The Ultimate Skateboard Grip Tape Guide

The Ultimate Skateboard Grip Tape Guide

Reading The Ultimate Skateboard Grip Tape Guide 14 minutes Next The Ultimate Longboard Deck Guide

The Basics: What is Grip Tape?

Grip tape is a special kind of tape that skateboarders use to add more traction to their skateboard deck standing surface. It is essentially sandpaper with glue backing. You can even use it as sandpaper if you really wanted, but we recommend shredding instead.

Griptape is one of the lightly explored, highly overlooked parts of the skateboard world. There is a different type of griptape that caters to every riding style out there, but people seem to divide it into two categories: Vicious, and Jessup. Grit ratings range from 12 grit to approximately 1000 grit, but grip tape ranges from 24 grit to about 80 grit.

  • 🤙🏼
    Most Gnarly

    Vicious Grip
  • Vicious Griptape Sheets Pack
  • Why it's rad: Uber grippy, Vicious can be applied directly over lesser grit tape in specific sections for your grabby needs.
  • Buy at Stoked Buy at Amazon
  • 🏆
    Best Overall

    MOB Sheets
  • MOB Griptape Sheets
  • Why it's rad: The most used grip here in our shop, MOB has never let us down. Conveniently sized for fast application to standard sized skateboards.
  • Buy at Stoked Buy at Amazon
  • 💰
    Best Value

    Jessup Rolls
  • Jessup Griptape Roll
  • Why it's rad: Save cash by buying enough grip for your whole skateboarding career. Ha not quite, but buying on the roll will save you in the long run.
  • Buy at Stoked Buy at Amazon

What is the best skateboard grip tape?

In our experience, there is not a perfect single grip, however, there are three key points that make some grip tapes more awesome than others.

  • Air Holes - Most modern skateboard grips have little holes punched throughout the sheet. This is to let air escape and prevent bubbles. In our experience, if the grip does not have this, it is not worth buying. Without these little invisible holes, the air will get trapped and your board will look like it has nasty blisters.
  • Stiffness - MOB and Jessup are the best at stiffness. They have a rigidity not found in many other grip brands. It makes applying the grip that much easier. Lesser quality grip, or grip not designed for skateboarding, will not have much stiffness. Without this rigidity, it makes things incredibly difficult. Imagine trying to apply wallpaper to a room, but the wallpaper is made from wet tissues.
  • Adhesive - If you can, don't buy old grip. We have found that over time the backing paper on the grip sheets sticks to the grip itself and can become a pain to remove. Make sure your grip is fresh because the adhesive tends to go bad over time.

We also avoid graphic grips. While they look cool, graphic grip tapes are not always made in the same way as regular grip and can be of lesser quality. If you do buy a graphic, we recommend getting it from a main grip manufacturer like Jessup or MOB to be sure the quality is the same.

[Check out the best carver skateboards.]

Graphic grip can be cool, but often the quality just isn't as good as black griptape.
P.S. Andy Anderson is pretty rad.

With these simple tips, you are well on your way to finding the best grip for your skateboard.

Brand, Grit, and Particle Size

Check out this handy dandy chart that goes over each brand and the grit level (grip level, lower is more grip) and their suggested uses.

Grit (lower number = more grip) Brands Uses
24 Grit Gator Super Coarse XC, Diablo Extra Course Downhill / Freeride
36 Grit New Black Vicious, New Clear Vicious, Gator Grip Coarse, Thumb Cutter Downhill / Freeride
40 Grit Red Vicious, Blood Orange, Diablo Course Belt Sander Downhill / Freeride
50 Grit Loaded Course (Chubby Unicorn), Jessup Ultra Downhill / Freeride, longboard
60 Grit Gator Standard (Colored), Bustin General longboard, dance
80 Grit Jessup, MOB, Most Street Board Grip Street / Park / Vert, most common

[Read this epic guide about everything Red Bull.]

Which grip tape is right for me?

Now comes the fun part, deciding which griptape suits your needs. The grip that you will want to choose is based almost entirely on what type of riding you will be doing, as well as personal preference.

Buying Shortboard Grip Tape

If you are buying grip tape for a regular skateboard deck, grip is pretty easy. You really just want to get something in that 80 grit range, like Jessup and MOB.

Kickflip on a Skateboard

You can do some custom stuff, like pinstripes or horizontal stripes just by cutting the grip before applying it.

However, most riders just opt for a straight sheet. It is easiest and provides the best grip across the entire board.

Buying Longboard Grip Tape

Longboarding has a lot more various types of skateboarding, so there are more options and preferences to choose from. Almost always, longboarding is going to be the discipline that takes the heavier grit types because fast slides and downhill require that extra traction. You also do not move your feet like shortboard riders do for tricks.

Generally speaking 24-40 grit is for fast freeride and downhill, whereas 50-80 is for slow freeride, technical freeride, freestyle, cruising, street, park, etc. With that being said, I know many people who use Vicious for slow technical freeride, and people who use less coarse griptape for downhill and fast freeride.

[Need a new skateboard backpack?]

These generalizations are formed based on the coarseness of the grip, and how much grip you generally want between the board and your shoes. The lower the grit, the better you grip – unless it’s wet, then it depends on the exterior coating, which varies from one company to the next; but for the most part, is epoxy based.

The Loaded Chubby has special 50 grit tape for the perfect balance of freestyle and freeride.
The Loaded Chubby has special 50 grit tape for the perfect balance of freestyle and freeride.

Other Notes for Longboarders

For cold or wet weather I have found that Clear Vicious works the best. In dry, warm conditions, it does not feel quite as sticky as Black Vicious or other grip tapes in the same 36 grit category.

[What are the best roller skates?]

I personally prefer 36 grit and under for freeride and my favorite grip is probably 24 grit Diablo Belt Sander. It costs about $10 a pack at Amazon or the local home improvement store and will last you forever.

To get it on the board just use some 3M spray-adhesive and stick it on. You can also use Gorilla Glue but BE CAREFUL because Gorilla Glue will PERMANENTLY attach the grip tape to the board.

Close up of Stadium Grade Gator Grip
Close up of Stadium Grade Gator Grip

For freestyle I personally like grip in the 50-65 grit range simply because it doesn’t allow your feet to slip across the board as easily as 80 grit, but is not as coarse as grip ranging below 40 grit. On the other hand, a low grit for freestyle will destroy your shoes (and possibly your hands). This is why brands such as Original, that sell very freestyle oriented boards, grip them with an 80 grit grip tape. This allows you to easily move your feet across the board and easily release from the board for tricks such as Tiger-Claws and 360 slide shuvits.

Close up of Jessup Regular Grip Tape
Close up of Jessup Grip Tape
Close up of Vicious Grip Tape
Close up of Vicious Grip Tape

How do I install skateboard grip tape?

Prepare - Find a good place to put your skateboard deck. Most ideally the surface will be smooth and not scratch the graphic. We recommend using a towel on a table. The towel will not stick to much to the adhesive and the table will be a good working surface.

Peel the Sheet - Peel off the entire backing off your sheet of grip.

Align and Stick - Carefully align the grip with the nose or tail of the skateboard and use that as a guide, carefully pressing down the grip on the board. Mind the concave and upturned nose and tail.

Press the Edges - With your hands, press along the edges to find the rails of the skateboard deck. You will use this as a guide.

Scrape the Edges - Using an old screwdriver, scrape the grip tape along the edges of the skateboard deck. This will become your cutting path, so make sure you scrape off lots of the grip material.

Chop Chop - The fun part: With a new razor blade, come under the grip and cut the grip tape while using the deck as your guide. Personally, I do my cuts in half (nose to tail) then flip it and do the other side of the deck.

Our friends over at RatVision have one of the best videos on YouTube for how to install grip.

[Check out these rad trick skateboards.]

Freshen Up: Removing and Replacing Grip Tape

It can be very hard to remove skateboard grip from a deck, especially if the deck is older. However, it is not impossible and we have some tricks to help you.

Use a Heat Gun - If you have one, a heat gun is very helpful in removing grip tape. It melts the adhesive binding the sandpaper to the deck so it can be more easily peeled off. You can also use a hairdryer if you do not have a heat gun.

Take Your Time - It might take a while to get the grip off. Just accept it and take your time. Don't take shortcuts trying to cut into the deck with a razor, etc. You will damage the deck.

Don't worry about leftover glue - There is going to be a lot of leftover glue on your skateboard deck. It is going to take an incredible effort to remove it all, so we recommend just gripping over it. The new grip will stick to the glue just fine.

Wash Me: Get that Grip Cleaned

Instead of replacing the griptape, can I just wash/clean it?

Yes, you can. However, it will never be quite as good as a fresh sheet. Also, grip can be quite hard to clean. There are products out there that help and they work, but in our experience, they are not the best.

Some common options include Black Diamond Grip Cleaner and the Dura-Gold Grip Cleaner.

When cleaning your grip tape, we recommend using a bit of water with the rubber cleaner. This helps yank the nasty dirt out while scrubbing.

Grip Vs. Grip Tape

Grip can refer to any kind of grippy surface on your skateboard while grip tape specifically refers to the sandpaper like material that is applied as grip sheets.

For example, there are some skateboards that have grip like surfboards. These stomp pad like surfaces are usually made of foam and can let riders ride barefoot comfortably.

Arbor Skateboards also use a form of grip with their spray on grip. This is just like grip tape, except it is sprayed on instead of applied tape.

If you would like to DIY your spray on, another awesome brand is Lucid Spray On. They make pre-packed kits in a few grits and colors so you can customize your shred sled.

Arbor Skateboards Grip Close Up
Closer look at Arbor Skateboards spray on grip

Grip Tape = Optional...?

Do I have to put grip tape on my skateboard?

It depends on the type of riding that you want to do. If you are just straight chill cruising, grip is not always needed and can actually be nice on your feet to ride without it.

However, if you are doing any kind of tricks or downhill, you are going to want grip tape.

Vincent van Grip: Painting Grip Tape

So can you paint on grip tape?

Yes! Painting grip is super easy and best done with spray paint. Make a stencil and have at it.

We recommend painting the skateboard grip tape before putting it on the skateboard deck. It is just easier to manage without the concave of the skate deck to get in your way.

[Rad guide on skateboard painting.]

There are tons of brands out there when it comes to grip and it can be tricky to know which one to get. We've outlined our thoughts on each brand below.

  • Jessup - Solid all around choice. Makes grip for skateboards and industrial applications.
  • MOB - Owned by the same dudes as Independent Trucks and Santa Cruz, MOB is our current shop favorite.
  • DGK - For those looking to add a graphic to the top of their deck in addition to the bottom, DGK offers a wide range of quality graphic grip tapes.
  • Black Widow - Owned by Japanese company Yocaher, Black Widow grip has been around since the 1970s. It's good quality stuff.
  • Shake Junt - Cult like following started by spray painting grip in the garage, Shake Junt is a brand easily recognized by the green and yellow logo.
  • Mr. Pen - A brand that makes a lot of Amazon products, this is an affordable option with lots of great reviews.
  • Black Diamond - Being in business for 15+ years, BLack Diamond made a variety of colors and widths.
  • Grizzly - Famous for their little cutout bear, Grizzly is an apparel and grip company.

Final Word on Skateboard Grip Tape

In the end, grip tape is based entirely on opinion and personal riding style. There is no “best grip tape,” only the best grip tape for your riding style. You should assess your needs based on how much grip you need, what your riding style is, and where you need it on your board.

If you cannot determine what your needs are, I would go with some regular Jessup or MOB grip because with a middle range grip, you receive a happy medium to start from.

Skate safe, shred hard, and stay STOKED! Head on over to the web store and check out the selection of grip to find something that suits your specific needs!

Questions, comments, concerns? Hit us up at We want to hear what you have to say.

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The opinions and views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Stoked Ride Shop. The author makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The author shall not be liable for any damages, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, special, consequential, or exemplary damages, even if Stoked Ride Shop has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Ride at your own risk and within your own limits.

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