Put simply, yes and no!  Modern skateboards have their origins in the

late 1950s, when grip tape started appearing in the 1970s the most

commonly available mineral in the US was silicon carbide (also known as

carborundum tape).  From the 1980s onwards throughout western industry

aluminium oxide became more prevalent as an abrasive mineral and began

replacing silicon carbide; it was more readily available, more quality

consistent, had the same level of hardness and was cheaper.  Grip tape

can be produced with either, with some non slip tape only produced

using aluminium oxide or S2 (a form of silica).

I have heard that silicon carbide is better and tougher?

Completely untrue.  As mentioned above silicon carbide was the original

grip material however from the 1980s onwards moves were made towards

production using aluminium oxide.  Mineral hardness is measured by the

MOHS scale, both aluminium oxide and silicon carbide register the same

mineral hardness, 9.  1 is talc and 10 being diamond.  Silicon carbide

retains its place in grip tape usage mainly as an ‘old school’ remnant,

reminding boarders of its vintage 1970s roots, in performance there is

little difference with aluminium oxide offering better quality output.

What about the adhesive?

Most grip tapes have a lower level of adhesion compared to non slip

tape.  A skateboard is an easy substrate to adhere onto, in the worst

case it might have a lacquer coat.  Non slip tapes might be applied

onto extremely low energy substrates, the most difficult materials

include PP, PUR and siliconised powder coat.  Non slip tapes have to

possess an adhesive capable of permanently and instantly bonding to

these surfaces, this can only be achieved with modern, advanced and

often application specific adhesives.  The old system of simply

applying a higher coat weight is no longer seen as an effective

approach.

Is the base material different?

Grip tapes typically use a thin PVC base.  Anti slip tapes will

normally use thicker PVC and various thicknesses of PVC dependent on

the end application.  Other plastics that are utilised which include:

PET (provides extra strength and zero stretch tolerances), PE (full

biodegradability), PP (can easily be hot welded instead of adhered),

aluminium foil (formability and extreme flame retardancy) and PU

(cushioning abilities but very expensive compared to other plastics).

Does the backing liner vary?

At last a simple answer, yes!  Most skateboard grip tape will use a thicker backing paper, the reason is unknown but is believed to be historical.


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