To the untrained eye, all skateboard decks look the same. However, it’s the subtle differences which will make your skateboard perfect for you. Read on to find the right deck for your style.
Before you start to look in detail for a new board, you should get to know the different styles of skateboarding.
Street skating is all about tricks on the street or in the skate park. No matter if rails, boxes, ramps or stairs - everything is jumped on or over.
These "Newschool skateboards" with the popsicle shape are best suited for this. These narrower boards are lighter, which of course has an advantage for ollies and flips. The double-sided kicktail allows you to skate in both directions.
Street and park skateboarding with Blue Tomato
Bowls and pools have a long and rich history in skating. Back in the day, the first skaters drained Californian Pools and shredded them. Later the pools were replaced by professional halfpipes and ramps and many new tricks such as high aerials and technical spins emerged. This further development is called "Vert" (=vertical) skateboarding.
For the steep walls of a bowl or halfpipe, wider decks with a low concave are best. They provide more stability and a flat surface for your feet.
Riding a bowl
Cruisers have a wider deck with only one kicktail. They are best for riding through town because they are manoeuvrable and versatile. Read our cruiser buyer's guide for more information.
Cruising the streets
Downhill riding, straight and long distances are where longboards shine. They can have a symmetrical shape with a low centre of gravity. You can use large wheels because longboards have cut-outs to accommodate them. Longboarding is, however, a different sport which we have a longboard buyer's guide for.
Dancing on a longboard
The biggest choice you can make when you have decided on a skateboard is: should you buy a ready-assembled setup or build your own board from scratch.
When you start skating you should consider getting a complete skateboard. They come ready to shred out of the box - no adjustment needed. These setups are ready-made – trucks, wheels, bearings and griptape are pre-assembled. A complete setup is easier on the wallet and is a hassle-free introduction to skating for beginners.
When you create your board from scratch, that is exactly what it is, your own board. You have the freedom to choose every component to suit your needs. You start with the deck of with the right width for your body then pair it with trucks, wheels and bearings that suit your style. Advanced skaters love to make their own setup as every part fits their personal needs.
Marco Kada assembling his own skateboard
When you look for a skateboard deck, width is the most important determiner. It is measured in inches and always appears in the product name. The right size of board for you will depend on your height, your shoe size and what terrain you want to ride
Generally speaking, narrower widths are for smaller riders, women and kids. If you are taller, heavier or have larger feet a wider deck will be more stable for you.
The narrowest skateboards - up to 7.75" - are reserved for your little ones. A narrower board is easier for a child to control their smaller feet. The smaller dimensions make the board lighter, easier to flip and cheaper for you!
Skateboard decks between 7.75” and 8.25” are great for street and park skateboarding. If you have smaller feet, are shorter or lighter weight a narrower deck will also be easier to flip and do tricks with.
Decks between 8.25” and 8.5” are good for park and also mini ramp sessions. The most versatile option, comfortable everywhere. If you are looking for an all-rounder, look no further.
Boards over 8.5” are a stable, balanced platform for your feet. This makes them perfect for mini ramps, half-pipes and riding bowls. The added stability is also great for cruising. If you have larger shoes (44 and upwards) or are taller than 1.85 cm you might want to consider going a bit wider.
Julia Brückler skateboarding on a floating miniramp
If you look at a deck from the side, you can see curve between the edges - this is the concave of the board. It affects how your feet stand on the deck and the performance of your skateboard. Broadly there are three types which differ in height.
A low concave is better in the halfpipe, mini-ramp and for pool riding. It has the most stability for riding big features such the halfpipe or just cruising.
A medium concave is 'just right' for a lot of riders. It is still easy to flip but has more stability for riding mini ramp and vert.
A high concave is the most aggressive curve. It is easier to exert pressure on the edges, making technical flip tricks easier.
Decks can have a long list of features and tech. Here we break down the most important details so you know which part is which and what to look for in a deck.
Skateboards are from nose to tail between 28” and 33” long. Wider skateboards are also longer. Remember the selection of the deck should really be on width rather than length.
The distance between the mounting holes for the trucks. The wheelbase determines how far your trucks and your wheels sit apart.
The kicktail, the upturned end of your skateboard, allows you to do tricks like of ollies and kickflips. Most decks have one on both sides making it possible to do nollies and other switch tricks.
The nose is the front and the tail is the backside of your board. Finding it difficult to differentiate between the two? In most skateboards, the tail is less pronounced than the nose.
Any skateboard typically consists of seven layers of wood which are pressed together with a resin adhesive. The most common wood used is maple which is very hard yet light. More premium constructions add carbon fibre or other laminates for even more strength without excess weight.