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Deck and cockpit non-skid

Mitchell S Allen

Active Member
I feel the decks on Sonata are none to NON skid at this point. I'm investigating how to remedy this issue. There are a number of products offered of course. Does anyone have first hand experience refurbishing your decks? Good recommendations or otherwise, please let me know.
On Dana we have used "Kiwi Grip" to redo most of our non-skid. It has worked very well with a couple of caveats. One is that the surface prep must be smooth and clean. Second is that it's a two person job, one person does the spreading while the second person needs to immediately roll the finish with the supplied roller before the goo dries. We are happy with the results except in one area where we weren't fast enough with the rolling.

I used Durabak. It works very well as nonskid and is durable, BUT it is very hard to keep clean, especially in the cockpit that gets heavy use. Once it is on, I don't believe I will ever be able to use anything else, unfortunately. If I were to do it again, I might use Perfection 2 part paint with nonskid particles added in. I really like Perfection. It is durable and easy to use. I know others who have used Kiwi Grip. If you use it, practice off the boat. One friend used as directed and the nonskid was too aggressive, sort of like walking on nails. But it has a good reputation otherwise. I understand it wears down in 10 years or so.
Seadek for the win. Kiwigrip is terrible! Mitchel, I'm out of the yard and back in Emeryville. You need to at least see my deck after five years
Grippy, great on bare feet, walkable bare foot on a hot day. Peel and stick
Seadek has captured the wakeboard and fishing boat market. You can buy it in bulk and cut it to fit or have them custom make pieces. I used 5mm embossed grey sheets.
It's peel and stick. I made "traction pad areas. Generally about 2 or 3 square feet but placed where needed. In the cockpit on top of the seats its comfy to sit on and on the floor where it takes a beating, On the weather deck and coach roof there are multiple pads. I used a polyester scrim from Sailrite to make patterns and used a power knife and scissors to cut the sections. The area under the sections was ground smooth with a oscillating mult-tool with a carbide /masonry blade. It's been on for about five years, shows some wear but still grips. I have not had to replace anything yet but since they are like floor tiles, if on goes bad peel it up and cut a new one
Thank you all. Lots of choices! John I would like to see your Seadek installation. I'm not sure when I'll be back to the boat quite yet. I'll let you know and hope we can get together.
I see on the Seadek site, they expect 3 years service, maybe longer. That concerns me. 5 years is better ;) MO is better.
Hi John - I’m curious: what makes you say Kiwigrip is terrible?

We applied Kiwigrip on Zia 4 years ago and it has been really good for us. It took several days of work to sand the old non-skid, prep and then apply it. It was for sure a 2-person operation to apply before it dried. And it was a learning experience. Where we first applied it on the anchor locker hatch, the texture was too aggresive and might cut your bare knees after it was first applied, but we got better going aft. It seems that all non-skid makes more of a hassle for cleaning, but we haven’t found it too bad.
I was concerned as well. I started with the cockpit floor and seats. I liked it so much that 2 seasons later I did the whole Monty.
Treadmaster is another product that was standard on the Nordic 44 back in the '80's I tried a small area on the anchor locker but didn't care for it.
I think the key to Seadeck is using individual traction pads instead of wall to wall.
Meanwhile while anchored for months in the Delta on hot summer days I can walk barefoot on the decks.
Hello, experience long-distance Pacific cruising on a Jason 35, including to NZ. It's a fundamental conundrum: Superior non-skid versus better aesthetics. Any surface that is less slippery will hold dirt and stain more readily. Any surface that sheds dirt and stain and is easy to clean will be slippery.

We used Tuffcoat, similar to Durabak but water-based. Great actual non-skid, easy to apply and repair. It does stain. Easy to clean the dirt (not the stain) with hose, soft brush, and water. BTW, stains bleach out in tropical sun, FWTW. Three other boats in NZ liked our deck so much they applied a similar products. KiwiGrip is an acrylic. It has -0- non-skid properties of its own. Non-skid depends totally on the profile left by the roller. Durabak and Tuffcoat are moisture-cured urethane (not a polyurethane like the paints), with rubber granules. Both surface and profile provide non-skid. Did I say it does stain a bit? You can intermix Durabak/Tuffcoat colors to the tone of choice, which can take the edge off the white, ease the glare and hide some staining. One advantage of Durabak for the weekend DIY owner: It's best to apply in sections, not the whole deck at once. Of course, I know sailors with teak decks who would not allow potato chips in the cockpit for fear of oil stains on the teak, God forbid a glass of red wine! 2-part polyurethane paints (Perfection, etc.) are slick and shiny by design. Non-skid entirely depends on added grit. Works okay, easy to clean, best for color matching or contrast as you wish. Challenge is even distribution of grit, so best applied with a spray gun. Treadmaster is excellent non-skid, but very rough on skin and foulies. Not cheap, and doesn't stand up to UV very well. It's applied with epoxy, so repair/replacement means grinding down the deck. I just surveyed a Norseman 447 and its Treadmast was shot, with bare 'glass fiber glistening in the Hawaiian sun. The whole deck need to be ground down and resurfaced before new non-skid. At least there weren't thousands of screw penetrations into the balsa core. Maybe a good choice around the mast, but might as well use SeaDek pads as recommended above.
SeaDek is great, but expensive per square foot and does not last so long, due its softer foam material that makes it comfy. Take a look at a well used SUP. A combination of Seadek around the cockpit and paint+grit or Durabak non-skid on the working deck areas might be a good compromise. If you choose Durabak or a competitor, avoid the water based products and choose the solvent based. The water based products tend to stain more readily. Don't ask how I know.... I will use Durabak again on the next boat due to its superior non-skid (second only to Treadmaster), ease of application and repair.
At this point I'm leaning towards something that won't require grinding all exsisting molded nonskid to smooth. Sonata is in a marina, and will not be out of the water for several years. Grinding isn't an option.
I like the look and feel of both Seadek and treadmaster, but both need smooth surfaces to begin. I've looked into Durabak, and Interdeck. If Interdeck is a viable option, it may be the way I go. I need to keep this a simple 1 person job, and have a long lasting and effective nonskid.
As for the cockpit floor, I'm thinking a teak grate perhaps.
Any other input is greatly appreciated!
Thanks again to everyone who's helped here. It's what makes this forum so good.
Interdeck is a one-part enamel pre-loaded with non-skid particles. As such it will be easier to apply than the two-part polyurethanes, but also won't last as long. That said, it might be a very good solution for your situation. Durabak is also one-person operation, simplified with a few tips for application. It will last longer than the Interdeck, but wants a flatter - not perfect - surface; i.e. just knock off the high spots of the molded non-skid. In either case, if you can get by with random-orbital sanding with vacuum attachment in the marina, that would help a lot.
Also, consider Dri-Deck tiles for the cockpit floor. A lot easier than a custom teak grate. A lot lighter to lift and clean under (all grates, tiles, etc. collect an amazing amount of crud underneath.) Will contour to the cockpit sole, whereas the teak grate will need to be custom fit by hand. That is: Don't assume the cockpit sole is truly flat. It was designed for bare feet on pool decks, UV resistant, excellent non-skid. I used it in wet lockers, lazarette floor, etc.
Interesting thoughts. I use a Orbital sander and vacuum setup on the teak trim already. The dry deck is something I hadn't considered, I use it in lockers as well.
Yesterday was the 61st anniversary of my getting out of the Navy. This conversation brings me back to the simple nonskid we used on the decks of destroyers. Tape off the desired area, paint with an enamel paint ( it could be any color, as long as it's grey), Sprinkle liberally with fine sifted beach sand (or ground up walnut shells), When dry, sweep up the excess sand, Paint a second coat of enamel. It's cheap, good looking, great nonskid qualities and you can make it any color if you don't like grey.

Actually the Morgan nonskid areas are kind of a biege/pale yellow now. Thinking of going to light Grey ;)
I know that was essentially the same system used on painted canvas decks for eons too.
On my Moore 24, when built, the new deck was coated in gel coat and then rolled with an aggressive roller. The effect was excellent nonskid, but almost rasp like to bare skin.
The Kiwi Grip we used on Dana's decks is the light grey color, so I felt right at home. But Dana doesn't have the 30,000 shaft horsepower of the tin cans. The Kiwi Grip is a very aggressive grip. If you fall on your knees, you going to lose a 1/2 lb of flesh. We have done the cabin top and cockpit areas. The side decks and the foredeck are as yet a challenge to do. It is one continuous area with no breaks. It is going to be very hard to do it in one piece. Maybe in the spring we'll attempt it.

The aggressiveness of the finished Kiwi Grip product is dependent on how it is rolled with the supplied roller. The more you roll it out the flatter the surface. It you want it rougher, roll it once and stop. To make it not so rough, keep rolling. One thing with this product, it likes to keep and show the dirt.

After all those Kiwi spikes are knocked off, it's back to skid. It's just thickened acrylic paint. Just what I need in a dip pole jibe on the foredeck in a blow.