Guest Column - November 2008
Find a printable version here

Skateparks: Skatepark Evolution

The 'New' Concrete Skatepark

By Jim Moss


Superior quality in precast ramps is achieved by using precision-cut molds, which guarantee a perfect radius on every ramp and create completely smooth riding surfaces with no hand finishing. These molds also ensure perfect coping placement. Precasting the ramps allows all of the difficult elements of a concrete skatepark to be formed in the factory, leaving only flatwork to be done on site.

The strength of precast concrete ramps usually exceeds 8,000 psi versus the 3,500 to 4,000 psi that is typical for ready-mix concrete. This increased strength is attained through higher cement content than ready-mix, as well as chemical additives that only work well in a controlled precast environment. Silica fume is used to dramatically increase the strength and life span of the ramps. Micro-air is used to regulate the air content of the concrete, which allows the moisture room to expand and contract through freeze-thaw cycles without cracking. Concrete this strong is ideal to withstand the punishment of skateboard trucks and bike pegs. Due to this kind of durability, precast ramps come with a 15-year warranty, which is simply not offered by any pour-in-place contractors.

Construction lead time for traditional pour-in-place concrete skateparks is measured in months. Precise excavation work is required to make the terrain itself the shape of the ramps. The rebar must be fabricated on site and set throughout the park before the pouring begins. The pours themselves require time-consuming hand finishing. Three to six months of on-site construction is the norm. On the other hand, precast concrete construction time is measured in weeks instead of months. This, again, is possible because the precast molds take care of the precision ramp forming. With the precast ramps, ledges and retaining walls being delivered to the site, setting the ramps and pouring the flatwork can literally be completed in one to two weeks.

Precasting has revolutionized the concrete construction industry, and now skateboarding is taking advantage of this technology. Clearly precast is the future of concrete skateparks, offering a better quality product that will be constructed in much less time, yet last much longer.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Moss is CEO of American Ramp Company. Skater-owned and -operated, ARC installs more than 100 skateparks annually worldwide. For more information, visit www.americanrampcompany.com.