The Evolution of Griptape

Skateboarders today have a variety of griptape options, but it wasn’t always the case. The griptape has come a long way. Let’s take a closer look at this longboard and skateboard accessory.

Fighting Slip

image soure: Brian Caissie / Getty Images

Skateboards arose from surfing in the 1960s. Surfers used different methods to keep their feet from slipping on their boards. Wax and spray adhesive was a common choice, and it remains popular in surfing to this day. Both of these products prevents surfers’ feet from slipping on their boards, but they have their drawbacks for skateboarding.

First, wax and adhesives are messy. Wax melts in high temperatures, which is a problem for skateboarders on concrete. Making a deck sticky with an adhesive means tracking dirt and grime from the road onto the riding surface, which eventually leads back to slipping.

Second, wax and adhesives both wear away over time. This means constantly having to reapply the product to the board. You also have to eventually, clean everything off as you cannot keep re-applying it.

The Revolution

It wasn’t a huge problem back then, but after the year 1972 it did become a problem with the introduction of the first urethane wheels. In 1974 the precision bearings where introduced, and in 1975 the purpose-built skateboard trucks. Suddenly riders were able to achieve and sustain much faster speeds. Turns became sharper and quicker, new tricks suddenly became possible, and the need for grip increased exponentially.

The Griptape Solution

There is no record of who the first person was who thought of applying sandpaper to a skateboard deck. If you scan over the pictures of people riding boards before the mid 1970s and those in museums today, you’ll see that the occasional board had griptape. Usually, it would be applied in an offhand way, just strips of sandpaper stuck to the deck, likely with adhesive spray.

It was also around this time that plastic skateboards made their appearance. These surfaces often had a rough texture or a waffle pattern applied to supply grip. From here a fully textured surface idea of griptape was a logical leap. Soon, manufacturers sprang up to fill the new niche.

The Evolution of Backing

The grit in sandpaper is usually silicon carbide, and the same is true for skateboard grip tape. The early forms of grip tape had the grit applied to a paper backing, which was a problem when the paper got wet.

The solution came in the form of plastic backing, which made the griptape waterproof. Modern griptape is still made the same way. The plastic backing does not deteriorate, so the grip on a modern skateboard will long outlast the deck itself.

Griptape art

People have been experimenting and cutting griptape into strips and shapes and fitting them onto their boards. Applying griptape makes the perfect opportunity to express yourself and to make your board stand out. Skaters took griptape art to extremes.

Then came the colored grip tape (80s). Fluorescent colors were a popular item. Skaters would mix and match the colors into creative patterns. Most skate shops sold those brightly colored griptapes from rolls by the foot. Die-cut griptape also hit the market in the 80s, with shapes precut into each sheet roll.

Moving Toward Today

Even though the colored grip tape was a hit in the 80s, simple black grip tape still was the popular choice as it looks classy and also shows less dirt.

Griptape today is essentially the same product that it was in the early days, and longboarders and skateboarders keep expressing themselves in different ways. Different colors and now different designs, from pineapple griptape to camouflage griptape are increasingly becoming popular again. Writing, drawing or stenciling on griptape is another method that became popular. In the modern era, skateboarders can be comfortable doing whatever they desire when they apply their griptape.

Griptape varies, so be wary when choosing. Too fine of a grit may allow slipping, while too rough of a grit will tear up your shoes faster. You can also choose to spray it on yourself. Check out the Monster Paint Clear Spray On Griptape.

Longboardsusa griptape has a medium grit – right in the sweet spot. It is available in plain black as well as a variety of vibrant colors, including the always-popular black and white checkerboard pattern.

Your longboard or skateboard is an extension of you. Don’t be afraid to express yourself with the griptape you choose to affix to your longboard or skateboard, and don’t be nervous. You can always remove your griptape if you don’t like and stick on something else. And whether it looks great or you’re just leaving it until you get your next board, the griptape will do the same dependable job it has always done.

On that note, check out our grip tape offerings.

Posted By Longboards USA

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