Cast-in-place concrete skateparks will create very little, if any, cause for careful inspection. All other materials once commonly used for skateparks, namely wood-polymers (e.g., Skatelite) and steel, will require frequent inspections as the structures age.
Cast-in-place concrete skateparks should be inspected for structural anomalies weekly during the first two months of a skatepark opening, then monthly thereafter. Inspections can be conducted by Parks maintenance staff. For new parks, staff should look for evidence of cracking and areas containing loose grout.
Daily maintenance inspections should focus on trash and graffiti. Trash accumulation may be evidence of too few or misplaced trash receptacles. Graffiti is most common when a park is new, but adhering to a policy of rapid removal will quickly reduce the amount of graffiti occurring at the park.
Prefabricated parks (those parks using steel and/or wood elements) require more inspections with a critical eye for detail. Inspections should be concentrated anywhere two types of materials meet. The steel plates commonly used as a bridge between the ramp and the concrete slab are a frequent source of structural failure, as well as screws used to hold down top-sheets.
Areas requiring inspection:
Steel coping: Concrete, where it abuts steel coping, can chip in places where it’s thin. This isn’t a safety concern unless those chips create voids that can trap a wheel, usually about ¼-inch or larger. (Chips of grout can also fall into the skating area and create hazards.) The divots can be easily repaired with cement grout or an epoxy. If you are unsure about the best approach, consult the original skatepark builder.
Pool coping: Pool coping is created from high-density concrete and formed into bull-nose blocks held in place by grout. Pool coping should be inspected for wear-and-tear at the seams of high-traffic areas. Divots can develop at the seams, known as “knuckling,” and should be repaired as needed (usually at 3-4 year intervals).
Railings: Should be inspected for rust and fastener tightness. Spots of rust should be grinded and painted. (Consult your warranty instructions before taking these measures.)
Drain covers: Small drain grates can become loose. A bit of “lock-tight” should keep the grate secure. Leaves should be cleared of the bowl.
Transition-plates: Wood, steel, and some precast concrete parks will feature steel “bridge” plates to span the surface of the slab with the bottom of transition structures like quarterpipes. These plates are a frequent source of problems as thousands of wheels bounce across them every day. They can become loose, particularly if debris is trapped underneath. The space beneath should be kept clear and the fasteners tested for strength. Loose plates are a problem that will quickly render the ramp unusable. Contact the skatepark manufacturer about fixing this problem as soon as it is identified.
Screws: Wood (or Skatelite) skateparks use thousands of screws to keep the surface sheets attached to the substructure. The screws are counter-sunk, but over time they can back out and become raised. Moisture can seep into the counter-sunk well and weaken the screw’s grip. This is a very serious situation for a Parks Department as the screw heads can cut a skatepark user if they fall on it or slide across it. Screws can also become tripping hazards. Given that a raised screw is clearly a maintenance issue, Parks Departments would be wise to be vigilant about this type of problem.
Spalling: Spalling is a condition where the top layer of the surface separates. It leads to rough patches that, in the most severe cases, can stop a skateboard. Spalling is caused during construction by overworking concrete so that the aggregate material is pushed too deeply into the form. Over-trowelling leaves a veneer of weaker cement on the surface. A type of spalling can also occur in wood or Skatelite surfaces. The surface veneers can chip away, particularly in areas where moisture pools. There is not much that can be done in areas subject to spalling. The original park builder should be consulted.
Routine skatepark maintenance should be conducted frequently for the first few months. If good decisions were made during the design and construction of the park, the Parks’ maintenance department should feel comfortable tapering off the routine maintenance regimen in order to devote more time to other facilities.