Here are a few lessons I learned from my Do It Myself non-skid project on the deck of my boat.
Paint: I used Interlux Interdeck, a Pre-mixed one part Polyurethane Non-skid paint which comes with fine non-skid particles already in the paint. Interdeck has been “flattened” (gloss removed, low sheen) and is ready to go right from the can (more on this below). I had used Interdeck on the cockpit sole and hatch cover several years ago and it had held up well and provided good non-skid properties when used with additional coarse grit added.
Coarse Non-skid: I used Sterling U-3418 Coarse Non-skid. This was as coarse as I could find without going to some sort of sand. The U-3418 has spherical particles about 0.013 inch diameter. The coarse non-skid was sprinkled on the wet paint using a coarse salt shaker. When I painted the cockpit sole some years ago they were the non-skid particles I added, this time I sprinkled on more particles.
A test panel is a good idea when deciding what size and type of particles you want to use.
Color: Interdeck comes in six colors. I used the Gray # YJF684 when I redid the Non-skid several years ago. I found the Gray to be too dark for my taste and got very warm to the touch during the summer even here in Seattle. This time I mixed five parts White (YJB000) to one part Gray (YJF684) which gave a nice light gray that almost matched the original deck color. Mix the paint in a large container then pour the paint back into the quart cans for storage.
Preparation: Per recommended for a fiberglass deck with a mild molded in pattern, scrubbed well with a coarse Scotch-Brite pad. The deck was then wiped down with a solvent soaked rag. The solvent rag was folded into about a six inch pad and then an area of about two square feet wiped down. The rag was refolded and the same area wiped down again, this was repeated until the rag did not pick up any dirt. This is more work than the “just wad the rag up and wipe things down” but got all the junk off the deck. Remember that preparation shortcuts are a major reason that paints fail. Since the deck is walked on and abused, preparation is not a good place to take a shortcut.
I also put in solid plugs where bolts went through the deck to help keep water out of the Balsa core. I still have a few places to do but the plan is to have all the thru deck bolts go through a solid plug of resin.
Mixing: Mix the paint well. I thinned the paint a bit, the instructions say no more than 10% by volume. I was up around 5% or a bit more as I had problems in the past with the paint going on too thick and taking a long time to dry and cure. Interdeck seems to me to want to go on thick right out of the can.
Application: I used a 4 inch wide roller with a 1/4 inch nap (the old roller bags show that some was applied with a 1/8 inch nap also). Roll as you would a wall but be careful not to glop the paint on too thick. Too thick will be all sorts of problems.
Once I had the paint rolled out evenly to the right thickness, I went back over with the roller after the paint had been rolled out and did a final pass to make sure that there were no heavy spots and that the texture was even.
Once I had an area painted but before it dried or set up I went back and sprinkled on the coarse non-skid.
Best to do sections all at once, I did a section by the lifeline gates then completed the side areas to the bow and a slight line can be seen where the two different applications were done, not very noticeable but if one looks real close the start stop line can be seen.
The original owner had put Non-Skid tape in the plain gel coat section on the bow where the bow cleat is mounted. The tape had became quite slick and the slick section was about the same width as a shoe. I took the tape off and put a white “racing stripe” with Non-Skid in it to give a good grip for anyone working on the bow.
Second Coat: Observe the window for the second coat, this is required to get a good bond between coats. If the second coat is applied too soon the first coat will not have cured out properly and the second coat will slow the curing of the first coat and the total cure time will be extended greatly.
Curing: Pay attention to the “don’t walk on until” part of the instructions. Give things a day or two extra after the final coat if you can to allow for any areas that might have been applied a bit too thick.
General Observations: If either coat is applied too thick the cure time will be extended greatly and the non-skid properties will be reduced.
Direction of painting and sprinkling the Non-Skid: Seeing the particles when they go onto the paint can be a bit tough. You want the direction of the light to be from a direction that lets you see the non-skid as it is being sprinkled, the sun to you back is bad, I did some of my painting with the sun at my back and had a very difficult time seeing the non-skid as it was sprinkled on and I ended up with some uneven areas. Practice a bit sprinkling the Non-Skid particles before applying the paint and shaking on the non-skid particles into the paint.
Sprinkling from a couple of feet from the deck and in long sweeping strokes also helps. If you are close to the deck it is hard to get an even distribution.
Sprinkling the Non-Skid on evenly is critical. If the Non-Skid is sprinkled on unevenly the texture will make the color look a bit uneven depending on the angle of the sun and where you view the deck from.
Hindsight: When I did the cockpit sole and hatch cover I mixed in a lot of Coarse Non-Skid particles into the Interdeck paint. That worked well but the paint was a bit thick where the additional particles clumped together and it took a long time for the paint to cure to walk on. It was also difficult to get an even texture. I found that if I preloaded the roller with paint that did not have the extra particles in it. If a dry roller is put in paint with extra Non-Skid the roller will act like a strainer when it is first wet out and the first bit of paint rolled out will have extra Non-Skid in it that is hard to roll out evenly.
Cost: Quite a bit less than the several thousand verbal estimate from a couple of boatyards I ask about doing the Non-Skid. One of the issues with the cost is that doing the Non-Skid is very labor intensive no matter who or how you do the work. I removed much but not all the deck hardware, removal and install takes a long time.
Would I do the Non-Skid Again? Yes, I made a few less than optimum decisions but overall the new Non-Skid looks great and has a lot of grip and judging from the performance of the Non-Skid I did a few years ago it will be fine for many years. Several of my neighbors have also stopped to admire the new Non-Skid. Many neighbors have ask many questions about the how I did the Non-Skid.
My crew should also be much happier with the new Non-Skid offering better footing and the boat will be much safer because of the better footing.
Thanks for your interest in and support of Boating Safety.
– c / m –