After riding your longboard for weeks or months, your grip tape may start to wear off, particularly if you do a lot of tricks and sliding. Even if it’s still
Another reason for removing your grip tape is if you want to change it for a thicker, or conversely, a more mellow one, or even one with a cooler design.
So how do you remove the grip tape from your longboard or skateboard deck? Just follow these simple steps:
- Remove your trucks from your deck and get some simple tools
- Heat up your grip tape using a hair dryer or heat gun
- Use a blade to peel back the edges of your grip tape
- Peel off the grip tape with your hands and apply more heat
- Remove grip tape residue using WD-40 or lighter liquid
Depending on how much and how hard you’ve ridden your longboard, removing the grip tape can be easy or a bit harder. Using heat makes it easier – even though you can do it without heat.
Let me go over the above steps and highlight a couple of simple tips that can help make this task smoother for you.
1. Prepare for grip tape removal
The tools you’ll need for removing grip tape from your deck are (Amazon links):
- A skate tool (or regular socket wrenches + screwdriver) to take off your trucks
- A heat gun or a blow dryer
- A flat razor blade, hobby knife, or box cutter knife
You’ll have an easier time removing the grip tape if you work on your naked deck, so I recommend you start by removing your trucks. If you’ve never done it, it’s very easy: use one of the sockets on your skate tool – or if you don’t have one, a standard socket wrench – to hold the nut under the truck. Meanwhile, use the screwdriver (e.g. from your skate tool) to unscrew the bolts of your trucks.
Do this for each of the 4 screws of each truck, push the deck against the floor to get the nuts to pop out of the deck, and the trucks will come off.
2. Heat up the grip tape across the deck
Use a hair dryer or a heat gun to heat up one end of your grip tape. If you use a hair dryer, set it to heat instead of cool dry.
Apply heat all over the grip tape for 1-2 minutes, then focus on one edge of the grip tape.
3. Use a blade to lift up the grip tape edges
Start with the heat on top of the grip tape to loosen it. Simultaneously, use the flat blade to start peeling a small edge of the grip, pushing it under the grip between the tape and deck.
Once you manage to get some of the grip edge lifted with the bottom exposed, blow the heat onto the underside of the grip tape while pulling softly. Applying the heat to the bottom side will help it to come off much better.
To avoid scratching or gouging the deck, slide the blade in almost parallel to the deck though with a slight angle. This way you won’t damage the deck – although a little paint may come off, which you can’t always avoid. The combination of the heat and the blade will make the grip come loose.
4. Peel off the grip tape with your hands
Once you’ve got a big enough piece of tape lifted off the edge of your deck and you have a good grip on it, you can start grabbing and pulling the grip off with your hands. If you l
As you’re peeling the grip tape off the deck by pulling it, go slower when you reach the truck mount holes as the grip tape may be caught in the holes which can cause it to tear if pulling too hard or fast.
If you feel the grip tape is not coming off easily and may tear as you keep pulling, use the same technique as you did to initially lift off one edge of the grip tape: use the blow dryer to heat up the underside of the grip tape as you peel it off, moving the heat source back and forth as you pull the tape back slowly.
Tip: after you’ve pulled the grip tape half way through your deck, you can either continue pulling the grip tape toward you, or you can flip the deck around and place your foot on the now bare half of your deck. Doing this can make it easier for you to peel off the second half, pulling on the long chunk of already peeled tape.
5. Scrape off the remaining bits of grip tape
If you’re lucky, by heating up the grip tape and pulling it slowly from one edge toward the center, it will come off easily without tearing. In most cases, however, the grip tape will tear on the side as you peel
If that’s the case, use the flat blade to gently scrape of the leftovers. If there are a lot, this may require some patience. You can use the hair dryer to soften and loosen the bits instead of risking scratching your deck.
6. How to remove grip tape residue
In many cases, the grip will come off cleanly without leaving any goo on the deck. In other cases, depending on the type of grip tape and how much the deck was ridden, you may end up with residue from the grip’s adhesive.
How can you remove the residue without messing up the artwork on your deck e.g. color patches? The best solution to remove adhesive residue is to spray some WD-40 on it and rub it off gently with a terry cloth. This works great and preserves the paintwork on your deck. Check out this short clip:
An alternative to WD-40 is to use lighter fluid like this one. Squirt some onto the residue, let it soak on it for a few seconds, and use a plastic blade or a credit card to scrape it off. You may need to do it a few times for everything to come off.
Most skaters agree, though, that the WD-40 approach is the safest and most effective for getting rid of the goo left on your deck after removing grip tape. Most of the time you won’t even need to scrape, simply wipe it off the deck. Also, WD-40 usually won’t affect the paintwork on your deck. Lighter fluid, on the other hand, may in some cases alter the paint, so make sure you test on a small section first.
How to remove grip tape without a hair dryer
If you don’t have access to a hair dryer or a heat gun, you can still remove your grip tape in the same way by sliding a boxcutter knife under the edge of your grip and working your way around the deck. Then, as explained earlier, you unbind one edge of the grip (e.g. the nose) with your knife until you have enough to grab the tape and start peeling off.
Without heat, however, there’s a chance that you’ll peel off only part of the layers that make up the grip tape, e.g. the grit and resin. The PVC film layer may remain on the deck, which may require more work to remove – again using WD-40 or lighter fluid.
How to clean grip tape
As you can tell from the previous sections, removing your grip tape is not hard but it does require a bit of work. If your grip tape is simply dirty, instead of replacing it you can simply try to clean it.
Here’s how you clean the grip tape on your longboard:
- Scrub the grip tape with a soft wire brush after dipping the brush in water and a bit of window cleaner liquid. This will help bring up deeper engrained dirt to the surface.
- Dry out the grip tape thoroughly using a terry or microfiber cloth. Rubbing the cloth onto the grip tape won’t work, just dab the grip tape repeatedly then leave the cloth onto it for a while until it’s perfectly dry.
- Use Grip Gum or rubber cement remover (from a hardware or art supply store) and rub it across your grip tape until all the dirt is removed.