Outdoors Magazine

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

By Perry Hua

You’re a skateboarder. Very cool. You know how I can tell? By those raggedy-ass shoes you got on your feet right now. It’s pretty obvious with those fancy holes, scuff marks on the sole, and those frayed laces blowing caution to the wind.

But hey, I get it. Skateboarding does a number to your kicks, which is why you probably burn through a pair every couple of weeks or so. Now, you don’t have to be a mathematician to know that this can get pretty expensive over time. And unless you’re some kind of Nigerian prince or the type of person to cruise around town in Gucci loafers, it’s not a very sustainable practice for the average skate rat. If you’re like most skateboarders, you probably want your shoes to last as long as possible. I want that for you as well. The whole world does, in fact. So, here are some tips on how to make skate shoes last forever. 4EVER.

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

1. Reinforce the Stitching

Difficulty: 1/10

Effectiveness: 6/10

Cost: $

What You’ll Need:

  • Super glue

This will be super simple. All you will need to do is take some super glue and go over any open stitching. The most important places to touch up on are the stitching around the toe cap and ollie area. You can also touch up around the heel area if you’re so inclined, although it’s rare for that area to come into any contact with your board. Adding super glue to the stitches helps to keep your upper together, since if the stitching does rip, it won’t lead to a complete unraveling of your shoe.

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

2. Super Glue the Laces

Difficulty: 1/10

Effectiveness: 5/10

Cost: $

What You’ll Need:

  • Super glue

This will be just as easy as the last method. Grab your super glue and put a little on the laces wherever it meets the eyelets. This will keep your laces from ripping from unnecessary friction against your griptape and eyelets. However, this really only helps those who rip their shoe laces often, which can vary depending on how you skate and flick your board.  In over 10 years of skateboarding, I’ve only ripped about 2 or 3 pairs of laces. Call me lucky or call me the dude that doesn’t have good kickflips.

3. Shoe Goo Foo’

Difficulty: 2/10

Effectiveness: 8.5/10

Cost: $

What You’ll Need:

  • Shoe Goo
  • Q-Tips (optional)

Shoe Goo is a skateboarder’s best friend, aside from your skateboard and shoes of course. It is incredibly effective at patching up holes or preventing wear altogether in the first place (if you can stand applying shoe goo to brand new kicks). Or, you can wait to apply it after holes have developed.

The fastest and easiest way to get it done is to just apply it directly onto your shoe. Right around the ollie area and toe where you kickflip often are the sweet spots. But feel free to use Shoe Goo wherever your shoe may need repair. Q-Tips are completely optional to keep things neat and prevent a mess on your hands, but who am I kidding, use your fingers if you will like a true dirtbag!

*** PRO-TIP: Although it takes 24 to 72 hours for the glue to fully cure, you can speed up this process by applying heat with a blowdryer ***

Shoe Goo - How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever - Athlete AuditHow to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

4. Polish Your Grip Tape

Difficulty: 1/10

Effectiveness: 7.5/10

Cost: $

What You’ll Need:

  • Spare grip tape

Your grip tape is the sole reason for your shoe’s trashed appearance. Whenever you’re setting up a new board, there’s a simple trick you can use to lighten up the beating your shoes will take. When you cut the excess grip around the edges of your board, use those leftover scraps and sand your brand new griptape. This will take the glassy particles off the top, which you’d normally be doing anyway while breaking in your shoes and your new griptape. This is especially true if you’re riding MOB, which is grittier than your mom’s teeth.

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

5. Fill In Your Sole

Difficulty: 3/10

Effectiveness: 8/10

Cost: $$

What You’ll Need:

  • Sikaflex 221
  • Caulk gun
  • Stiff cardboard or something similar

Taking it back to the straight ’80s with this method. Sikaflex 221 is a “polyurethane sealant/adhesive that cures on exposure to atmospheric humidity to form a durable elastomer”. Excuse me for the high-level science talk, but all that means is that it dries into a durable rubber once applied. And the durometer of Sikaflex is similar to that of an actual skate shoe sole (50-60A vs a Vans sole that is around 60-70A). Although it make look strange while at the park, if you’re a true skate rat, you wouldn’t give a flying turd.

Now, to properly use it, you’ll need a tube of the stuff, which is fairly cheap, and a caulk gun. Cut the tip off the tube, load it into the caulk gun, and start applying it to the sole of your shoe generously. You can use a stiff cardboard to level the glue and even sand it after to your liking.

Just remember not to smell the vapors of this compound (seriously though) and use this outside where there’s ample ventilation. What’s nice is that a tube of Sikaflex can last you a dozen pairs of skate shoes or more. WIN!

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

6. Patch Job 101

Difficulty: 3/10

Effectiveness: 8/10

Cost: $$

What You’ll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Shoe Goo or Sikaflex 221/Caulk gun
  • Old pair of similarly-colored shoes

If you don’t like the feel that Shoe Goo does for your flick, you can patch up any holes your shoe might have if you have an old pair of similarly colored shoes. Just cut out decently sized patches out of your old shoes (big enough to cover the holes) and use some Shoe Goo or Sikaflex 221 to patch it on.

7. A Little Help From Gonz

Difficulty: 10/10

Effectiveness: 10/10

Cost: $$$$

What You’ll Need:

  • A ticket to NYC
  • A sharpie
  • Lots o’ luck

Now, we all know how infamous Gonz is. Even the little groms these days know how much of an impact he’s had on skateboarding and they weren’t even born to see Video Days. Heck, I wasn’t even born then! But Mark Gonzales is without doubt a major influence on skateboarding.

So, with that logic, this method can help to make a pair of skate shoes last forever. Simply book a flight to New York City at your earliest convenience–if you live there, even better–and begin wandering the streets in the search for the Gonz. Talk to local skateboarders for any juicy tidbits on his whereabouts and keep an eye out for any art shows or skate demos he might be holding.

He’s quite elusive, but if you do happen to catch him in your sights, you’ll be one of the lucky few. Have him sign your shoes with the Sharpie and now you’ll never want to skate them again. Or at the very least, you can sell them on eBay claiming they were skated by him to cover the costs of your next pair.

Signed Mark Gonzales skate shoes
Not photoshopped at all. Trust me, we found him. Auction starts at $20k

8. Duct Tape Solves Everything (But Not Really)

Difficulty: 1/10

Effectiveness: 3/10

Cost: $

What You’ll Need:

  • Duct tape

You’ve probably heard it from time to time that duct tape can help to make a skate shoe last longer. In my experience, this method isn’t that effective. At best, a layer of duct tape can last a day or two before ripping, although this method is repeatable. So, a roll of duct tape could last you a while. Is it worth it in the long run? In my opinion, there are better ways.

There is also this product out that works similar to duct tape in some ways. It’s called TrickTape, and although I have never personally used it, there are others that vouch for it. Essentially, it’s a strip of synthetic suede with an adhesive backing that you can use to slap onto parts of your shoe that are wearing down. Fairly cheap and seems like it’d work decently. If you ever test this stuff out, let me know your results.

How to Make Skate Shoes Last Forever

9. Stay Gold

Difficulty: 10/10

Effectiveness: 1/10

Cost: $$$$$

What You’ll Need:

  • Gold plating kit
  • A few ounces of 24k gold
  • Electroplating system
  • Copper galvanic bath
  • Conductive spray paint
  • Vat of liquid wax
  • Super glue
  • Polishing wheel

How to Make Skate Shoes Last ForeverNow, if you really are a Nigerian prince, you can afford to try this method. If you’re like the rest of us, and your current skate shoes are at the very end of its life, hop on the train for a new pair. You can also read our guide on how to choose skate shoes for a better idea of what will last you the longest.

But if you are adament about gold shoes, we’ll explain the process in short detail.

First, to create a stable, non-porous surface, you will want to super glue the laces and dip the shoes into the vat of wax. Let them dry for a few hours until the wax is solid. Next, you will use your conductive paint and spray the entire shoe with it so that copper will adhere. Let the conductive paint dry and then you can dip them into the copper galvanic bath, which will be a lengthy process. After the copper coating has been applied, you can then proceed to use the electroplating system, gold plating kit, and 24k gold to electroplate the entire shoe. The number of amps and length it should be electroplated will have to be experimented with, but you should be left with a gold plated shoe once you finish this stage.

After this, you can then polish the shoe for extra bling, but do know that the shoes will not be very effective for skateboarding at this point.


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