Dirt skateboards are great for doing tricks and getting around quickly, but you may want to customize yours to make it unique. You can do this by adding stickers, painting it, or even changing the wheels. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind dirt skateboard in no time!
If you want know how to customize your dirt skateboard, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind.
Let’s start by looking at tips and tricks on how to make the classic thrills of a board look unique, then find ways to make it faster to really turn some heads.
How to Make Your Skateboard Look Unique
As a DIY enthusiast, there are many ways to build your own dirt board. Especially now that 3D printers are much easier to come by. However, not all DIY projects are about changing the parts on your dirt board. Some may be all about changing their appearance.
If you are happy with the parts but want to change how your dirt board looks, here are a few tips and tricks that could help.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
As is the case with almost every job, you need to start by gathering all the necessary materials before customizing your dirt board or dirt electric skateboard. Here’s a list of what you will need to make your dirt board look unique:
- Paper tape
- Acrylic paint or spray paint (whichever you prefer)
- Grip tape for skates
- Tools (for taking the trucks off)
- Your printed design
- Photo transfer liquid
Make sure everything is ready before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Planning the design
The design and colors are all dependent on your preference and creativity. You have several options to use as far as design and color are concerned. You can choose to use:
- Chalk paint
- Photo transfer
You can use the photo transfer option on almost every material, including aluminum, wood, and glass. You could also use adhesive tape to customize the designs even further. The trick is to vanish it all once you are done. That’s how you give the designs a firm end and protect them from the abuse that comes with riding a dirt skateboard or road electric skateboard.
- Note: For this article, let’s focus on the photo transfer option.
Step 3: Prepping the deck
The amount of prepping the deck requires depends on the deck you intend to use. If you are lucky, you will find an unfinished deck. These are often much easier to work with, especially when customizing the entire thing.
If, however, you can’t find a blank deck, any old deck will do just fine. Start by removing all the associated hardware, such as trucks and wheels. Remember to keep them somewhere safe, so you don’t have to worry about finding them later.
Once all the hardware is out, the next step is to sand the board. Remember to wear goggles when doing this to protect your eyes. If you don’t have a garage or, for some reason, decide to do the sanding in your home, be sure to keep the floor protected by laying down a large paper bag.
Do not underestimate the mess the fine particles from the sanding and the paint will make on your floor and furniture. This also means that you need to wear breathing protection to keep the fine dust away from your airways.
Start the sanding by using rough grit paper before gradually progressing to a finer grit until you have a nice, clean deck on which to work. If you want to lay down some paintwork before introducing the design, you can use the paint brushes if you want to achieve a more rugged look or a paint roller for a smoother look.
Step 4: Prepare the design
Reminder: These steps are for the photo transfer technique.
Once you have found the perfect and most unique design on your dirt skateboard, you will need to get it laser printed since inkjet printing won’t work with this technique. The laser printed copy should be the mirror image of the desired design. Make sure you print the image on regular paper, not photo paper.
Here are some additional materials you will need for this step:
- A sponge brush
- A cup to pour the liquid into
- Photo transfer liquid
- Scissors to cut out the photo
- A rag to soak your photo
- A plastic card or boning tool to get all the air bubbles out
Once you have all these in place, follow the next steps very carefully:
- Print the image: Print it out using a laser printer. Remember to mirror the image since the photo transfer process will reverse how it was printed. So, if you want to appear the right way, printing a mirror image of it will do the trick.
- Size the image: The next thing is to trim the image to the ideal size (as you want it to fit on the board).
- Apply the photo transfer liquid: Carefully put a thin layer of the photo transfer liquid on your dirt skateboard as well as on the printed side of the image.
- Lay the image on the wood: Carefully lay the image on the wood with the photo side down. Using your boning tool or plastic card, carefully flatten the image to remove all the bubbles or liquid between the wood and the paper. You can easily achieve this by carefully smoothing the card over the paper while pushing towards the outer edges.
- Dry the image: Using the rag, wipe any excess liquid from the edges of the image and leave it to dry for about four hours. If four hours is too much for you to wait, you can speed up the drying process by using a hairdryer. This trick, however, is quite risky. If you make the hair dryer too hot or run it too close to the image, you risk melting it. Also, it means that your image transfer won’t stick very well.
- Dampen the paper: Once you have given the image enough time to dry (four hours), take your rag and dampen it using warm water. Carefully lay it over the photo and let it sit there for about five minutes.
- Lift the paper: After five minutes have passed, carefully approach the next step. This will require a great deal of patience and care. Start by wetting your fingers with some water, then slowly rub one finger over the paper. At this point, you’ll essentially be using your finger as sandpaper. If you are doing it correctly, you will see the photocopy appear as if it’s splitting in half. The inked part of the paper will remain stuck to the wood while the white part will slowly lift away. Slowly and very carefully, take the white part and peel it off. Be careful not to go too fast, as this will leave you with bare patches of ink. If done correctly, you will be left with the image you want on the deck.
Step 5: Varnish
To finish it all off, apply about five layers of varnish to protect your new design.
There you have it, a fully customized dirt skateboard deck. You can use these tips and tricks over and over as long as you have the patience and desire to keep changing the appearance of your dirt skateboard.
How to Make Your Dirt Skateboard Faster
Now, some people aren’t really interested in looks but rather functionality. If you are someone who prefers to be the fastest skater out there, but your regular dirt board can only take you so fast, there are ways to customize it and increase its speed further. Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks on how to do that.
Tip 1: Change the wheels
One of the simplest and most effective ways to make your dirt skateboard faster on the road is to change the wheels. This is also a customization trick that many avid skaters use to make their boards stand out. There are two ways to approach this:
- Get bigger wheels: Smaller wheels on a skateboard are easier to push and offer faster acceleration, but this doesn’t mean that you get better speeds. Anyone with large treaded tires will eventually catch up to and pass you, especially on rough terrain. So, to get your dirt board to go faster and any terrain, start by replacing the smaller wheels with bigger ones. Besides, bigger wheels tend to give you more momentum as a dirt rider. Even though they are harder to push at first, they roll on for much longer, meaning that you will save more energy when cruising.
- Buy better quality wheels: Typically, cheap wheels are low-quality urethane that tends to sag, roll slowly, have a poor rebound, and have an even lower quality core. Better quality wheels are the exact opposite. They are made out of high-quality urethane that doesn’t sag, has better rebound, better traction, rolls faster, and has a strong core. All this means that the higher quality wheels will last longer, feel better, and, most importantly, roll faster.
- Get harder wheels: Wheels with a harder durometer tend to be more resilient and don’t squish against the pavement too much. This squishing increases the grip on the wheels, which is a good thing for stability and better traction on rough terrain, but it also loses a lot of momentum as a trade-off. Therefore, if you want to go faster, using harder wheels will give you that advantage, even though you will lose some grip along the way.
Tip 2: Change the bearings
Once you have grabbed as much increased speed from the wheels as possible, the next step is to go after the things that make the wheel turn and switch out each wheel bearing. The idea behind this is a simple, better-maintained bearing will always roll smoother and, therefore, faster than older or less maintained bearing.
You could try maintaining and cleaning your wheel bearings, switching them out entirely will give you more of a speed advantage overall and is, therefore, the better option. Besides, you can always keep the older skateboard bearings safe, so you can use them later on, as frequently switching out your skateboard bearings is an important part of skateboard maintenance.
These are all practical tips and tricks that can help you customize your specially designed dirt skateboard to your liking. Of course, you can consider many other options, depending on what exactly you want to do with the dirt skateboard. That said, the steps outlined here are a good place to start to get a cutting-edge board specially designed to deliver classic thrills for you.