How Grip Tape Is "Grippy"
- Category: Grip Tape
Today's grip tapes come with many choices, such as basic materials, colors, printed graphics, stencil cut-outs, and coatings. The following describes the materials used to make grip tape and the differences between brands.
Grip tape is composed of 4 layers, not counting the paper backing. The most common grip tape is made of:
• Silicon Carbide (SiC), or Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) grit
• Acrylic resin
• PVC film sheet
• Adhesive film
A standard sheet of grip tape for a street style deck is 9 inches wide by 33 inches long. Longboard decks get their grip tape cut from 60ft rolls.
The grit of grip tape is the sand-like surface made of silicon carbide or aluminum oxide. These materials are used as abrasives that provide the traction and are available in various grit sizes.
The size and amount of grit depends on the manufacturer and determines how well the grip tape works. In general, the grit is between 36-46 size grit, which is as small as table salt and as large as course ground pepper.
Skaters who like a lot of grip on their board, or prefer the way the grip feels while performing tricks, may want to know what the choices are:
Silicon Carbide (SiC) is widely used in the majority of standard black grip tape. Its hard composition and micron edges are sharper than a shaving razor, making it perfect for grip tape traction.
Silicon carbide grit also has smooth surfaces, which make it difficult for the resin to retain adhesion during use. When the grit breaks free from the resin, the grip tape wears out sooner.
Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) grit structure is more porous than silicon carbide allowing the resin to hold the grit better.
Because aluminum oxide does not have such sharp edges, and is less brittle than silicon carbide, the grip of this tape lasts longer and is more shoe friendly.
Aluminum oxide is often labeled as "white", but is actually clear. In bulk, it looks white and when it is spread on a deck, it looks colorless. When aluminum oxide is used for grip tape, it is the PVC film sheet and/or the resin that provide the color, not the grit.
Grip tape is composed in layers:
1. A Flexible PVC film sheet is used as the base structure of the grip tape.
2. Acrylic Resin is applied to the PVC sheet and holds the grit to the sheet. The quality of the resin and the amount used vary among manufacturers and are two of the main factors of why some grip tapes loose their grip sooner than others.
3. Adhesive film is applied to the opposite side of the PVC sheet and is the side that sticks to the skateboard deck.
Two types of Clear Grip Tape and their differences:
Clear grip tape allows the deck surface to show through. Clear grip surfaces are made in two ways. One type is similar to black or colored grip tape, using aluminum oxide, but is applied to a colorless sheet of PVC film. The other type of clear grip is not grip tape, and is coated on the surface by the manufacturer. Coated grip can be seen on decks by the brands Loaded, Duster, and Dissent.
The following is how this grip coating may be applied:
1. The deck is sprayed with a water-base wood sealer.
2. While the sealer is still wet, the aluminum oxide grit is sprinkled on. Steps 1 and 2 are repeated until grit looks secure and evenlyn dispersed.
3. The surface is inspected for even distribution of the grit.
4. A final, top-coat of sealer is applied.