Custom Skateboard Design – Tips For Creating Unique Decks


custom skateboard grip tape

Nothing feels better than rolling up to the park and having people compliment your skateboard. When the homies say “Cool Skateboard! I’ve never seen that graphic before!” it makes a person feel pretty special.  It’s an even better feeling when you can say “Thanks, I designed it myself!”

There are many different ways you can design your own custom skateboard.  Ordering a custom skateboard is one of the easiest ways to design your own complete skateboard with a Custom Graphic, and for a specific purpose.  You’ll have a nice, clean, professional result.  There are many other ways to customize your skateboard too.  Let’s have a look at some of the ways we can exercise our creativity.

Can You Customize a Skateboard?

ABSOLUTELY!!!  Your skateboard should be an extension of your personality and style, and you should feel free to customize it any way that you deem fit.  Every single part of your skateboard can be customized so you have the exact skateboard you want.  But, skateboard customization can vary greatly in cost depending on the route you decide to take. 

Some of the ways you can customize your skateboard are:

  • Custom Skateboard Printing: Have your own custom graphic printed on a skateboard!!!  You can send designs to a manufacturer to do this, you can paint your own skateboard, you can silk screen your own designs, you can just draw on it with markers.  All of these options will allow you to customize your skateboard
  • Custom Griptape: You can customize your grip tape easily to give you a look that is uniquely yours.  You can color it with paint pens, mix different kinds of griptape, and/or cut it up to create your own custom designs.  The possibilities are almost limitless to griptape customization.
  • Build a Skateboard from the Ground up: This will cover functional design as opposed to graphic design.  You can build your own custom skateboard to suit any style.  Pick the deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, griptape, and hardware.  Put it all together and you have a completely custom skateboard with all the things you want it to have.

Let’s look at these customization options in greater depth.

Custom Skateboard Printing

Custom Skateboard printing doesn’t need to be expensive and you don’t need to print a minimum run of 50 decks.  CCS.com offers the “Custom Skateboard Complete”.  This option allows you to design the bottom graphic of your skateboard and outfit it with all the components for as low at $109.95 USD.  

The CCS brand components are included in this price, but you can pay a little more if you want to upgrade the trucks, wheels, bearings, hardware and griptape.  CCS.com is by far the best bang for your buck if you want a fully customized and professional skateboard.  They will even put it all together for you, for free!

CCS.com’s design interface is really user friendly.  You type in text, choose the color and font, and place it where you want.  You can upload pictures from your computer and place them on the deck too.  It is a fun little design tool to play with.  Next thing you know, hours have gone by.  

I added 3 different text boxes, each with different fonts and colors, and placed them where I wanted.  I uploaded an old picture of my dogs and put that in the middle.  It is a simplistic example but shows how easy it is to design a skateboard deck. 

They have the standard range of sizes available too; from 7.75″ to 8.5″.  These sizes are available in the standard popsicle shape made from Canadian Hard Rock Maple.  You are going to get a high quality complete from CCS.com.

Silk Screen Printing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGrisPxu6Hk

Silk Screening, or Screen Printing, is a technique where a graphic is placed on a screen and then printed on a medium like clothing or skateboard deck.  It can be done in as many layers and colors as you can imagine, or it can be as simple as one screen and one color, or as complex as multiple screens and multiple colors.  

Screen printing is how most graphics are put on clothing and has been adapted to the assembly line model for mass production.  The beautiful thing about screen printing is that once you have made the screen, it can be used over and over again on any medium and you will achieve a uniform print of your graphic.

Screen printing is very inexpensive.  It can be achieved with stuff you can buy on Amazon.com, or at a craft store.  You can buy a silk screening kit or buy all the components separately.  You need a wooden frame, some paint, a Deco-page medium, some kind of screen fabric, and a squeegee.  For as little as $20 you would be on the way to making your first basic silk screens.  It would be a fun rainy day activity. 

Imagine you wanted to make a Skate Team with you and your friends.  You could easily design a logo, put it onto a screen, and screen print boards, t-shirts, and sweaters for everyone.  Then when you went to a competition or to the skatepark, you would all have your Team Uniform and it would cost you very little to have everyone set up.  

Painting Your Deck

You can very easily customize your skateboard by painting it.  There are limitless possibilities on how you can paint your skateboard.  All you really need is sandpaper, paint and creativity.

  • Remove the trucks- Remove the trucks and hardware.  It will be hard to work around these things, and you don’t want to risk getting paint into any of the moving parts.
  • Prep the board-  It will help the paint to stick if you sand off the existing graphic.  This will remove any varnish or sealers that were applied at the factory.  You don’t have to get the graphic fully removed, but it should be smoothly sanded.  Just make sure that you aren’t sanding through any layers of the plywood.  Ensure to wipe the surface clean of any sawdust or debris before moving onto the next steps.
  • Prime the board- Using a white primer as your base coat will give you a clean and even canvas for your new design.  It also prepares the skateboard to accept the new paint.  Applying two coats of primer should do nicely.
  • Paint the board-  Make sure the surface is clean and clear of dust and debris.  This is where you show your creativity. You can use spray paint or acrylic paint to paint your skateboard.  You can use all kinds of different techniques to achieve your result.  You can use masking tape, stencils, or paint free hand to make your designs.  Channel your inner Pablo Picasso or go with something simple.  The choice is yours… You are the artist.

Drawing with Markers

Again, limitless possibilities.  Using permanent or paint markers, you can draw whatever you like on your skateboard.  You can add to the graphic that came on the board or you can prime and paint the board first and add details with markers.  Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.  Let those creative juices flow!

Design Custom Griptape Art

If you really want your custom skateboard to stand out, there is no better way than with custom grip tape.  Sure you can buy griptape with pictures or designs on it and cutouts, but nothing adds character to your set up more than a custom-designed grip job.  Let’s look at some of the ways you can customize your grip:

Color Your Griptape

You can color your griptape in a few ways.  Some people will spray paint it, but the best method will be to use Paint Pens.  Paint pens can be picked up for relatively cheap almost anywhere.  They are easy to use and dry quickly.  You can get very detailed designs using paint pens.

The best way to start using paint pens it to print a design from the internet.  Then trace it on your griptape with a pencil.  Do the outlines and color it in.  It’s really that easy.  If you are really confident you can try freehand designs.  The sky really is the limit with coloring custom grip tape.

Cutting Griptape

Lots of people like to cut their griptape into interesting designs.  Some like to get really intricate and make cobblestone-like or brick patterns with it.  Others will cut into triangles or diamonds and stick them on. Try mixing colors of griptape or add clear griptape for interesting designs.

There really is no limit to how you can cut designs into your griptape (provided it still gives you grip on your board).  Cutting griptape isn’t very difficult.  It is best to cut griptape from the underside (the side with the paper) with the paper still on.  

Lay it on a surface that can get damaged, like plywood or a cutting mat.  Use a utility knife with a fresh blade. Peel off the paper and stick the cut grip tape however you have designed it.  Don’t use scissors.  They cannot handle the punishment and will go dull and unless in no time.

Build a Skateboard From the Ground Up

skateboard parts

Maybe you aren’t an artist but you still want to make your skateboard “yours”.  Design doesn’t just have to only be graphic, it can also be functional design.  You don’t have to settle for a prebuilt complete; you can design your skateboard with components you pick and design your skateboard to suit a specific type of skating.

How do you pick and build a complete skateboard setup?

It’s pretty simple.  You do some research and shop around for all the parts you need and want.  The Skateboard Configurator takes a lot of the guesswork out of this process by helping you tailor a skateboard setup to the type of skating you will be doing.  Play around with it.  It’s a fun tool!

Where Can You Shop for the Components?

There are several places to shop for components for your custom complete setup:

Mail Order: 

There are lots of skateboarding websites that you can buy components from.  Lots of them even give you the option of “Building a Complete”. CCS.com is one of the easier websites to use. It shows all the components you will need and you pick the ones you want. 

Local Skateshop:

Your local skate shop has everything you need to build your custom-designed skateboard.  The people there are friendly and love to help people design their dream custom setups.  I am sure it as fun for them as it is for you. 

A Mix of in-Person and Mail Order Shopping:

Most local shops offer curb-side pickup and some offer free local delivery.  You order your parts through their website, and can pick them up or have them dropped off at your door.  I purchased several items this way during quarantine times.  It was convenient and extremely safe feeling.

I ordered the parts for new custom setup online from a local shop and did curb-side pickup.  I picked my parts, added them to the cart, paid online and picked it up the next day. I was able to match the parts to the deck to see how they would look and fit.  

I asked the worker a few questions about the setup and he was great at answering my questions.  I was in and out in under 10 minutes.

Here is the Cruiser/Curb setup I designed and the thought process I used to get there:

Custom Cruiser Custom Cruiser

What Is the Setup Going to Be Used For?

I wanted to design a Cruiser/Curb Crusher.  My street/park setups don’t work too well for cruising the rough and gravelly streets of my town.  I wanted something that would be wide and stable with soft wheels that could handle the crappy conditions of our walking paths and streets.

What Components Do I Need?

Because I was designing a new setup I decided to go with components I have wanted to try out for a while. I used the Skateboard Configurator to help me pick the sizes and brands of components I would use for a Cruiser.  Here is the breakdown of the components I used in this setup:

  • Deck: Skull Skates Dead Guys Stinger 9.125 x 32.5. – Its a wide and long deck with lots of stability.  I wanted an old school shape and I had aways liked the graphics on Skull Skates Decks (and that I was supporting an Iconic Canadian Skateboard Company) so I thought I’d give this a try.
  • Trucks: Independent Stage 11 Hollow Forged 169 I needed a really wide truck for a deck that width.  I like the way Indy’s carve so went with the Hollow Forged to shave a bit of weight off.
  • Wheels:Bones ATF Rough Rider 59mm- I am normally a tiny wheels kinda guy, but little wheels don’t cut it for a cruiser.  The smallest I figured would work would be 59mm. The Bones ATF are 80A hardness and are said to provide a smooth and soft ride over rough terrain.  I figure this was the right setup to try them on.
  • Bearings: Bones Big Ball Reds- I have used Bones Reds in the past.  They are the standard go-to bearing. I was curious to try Big Ball Reds because the are supposed to be close to the more expensive Bones Swiss.
  • Riser Pads: Independent 1/4″- I skate very loose trucks and have chronic wheel bite problems, but never use risers.  I knew I would need risers for this setup, despite getting Independent Trucks (which are higher than most brands).  I wasn’t too concerned with the brand, but I was getting Indy Trucks so I picked Indy Risers.
  • Hardware: Shorty’s 1.25″ Philips- I actually prefer Allen Bolts but they didn’t have them in this length.  I could have went with a different brand, but Shorty’s had a good price point and a solid reputation.
  • Grip Tape: Mob Wide 10″x33″- Plain boring black Mob.  I always buy Mob.  It works better for me than others I’ve tried.  I know how it behaves and breaks in.  Its the best grip for me.
  • Rails: Pig Rails (Pink)- I’ve never liked skating with rails but because I was planning on skating curbs with this setup, I to be able to easily board slide curbs.  (I wanted a red color to match the wheels but they only had pink and I’m not that fussy).

While this was definitely the more expensive route to take when designing a custom skateboard, I have a new setup I love that works well for me cruising the rough streets and bashing into curbs.  It’s also really good for carving bowls. (Maybe I’ll ride bowls more now)

You Can Design a Custom Skateboard

There you have it folks!  Designing your own custom skateboard is fairly simple to do and it is a really, really fun process.  It’s a great feeling to have created something that is completely original.  There are lots of different routes you can take to make your dream skateboard a reality. 

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Ruben Vee

I'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can. Insta @skateboardershq

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