Griptape is a must for any modern skateboard, especially if you want to learn any tricks.
But what actually is griptape?
Why do you need it?
What are the most reputable griptape brands?
We’ll go over any question I can imagine about griptape in this article. Let’s dive into it.
What is Griptape?
This might be obvious, but let’s define what griptape actually is.
Griptape is emery or sandpaper that is glued to the top side of a skateboard deck. The griptape creates a surface with a high friction force that allows the skater or rider to have better control of his or her board. All modern skateboards are ridden with griptape as a standard.
Griptape is also essential if you want to do any sort of modern street skateboarding trick. It is needed to pop an ollie and do many other flip tricks. Skateboards in the 60s and 70s did not have griptape as griptape was invented in the 90s with the advent of street skateboarding.
A standard sheet of griptape is 9″ x 33″ (22.8cm x 83.8cm) and will fit any skateboard size once trimmed.
When Was Griptape Invented?
In videos and photos from early skateboarding competitions, you can see that skateboards didn’t always have griptape.
Griptape was invented in California in the mid-90s. Griptape came about as a consequence of the advent of street skateboarding and it allowed street skateboarding to evolve to what it is today. Early griptape was less flexible and not waterproof.
Griptape is necessary for almost all of the most popular street skateboarding tricks that we know today so really it can’t be overstated how much the invention of griptape impacted skateboarding.
If you want to nerd out on more skateboarding hardware, then check out my guide on wheel durometer and how it affects your skateboard’s ride.
What is Griptape Made of?
Griptape is made of a few layers that have evolved quite a bit since the invention of griptape.
Griptape is made of a base, adhesive, backing paper, and an sandpaper coating. The base is a screen-like polyester film with perforations that allow for water and moisture to run off the griptape. The coating is an abrasive mineral composition silicon carbide sprayed onto the top of the griptape. The adhesive is the glue material that binds the griptape to your board. The backing paper covers the adhesive until it is time to stick it to your board.
These days griptape is more flexible than early griptapes and waterproof. It is also extremely cheap and easy to apply to your skateboard, cruiser board, or longboard.
How Do You Put on Griptape?
A will make a more in-depth guide with visuals, but for this article the general steps to apply griptape is as follows:
- Remove the Backing Paper to Expose the Griptape’s Adhesive
- Stick the Adhesive Side of the Griptape onto Your Board from One Tail to the Nose
- Press the Griptape Down and Pop Any Air Bubbles
- Rub a Wrench or Metal Object along the Edge of the Griptape Until White
- Use a Razor Blade or Box Cutter to Trim Off the Extra Griptape
Putting on griptape isn’t so difficult to do and anyone can learn in just an hour. Youtube has some great video tutorials that you can watch and follow along with as well.
Griptape Art and Custom Griptape
Custom griptape is pretty awesome, but not alot of people bother to make their own griptape art. To be honest, I have only cut out griptape to be art once before in my life.
But! I’ll list the normal ways to create griptape art here.
How to Make Griptape Art
Griptape art is cool to do and I think more people should try it out.
Griptape art is typically created in one of two ways, the griptape is cut with a boxcutter in a way that looks like a design or the griptape is painted with paint pens or spraypaint. Paint pens are much easier to create more detailed and smaller designs compared to spraypaint. Do not use any acrylic or oil paints on your griptape or it will lose its grippiness.
The same goes for cutting out designs on your board. Be careful not to cut out too much of the griptape or you can make it difficult to actually slide your feet up and control your board.
Examples of Cool Griptape Art
There are way too many cool examples of griptape to list here, but below are a few examples of what’s possible that hopefully might inspire you to create your own griptape art. Please note that these were not created by me. I am not a good artist!
Best Griptape Brands
Buying grip tape is kind of like ordering an Americano. It’s quite difficult to mess up and pretty much impossible to innovate. I have almost never heard anyone complain about their grip tape brand being trash.
So I’ll list a few grip tape companies below here that have good reputations in the community, but there are loads and loads of companies that will sell you grip tape that works well.
Mobb has a reputation for being grippier than other griptapes. That can be a good thing or sometimes a bad thing. It is possible for a grip tape to be too grippy to properly slide your foot. It can also tear up your shoes very quickly.
Regardless, in any discussion about griptapes, Mob is absolutely going to come up in conversation. The brand exclusively manufacturers griptape so it has to be good. They sponsor skaters like Alexis Sablone and Leo Baker. They actively claim that their griptape is the grippiest.
They also collaborate with Thrasher to make a Thrasher sprayed griptape that looks pretty cool.
ShakeJunt is easily recognizable and is named after a strip club. ShakeJunt sponsors big names such as Jamie Foy and Zion Wright.
They exclusively make skate gear and street clothing and are probably the most popular grip tape you can order now for your board. It looks cool and allegedly skates well. I haven’t skated it yet but will be building a new set-up this winter and might invest.
The real standout feature here is the design and logo of ShakeJunt. It looks cool. It sounds cool. No one really knows what it means. I’m a sucker for it because as a Memphian, “junt” is embedded into my vocabulary.
Grizzly is not exclusively a griptape company. They sell decks, completes, streetwear, and virtually everything else.
Their griptape is a favorite among pros and their griptape is supposed to be almost as grippy as Mob griptape. Grizzly is also supposed to a bit stickier than Jessup griptape so it is a good inbetween option for many skaters. I’m not quite sure how Grizzly got so well-known for their griptape, but I personally think it is largely due to brand appeal rather than true superiority in the product.
Brands That Sell Griptape
Below is a list of every company or brand that I could verify sells grip tape. I’ve never heard of some of these brands such as FKD and Bro Style, but apparently they’re out there. If you know any brands that I missed, feel free to send me an email about them. I can update this article to include them.
- Mob Grip
- Powell Peralta
- Toy Machine
- Polar Skate Co
- Alien Workshop (not always offered)
- Bro Style
- Plan B
If you are curious about learning about other skateboarding hardware (you nerd), check out my complete guide to skateboarding wheels and what they’re made of.
So that’s it.
Griptape is critical for any street skateboarding because you need it to do an ollie or any flip tricks. It is also important for simply riding your board as it gives you much more control of the board and increases your stability. Griptape was invented in the mid-90s and involves 4 simple components.
You can learn to put on your own griptape in an afternoon. You can also make your own awesome griptape art. Mobb Griptape and ShakeJunt Griptape have the best reputation in the skating community and are solid choices for griptape.
If there’s anything else that you think I missed, feel free to reach out to me and let me know.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.