Many skateboarders wonder if deck rails are necessary.
A lot of it comes down to personal preference and the individual skaters riding style.
Learn everything you need to know from benefits to drawbacks, the difference they make, and how to install them.
What are skateboard deck rails?
Deck rails are strips, typically made of plastic, that can be attached to the bottom of your skateboard deck.
They have been around since the late 1970s. While they decreased in popularity over time, they could still be seen on some boards in the 1990s and 2000s.
Around 2015-16 or so, they made a significant comeback. Skaters either love them or hate them.
In the old days, they were used to perform tricks and grab the board while in midair. In fact, the early deck rails were usually referred to as “grab rails.”
Now, they are most commonly used to allow you to slide and grind more easily.
They decrease the friction between your board and the grinding or sliding surface.
As a bonus, they also protect the graphics on your deck.
Deck rails differ in style, size (length and width), and quality.
Most deck rails are approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″ tall by 1/2″ wide by about 14-15″ long.
Typically, they cost between $10-$20.
You’ll want to purchase rails that fit your skateboard’s wheelbase.
Do you need them?
Whether or not you need rails depends on what you’re looking to get out of skating.
If you enjoy grinding, sliding, and rail tricks, these are a great addition.
For those that have a hard time grabbing their board in the air, rails can help.
If you’re a vert skater or prefer to cruise around, rails typically aren’t necessary. At the end of the day, it is all a personal preference.
Deck rails will change the feel of your board when performing stalls and tricks on the coping.
Rails will also affect how your board feels when performing flip tricks.
If you’re a new skater, these aren’t a necessary part of your starter kit.
It is best practice and gets a feel for your board and how it responds to you without rails first.
Once you become familiar with the board, then you can add them if you feel like you need them.
Note: Once you install them, it will take a little bit to get used to them.
How to Attach Deck Rails to Your Skateboard
If you have already purchased rails, follow the below steps to attach them to your board.
To attach rails with glue:
- Align the rails (some mount them closer to the edge, while others mount them in line with the center of the wheels)
- Clean the deck to ease adherence.
- Apply a good amount of adhesive to both the deck and the mounting surface and rails (you can use a putty knife to spread it evenly).
Attach the rail to the center of the deck.
Wait a full day (24 hours) for the adhesive to dry before using.
To attach rails with screws:
- Grab a screwdriver, your board, and the rails..
- Align the rails vertically on your deck.
- Grab one of the screws and place it into the first hole at the end of the rail (because they are self-tapping, they should easily drive into your board).
- Screw it in until it is flush into the rail hole, but avoid over tightening.
- Re-align the other end of the rail if it has moved and screw in the opposite end to secure its placement.
- Finish screwing in the middle screws.
- Repeat on the other side.
Pros & Cons of Using Skateboard Rails
Below are some pros and cons of using skateboard rails to help you decide whether or not they are good for you.
- You can slide farther and faster with minimal effort.
- They add old-school style to your board.
- Riding on rails can be a good way to improve your grinding and sliding skills.
- Rails protect the graphic on your deck.
- They need to be tightened often.
- They can be tricky to install correctly (thankfully, they can be easily removed and reattached).
- They can get slippery when wet, which puts you at risk of falling.
- They may make sliding and griding feel too fast for you.
- They add weight to your board.