All skateparks feature purpose-built terrain that is constructed using a variety of materials. The principle material used on the skating surface determines its material type. When ramps are installed on an old tennis court, there are at least three materials being used; asphalt (the court’s surface), steel (the ramp’s frame), and paper-composite or steel (the ramp’s surface). The characteristic material in this example would be the paper-composite or steel of the ramp’s surface.
There are three principle types of skatepark materials: Wood, steel, and concrete. Wood and steel are collectively referred to as “prefab” because they are prefabricated kits created off-site and assembled on an existing concrete or asphalt slab. Concrete skateparks are usually built entirely on-site.
Skateparks do not usually feature sections of different types in one facility; they are usually primarily one type of surface material for the whole facility.
Wood skateparks are most common for use in retail, private, and indoor facilities. Wood requires a lot of maintenance and does not hold up well to municipal use and is not a popular choices for public skateparks. Wood skateparks include structures built from lumber and plywood but also includes paper-composite products like Skatelite.
Steel is another type of commercial product usually sold as a prefabricated kit that is assembled on-site. Like wood, steel requires significant maintenance and tends to be louder than other material types. Steel has a number of qualities that make it unpopular among skaters; it becomes slippery with moisture, rusts, and can become dangerously hot in warmer climates.
Concrete is the most common and most popular material for skatepark construction. Concrete affords a great deal of design flexibility. Concrete requires very little maintenance and provides optimal grip for skateboarding in all kinds of weather. Concrete requires specialized skill to create and tends to be more expensive to build but saves money in the long run through reduced maintenance.
Some skatepark builders use precast concrete elements. Precast concrete structures are created using large industrial concrete molds off-site then shipped to the skatepark site where they are installed. Although “precast” skateparks are as durable as ordinary concrete parks, because they use common elements created off-site, the designs of precast parks are often received by skaters as unremarkable.
Concrete, and particularly cast-in-place (or custom), is the most popular and most common direction to take.