Ask SAIL: Reviving Nonskid on Deck

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Worn nonskid is far more than just an aesthetic issue

Worn nonskid is far more than just an aesthetic issue


Q: The molded-in nonskid is becoming less and less nonskid on the side decks and foredecks of my old 35-footer. I’m thinking the easiest thing to do is apply some kind of paint with an abrasive in it, but I assume it will either not work or look odd because of the nonskid pattern. What should I do?

Carl Merritt, Seattle, WA


How it looks is not going to seem important as you tread water while your boat’s transom disappears beyond the next wave. If your deck footing is not secure, correcting this should be high priority. To minimize the visual impact, you can simply paint the textured surface a matching color and include a non-skid additive, typically some type of natural or synthetic grit. Done properly this will improve the footing, but like all deck paint, it has a limited lifespan. Most sailors find a rubberized deck paint—Durabak 18, KiwiGrip or something similar—to be less abrasive and more secure than grit additives. Here you will have to live with the colors available, which may indeed change the appearance of your boat. In both cases you will need to prepare the textured surface by washing and cleaning thoroughly with solvent, then sanding and probably attacking the area with a wire brush to give tooth to the low surfaces of the texture. Lots of aging boats have their textured decks successfully renewed with a paint-on product. The ultimate solution to slippery decks is to grind away the texture and cover the deck with a non-skid overlay such as Treadmaster. This type of product will give you a tree-frog grip on your boat, a good thing to have whenever you sail farther from shore than you can swim.

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