for the razor to run into, causing an uneven edge.
Step 9: Trimming Off the Excess Grip Tape
Now that you've filed down the edges of the extra grip tape hanging off the side of your board, you should have a nice silhouette of the board. All you need now is a fresh razor blade to trim off the excess grip tape. You just need to run the razor blade along that white silhouette along the board and the extra grip tape should fall right off.
Following this step as well as the previous step will give you a nice, clean looking edge around your board rather than a hastily cut edge.
Step 10: Finished!
After going through all these steps, you are now done gripping or re-gripping your longboard. The first time you attempt this, it may seem complicated but as you do it more, it gets much easier. The more you do, you can start playing around with more creative ways to grip your board and make it so it doesn't seem just like your everyday boring grip tape.
Here's a picture of the finished product I just did last week for my new board! Now that you're done, it's time to go test out your new grip tape.
Remember, always wear your helmet and skate safe!