Sometimes it’s easy to know when to replace your skateboard because the board split in half or you snap one of the tails.
Other times your deck can start to crack and develop razor tail making it harder to ride and dangerous to do certain tricks with because it could snap at any time.
So maybe your deck is looking pretty rough and you think it might be time to get a new deck. let’s go over what signs to look for when deciding whether it’s time to replace your skateboard deck.
When Is It Time to Replace Your Deck
Your Board Has Razor Tail
A little bit of razor tail is no reason to retire your board, but if it is making it harder to pop your board and sharp enough to cut your shins, then maybe it is time to let it go.
Some people swear by retiring the board once it reaches the middle ply of the skateboard and others don’t want to replace a board until it snaps. Personally, I think once it becomes harder to pop your board, then you need to replace it.
There are other ways you can still use an old deck with razor tail though. For instance, I use an old deck as a cruiser and set it up with longboard wheels.
What is Razor Tail?
Razor tail is something that happens to all skateboards.
Razor tail refers to when the tail of a skateboard is worn down from popping the board and dragging the tail against concrete or other hard surfaces. The tail will be worn down to a sharp edge that becomes thinner and sharper the more the skateboard is used. The term razor is used because the board’s tail can become sharp and able to cut ankles and shins.
So if you do anything with your skateboard other than stop by dragging your foot, you will start to see razor tail forming. If you practice ollie-based tricks often, then razor tail will develop faster on the tails of your board.
If you want to make your old deck into a cruiser, see my guide to putting longboard wheels on a skateboard deck.
Is Razor Tail Bad?
Razor tail is a natural process, but it is never something you want to happen. It’s like asking if having more miles on your car is a good thing.
Razor tail is bad for your board because it causes the tail to have a large flat area where it should pop from. This large flat area causes there to be more friction with the ground and means you need to pop harder to get the same effect as a skateboard with no razor tail. Additionally, razor tail can be very painful if it hits your ankles or shins.
Wear and tear on your skateboard really is never a good thing, but you’ll start to notice your tail wearing down after your very first session skating with a new deck. It’s a natural process.
Can You Fix Razor Tail?
If your deck is only a couple of months old, you may want to try and save it before buying a completely new one.
There is one thing you can do to delay or correct razor tail. You can aggressively sand down the tail of your skateboard until the tail resembles a dull edge more than a sharp corner. This will make the deck slightly shorter, but only by about an eighth of an inch which doesn’t make much of a difference in the board’s length.
There is a great video guide that you can watch below that goes through the process of fixing a delaminated deck and sanding down a razor tail.
You Have a Cracked or Split Deck
You will probably hear and feel when a large crack appears in your board. It just happened to me the other day. I felt the back tail give a little bit and heard a sharp cracking sound.
When I looked at the tail there was a long crack between two layers of the board on my tail.
Oh no! Not only this but over time another crack on the same tail has been steadily increasing in size. My board hasn’t snapped yet, but it is only a matter of time.
Because I know it will snap soon, I can’t really trust it. I wonder which session will be cut short and I only use it to skate flat ground. If your board snaps while trying to ollie down something, it is definitely an injury risk. I wouldn’t even consider trying to skate transition with my cracked board.
So yeah. I’m looking into buying a new deck probably online tonight or at my local skate shop tomorrow. It will probably be an Alien Workshop deck, but we’ll see.
So let’s recap.
Why is a cracked board dangerous?
It will break at an unexpected time causing unnatural falls and potential injury.
Are you curious how much decks, custom, and complete skateboards cost? Check out my complete guide with suggestions for the cheapest quality skate brands.
Your Board Has Become WaterLogged
This happens when your skateboard is left out in the rain, falls in the pool, or otherwise is exposed to lots of water. Water is incredibly damaging to a board and if the wood becomes soaked then there is likely no saving it.
It will feel soggy and damp. The board will feel heavier and not pop the same. The wood itself will become weakened and more susceptible to brittle fracture. Water will find its way between the epoxied layers of your board and weaken the adhesive. The grip tape could also start to fray as the adhesive gets weakened here as well.
You can tell if a skateboard is waterlogged by doing the following:
- Feel the deck with your hand to see you can feel moisture.
- Drop the deck onto concrete and listen to the sound. How does it sound? Is it normal or does it sound dull and muted? If it doesn’t sound right then you are likely water-logged.
- Ride the board and try to ollie or any other tricks that require you to pop the tail. Does it feel heavier and does it not pop as it should? Is the sound of the pop duller? If so then the board is likely water-logged.
If a skateboard is truly waterlogged then there is no saving it. You will need to buy a new deck. The trucks, bushing, wheels should be fine though. You will need to clean and relubricate the bearings if you want to use those again though. You can see how to save wet bearings here.
Water is bad for skateboards, mmkay.
How Long Does a Skateboard Deck Last
This is hard to measure and give a definite answer to because it depends on so many variables.
How long a skateboard lasts depends on how often you skate and how you skate. If you are skating a few times a week and doing many tricks, then your board will likely need to be replaced every 3 to 4 months. If you skate less often, or only cruise then your deck could last 8 to 12 months before needing to be replaced.
The board quality also matters much more than you think. I recently purchased a cheap off-brand board to hold me over for a few months until I moved. I thought it would last long enough, but I was quite wrong. It broke after about a month of skating and only about 14-15 total hours of skating on it. (I have been recording session times recently so I actually have a pretty accurate idea of how much I’ve skated with it.)
Not only has the board started to delaminate and has large chips, but one of the trucks actually broke which has never happened to me before.
So yeah, don’t buy a non-pro model board. A while ago I also board a blank board for a similar reason and that board broke after just about a month of skating as well. Buy from a reputable brand and expect to pay $50+ for a quality deck and $80+ for a quality complete board.
What to Do with Old Boards
When you have an old worn deck that you need to replace, it can be hard to throw it away and I don’t think you should. You’ve given a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to that board and it can be sentimental to some skaters.
Some skaters just keep the used deck in storage, others hang it up on the wall, and some use the board as a cruiser deck. Personally, I convert old decks to cruiser decks or use them in a way that might damage them like skating in the rain.
Might current cruiser set-up is an old worn-out deck that I skated for about 7 months and needed to replace. I still love that old thing and enjoy getting more life out of it as a cruiser now.
When To Get New Trucks
Trucks are a strange thing to discuss. They last a very long time, and if you don’t do grinds then you might never need to replace the axle themselves and can just replace the bushings occasionally.
If the truck’s axle itself is bent, warped, or has any sizable cracks then it is time to replace your trucks. Generally, you will not need to replace trucks more often than every year or two. However, if you purchase cheap complete skateboards, the trucks can break very quickly.
Like I mentioned earlier, I purchased a cheap complete deck to hold me over a few months before a move and it broke a truck after just about 15 total hours of skating. What a waste of money.
There is a great guide from Tactics Skate Shop here that you can watch if want to learn a bit more. It also goes into detail about when to replace your bushings which is something I want to cover in a more specific article. This article really focuses just on replacing your skateboard deck, not trucks and bushings.
If you want to learn all about trucks including sizing, best brands, and a parts listing, check out my complete guide to skateboard trucks.
So there it is. Do you need to replace your board?
If it’s already cracked and damaged then it can be a safety risk to do any transition skating or any trick really. You could probably get away with skating exclusively flat ground until it does snap though.
If you’ve developed a gnarly case of razor tail, then I would suggest just retiring the board as a cruiser set-up or just a backup board. Razor tails can cut your shins and ankles and just makes it harder to pop your board.
A waterlogged board will need to be replaced too as there isn’t much you can do to save it.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.