Turning Skateboards into Countertops

Once they’ve been scratched, smashed, dented and abused, what’s to be done with skateboards too damaged to carry their owners anymore? 

Rich Moorhead, of  Art of Board in Pennsylvania, looks hard at their seven-ply laminated maple, their graffiti-inspired graphics and their turned up tails. Where others see smashed-up sports equipment destined for the landfill, he sees an authentic surface material. Experimenting with the tools of the construction trade, he uses drills, scrolls, sanders, routers and band saws to create tile in four shapes: brick, cube, orb and border.   He sorts tile pieces by color, form and size, for a rhythm to the pieces, the better to reconstruct walls, cladding, countertops, backsplashes, and retail displays. 

The art of assembling each custom installation is the meditative stage of the process. Working within the measurements of the finished project, Moorhead starts with what he calls the “ugly” tile, usually gashed and void of color. They become his field, where he balances dense blacks and primary-colored pieces. Every deck he uses is distinct. Each bears scars resulting from the individual incidents of a skater – a tumbled caballerial, a miscalculated nose slide or an attempted kick-flip. 

“We owned our decks for longer periods of time. Our riding was less harsh on the boards,” Moorhead said of his days on a skateboard.  “Today decks wear out before the enthusiasm for skating is over. Typically the broken decks are returned to the skate shops, where the trucks and wheels are removed, and the obsolete decks are thrown away.”

Moorhead has changed all that with his “I Ride I Recycle” program. Partnering with skate shops and parks across the nation, used decks are now sent to Art of Board headquarters in Hanover, Penn., where they receive second wind as wood tile.   Art of Board even has a “mail back program” allowing decks to be sent to Moorhead free of charge.

Finished with sanded grout, the tile is used in residential and commercial applications. What on first glance looks like a vibrant colored mosaic is, on closer inspection, an energetic expression of an irreverent sport that’s been with us since the 1950s. 

– JoAnn Locktov

 For more on Art of the Board, go to http://www.artofboard.com/

For more on JoAnn Locktov, go to http://www.bellafiguracommunications.com

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