How we build our SkateparkCheck out our build process below!

How to build a Top Quality Concrete Skatepark

General Build Tips

Forget fancy guarantees, it is all in the build quality.

We have seen too many badly built skateparks to stand idly by. So get up to speed here. We want to make sure that a well designed, well built, and most importantly – fun place for skateboarders actually gets built in your area. We will take you through each step you will need to take in order to make your dream skate park a reality.

We've been building skateparks for 17 years. This guide is the product of literally thousands of hours of experience in getting skateparks built. In that time we have made some mistakes and learnt from them. This guide will help you avoid mistakes and get built a fun, safe and low maintenance skate facilities for your community.

Built right it will enhance the character of the neighbourhood, and integrate with the locals and the users.

We hope that this guide is helpful.

  • You don't have to be a civil engineer to build a skatepark
  • ... but it helps!.

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Ground Conditions

Good building land? or is it an ex rubbish tip?

poor ground conditions for skateparks

Remember the story of the man who built his house on sand?

Well good skateparks are built on good foundations too. The better the ground conditions under the skatepark, the less foundation needed!

The less we have to spend on rectifying poor ground conditions, the more we can spend on building great skating areas and features. Best fund raising tip you will ever get: get good land!

In our humble experience (some unenlightened) councils try and offer you the least favourable patch they have! When the council are allocating an area ask some long hard questions on the land (see below).

.. and if you do end up with a piece of semi swamp miles from the nearest road, call us, we have ways and means of building on poor ground conditions.

Questions to ask:

What was there before?

What is the access like? A long trip over wet ground can add thousands to the build cost.

Are there any height restrictions?

Is it in a flood Zone? Skating budget seems wasted where excessive flood defences are required!

What is the drainage like? Are SUDS required?

Is there rock underneath?

Are there any services in the ground? (drains, electricity, sewers etc.)

Is the land contaminated? Was it a building site/ refuse tip before?

Ask! Some advice on the land upfront could save you thousands later on.

Other questions to ask:

Who owns the Land ?

Are there any planning conditions attached to it?

Do you require planning permission?

Are there any Bye Laws?

Is the space appropriate ie: proximity to other skate parks, play spaces, houses & gardens, trees, main roads ?

Is there clear access by road, footpath ie: for emergency vehicles, cars or wheelchair users ?

  • The better the ground conditions the more actual skating area you can get for your budget
  • Make sure the councils don't try and offer you the least favourable patch they have!

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Safety

Identify the risks.

Building Safely is what we do. This doesn't happen by accident! Works are planned, staff are trained and the right materials and tools are provided. When choosing a contractor you need to ask some questions:

Ask for Risk Assessment examples.

Ask for Method Statement examples.

Ask for profesional programmes

Ask for COSSH sheets.

Ask for copies of insurances

If your skatepark builder doesn't have these you will be responsible too! (See section on CDM Regulations)

  • You can get a bigger skatepark without paying for the luxuries of things like PL insurance.
  • ... but is it worth the risk!!

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Spray or Precast

While spray is best, sometimes modular is the way to go

Most designs above £40,000 are built in situ from precast concrete. This gives a continuous ride surface and limitless design possibilities

When your budget is less than this, spray can still be an option, however a some point it is not economical and very little can be achieved for the budget. This is when a council or user group is faced with the modular option

Modular skateparks get a bad press! For the most part this is because they have been badly designed and installed by play companies who have little (nay, no!) experience of skating or skate design.

But not all modular skateparks are created equal: (and there is very little difference in price!)

Our precast concrete skateparks have a life expectancy of 30 years - with some maintenance costs after year 5 (grout replacement around year 8) the above park is in Bristol (Horfield) and is made totally of our precast units. Installed in 1998 it is still going strong

Avoid wooden skateparks which only have a life expectancy of 5 years - with high maintenance costs after year 1. They are prone to vandalism and deteriorate fast with the British weather. If you must get wood, insist on birch ply.

Avoid steel skateparks which have a life expectancy of 10 years - with high maintenance costs after year 1. Steel are noisy; very noisy. They act like a drum and attract a lot of complaints from neighbours. We regularly replace these with concrete. If only we had known say the parish council. If you are considering steel, get in contact with us and we can pass you on to other councils who have tried steel. That way you will know!

and above all avoid the skateparks with concrete ramps and steel toes! While the concrete part may have a life expectancy of 10 years - there will be high maintenance costs after year 5. Those steel toes fail, and are dangerous when they do fail. We know, we regularly replace and repair skateparks with these steel toes! Again we can put you in touch with their owners!

Remember the story about the three little pigs? Houses made of staw, sticks and bricks? Which would you buy? Well the skating equivalent are: skateparks built of wood, steel and concrete! Which would you buy?!

  • If you must go modular: Go concrete
  • Do not use the ramps with steel toes!!!
  • Remember the three little pigs.

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Types of Concrete

For some its grey, for others it's all in the mix design.

Concrete comes in many flavours. What is right for one structure is wasteful on another. You don't get "the hardest concrete" by simply adding cement. It is both a science and an art to getting the right mix for a skatepark. Below is a guide to how we go about it, theoretically and practically!

Skateparks are reinforced concrete Structures
Reinforced concrete is a composite material of steel bars embedded in a hardened concrete matrix. Concrete is itself a composite material.: the concrete, assisted by the steel, carries the compressive forces, while steel resists tensile forces. the compressive forces in most stakeparks are quite low: most are designed as ground slabs

The dry mix consists of cement and coarse and fine aggregate. Water is added and this reacts with the cement which hardens and binds the aggregates into the concrete matrix; the concrete matrix sticks or bonds onto the reinforcing bars.

A knowledge of the properties and an understanding of the behaviour of concrete is an important factor in the design process. The types and characteristics of reinforcing steels are similarly important.

Concrete mix design
Concrete mix design consists of selecting and proportioning the constituents to give the required strength, workability and durability. Standard mixes are defined in European standards however we use our own prescribed mixes. In a prescribed mix we specify the proportions of the constituents to give the required strength and workability; strength testing is therefore not routinely required: if the mix is right, the strength is right. However we always use our prescribed mix in an early foundation batch before starting the final spray to test it out. The biggest variability we have in our concrete is location! Every batching plant has slightly different materials available and these need to be tested in practice before agreeing the final mix design.

Some companies tell you they use the hardest concrete. But what does this mean? The water-to-cement ratio is the single most important factor affecting concrete strength. For full hydration cement absorbs 0.23 of its weight of water in normal conditions. This amount of water gives a very dry mix and extra water is added to give the required workability. The actual water-to-cement ratio used generally ranges from 0.45 to 0.6. The aggregate-to-cement ratio also affects workability through its influence on the water-to-cement ratio, as noted above. The mix is designed for the ‘target mean strength’ which is the characteristic strength required for design plus the ‘current margin’. The value of the current margin is either specified or determined statistically and depends on a number of factors (including weather!) in the production process.

Curves giving compressive strength versus water-to-cement ratio for various types of cement and ages of hardening are available. The water-to-cement ratio is selected to give the required strength. To achieve our required concrete minimum cement contents and maximum free water-to-cement ratios are specified to meet durability requirements. The maximum cement content is also limited to avoid cracking due mainly to shrinkage. However we need to keep in mind the speed of early cure we need to avoid vandal damage. Therefore the mix we use can depend yet again on the locality We also specify proportions of aggregate to cement to give a specified workability and the mass of fine aggregate to total aggregate to ensure the concrete design give the correct pumpability and final finish we require.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage or drying shrinkage is the contraction that occurs in concrete when it dries and hardens. Drying shrinkage is irreversible but alternate wetting and drying causes expansion and contraction of concrete. Most concrete is cut at approximately 6m intervals to avoid the strain accumulating in the concrete to the point where it cracks. The aggregate type and content are the most important factors influencing shrinkage. The larger the size of the aggregate is, the lower is the shrinkage and the higher is the aggregate content; the lower the workability and water-to-cement ratio are, the lower is the shrinkage. Aggregates that change volume on wetting and drying, such as sandstone or basalt, give concrete with a large shrinkage strain, while nonshrinking aggregates such as granite or gravel give lower shrinkages.

  • Don't be fooled by the "we use the hardest concrete" line.
  • Don't insist on high MPa's : they're usually not required!

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Colour and Texture

Its as varied as the streets around you.

if you want it we can do it. Look around you. Find the colours and textures you like to see and skate. Research the web for ideas from other skateparks. Below are some of the standard colours and textures we can easily achieve.

  • TIP ONE
  • Tip TWO

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CDM for Skateparks

When do CDM (Construction, Design and Maintenance Regulations) apply?.

CDM fo skateparks

In regard to skatepark construction: It always applies.

Should you need further guidance start by reading the HSE guidelines for clients URL HERE.

For a smaller park (less than 30 man days the need to register the work with HSE is not mandatory. The need to appoint a CDM co-ordinator will depend on the councils own proceedures.

Bendcrete have many years of working with CDM Regulations and can act as CDM Co-ordinator, Principle contractor, or Planning Supervisor.

Please contact us for further information.

  • CDM is important: It guides the whole of life safety considerations for your skatepark
  • If you are unsure: Ask. CDM is designed to help the client fulfil their role in Health and Safety

CDM for Clients