Although the home swimming pool has enjoyed its status as the peak in backyard luxury for decades, younger generations can often find themselves less interested in the maintenance needs of a large body of chlorinated water. Instead, many Gen X-ers and Millennials opt to install more offbeat fixtures, from built-in RC racetracks to miniature backyard skateparks.
If you’re a skater yourself or just hope to host some unforgettable gatherings with skateboarding or rollerblading friends, you may be interested in installing your own series of bowls and ramps. What materials will stand up to skate wheels and the elements without quickly showing wear and tear? There are definitely some materials that are more ideal than others, for the bowl and coping when designing your own backyard skatepark.
What are the Best Bowl and Ramp Materials for my Outdoor Skating Area?
The vast majority of skatepark bowls and ramps are made from concrete, and while this is the ideal material due to its smoothness and durability, it is by no means the only suitable construction material. Other options include wood, composite wood, steel, or fiberglass. The best choice for your skatepark likely depends on the size of the ramp or bowl you’re hoping to construct, the proximity of your neighbors, and any zoning restrictions that may limit your choice of materials.
Concrete is by far the “quietest” material, helping dampen the sound of skate wheels (a boon for close neighbors). In contrast, wood, steel, and composites can all create quite a ruckus, so if you’d like your backyard park to be as unobtrusive as possible, you’ll want to opt for precast or customized concrete surfaces.
However, concrete isn’t without its downsides; those in climates that experience extremely low winter temperatures will want to take some extra precautions with concrete ramps and bowls to minimize the risk of cracking. Any moisture that accumulates on these concrete surfaces can lead to cracks upon freezing, so constructing your skatepark in a way that encourages proper drainage of rainwater, and applying a strong natural stone sealant to combat water corrosion, will help extend its lifespan.
What are the Best Coping Materials for Outdoor Skating Bowls?
High-quality coping can make or break your skatepark. Not only is this coping an aesthetically-pleasing way to round off the blunt or potentially sharp edges of the bowl, it can prevent injuries by ensuring wheels are able to easily pass over it without becoming snagged.
Many skaters opt for granite or marble coping in a contrasting color to the underlying concrete or fiberglass, which provides a sophisticated look while maintaining a slick (but not slippery) skating surface. If you find that the coping material of your choice is too slippery to be considered very safe, have no fear. You can choose the material that gives your bowl coping the look you like, and apply a clear, slip resistant sealant to ensure the safety of you and your friends.
Regardless of the construction material you choose, with some proper planning, you should be able to enjoy ollies, flips, and tomahawk stops in your own backyard for years to come.