A Beginners Guide To Skateboard Decks

The right skateboard deck for you is a mix of the right size, shape, wheelbase, concave, and body type.

Skateboard decks do differ in quality. There are a couple of ways to see if a skateboard deck is decent. Most comes down to the quality of the wood which varies each year depending on the the trees that are brought into the factories for processing.

  • You need a 7-ply hard rock maple deck with quality epoxy resin (glue).
  • Avoid unknown brands, and avoid birch decks.
  • Make sure it comes from a reputable wood shop like PS Stix, BBS, or Watson.
  • Brand reputation is not always a guarantee of getting a quality deck.
  • Check the wheelbase, a shorter wheelbase makes a board responsive.
  • Check the skateboard deck concave, make sure it fits your style.
  • Graphics get you stoked, so pick a graphic you love.
skateboard decks standing against a rail

Know Your Skate Style

When it comes to skateboarding, different styles require specific deck shapes tailored to enhance performance. For street skating popsicle shape decks are the go-to choice, offering versatility for riding fakie and switch and technical tricks.

On the other hand, transition skaters tackling pools and bowls prefer wider decks, often above 8.25 inches, with some opting for old school-inspired “shaped decks”. These shaped decks provide stability and control, ideal for carving up ramps and hitting transitions with confidence.

Consider Your Body Type

Finding the right deck length is important for maintaining control and balance on your board. Smaller riders may benefit from slightly shorter decks, while taller skaters should opt for longer boards to accommodate their height.

Additionally, matching deck width to shoe size makes for a comfortable foot placement and prevents your toes sticking out, allowing for maximum control and stability during tricks and maneuvers. Beginners will benefit more from a stable ride offering enough deck real estate.

Consider Your Weight

Skateboarders of all sizes and weights can enjoy the sport, but it’s recommended to choose a deck that can withstand the demands of your body type.

Heavier skaters should opt for larger boards with sturdy construction, such as those with an 8-ply build or special impact technologies, to prevent breakage during intense sessions. Conversely, lighter skaters may prefer smaller, more maneuverable boards for nimble and precise movements on the streets or in the park.

Durable decks for heavy skaters

Shape And Riding Performance:

The shape of your skateboard deck can significantly impact your riding performance and overall experience on the board. Wider boards offer stability and smooth rides at high speeds, making them ideal for tackling transitions and ramps with confidence.

However, they require more power to flip, making technical tricks more challenging. Narrower boards, on the other hand, are lighter and easier to flip, perfect for beginners and street skaters looking to master flip tricks and technical maneuvers.

Additionally, longer decks provide more surface area for catching and landing tricks, while shorter decks offer increased agility and spin capabilities.

Brands Don’t Matter Much

There are no skateboard brands that are better than others, it’s about the brand you prefer and the team or skater you like to support. Find out which brands have their boards made by, for example, PS Stix, a very reputable wood shop owned by Paul Schmitt (AKA The Professor).

The truth is that even the most known brands offer both high and low quality decks. Powell Peralta and Santa Cruz use birch wood for their complete skateboards to cut costs, for example.

Skateboard decks on a table

Element offers cheaper decks that snap more often, and Baker asks ridiculous prices for a simple 7-ply Maple deck.

Note that I’m talking about real skateboard brands here, not the cheap ‘brands’ you’ll find on Amazon.

Choosing The Right Size Takes Time

Usually, the first thing you want to look for when buying a deck is size. The width of your deck will depend on your age, gender, and preference; but also the style of skating you want to do.

Here are a few baselines to give you a direction. Take these as indications, don’t regard it as the truth.

Like many things in skateboarding, skateboard deck size ultimately comes down to preference. Don’t be afraid to test different widths, it will help to figure out what works best for you.

This table gives you an idea of the average most popular sizes across both disciplines. Take these as indications, not imperative rules to follow.

HeightRecommended Street Skateboard Deck SizeRecommended Transition Skateboard Deck Size
3.6ft (Less than 110cm_6.5” – 7”7.5” and under
3.6ft-4.2ft (110cm-130cm )7” – 7.2”7. 75” – 8.1”
4.2ft-5.2ft (130cm-160cm )7.3” – 7.75”8.2” – 8.5”
5.2ft (160cm) or taller7.8” to 8.5”8.5” and higher

When you buy a skateboard, skateboard length is hardly ever mentioned. In general a longer deck has a bigger turning radius which is more noticeable when you skate transition or bowl. Most street decks have a length between 28” and 32”.

The variation comes from the shape and steepness of the nose and tail. For skateboard size, we’re talking about the width, not the length.

If you want to measure deck length, make sure you put the ruler on the top of the nose and tail and press it against the grip-tape.

How to pick the right size skateboard deck

Wheelbase Explained

Deck Wheelbase: The wheelbase of a skateboard is essentially the distance between the front and back, mounting holes closer to the middle of the deck. It gives you a good sign of how far your trucks are set-up apart.

Truck wheelbase: We measure truck wheelbase the same way as car wheelbase. Taking the distance between the center of each wheel on the same side.

skateboard wheelbase

You might want to select the appropriate wheelbase depending on the type of street skating you do.

If you are tackling more ledges and manual pads, maybe a shorter wheelbase will work best for you, but if you are looking for stability for jumping gaps or to get the pinch when grinding rails, a longer wheelbase may suit your style better.

Longer wheelbase means less responsive turning and a short wheelbase makes a skateboard more responsive.

Keep in mind that the type of trucks also change your wheelbase. Thunder Trucks make for a wide wheelbase, while Independent and Royal Trucks make for a shorter wheelbase because of the angle of the trucks hangar.

Concave Explained

Skateboards have a sideways curve called ‘concave’. There are three main types: low, medium, and high. Some rare boards have a super-high curve.

New skaters should avoid extreme curves. You’ll have a better learning experience with a mellow or low concave deck as it provides more stability.

For example, flip tricks are difficult with flat boards, and riding bowls with super-high curves can be uncomfortable.

If you want to mostly ride transitions, choose a low curve. If you’re aiming for kickflips, pick a steeper curve. For general use, a medium curve is safest and most versatile.

Even though concave type is usually directly specified on the board, that doesn’t mean all decks have the same low, medium or high concave.

skateboard deck-concaves types

To see how concave a particular deck is in a skate-shop, I do two things. I start by simply grabbing the board by the middle and look from tail to nose on the grip side.

You can’t miss the curvature of the edges. Then I put the deck on the floor (ask first) and step on it to see how it feels.

Deck Shapes

old school skateboard decks

Different styles of skateboarding, such as street skating, bowl, vert, and cruising, require specific skateboard deck shapes to meet their respective demands. Here’s a summary of the main deck shapes:

  1. Classic Popsicle Shape (Street Skateboard Deck): The standard shape for street and park skating is the Twin-Tip or Popsicle Shape. This design features a symmetrical nose and tail, allowing for easy riding switch.
  2. Old School Pool/Bowl Deck: Decks designed for transition skating, like pool and bowl riding, are typically wider, often exceeding 8.25 inches. These decks may resemble old school skateboards and are referred to as “shaped decks.”
  3. Modern Shaped Deck: Shaped decks offer a blend of new school street decks and old school pool decks. They feature pronounced concaves, curved noses, and tails, catering to transition skaters who also enjoy street sessions.

Deck Types And Skate Styles

Instead of listing a bunch of decks, we’ll list a couple styles, brands some decks with certain characteristics.

Then we’ll kindly ask you to visit your local skate shop to buy a deck. So here’s a couple of categories you might be looking for

  • Strong skateboard decks for those that often break decks
  • Budget decks and brands if you are on a tight budget
  • Decks for street
  • Decks for bowl, street, flatground, and general transition skating

Street Skateboarding

You can pick decks from Almost to Zoo York. All brands offer street decks so your job is to figure out which size you prefer, the wheelbase, and how you like your concave.

skateboard deck concave

In general technical street skateboarders like to ride decks between 8.0 and 8.25 with medium to high concave.

Some prefer a shorter wheelbase for more responsiveness and higher concave to make flip tricks easier.

Pick a brand with a pro team you prefer, check if you’re not overpaying (like Baker) and make a choice.

Visit your local skate shop, this will allow you to stand on a board and feel the concave. While you can’t go out and shred, it should give you more direction than just comparing decks online.

Transition Skateboarding

Transition skateboarders skate wider decks in general than street skateboarders. Many ride 8.25″ decks that gives a bit more stability when skating objects in a skatepark. Some choose for a lower concave.

Low concave decks offer a better board of feeling and stability. It’s a comfortable concave that suit transition skaters the best.

It also can be a brilliant choice for gaps and impact skating as you have a broader surface to land on.

However, be aware that you must flick harder to flip tricks with a low concave. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do tre-flips, though.

If you’re a bowl or mini ramp kind of skateboarder, a wider skateboard deck really works wonders. 8.5″ decks are great for mini ramps and bowls.

Nowadays you also see a trend of the boards getting wider. 8.75″ and 9.0″ is great for dedicated bowl riders.

Bowl Skating

Go with a deck that’s at least 8.5″ wide. If you are a tall person you could consider a longer wheelbase and even wider deck. If you have huge feet, a wider board will really make your life easier. 9.0″ or even 10″+ could make a huge difference.

This may sound crazy if you’re coming from a street background but it just works. A wider deck provides a lot of stability, I had a hard time adjusting coming from a 7.75″ but it really works for me nowadays.

skateboarder in bowl

On a Budget? Check out these Brands

If you’re looking for a cheap skateboard deck that doesn’t snap on day one, you might want to take a look at the following brands.

  • CCS
  • Mini Logo
  • Bamboo Skateboard decks
CCS skateboard

CCS offers cheap decks that are very durable. While not everyone will like the shape, it’s a decent starter deck while you’re exploring you preferences.

We skated two CCS decks and there isn’t really anything to complain about. I personally don’t like the concave but that’s personal preference.

Mini Logo actually belongs to Powell-Peralta and offers decent blank decks for cheap. Pretty on par with the CCS from what I heard, haven’t skated one tbh.

Bamboo is also an option. While many skateboarders aren’t a fan of bamboo, it isn’t bad at all. The top and bottom layers consist of bamboo, the center features 5 maple plies.

Bamboo decks have a bit of a different pop compared to 7ply maple decks. A bit like a thud instead of a crispy pop. It doesn’t matter, they skate fine, last for a long time, and are cheap.

Durable Skateboard Decks

A couple of brands offer durable skateboard decks which are also great for heavy skaters.

  • Santa Cruz: VX
  • Powell Peralta: Flight Deck
  • Impact decks (recommended)
  • Real: R1
  • Lithe: Slate 3 and Nex
skateboard deck materials

There are more brands that offer stronger decks, but this should give you a good direction in what to look for when you want a skateboard deck that lasts for a long time.

Impact decks are affordable and they keep their pop for a long time. The carbon fiber isn’t as prominent as in the VX and Flight decks. It’s way more subtle.

Almost Impact decks don’t have the issues the VX and Flight decks have. The fibers on the VX and Flight decks cause skin irritation and the decks just don’t pop as much.

In time, VX and Flight decks also develop tears and cracks which affects the responsiveness and stiffness, even while the board was still in tact.

As for Lithe, awesome decks as they don’t chip or razor tail ! The Nex is a good deck but is heavier, and the Lithe Slate 3 is too expensive ($200 USD) for your average skateboarder.

Want an affordable skateboard deck that has good pop and lasts longer? Definitely check out Impact decks.

Large Feet Require Bigger Boards

The obvious answer is to take larger boards. But how much? The best way to know for sure is to head out to the skate-shop and try different sizes by standing on top of a deck.

It’s normal for your heel and toes to stick out. Besides that, most of your sole should cover the deck, if that’s not the case, go wider.

I have a friend 6 foot 3 and wear size 13 US size shoes. Even though he mostly does street skating, he currently rides a 9” deck because he hates having his feet come out too much of the board.

To still do flip tricks somewhat easily, the secret is to take high concave decks.


For most skaters, having clothes your hyped on will boost your self-confidence and by that matter, your skating. The same thing goes with the graphics of your skateboard.

Having a design that appeals to you should be a deciding factor when choosing a deck. You need to be hyped to go skate and show off this sweet piece of art you found.

Personally, I don’t consider graphics as a priority when I select a deck. Still, I wouldn’t ride a skateboard, I dislike the art.

It’s definitely a big plus if the graphic is something I’m hyped on, but I’d rather have the perfect size, concave and shape combo over a breath-taking art and having to compromise.

However, I totally understand skaters that are passionate of graphics and always want the cleanest and coolest design. For those riders, selecting a deck with a protected graphic would make sense.


Did you know that some decks came with warranty? It’s something I don’t see being discussed enough, while it can be a deciding factor in choosing a deck.

For instance, the two Almost reinforced decks have a warranty. The Impact Support has a 30 days come with 30 days and the Double Impact with 45 days.

All Real Skateboard decks are manufacturer’s defect guaranteed, meaning you can send it back and get a new one if you see some nods or you break it quickly than normal.

Even if the deck you’ve bought didn’t mention having a guarantee, it doesn’t hurt to try.

A few years ago, I broke a fresh Nomad deck right in the middle of my first session riding, not even doing impact stuff, flat-ground tricks.

I went back to the shop to explain my situation, and they sent back my deck to the manufacturer and let me pick a new one.

Skateboard Deck Manufacturers Overview

Just to give you a perspective, here’s a short overview of brands and where their decks are made. Note that some brands have contracts with multiple wood shops and switch frequently.

ManufacturerSkateboard Brands
PennswoodAmerican Nomad, Buzzbomb, Clubhouse, Cockfight, Junkadelic, Lost Soul, Lotus Skateboards, Lovenskate, Mortuary Skateboards
PS Stix917* -2020, Brand-X, Circle – A, Disorder, Dogtown, Element* (EU), Lifeblood, Meow, New Deal, Strangelove
WoodchuckBLVD, Death, Losers ATX, Finesse
WatsonAlva (specials), Black Label (specials), Blockhead, Dogtown* (specials), G&S (specials), Imperfects
BBSAlien Workshop, Almost, Antihero, Baker, Birdhouse, Blind, Chocolate, Creature, Darkstar, Deathwish, Element, Enjoi, Girl, Zero, Welcome, Powell Peralta
Clutch[Brands associated with Clutch]
DwindleAlmost, Blind, Darkstar, Dusters, Enjoi, Madness, Santa Cruz, Superior, Tensor, Zero
South Central5boro, Bacon, Heritage,

Source: https://www.slapmagazine.com/index.php?topic=120409.0

Final Thoughts

Always check the quality of the deck before riding. Look out for wood nods, check the plies of your board and make sure they all are in good shape.

If not return it or otherwise you have to replace your skateboard deck sooner than later.

If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t bug too much on choosing your first deck. Even though it’s a pretty big step and doesn’t come that cheap.

Chances are, if you really like skateboarding, you will eventually try different ones until you find your favorite(s).

If you’re experienced, and you think you already know what is your perfect set-up, I would still keep an open mind to try new things.

For instance, carbon decks are the answer if you’re tired of snapping decks left and right, while old school decks can bring you new feels riding pools.

I hope this article helped you know what you need to look for when choosing a deck, and which brands will fit the most of your riding style.

Photo of author

Ruben Vee

I love skateboarding but my age is catching up. I decided to use my experience to skate less and write more. 20 years of skateboarding allows me to offer original and unique insights for many styles of skateboarding.