Either buying a deck at a shop in person or, of course, in the last few years, ordering them online, the one thing that always worries me about ordering a deck before I personally can see and measure it and put it down under my feet is deck length.
The inconsistency of deck length measurements between different companies is very frustrating.
A deck that may be advertised as 8.25 X 32 and then comes in and measures out to be 8.25 X 32.5 is enough to bum me out.
If I want a deck that's a little bit longer in the first place then ok, I don't care, I asked for that, but if I get a deck because of its exact advertised dimensions, something that I hunted down to find and saved up the money for and had my heart set on it being exactly what I paid that money to be and it isn't, yeah I'm pissed.
I tend to prefer somewhat shorter decks, 32" is the sweet spot for me. A little bit shorter is ok, down to around 31.5", and 32.25" isn't too bad on the longer side either, but even that feels a tad long. I've never really had any problems with getting inconsistently advertised deck widths, the width is usually always pretty spot on.
It's always the lengths that give me trouble. There's nothing I'm more uncomfortable on than when my board feels like a Cadillac when I wanted a Corvette.
A deck's wheelbase can be off from what's advertised as well, and I'm sure we all know that's even more of a big pain in the ass. But that's not something where a deck manufacturer's measuring method comes into play, that's just the company putting in the wrong measurements into their catalog, etc. Wheelbase is probably the most important thing to a deck as a shorter/longer wheelbase affects the rider's balance and their stance when doing tricks or, say, skating a bowl.
A 1/4" difference on wheelbase feels a lot more different than deck width or length. An 8.25" vs 8.5" deck isn't going to feel as different as a 14.5" vs 14.75" wheelbase will.
A deck that has more/less concave or a steeper/flatter nose/tail can also affect how wide and long it feels under your feet, and it measures different too.
A steeper nose and tail will make a deck feel shorter because they bend up higher which in turn brings them closer pointed in towards the center, thus making the deck appear shorter when looking down and standing on it.
A deck with a steeper concave will feel more narrow than the actual width it's advertised as because the edges are bent up closer towards the center.
This will make an 8.25" deck with steep concave actually look and feel more like an 8.1". Flatter boards all around tend to be the only decks that actually feel like what they are exactly measured out to be. It's all in what you are used to skating, and what you are comfortable on, everybody is different and likes different things. These problems with deck measurements from brand to brand are a mirror of the way it is with skate shoe companies as well, every brand's shoes fit differently because they all don't use the same measuring methods. I think we need a system people, it's 2013, can't we get this shit right yet!?!?
So, chances are if you've been skating the same size board from one deck company for a number of years, then you are actually NOT skating the size you really think you are.
Therein lies the problem when buying boards from companies you haven't skated before and ordering your preferred size, thinking it will feel like what you are used to skating,
And then it doesn't...here is why.
It's clear that each company measures their decks somewhat differently than the next. I was tired of playing the guessing game and always coming up disappointed.
So, I sent a number of deck brands and distribution companies emails asking flat out how they measure their boards' deck lengths.
Getting these answers took over a month of waiting and re-asking, and a lot of companies have still not gotten back to me yet.
Here are the exact answers I got, as well as some pictures to show you the different ways skateboard decks are measured.
REAL/DLX - "Grip side from tip of nose to tail no contour".
(DLX is Real, Anti-Hero, Krooked)
SKATE ONE - "Surface area on the bottom of the deck. Graphic side with contour". - Kam
(Skate One is Powell Peralta, Mini Logo, Positiv, Hoopla)
NHS - "Straight ruler from tip to tip on the top. Not with the contour". - Ron Whaley
NHS Fun Factory - "It's overall length nose to tail. It's the same both ways. ie, if you lay a bendable tape measure down on the board and measure from nose to tail".
(NHS is Santa Cruz, Creature, Flip)
BIGMESS SKATEBOARDS - "From the top side with the measuring device having full contact with the deck the whole time, end to end".
BIRDHOUSE - "We measure width by the distance from rail to rail in the middle of the deck. Length is from nose to tail, not following the contour".
FOUNDATION - "We measure the top deck through width and length...not measuring through concave".
ASSAULT SKATEBOARDS - "Top, with a soft tape".
WELCOME SKATEBOARDS - "grip side with contour". OP
TOY MACHINE - "measured the top deck through width and length. boards are not measured through concave".
ELEPHANT BRAND SKATEBOARDS - "Grip side (top) and push down the tape into the contours of the deck".
BLACK LABEL - "Grip side with contours".
STEREO - "Nose to tail. Straight across the top of the deck".
SHIPYARD - "The shop that makes them measures from the top. Pushing the tape measure down as you go from tip to tail".
DECKCRAFTERS - "Grip side of deck with ruler curved with the contour of the deck".
CRAILTAP - "Grip side".
(Crailtap is Girl, Chocolate)
|Stereo 8.25x32 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.125".|
|Stereo 8.25x32 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 31.625".|
|Stereo 8.25x32 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.25".|
The closest measurement I can get to the advertised 32" was measuring with the contour on the top, it was 32.125", which still wasn't accurate. Measuring the bottom with the contour the deck measured in at 32.25".
Either the person who gave me the info was misinformed, or they are rounding off. This particular deck shape I really, really love, and it's a very different shape 8.25" deck than the other 8.25" decks in their lineup.
Websites like Skate Warehouse have top, side and bottom pics of all the decks they sell. This helps alot when looking out for a certain shape, even within a single brand.
Chocolate/Crailtap decks are Made in China. All they told me was that they measure "Grip side".
|Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.625".|
|Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 32".|
|Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.875".|
Not too informative, but I'll work with it. The only measurement where I get the advertised 32" was measuring straight across on top without the contour. Measuring the top with the contour it came out to be 32.625", and measuring the bottom with the contour it measured in at 32.875". Either way this deck feels great and skates really well, but feels very long, much longer than, say, my usual favorite size 32" long Stereo deck, which when measured the way this Chocolate deck came out at 32" (straight across the top), actually measured 31.625". This can be so frustrating and confusing.
Here's the measuring anomaly of the bunch -
Skate One (Powell Peralta, Mini Logo) measure their decks entirely different than every single other brand that has answered me. They are the only company that measures their boards from the bottom/graphic side.
Here's 2 Mini Logo decks measurements, lengths and widths.
The green one is a 2013 "Made In China" Mini Logo Militant deck.
(all Mini Logo decks are now Made in China, but the great quality remains the exact same).
The blue one is a 2011 "Made in Santa Barbara, CA USA" deck, this deck is the exact same thing as a Powell Peralta 8.5x33.5 shape 181 deck is, just without the Powell Peralta graphics.
The Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 deck is just too damn long for me. I like the the width, nose and tail lengths just right and the concave is ok too, but wish the 33.5" length and 15" wheelbase were shorter. I thought maybe the 8.25x32.5 K15 Skate One deck would be the happy medium between this 8.5x33.5 K15 deck that was just too damn long and the 8"x32.125 K12 Skate One deck that I really love but sometimes feels is a bit too slim. The 8.25" deck uses the same K15 mold as the 8.5", but the 14.375" wheelbase of the 8" deck. The shape is not bad, but it really wasn't the perfect of the 2 decks I thought it would be. Instead it feels like its own unique shape overall. I really wish Skate One would start making a more mellower, medium concave again, and a shorter 8.5" deck. The 8.5" decks that the Powell Peralta pros ride are NOT the same 8.5" decks we can get from Skate One. Not only have I been told by a Skate One employee that the pros (like Jordan Hoffart and Chad Bartie) get custom size decks, but it's also pretty obvious when you watch clips that it's not a 33.5" long deck flipping around. You ever try to do a front foot impossible to lipslide on an almost f'n 34" deck? No, me neither, and neither does Jordan Hoffart, I can tell you that. My guess is that their pros like him that skate 8.5" decks are probably getting the Skate One shape 171 8.5x32.5, 14.375 wheelbase, with the mellower Ki11 concave. Skate One stopped making these decks a few years back, but their sizes still remain on the manufacturing page on their website. Manufacturing - Skate One
|Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.3".|
|Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 31.81".|
|Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.5".|
|Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 33.125".|
|Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 32.625".|
|Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 33.5".|
|Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 -|
At front bolts 8.2", at center 8.25", back bolts 8.1".
|Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 -|
At front bolts 8.375", at center 8.5", back bolts 8.25".
In the end, sizes and measurements really don't matter, it's all how good it feels when we skate them.
Sometimes a deck that we'd thought would either be too small or too big just feels right, and it skates really good. It just sucks when you think you are getting one thing and it's another. It turns out being a different size than what you wanted and you would have gone with another deck if you knew it wasn't quite the actual size it was advertised as, at least according to your own measuring methods. But you already paid the shipping, waited the 7 days or even weeks to get it in the mail and you are so itching to go skate now. We've all been there before. Long live the walk-in skate shop, may they never go away. Always try to support your local shop first, but if they don't have the deck you are looking for, and they can't order one for you, or, well, you just can't trust them to get you "the actual deck you are looking for", then now you know how to guesstimate your measurements with better accuracy when you are forced to order online.
I hope this helps you all out when making your next deck purchase and you aren't able to personally measure it, or stand on it before you buy it.
Good luck out there!