We can't stress enough how important it is to choose the right surfacing material for your ramp build. Many ramp builders using cheap plywood surfacing will promise that all you need to do is to paint your ramp and it will be fine. This is simply not true! Most plywood products are not intended to be used for horizontal surfaces and decks. Your beautiful newly built ramp might look good for that first Instagram photo but reality is that once it gets wet it's game over! You can try to tarp and cover your ramp but its a labour extensive exercise and the water will always find its way. It will penetrate through the surface joints and screw holes resulting the plywood to warp and delaminate. We have done this mistake ourselves and learnt from it. That's why we only use Pro Skate Composite and SKATEPLY surfacing for our outdoor ramps.
Overview of ramp surfaces we use:
PRO SKATE COMPOSITE
Pro Skate Ramp Surface is 100% weatherproof composite material specially engineered for skate ramps. Highest quality surfacing material for outdoor skate ramps. These composite panels are made using compressed paper impregnated with phenolic resin. This process makes composite panels water and UV resistant, durable and basically indestructible.
PRO SKATE panels skate fast and smooth and provide the perfect amount of grip and slide. Easily cleaned and zero to no maintenance. Comes with a cost but will protect your investment for years to come!
SKATEPLY is a waterproof laminated exterior plywood. HDO (High Density Overlay) phenolic overlay is hot pressed on both sides of this plywood. This plywood has birch core which is highly resistant to rotting and decay and core layers are glued with a marine type phenolic glue which prevents it from delaminating. HDO phenolic overlay is highly durable, wear resistant, provides grip and prevents impregnation of water. Originally used as an industrial grade material for truck beds and heavy duty flooring where high wear and water/chemical resistance is required. European product, complies to EU standards. Widely used in Europe for public outdoor skate parks.
SkatePly is a cost-effective material and is featured as the baseline ramp surfacing in our outdoor skate ramps. No need for regular sealing or painting.
Similar to SkatePLY with a different surface finish. Both sides of this plywood are laminated with a HDO (High Density Overlay) phenolic overlay. Core is made of strong birch plywood and glued with type A phenolic glue which prevents it from delaminating. HDO phenolic overlay prevents impregnation of water therefore making it resistant to water damage and rotting. All our outdoor half pipes come standard with waterproof plywood underlay. On several occasions we have had to re-locate our clients ramps and even after years of full weather exposure this underlay remains as good as new. European product, complies to EU standards.
STANDARD BIRCH PLYWOOD
Birch plywood is one of the most widely used skate ramp surfacing materials. Birch is very tense yet flexible and also highly resistant to water damage, rotting and decay. Birch plywood we use is glued with exterior phenolic glue which prevents it from delaminating when used outdoors. It has no core gaps, meaning you would not have any inside plywood layers collapsing under the use of skateboarding.
Birch plywood also has thicker veneers than regular Australian hardwood or marine plywood. Meaning you will have a highly durable surface with less chipping of the top layer whereas hardwood plywood quickly starts peeling/chipping after any contact with water.
Raw birch plywood is used in our indoor/budget halfpipe kits. For outdoor use this product needs to be painted or sealed with exterior grade sealer. If fully exposed to weather it will need replacing in around two years time.
Other types of surfacing materials:
Most commonly available plywood. It's cheap, comes in different grades and is usually a very low quality material. If you inspect this material from the side you can notice big voids inside the inner layers known as core gaps. If this plywood is used as the top riding surface then after a period of time you will have noticeable bumps and lumps on the surface of your ramp.
When used outdoors good care needs to be taken to achieve proper weatherproofing. Commonly a 9mm thick H3 treated structural plywood is used as the underlay along with a composite ramp surface material. Two layers of underlay is recommended due the low quality of this plywood. Even when H3 treated plywood is used, it will need to be sealed with paint or a roofing membrane. Paint or the membrane will reduce the amount of water this plywood absorbs thus increasing the lifetime of the underlay. Sealing the edges is also important - otherwise it will quickly start to warp and delaminate in wet weather. Just a month old ramp made by a local ''chippy''.
An ''exterior grade'' plywood made from mix of different hardwood veneers. Questionable quality as the veneers used are never consistent. Considered as a cheap non-structural building material. Top layer of this plywood is usually very thin and will start peeling off when used on skate ramps. Outdoor use - in construction it's used in vertical applications e.g walls and ceilings. Not intended to be used for horizontal applications such as decks and floors that are exposed to weather and moisture. A good amount of sealer is needed to achieve any sort of weatherproofing. Can start to delaminate in a matter of weeks or months and will need constant maintenance (tarping and regular sealing). We tried to use this for our budget ramp kits but quickly realised that this is not a suitable outdoor ramp surfacing.
Basically a higher grade of hardwood plywood with a BS1088 standard. Quality can also vary from different manufacturers. Has the same thin top layer issue that tends to peel off and get hairy when used on skate ramps.
Regular sealing and maintenance along with tarping is essential when used on outdoor skate ramps.
Just slightly stronger than cardboard! We recommend to stay away from this surfacing. Will quickly bubble up when in contact with water.