It is a common question skaters have about which top surface to use for a skateboard ramp. The main possibilities are plywood, Masonite and Skatelite. The skating surface on any ramp much depends on where the ramp will be placed. For example, a halfpipe inside a warehouse would receive a different surface as opposed to it being outdoors with the rain and/or snow.
Lets start with plywood. There are hundred of types of plywood. CDX, ACX, Burch, particle board, etc. We recommend using any type of smooth and sanded plywood. Particle board is quite possibly the worst type of wood you could use! A halfpipe outdoors with plywood will need something such as Skatepaint to help protect the wood from rain/snow. Skatepaint is a polyurethane coating designed specifically for skateboard ramps going outdoors. Click the photo for more information.
Masonite, in essence, is a glorified cardboard. Its smooth and works great- but if it is going outside, plan on replacing it in a few weeks! Masonite on any skate ramp does not hold up well when it gets wet. It will bubble and be destroyed faster than you can spell s-k-a-t-e-b-o-a-r-d!
Skatelite is a product that works quite well. However, it is very expensive. Skatelite PRO typically goes for $165-185 per sheet! Yes, per sheet! In other words, you will most likely spend $1200-5000 in Skatelite alone for your halfpipe or quarterpipe. For a while, the manufacture guaranteed no bubbles or warping on Skatelite for 5 years. Recently, they pulled that statement off their website.
All in all you have many options for a top surface on your skateboard ramp. Remember, each situation is different! We all want to make sure we make the right choice in a skating surface. No one wants to invest dozens of hours in building a ramp to discover the top surface is ruined in a rapid manner. Now go skate!