Expert advice

How do I paint a non-skid deck?

How to 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 topcoat 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 a few suggestions and pointers.

  • 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.
  • 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 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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