About Wood for Skateboard Ramps

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If you are building a skateboard ramp put a little thought into the type of wood you are going to use. You can use simple pine boards or composite materials that are a little lighter and stronger. It may come down to how much money you are willing to spend. Many skate ramps are made of simple pine boards and plywood. Others are made with pine, hardwood and skatelite, a composite material.

History

  • In the early days, most skate ramps were made with pine, since it was readily available and easy to find. It was not very expensive and was strong enough to hold the weight of the ramp. Innovations in skate ramp woods include thinner plywoods, masonite plywood and other composites. Today, the best ramps are made of skatelite over a pine frame built of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" boards.

Function

  • Skate ramp wood is supposed to be strong and bendable. If you are building the ramp outside, it should also be weatherproof, so pressure-treated boards for the frame are a great idea. The wood needs to be very strong for the frame and flexible to form the transition.

Features

  • Pine is good because it is cheap. If you are building a large ramp, choose 2" x 4" pine boards for the frame. You can buy more of it and build a very strong frame. You should also choose 1/2 inch-thick plywood for the sides of the ramp and the deck above the transition. Half-inch plywood is very sturdy and much stronger than 1/4 inch. However, when laying down the boards for the curved part of the ramp, 1/4-inch plywood is better, because it will bend. Use two layers of this type of wood, or a layer of plywood and a layer of masonite or skatelite, for this section of the ramp.

Size

  • Most small ramps use simple 2" x 4" boards and plywood, assembled with nails or screws. Larger ramps will need to use 2" x 6" cross frames for the floor and curves of the ramp and frame structure. This just makes the ramp more stable. Almost all large ramps built by professionals use skatelite sheets, but other options are pine plywood sheets and birch plywood. Birch plywood is a little more flexible than pine and other hardwoods, although more expensive.

Considerations

  • When choosing the right wood for your skate ramp consider the length of time you want it to last. Choosing a cheaper wood like pine for the structure could mean more rot and a shorter life span. A pressure-treated board for the frame will make the ramp last longer. Skatelite provides a smoother transition and a slicker surface that allows skaters to go faster. However, it is more expensive to maintain. If is weatherproof and very strong, so it is not likely to be damaged by regular use like 1/4 inch plywood, although damage can still occur.

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