DIY Non-Skid Paint for Safer Footing

This is a guest post by Diego Flores, who took First Place in the 2016 Stingy Sailor DIY Project Contest with a boarding ladder project for his 1979 Catalina 22 Mirabel.

Before we continue, a bit of legal housekeeping. This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Those commissions help to pay the costs associated with running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. For a complete explanation of why I’m telling you this and how you can support this blog without paying more, please read my full disclosure.

And now, Diego.

When the companionway step/locker lid on Mirabel would get wet, it created a footing hazard when entering the cabin. I originally installed a small piece of rubber floor mat there. Unfortunately, the molded-in design provided minimal traction when wet. The texture crumbled off and created a mess that could have potentially clogged my electric bilge pump. I considered replacing it with a scrap of carpet but I decided against it figuring it would be a potential breeding ground for mildew.

What to do? I took a page out of one my sailing heros, Hal Roth’s books, How to Sail Around the World, and decided to make my own non-skid finish. This is the same method that I used for Mirabel’s decks.

I first cleaned the lid and then sanded where I was going to paint. Next, I applied a coat of white Kilz primer to seal the surface. After the first coat dried, I applied a second coat. While that was still wet, I filled a shaker jar with sand and sprinkled it evenly over the wet paint.


After the second coat dried, I first brushed and then vacuumed off the excess sand that didn’t stick to the paint. Last, I applied a third coat of paint over the sand, which created an aggressive, non-skid surface.


You can also see in the pictures the heads of the bolts that attach a 1″x 1/8″ strip of aluminum underneath the lid to reinforce it and prevent it from cracking down the middle.

As Hal Roth said in essence in his book, no one has ever slipped on his deck. I can attest to the outstanding non-skid properties of this method. Neither my crew nor I have slipped on the non-skid areas of my decks. It is so aggressive, we have to wear knee pads or some kind of padding to avoid losing a layer of skin when kneeling on the deck!

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