How to Paint a Non-Skid Deck

Repainting a non-skid deck will make your boat safer and look new again.

20th May 2013.
By Paul Cronin

Welcome to our shop and Matsya our 1938 Herreshoff Marlin. Today I will show you how to prep and paint an easy do it yourself non-skid finish on your deck.

First you need to have the right tools. You could hand sand the deck but the time it would take and quality of the prep would not be as good. For this job I use two different power sanders with 40, 80, and 120 grit paper for both sanders.

The first sander is a 6″ random orbital sander. The second is a trim sander. Both sanders have hook and Loup connection with the paper. So changing paper is easy, which you should do often.

Before sanding the surface tape off all the edges. This is important so you do not scratch the finish next to the non-skid, and Matsya has a nice varnish finish.

First we’ll use the 6″ random orbital sander. With this sander you do not have to push hard; just keep it level with the surface and let the sander do the work. Work the sander in a pattern and check the surface often.

There are two ways to use the trim sander; one is flat and the other is using the edges. For around this winch I will do both. First I will use the edge to get right up to the winch, and then I’ll use it flat to taper in to where the 6″ sander was used.

Now that I have prepped the surface to a smooth finish I will remove the sanding tape. Yes, you have to tape twice. The tape used during sanding will be scratched and will also have dust.

As long as the surface has all been sanded smooth don’t worry about different materials showing through. Just don’t go too deep; all you need is to make it smooth.

The manufacture will say you don’t have to remove all the old non-skid, but to do a quality job you should remove all the rough surfaces. With Matsya we have to be extra careful since she has a canvas deck over plywood. All you need is a relatively smooth surface to apply the non-skid paint.

Once you have the surface prepped, tack cloth it to remove the dust after you have pulled the sanding tape. The dust will not add to the non-skid, it will only reduce the adhesion of the paint. So use a tack cloth and wipe down the surface.

Next we tape for the non-skid paint application. Here is a tip for taping prior to applying the non-skid paint: always start where you will finish up the application. Use 18″ — 24″ strips of nice edge tape. The tape overlaps will allow you to pull the tape ahead of it while you are painting. See how I put small tabs on the tape so it is easy to grab.

You must pull the tape within 10 min on a 70-degree day such as today. If not you will have a job on your hands getting the tape off and it you may damage the finish on what is underneath.

Here we go ready to paint, the new tape is on and the surface is smooth and tacked.

I’ll use a 4″ chip brush and then roll the paint out with the special roller needed for Kiwi Grip. A rag wet with water will clean up any drips since this paint is acrylic latex.

I lightly stirred with a paint stick not to create air. This paint is a yogurt consistency (show paint on stick).

Now you will see why we have strips of tape. You MUST keep a wet edge to have a consistent look. I will roll the paint out three times. The first two times are to remove air and are 90 degrees from each other. Then the amount of pressure you use the third time will affect how coarse the non-skid will be.

I like to do the final roll out in the long direction of the deck. For the top of the house I will try to get a medium grit finish.

Here is her deck painted and cured.

 


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About the author:

Paul Cronin

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Paul Cronin is a lifelong sailor who has turned his passion for boats and photography into a career. View more photos and videos of boats, the marine industry, and the world around us at his website.
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