The Ultimate Street & Park Skateboard Deck Buying Guide

The Ultimate Street & Park Skateboard Deck Buying Guide

Contrary to the expansive landscape of different longboard shapes and sizes out there, the world of street and park skateboard decks is far more standardized. 

To provide better insight and overview, we went through each of the main features that newcomers to the streets and skateparks should keep an eye out for when buying their first deck

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Introduction to Street & Park Decks

Contrary to the expansive landscape of various longboard and skateboard shapes and sizes out there, the world of street and park skateboard decks is far more standardized.

Yet, with an equally diverse community of riders, the street and park side of the industry has similarly engineered varying shapes, sizes, and specifications to accommodate skaters of all riding styles and preferences.

To provide better insight and overview, we went through each of the main features that newcomers to the streets and skateparks should keep an eye out for when buying their first deck


Anatomy of a Street & Park Skateboard Deck

Anatomically, a street or park deck is completely the same as a longboard, cruiser or any other skateboard out there. If you’ve seen our Ultimate Longboard Deck Guide, this may sound familiar. Every single street/park deck is going to have these basic features, regardless of brand. These are as follows:

Skateboard Deck Shapes

When the word “skateboard” is mentioned, many envision a rounded, (mostly) symmetrical shape, complete with small round wheels, and kick tails at both ends; and while this does indeed embody a great large portion of the skateboarding ecosphere, there are obviously other iterations of standard street/park skateboard shape that serve different purposes based on the disciplines and styles they are designed for.

Stoked Street Deck Corey

The “Popsicle” Shape

The popsicle has become widely accepted as the standard shape for most street and park decks. This shape features a double kick nose and tail designed to be more-or-less symmetrical to one another for consistency when flipping and transitioning from end to end. With an even shape on both ends of the board, the popsicle shape ensures that the rider feels prepared for their next maneuver, whether they end up riding regular or switch. You can find the popsicle shape from most major brands like DGK, Plan B, Toy Machine, Enjoi, Alien Workshop, Black Label, and of course our Stoked Ride Shop deck..

Examples of Popsicle Shape: Stoked Ride Shop Blank Skateboard Deck

Old School / Fishtail

In the most general sense, a board referred to as “old school” is commonly takes the shape of many of the boards from the 1980’s.

Old School Skateboard Shape Explained

These boards often feature some sort of an oblong nose that eventually bows outwards towards a fishtail in the back. While these boards were used for a range of different skateboarding disciplines in the 80’s, they are primarily used in transition and pool skateboarding today.

Example of Old School/Fishtail Shape: Powell Peralta Classic & Re-issue Skateboard Decks

Modern Shapes

The modern “shaped deck” can refer to any street or park deck manufactured in the present day that deviates from the classic popsicle. These boards are molded to have atypical tapers and widths that give the nose and tail of the deck unique sizing.

Due to their distinctiveness, the label of a “shaped deck” should be applied loosely as manufacturers all have their own specific designs. These shapes have become increasingly popular in recent years for experienced skaters looking for a challenge or skaters simply looking for a change from the ordinary.

Examples of Modern Shapes: Powell Peralta Caballero Ban This Skateboard Deck or Powell Peralta Andy Anderson Skateboard Deck for a more unique modern shape


Sizes

The width, length, and wheelbase sizes are some of the most important specs to review on the skateboard. Let's go through each of them below.

Deck Width

Undoubtedly the most significant aspect of the board, though variations between widths may only be fractions of an inch apart, their impact is massive. The width of the deck is an important determinant in the rider’s overall comfort level and in their subsequent ability to perform tricks.

Measured at the board’s widest point, the width of the skateboard largely dictates the riding style of the skater and subsequently, the tricks they are able to pull off.

For example, boards that are smaller in width are easier to flip than wider decks and thus lead to more technical street-oriented skateboarding. On the other hand, wider boards give the skater more room to work with and are often used with more transition-oriented terrain, including pools, pipes and walls.

Of course, there are exceptions to these generalizations for riders experienced enough to experiment and find success with nonconventional setups.

Wheelbase

The Wheelbase refers to the length between truck baseplate mounting points on the skateboard. Measured from the middle inside bolts, and usually between 13 to 15 inches, the wheelbase, in relation to the Deck Length, directly determines a considerable amount of the board’s handling and stability characteristics.

Skateboard Wheelbase Explained

Stoked Ride Shop Complete in Red Stain

Deck Length

The length of your board determines different elements of its performance, including its ability to pop, slide, and how it’ll generally behave while under your feet. Board length is a critical characteristic in regards to discovering the overall feel and responsiveness of a specific deck and the tricks you are able to pull off on it.

Skateboard Length Explained

The length of a skateboard is determined by a three interconnected measurements: nose length, tail length and wheelbase:

  • Nose Length: Measured between the middle of outer bolts and the nose of the board and is usually 6-7 inches
  • Tail Length: Measured between the middle of outer bolts and the tail of the board and is usually 6-7 inches
  • Wheelbase: Measured from middle of inside bolts and is usually 13-15 inches

Deck “Concave”

If you ask the average street skateboarder their opinion on a board’s “concave” most will respond with an answer that alludes to the curvature of their board’s nose and tail.

Deck Concave Explained

If you brought up this same topic to a longboarder, they would probably respond with an answer that references the longitudinal shape of their deck.

To clarify this discrepancy, it can be determined that depending on the person, the concept of “concave” in skateboarding carries two different meanings.

In Regard to Longitudinal Shape- A radial concave is the most common form for both skate and longboards that gives the decks a circular shape with grades ranging from low to high. These differences vary from company to company, depending on the specific molds used by their wood shop of choice.

Typically, boards with low radial concave possess a slight curvature that increases stability but takes away ease of flipping the board. Inversely, boards with a high radial concave often feel easier to flip but come without that same sense of stability when rolling.


Deck Camber & Rocker

A skateboards length and how it is shaped can play a big role in dictating the overall feel of the board and what specifically you can do with it. When a skateboard has a raised middle section, this outward bowed shape is known as camber, likewise, when a board is recessed in the middle past the neutral (flat) point, this is referred to as rocker. The vast majority of street / park boards have neutral camber.

Camber vs Rocker

Positive camber in skateboards works to increase the center of gravity, augmenting the overall flex and subsequent handling response characteristics of the deck. Rocker works in the opposite sense, where a recessed deck center decreases the total center of gravity, making the deck less reactive, but more stable at higher speeds. That being said, the vast majority of street / park boards feature neutral (flat) camber.

Nose and Tail

When the term concave is used to refer to the nose and tail of a deck, it typically used to describe the angle of the nose or tail from the ground. Generally, these classification for the general feel of this angle would either be mellow kick or steep kick.

Mellow Kick

A deck with mellow kick is generally considered more preferable for street skaters or skaters who are looking to do more technical maneuvers. This type of kick tail will have a flatter surface area so that riders can move their feet around and set up for a variety of tricks.

Since the massive amount of street tricks each require their own unique foot placement, many skaters choose a deck with a mellow kick because of the accessibility it provides them.

Example of Mellow Kick: Element Skateboards Stamina Deck

Steep Kick

A deck with steep kick is generally considered to be better for transition skaters who may not necessarily be doing such technical flip and spin tricks, but can use the extra tail for increased board feel. These skaters tend to travel at faster speeds than regular street skaters so being able to feel the parameters of their deck without needing to look down is a great benefit that a steep kick can provide to riders of this discipline. For those looking to pump bowls, pipes and snake runs, a more pronounced concave is often the way to go.

Example of Steep Kick: Miss Skateboards 'Alice' Deck

Disclaimer - It should be noted that the decision over mellow vs steep kick ultimately comes down to the level of comfort for the rider in question. If you went to your local skatepark, you could probably find street riders shredding on decks with steep concave or transition rippers carving on boards with a more mellow concave. As much as reading about this topic can steer you in the right direction, the only way to truly understand your preferences is to hit the streets, try different setups, and figure them out for yourself.

Nose vs. Tail

Nose

The nose of the standard street/park skateboard is typically wider and steeper than the tail, to account for the movement of the ollie. With this trick, the front foot moves up the board while the back foot moves downwards to pop it. As such, the steeper nose provides more surface area for the front foot to catch and help the board in its ascent.

This factor however, like many other components of the skateboard, varies from deck to deck depending on the specific molds and formulas used by the manufacturers. To specifically understand the characteristics of the deck you are looking at, it would be best to look at the specifications provided by the deck manufacturers themselves.

Tail

Board designs generally fall into three shape categories; double kick tails, a single kick tail, or no kick tail at all (which only really applies to cruiser boards vs street or park boards). Similar to the concept of board shapes, the inclusion of the tail and its form is largely related to the preferred discipline of riding - form follows function.

The distinctions behind these designs are as follows:

Double Kick

The most popular, and widely distributed skateboard shape is the double kick. With this, both the nose and tail have concave that slopes upwards, in order for the board to be popped and flicked, no matter which direction it is rolling.

Double Kick Skateboard

A deck featuring a double kick design is an essential component in most forms of street skateboarding, and anyone looking to focus on ollies & flip tricks.

Here is the selection of double kick skateboards.

Single Kick

Significantly less common, some street/park boards will feature a single kick design, where the tail of the board maintains a raised concave while the nose of the board remains flat. This design would typically be seen featured on old school shapes and is most preferred in pools where riders are more inclined to use their tails to grind the coping.

single kick skateboard deck

In another sense, decks designed for freestyle skateboarding may also feature a single kick design. Since this style of riding is predominantly stationary and features a variety of stall-type of tricks where the rider balances on their board at all kinds of different angles, the single kick design is ideal for the quirks in foot placement from one maneuver to the next.

Here is the selection of single kick skateboards.

No Kick

Rarely seen in the street / park world, boards lacking any kicks at all are most often categorized as “cruisers”. While lacking most practical functionality for popping tricks or riding transition, cruisers are intended for exactly what their name implies, cruising. Boards with no kick are a solid choice for those simply looking to get from point A to point B and have a little fun in the process.

no kick skateboard deck

Here is the selection of no kick skateboards.


Street & Park Deck Construction

Maple

The most readily available and thus the most common wood for construction of street and park decks. For this type of riding, (usually) 7 plys of maple are pressed together to provide a stiff and sturdy deck. Though the life of a maple deck largely depends on the level of impact that the skater imposes on it, these decks are ultimately subject to wear down and snap sooner or later.

Fiberglass

When used construct a deck, fiberglass is common for a manufacturer to add as a layer within the configuration of wooden plys in an effort to add extra support to the deck. Many different companies label their fiberglass-added builds with different names depending on their specific strategies for implementing it. Most times, the purpose is to provide some area of the deck with added support.

Other

Whether as the main building material of the board or as an added layer, the different components used in constructing street and park skateboards can vary greatly from board to board. With that being said, there are far too many materials and additives in the market to be listed. However, boards that feature these components are generally deemed to be premium products, as compared to standard 7-ply maple decks. Overall, the construction of the board should, like many other elements, be examined on a case by case basis.


Picking the Right Size Skateboard

Skateboard sizing has always been closely tied to personal preference. However, for someone just getting their feet wet in the artform, starting with a deck that fits their stance is important to learning the fundamentals.

Despite what you may think, the skateboard’s width plays a much larger role in sizing as opposed to wheelbase, or the skateboard’s overall length. A skateboard that is too wide for the rider will make attempting, and landing tricks more difficult; while a board that is too narrow, will cause the rider to feel unbalanced or unstable. It is important to try out different widths and determine a sizing that best works with your unique style.

While not set in stone, it is generally recommended for someone just getting started, that they size their board width based on their height and shoe size. A street / park board will most often be found with a 7.5” width across, but sometimes a bit wider. Riders above 5’2” in height with a shoe size 9 (US) or above are recommended to ride a full size board, while smaller riders below 5’ with a shoe size smaller than 8 (US) should consider a narrower deck.

Please refer to our handy deck sizing chart for more sizing details..

Beginner Board Sizes

Other Sizes

Kids / Micro - Below the spectrum of standard skate decks that start at 7.75”, there is a spectrum for decks that are more appropriately sized for children and young skaters. That said, unless your child is very young we would generally encourage starting with a 7.75" width board. Not only will they become familiar with a 'full size' skateboard faster, there is less risk of other kids at the skate park bullying them for riding a kids board (no joke!).

For boards in this category, differentiation in size are based solely in reference to the size of the rider, rather than on specific disciplinary preferences being that it is assumed that these boards are designed for those just learning how to ride. As such, a relative size chart is as follows:

  • Ages 5 & Younger / 6.5-6.75” x 27.2-27.5” / 3’4” or Shorter / Shoe Size 4 or Smaller
  • Ages 6-8 / 7” x 28” / 3’5” - 4’4” / Shoe Size 4-6
  • Ages 9-12 / 7.25 x 29” / 4’5 - 5’2” / Shoe Size 7-8
  • Ages 13+ / 7.5” x 31” / 5’3” or Taller / Shoe Size 9 or Larger

Components of a skateboard

This section is just to give you a quick run through of each component that makes up a complete skateboard. Click the links below to go more in depth with our Ultimate Guide series

Griptape

The sandpaper material applied directly to the top of the deck is known as griptape. It comes in various levels of grit, for varying levels of hold. Specifically for the street / park realm however, having griptape that allows the foot to reposition during ollies and flip tricks is preferred.

Trucks

Ergonomics of the deck aside, the primary point of articulation between the rider and the ground comes from the trucks. The hinged metal slabs bolted to the bottom of the skateboard, the “trucks” act to translate what’s going on on the deck to the wheels.

A skateboard truck’s anatomy can be broken down into three essential components; the baseplate, the hanger, and the bushings.

> The baseplates mount directly to the bottom of the skateboard and hold the kingpin, which the entire board and hanger assembly rests on. A strong kingpin is essential in any form of skateboarding and crucially carries the entire weight of the rider.

> The hanger of the truck fits into the baseplate’s pivot cup, and turns from side to side while resting on the bushings, situated on the kingpin / baseplate assembly itself. Stiffer bushings will limit turning, but add to stability, while with softer bushings the rider gains agility in turns, but loses overall stability.

> Bushing hardness, measured by “durometer”, ultimately plays its part in how loose or tight the trucks will be, giving the rider further means by which to dial in his or her preferred handling preferences.

Learn more: Ultimate Guide to Skateboard Trucks

Wheels

The skateboarding world has no shortage of options for you to choose from when it comes to wheel application. From gummy pool board wheels, to rock hard street skate rollers, your preference in wheel most commonly reflects what kind of skateboarding you prefer to do.

Obviously, different wheel shapes play to different strengths, and while an entire article can be written solely about wheel preferences (and has been here), the main takeaway is to understand what kind of wheel best suits your riding style.

Grippier wheels tend to be used for more cruising and stability related styles, while smaller, harder wheels show up more commonly in skateparks and in street skating applications, as you want the wheels to shift around a bit in order to more easily land tricks.

Learn More: Ultimate Guide to Skateboard Wheels

Bearings

The primary job of a bearing in a skateboard, is to keep you rolling, and keep you rolling smoothly. Bearings are important in situations where a rider requires the least amount of rolling resistance, or expects a certain level of durability when it comes to the rigors of landing tricks over and over again. Most notably, bearings are all chiefly expected to be durable, and while there are many different kinds to choose from, the main goal of a skate bearing, is that it keeps you going.

bearings

Learn more: Ultimate Guide to Skateboard Bearings

Hardware

Quite literally the nuts and bolts of the machine, “hardware” most commonly refers to the metal mounting bits on your skateboard (nuts, bolts, kingpin). While most always a second thought when it comes to assembly, hardware is arguably one of the most important aspects of a skateboard.

Fireball Hardware Flat Phillips

Quite literally the nuts and bolts of the machine, “hardware” most commonly refers to the metal mounting bits on your skateboard (nuts, bolts, kingpin). While most always a second thought when it comes to assembly, hardware is arguably one of the most important aspects of a skateboard.

Understandably, mounting hardware comes in an assortment sizes to accommodate different board thickness and truck riser heights. Most always found as either an allen or phillips screw application, skateboard hardware will also either feature a flat head, or a tapered or “truss” head bolt.

Make sure to pay close attention to your specific skateboard’s mounting holes, and make note as to whether they are recessed or not. If they are indeed recessed, then a truss head bolt is designed to fit into the recessed hole perfectly, leading to a flush deck platform, and nothing to obstruct the rider’s stance while attempting flip tricks.

As mentioned in the section pertaining to trucks, the kingpin supports the truck hanger and is vitally important to the boards assembly and functionality. Making sure you have a solid, strong kingpin is crucial to making sure you don’t have a really bad day.

There isn't much more to learn regarding skateboard hardware, other than ensuring you get the correct size bolts. Check out our hardware calculator here to find your perfect size.


Concluding

Overall, there is more standardization with street and park skateboards than there is with any other type of skateboard out there. However, with the amount of options in the market, there’s plenty of room for trying different configurations and discovering your optimal setup.

While reading about all of this is half the fun, the other half is going out and trying as many setups as you can to get a feel for the different decks out there. Shred safe and get Stoked.

If you are new to skateboarding we highly recommend you check out our safety guide before you start skating. You can get seriously hurt if you do not wear the correct pads/helmet.


Frequently Asked Questions

A quality skateboard deck (just the board, not with wheels/trucks) typically costs between $50-$110.

Regular all maple decks made from 7-ply maple wood generally costs about $50-$80 depending on the shape, brand, and model. Skateboard decks with fiberglass or other features that increase the strength of the deck generally go for $80-$110.

Check out our selection of skateboard decks here.

Skateboard decks typically weight 2-3 pounds. However, some can weight a little more or a little less depending on the materials used and the size of the skateboard.

For example, Powell Flight Decks weight a little less because they are built with fiberglass/maple instead of just maple. These decks have less plys of maple while being twice as strong.

When to replace your skateboard will depend on your care and usage of the deck. Skateboard decks are designed to last, but with regular use they will degrade. Some pro riders are replacing decks as often as once per week. However, the more common replacement time for average skaters is every 3-6 months with regular use.

Always inspect the condition of the deck if you are unsure. Does it still feel poppy and snappy when doing tricks? Decks that have been heavily used tend to lose pop over time.

Razor tail is also a common spot for wear. This is when skidding the tail on the ground causes the deck to thin and effective sharpen it. Decks with razor tail will not be as snappy for tricks and prone to chips/cracks.

Another thing to check is the plys. You have to make sure the plys are pressed together tightly and not delamining. Decks that are delaminating should be replaced immediately.

If you left your skateboard out in the rain or sprinklers and did not dry it immediately, it's probably time to get a new deck. Wood absorbs the water and the water degrades the glue holding the plys together. This makes the board delaminate, possibly warp, and feel waterlogged. Best to replace it!

Yes definitely! A thinner deck is going to be better for technical skateboarding and flip tricks. A wider deck is better for pool and vert.

While it is a lot of personal preference, wider decks are generally better for those with bigger feet.

This is a good start to choosing a width based on your shoe size.
This is a good start to choosing a width based on your shoe size.

Generally skateboard decks are expendable. That is to say that they are meant to be used and destroyed through proper use.

However, there are a few items that are designed to extend the life. One such option are skateboard rails.

Lots of shops have blank or shop skateboard decks. These are commonly a low cost alternative to a brand name board.

Of course, we recommend our Stoked Ride Shop Blanks as they are made in North America using 7-ply maple. The factory that makes these blanks for us also makes blanks for many other top brands that you've heard of but we're not allowed to say.

If you want a really good deal, you can check out our blem blanks. Same great deck, but cosmetically imperfect.

Check out our article here on how to paint a skateboard.

Learning how to do skateboard tricks is half the fun. It's challenging enough to make it rewarding, but not so difficult to make it impossible for everyone. This balance helps explain why skateboarding is so popular.

Check out our guide on the first 20 tricks you should learn as a beginner.

Whether you’re out for a cruiser, doing tricks at the local skate park, or carving up the bowl, there’s the perfect skateboard out there.

Checkout Our Recommended Skateboard Brands

New School Decks

  • Krooked
  • DeathWish
  • DarkStar
  • Black Label
  • Toy Machine
  • Anti Hero
  • Plan B
  • DGK
  • Alien Workshop
  • Mini Logo
  • Enjoi
  • Everslick
  • Paul Rodriguez Primitive lineup
  • David Gravettes pro deck from Creature
  • Almost Rodney Mullen Luxury Super Sap
  • Almost Youness Amrani decks

Old School & Cruiser Decks

  • Powell Peralta
  • Natas Kaupas Kitten cruiser by Santa Cruz
  • Sector 9
  • Ray Barbees Krooked Barbee Trifecta pool deck
  • Jeff Kendalls End Of The World deck also from Santa Cruz

If you still find yourself with any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to give us a shout here. We're looking forward to getting you out in the streets and rolling.

Stoked Ride Shop may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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