Expert advice

How do I paint a non-skid deck?

Although there is no single, universally proven deck surface that will prevent people from slipping on a boat deck, a low-cost, slip resistant finish gives added protection and can be easily applied. Find out how below.

First, choose the right paint

A deck demands a tough coating to protect it from the damaging effects of foot traffic, anchors and other gear that may fall on it. With that in mind, a two part polyurethane paint with a non-skid additive / powder is possibly your best option. You aren’t limited to using a two-part paint though, you can also add such additives to single pack top coat paints. Alternatively, you can use products that are premixed with suitable non-skid aggregates.

How to apply the non-skid additive / powder material

There are various ways of applying the material and it really comes down to how you’d like to tackle the job. Below are our suggestions, but you may have other ideas and it really doesn’t matter as long as you achieve the effect you want.

  • The easiest way is to shake the powder onto a layer of wet paint. One way to do this is to take a plastic container and drill many 3 mm holes in the lid and use the container like a large pepper shaker. Shake the powder on until the whole surface is covered by a layer of powder. Allow the paint to semi-cure and then blow the excess powder off the surface and apply a further coat of paint to seal it all down.
  • Another way is to stir the powder into the paint and then apply. This method can be a little tricky, as you have to ensure the powder doesn’t bunch up under the roller or brush giving a patchy effect.
  • The other method is to hand broadcast the powder on to the surface as if you are sowing grass.

How to produce the non-skid area

  • Firstly, make sure the second coat of the topcoat you applied is well cured and that you follow the drying and overcoating times on the topcoat label.
  • Mask-off the area in the pattern intended for non-skid. You can use 3M® 218 Fine Line masking tape which goes around curves really well. Or you can use normal masking tape laid down in strips at the corners and then carefully cut it into a curve. Cans and jars of various sizes are useful as templates to create exactly the curve you want.
  • Paper mask-off the area you want to protect.
  • Lightly roughen the exposed areas with 280 grade paper.
  • Apply one coat of topcoat as per label instructions.
  • Using one of the methods described above, apply the powder material while the topcoat is still very wet.
  • Allow the coat of paint to dry for the appropriate period. Do not exceed the overcoating time.
  • Very carefully vacuum or blow away any excess powder.
  • Carefully apply a second coat of topcoat taking care to do it without over brushing.
  • Allow to dry for a few days before allowing heavy traffic use.

Refurbishing an existing deck

This can be difficult to do, however the easiest way is to sand the existing system back to a smooth finish and re-apply undercoat / topcoat / additive powder. Attempting to clean and prepare the existing surface and then apply new coats of paint may result in the original non-skid finish being partially buried. This could cause adhesion problems with the new system if it’s not prepared properly.

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