To kick this article off, we thought we'd first start with a bit of background information on how skateboard decks are constructed. Decks are made from 7 separate plys of maple wood that is layered in opposing grain directions to give the deck more overall strength. Maple is known for its 'rock' hard tendencies, therefore is preferred for its strength and density when it comes to popping tricks. Also, it can flex and absorb impact when landing tricks.
The plys are glued and hard-pressed together to the form concave and a nose and tail incline. Once pressed together and the resin glue has fully dried, it is then cut into a shape and sanded to give it rounded edges. This is done to remove the 90-degree angle from the cut-shape as this would easily get chipped. The final step is to then ad a graphic to the bottom and usually a brand logo to the top of the skateboard.
The nose is the front of a skateboard deck, and it is usually slightly bigger than the tail, the tail is, of course, at the back. The nose is bigger as it aids tricks that are popped off the nose. Details like this are of more of a concern when you become an advanced skateboarder. Don't worry about these things if you're a beginner.
Consider the size of your feet when choosing the width of deck - 7.5” / 7.75” is great for children, adults between 8” - 8.5”
The length of a deck is 90% of the time 32", this is rarely communicated as it's a given they are this size
Choose a popsicle or shaped deck - we recommend popsicle shapes for those intending to learn tricks, whilst shaped decks are great for cruising around
Choosing the right skateboard deck can initially be a daunting experience, there's a huge variety of sizes, shapes and graphics to pick from. Here we will break down all the individual aspects of skate decks to enable you to make an informed decision regarding the right deck for you.
The largest aspect of skateboard decks is the shape. The majority of decks are cut into what is known as the 'popsicle' shape. This is an almost symmetrical shape with concave running from the base of the nose and decreasing as it gets toward the tail, or your back-foot position. Popsicle decks are preferred by the vast majority of skateboarders as they allow for technical tricks both in the regular and switch stance. Popsicle decks range from widths 7.5" all the way up to 9" - we will discuss widths later.
Alongside the popsicle shapes are what are known as 'shaped' decks - based on 80s and 90s skateboard styles, shaped decks have become popular in skateboarding once again thanks to the likes of Polar Skate Co and Welcome Skateboards. They offer a wider riding platform, which is great for cruising, and often feature shorter noses and squarer tails. At a beginner level we would advise to start out with a popsicle shape as they’re easier to learn tricks on when starting out.
Similar to shaped decks are what is known as 're-issues', these are actual shapes and graphics that were available in the 80s and 90s and have been re-issued due to popular demand. Back in the 80s, skateboarding was less evolved trick-wise, many flip tricks were simply not invented. As tricks evolved and became more technical, the shape of decks also mirrored this change and became thinner to what is known as the popsicle shape.
Width - Size
Next, we come on to one of the most important features to any deck, the width, which is the basis of the question, 'What size do I need?'. Width - quite simply this is the distance laterally (measured at the widest point of the deck) from one side to the other. As we mentioned earlier, the narrowest decks begin around the 7.5" mark, smaller widths for younger children are also available.
As with a lot of things in skateboarding the width of the deck you ride will come down to personal preference, though as a general rule you should consider the size of your feet. The smaller your feet the higher the likelihood you will want a narrower deck, and the same goes for bigger feet and wanting a wider board. The vast majority of skateboarders will ride somewhere between 8" up to 8.5". If you already have trucks then you will want to ensure the deck is the right size to fit them - read our Truck Buyer’s Guide for information on this.
Also, it's less important but most decks are roughly 32" in length, measured from end-to-end, top-to-bottom. Sometimes this can as low as 31" and a high of about 33". This is all added up by the length of the nose, tail and the wheelbase. For example, if a deck has a longer wheelbase, it will probably reflect in being slightly longer, maybe 32.5". Wheelbase is also not very often communicated when purchasing a deck and is often around 14.5" in general. If you're a beginner just focus on the width of the deck, as this is what will affect your learning the most. As you become more advanced, you'll feel out other areas of the deck and develop your own preference.
Concave is the curvature of the deck that runs roughly between the two truck bolt holes. Concave really helps to hold your feet in place, and it is broken up into three categories - low (or mellow), medium and high (or steep). A low concave skate deck will be considerably flatter feeling to a high concave skateboard deck - which concave is best for you is generally a matter of personal preference, most decks are medium concave and are a safe bet. You would really need to step onto a totally flat skateboard with no concave to really feel just how much effect it brings. Again, concave measurement is not usually mentioned by most brands, if its' not mentioned it will be a medium depth. It's mostly a personal preference and it doesn't change the learning curve.
Another interesting measurement to understand is wheelbase. The wheelbase is the distance between the inside mounting holes on the deck - to put another way it's essentially the distance between the two mounted trucks on the board. And as stated above, most decks have a wheelbase of 14.5". The general rule is that the longer your legs the wider your wheelbase should be, but as we've mentioned before it is mostly down to personal preference. Once again, you'll notice that a lot of decks don't point out their wheelbase, it's mostly, and sometimes only, the width they state. Again, if you're just starting out, don't worry about this measurement for now.
The graphic is the artwork or design on the bottom of the deck - the graphic makes no difference to the overall performance of the deck; it's simply a way for brands to communicate their style. All the different skateboard brands have a certain style that is represented through their graphics, it's partly how people decide which brand they like other overs. And, of course, it's how the decks appear on first-glance as they are all shown graphic up either online or in a skate shop. Also, note that decks usually have a logo printed on the top of the deck, this is 99.9% of the time fully gripped over with your griptape.
Our advice here is to pick a graphic that you like as it will help you enjoy skating the deck that little bit more. Once you become more advanced, graphics will most probably become less important, as often a graphic can be scratched off within a few days of skating. For example, if you're doing a lot of boardslide's on rails or ledges, it won't last long. An exception to some are re-issue decks, since these are a reproduction of a classic older model from years ago, many people buy them to hang on their wall at home. But often people also skate them just like a regular deck, often citing they are more fun and a different challenge to skating a popsicle shaped deck.
Top Things to Take Away
- Ensure the width of the deck is suitable for your shoe size and your truck size
- Consider what you want from a deck before purchasing - learning tricks, cruising?
- Choose a graphic that you like
- Skateboarding is largely around preference
As ever if you have any questions about deck size or indeed anything on the Parade website, our Live Chat feature allows you to talk to our experienced Customer Service team who can answer technical questions and provide further advice.
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