DIY: Give Your Average Skate Shoe A Rubber ToeCap

Follow these Instructions and your shoes could look like this too. Done by: @feelingofstoke

Follow these Instructions and your shoes could look like this too. Done by: @feelingofstoke

Let’s face the facts:
1. If you skateboard, you are going to wear out your shoes much quicker than the general population.
2. A hole will blow through your shoes right when they finally start to feel broken-in.
3. Rubber toecaps are rad.
4. Life is too short to keep breaking-in new shoes.

There are many techniques we can try out to keep our favorite shoes in action and in my 15 years of skateboarding, I have tried them all to extend the usable life of my shoes. Duct tape, Shoe Goo, Skate-Aid patches, super glue, skate stickers, leather scraps, iron-on patches, hot glue – you name it, I’ve tried it.

The trouble is each method is usually an afterthought, a measure taken only when faced with an imminent blow-out. Even when any of these methods are applied to a new shoe, they all look out of place. Unless you have a shoe sponsor, you are going to need to try something to keep your shoes from going on you. For all you vegan skaters or bargain hunters who swear by canvas shoes, it’s always an uphill battle.

About a year ago, I realized the potential of Plasti Dip. It’s a liquid that cures into a rubber, and can now be found in spray can format. The initial liquid state allows for the rubber to bite deep in the grain of your suede or the weave of your canvas. Depending on your patience, you can build it up pretty thick with very clean results for better abrasion resistance and style. If you are thoughtful with your layout and execution, people will definitely do a double take and ask you how you got some samples.

The fine folks at Ripped Laces and DC were kind enough to provide me with a pair of canvas Nyjah Vulc’s to use for a demonstration, so follow along to see the whole process.

Step 1.

The listed material (below) of what you’ll be needing.

Step 1: Getting Started

Materials:
-Shoes (ideally brand new)
-Plasti Dip spray (available in clear, black, white, and red at hardware stores, and a plethora of other colors online. Between $7-$10 for a can)
-Masking tape
-Duct tape (or even better, thick vinyl tape)
-Electrical tape
-Pencil and/or Sharpie
-Scissors
-Exacto-knife
-Waxed paper (or griptape backing paper)

Step 2: Create Template

Preliminary measures before you start spraying.

Step 2: Create A Template

1. Lay down some masking tape on the area you wish to add some rubber.
2. Sketch out the shape of a toecap that fits your wear-patterns and/or the design of the shoe.
3. Repeat for the other shoe (in case there are any slight variances between left and right).

Template screens to protect the rest of the shoe.

Template screens to protect the rest of the shoe.

4. Cut out the negative space to use as a template for your mask (think of the mask as a stencil).
5. Evenly lay two layers of thick tape down on the slick side of your griptape backing paper. Your final spray masks should be thick to allow for a thicker build-up of Plasti Dip rubber.
6. Lay down your left and right masking tape templates on your thick tape. Cut carefully along these to create your final thick spray masks.

Protect the rest of the upper with these templates.

These templates will provide a clean finish to the rubber toe cap area.

7. Lay down the spray masks.
8. Use your electrical tape to cover the outsole.
9. Tape around any panels that weren’t included in your duct tape spray mask. Burnish the tape with a something blunt to make sure it wraps well.
10. Cover the rest in newspaper and masking tape.

Now you're ready to start applying some Plasti Dip

Now you’re ready to start applying some Plasti Dip

Step 3: Spray some rubber.

1. Lay down a light (but full-coverage) first coat.
2. Take out a rubber glove, and rub the first coat in to the canvas (or suede) beneath to ensure it solidly bonds to the base material.
3. Spray more coats, allowing about 10 minutes between coats. Repeat as many times as necessary to get that rubber toecap on point. Lay your last coat on a tad bit thicker if you want a glossier finish.

Step13

4. Remove your tape and masks while the last coat is still a little wet. Maybe 5 minutes after spraying.
5. Right after removing the masks, run your finger around the edge to mellow out any ridge that might have built up at the edge of the mask.
6. Bust out the Exacto to quickly scrape away any rubber that might have bled under the mask.

Step17

The fruits of your labor, a freshly & protective rubber toe cap.

And just like that, you’ve got your own DIY rubber toecap! For this demonstration, I also sprayed a couple of coats of clear Plasti Dip to the raised eyestay panel to add a little ollie protection and to show how the clear version looks.

But how does this DIY hack hold up, you might wonder? Glad you asked. After 8 hours of skating, these shoes have done one thing that canvas shoes have never done before- they have lasted more than just one session. The added material of the rubber toecap makes for a slightly stiffer fit at first. But just like a stock rubber toecap, this DIY version will break-in after a couple of days.

After.DCNyjah

Take a look to see how the shoes have fared after about 10 sessions. (8 Hours)

An ollie hole is developing, but that is likely due to the fact that I went a little light on the clear Plasti Dip. I should have sprayed about double the amount of coats. The real take-away from this wear test is the thick rubber toecap is still largely intact – no holes have developed through the canvas where the black Plasti Dip has been thickly sprayed. Yes, a little bit of blue canvas is finally peeking through and a new coat of Plasti Dip or Shoe Goo will be needed to keep the shoes going, but the same would probably be true for many suede shoes skated for 8 hours. This shows how well the DIY rubber toecap held up and effectively extended the usable life of an inherently non-durable canvas skate shoe.

So go ahead. Take durability and footwear design into your own hands. Spice up some boring one-piece toe shoes. Stand out among the masses. If you aren’t content with how long your shoes last or how they look, this DIY mod is for you. A great rubber toecap can be yours with a little patience and a nice spray mask, and for a minimal investment.

DIY article done by: Scott Warneke
Follow him on Instagram for more creative projects & because he’s skating everyday for 2 years straight. Damn…

Comments

  1. Prophet Monkey

    May 1, 2015 5:58am

    Oko

    Reply
  2. honglonglong

    May 1, 2015 11:45am

    nike used some called “hyper screen” shoes. what is that material?

    Reply
    • feelingofstoke

      May 1, 2015 10:48pm

      Nike uses a few names for the same product, depending on the category and application. Hyperscreen, Hyperfuse, Nikeskin… it all is essentiall flat-stock TPU rubber that is heat-pressed into the upper while the upper material is still flat. They offer it in a variety of thicknesses depending on the shoe and use. I can’t find any exact compound info for Plasti-Dip, but it is a form of rubber as well, and in the spray form allows for it to be applied to complex surfaces if desired.

    • honglonglong

      May 2, 2015 3:32am

      i’ve always glued some leather pieces on my shoe toes though it looks ugly but nowadays vulc shoes —for me— are just some leathers and rubbers.

  3. honglonglong

    May 1, 2015 11:49am

    and if this dip could raplace grip tape——we don’t even waste shoes anymore!!

    Reply
    • feelingofstoke

      May 1, 2015 10:51pm

      Companies have tried various rubber and foam solutions to “replace” griptape… but nothing has even come close to truly replacing the functionality of traditional griptape. Course sandpaper style griptape is here to stay!

    • honglonglong

      May 2, 2015 2:34am

      great! let’s keep tearing

  4. Han

    May 1, 2015 1:32pm

    How’d you get all that tape off without leaving residue behind? Or did you not mention it? Anyway, you can usually get the residue off if you (wait for everything to dry and then) go back and use tape to stick on and peel off the sticky bits on your shoe. Sort of like how you would use tape to get lint or cat hair off of a coat.

    Reply
    • Plasti-dip Pro

      May 1, 2015 3:02pm

      Use either masking or painters tape and they wont leave it

    • feelingofstoke

      May 1, 2015 7:48pm

      Good call Han. I didn’t have any issues with reside being left behind on the canvas Nyjah’s, but used a method similar to yours when I had some residue left on my GT Blazers. Ideally, it’s best to use a thick vinyl tape instead of duct tape, less issues with residue and gunk.

  5. Mike C

    May 2, 2015 5:52am

    OH DANG I can’t wait to try these on the canvas skate shoes my girl bought but thinks i dont like cuz i dont skate em. RL saving relationships?!?

    Reply
  6. sky

    May 2, 2015 6:23pm

    Damn! If vans wont reissue the salman agah rubber toecap shoe, I’m gonna have to make it myself!!!

    Reply
  7. hick

    May 4, 2015 10:54pm

    Damn, this is mad creative!!! I’m gonna try this technique on every shoe i buy from now on, no matter the material of the shoe.

    Reply
  8. Lump

    May 7, 2015 5:26pm

    Doing this to my vans eras right now, anything to make the canvas last longer

    Reply
  9. jshnrz

    July 31, 2015 12:42am

    what actual product from plasti dip shall i get?

    Reply
  10. Nikolas G

    August 26, 2015 9:15pm

    How many coats make a thick solid coat as thick as lets say, the huf classic. I want the cap to not get flicked trough

    Reply
  11. tim

    December 13, 2015 2:02am

    just put a toecap on my mike mo s. went for the marana look. turned out good. thanks

    Reply
  12. Socrates

    May 1, 2016 6:18pm

    Can you do this to leather shoes ?

    Reply
  13. God

    June 14, 2016 9:13pm

    can you do this on suede shoes, i just bought new shoes and don’t want to risk it unless it works

    Reply
  14. Johny peter

    December 20, 2016 8:00am

    Thanks a lot

    Reply

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