Jeff Jones

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Friday, November 17, 2017
Boat Generator Fuel System Made Simple
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Clean battery wiring

DIY non-skid
Here’s how I do non-skid on the decks of all my clients’ boats. It’s a simple process with very gratifying results, but there are a few important steps that cannot be overlooked or skimped on.

I like to use West Systems Epoxy. It’s very simple to use and cost effective. It comes in 1-quart kits, 1-gallon kits and big 5-gallon kits. Because of its versatility, I highly recommend to my clients that they keep at least a 1-quart kit on the boat at all times.

West Systems has pump kits that make it so simple, just use 1 pump to 1 pump on the epoxy and catalyst and you’re good to go. Can’t be any easier than that! West Systems sells different catalysts for different jobs. “Fast” catalyst is the most commonly used and is for non-skid, quick glass repairs, dry rot, waterproofing, gluing things together and such. “Slow” is for bigger jobs, where you might be using 10 pumps of epoxy to 10 pumps of catalyst. In the case of non-skid, use the “Slow” for big areas. Lastly, West Systems makes a “Special Clear” catalyst that replaces varnish for an almost forever finish that has anti-UV properties.

First prep the area and rough it up with some very aggressive sandpaper — 60 grit minimum, and at times I use 36 grit. Doesn’t matter, the epoxy will fill the scratches. Then mask off the area where you plan on applying the non-skid, plenty of wiping down with liberal amounts of acetone will help the tape stick well. You can use the tape to make any pattern you like. Doing the non-skid in smaller patterns helps keep things easy, as epoxy with fast catalyst will thicken quickly, causing your non-skid to be uneven.

Now that your spot to be done is sanded, wiped down with acetone and taped off, it’s time to mix the epoxy. You’ve chosen your non-skid media ahead of time and have it ready to spread out over.

Non-skid media choices are walnut shell for a commercial type feel, very rough. Silica sand for a less aggressive feel and I use a wire/metal spaghetti strainer to shake the sand and get a consistent size of media. Nowadays a lot of guys are using ground-up tennis ball for a great non-skid effect and a softer feel underfoot. You’ve picked which one you are going to use and are ready, best if you have a helper for this step. Once the epoxy is mixed, you must work fast.

Roll out the epoxy evenly going over the edges of the tape you used to mask off the area. Don’t miss any spots, it’s hard to come back and repair it and get an even look. Also, be sure to not leave any roller marks, as they will show on the end result. The more epoxy you use, and the thicker it is, the more aggressive your non-skid will be.

Now cover the epoxied area with your non-skid media of choice. Lay it on thick, don’t try to sprinkle it and get it even. I mean, really pile it on. Pull the tape off at this point, while the epoxy is still uncured. If you forget and leave the tape, you’ll have a very difficult time removing the tape that is now epoxied down. Epoxy is tough stuff. Then walk away and give the epoxy ample time to fully “kick off.”

If you intend on saving the unused non-skid media, have a very clean ShopVac ready to go when the epoxy dries. Test the epoxy by inspecting the cup you mixed it in, not by feeling the area you applied non-skid. If it’s still wet, you might wreck the whole job. Once completely cured, now it’s time to vacuum the loose non-skid media off. Don’t drag the vacuum hose on the non-skid, carefully use your hand to hold the vacuum hose just above the loose non-skid trying not to physically remove it by any scraping that will show through after painting. Save your non-skid media by dumping it out of the clean vacuum and back into its container.

At this point there is still loose non-skid on the job, and this needs to come off. I use an electric yard blower for this, carefully getting every single loose piece of media off the area. If you use a brush, the rough non-skid will pull out the brush hairs and they will now be stuck in your job.

Most guys I know go over the non-skid at this point with the paint they are going to use, either a topside enamel or more likely linear polyurethane or LP. What I do is go back over the area with epoxy, sealing the entire deal and ensuring it’ll last as long as possible and be super durable. The final step is to mask the area off and apply the paint of your choice. Using a tan or grey is popular because a bright white deck can be hard on the eyes after a long sunny day on the water.

So if you have looked at your decks and thought redoing the non-skid was too challenging of a task, now you know just how easy it can be. And done with epoxy, it’ll be very durable and might last longer than the factory non-skid that is so slippery now.

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Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board. During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via e-mail at captjeffjones@gmail.com. You can also check out his website at captainonboard.org.

WEST SYSTEMS EPOXY is affordable and easy to find in local marine stores. Best part is the ease of use, just one pump of part A and one pump of part B and it’s perfectly mixed.

MASKED OFF FOR a perfect caulk line.

APPLY CAULK LIBERALLY to ensure filling all cracks, big and small.

WET CAULK SPREAD with fingers makes a mess on the tape, not the boat.

FIRST PASS WET caulk is to force it into the deepest cracks and seal the line for years to come.

CLOSE-UP WET caulk on the tape being pulled, leaving a perfect caulk line on the boat.

PULL THE TAPE before the epoxy cures, or it can be tough to remove.

PERFECT CAULK LINE tape pulled at an angle that leaves a nice edge.

VACUUM LOOSE NON-SKID media once the epoxy has fully cured. Use a clean Shop-Vac so non-skid media can be reused on the next section.

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