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All About Decks: Street, Pool, Longboards & Accessories

Not all decks are the same. They may look similar, but there are some subtle differences to be aware of. Most importantly, do not buy a preassembled skateboard from a toy store or any store that is not a skate shop.

The problem with "toy store" boards is that they are assembled from unknown (cheap as hell) parts that will not hold up under normal skating conditions. I essence, you run a great risk of getting hurt trying to ride a preassembled toy store board - not to mention getting laughed out of skateparks where a toy store board will stick out like a sore thumb. Besides, skating is about being an individual, not a clone. Build your own ride!

To start with you need to buy a deck from your local skate shop or reputable mail order retailer. The term "deck" as opposed to "skateboard" refers to only the wooden plank on which you stand - skateboard refers to the complete ride. Generally, decks are made of 7-ply Maple that is pressed and glued together. There are other factors like the concave factor of the board (the curve of the deck both horizontally and laterally - sometimes called the spoon). There is also wheelbase - similar to your car - the distance between the front and rear trucks. This distance is predetermined by the pre-drilled holes where the trucks are mounted via bolts.

Deck Types

These are the various styles of decks - the measurements all vary from style to style, but this will give you a basic outline. Remember any board you feel comfortable riding will be ideal for what ever terrain you want to ride.

Street Decks
Street decks are the smallest models available, typically 7.5" wide and 31" long. These dimensions are best for street tricks and high maneuverability.

Pool Decks
Pool Decks are wider than their street cousins, typically around 9" wide and the usual 31" length.

Downhill Decks (Long Boards)
Downhill decks have the largest diversion in shapes and sizes. They tend to be significantly longer than any other style deck, but there is no set length. They can be as wide as a pool deck or as narrow as the street deck. The longer length makes them more stable at higher speeds for shooting down hills.

Deck Measurements

skateboard measurments
  • Length - Measured from tip of the nose tot he tip of the tail.
  • Nose - Measured from the tip of the nose to the closest (outer) truck-mounting hole.
  • Tail - Measured from the tip of the tail to the closest (outer) truck-mounting hole.
  • Wheelbase- Measured between the inner truck mounting holes.

Grip Tape

Grip Tape is the rough sandpaper covering that covers the top side of your deck. It's main purpose is to keep your feet on the board. Without it you would slide off the surface of your board with scary regularity.

There can be other, less obvious, side benefits to grip tape. Some people cover the entire top of the board. This full-coverage obscures the rider from knowing which end of the board is the front and which is the rear. I always create a gap in the tape's coverage to give me a quick visual reference of the front and rear. I like to create a narrow (half inch) stripe across the width of the board just in front of the rear truck. Many decks will have a logo painted on the top of the deck - this can be a good place to create the visual gap in your griptape.

Some grip tape manufacturers have found ways to create colored grip tape and grip tape with pictures embedded in it. I found a manufacturer that puts topless pin-up girls on their grip tape. As appealing as this may be (yes, I have a board set up with this stuff) the quality of the tape may not be as good as the plain black type. For some reason, embedding graphics in the tape seems to reduce its functional wear and tear. Of course the choice is yours...


Skateboard rails are a facet of the late 80's and early 90's that seem to be making a comeback. Don't know why they're resurging, but I've always used them. Rails are narrow plastic strips that run the length of your board's wheelbase and are mounted at the edge of the underside.

They serve two main purposes. They protect the graphic on the bottom of your deck and they can enable a slicker sliding surface. For myself, I always used them to protect the bottom of the deck. I like my pretty graphics and don't want them worn off on a public bench... thank you very much.

Rails are one of the more unneccessary pieces of the puzzle, but they're available, so now you know.

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