How to Apply Marine Deck Paint

Marine deck paint is made to be very tough and resistant to heavy traffic use. Marine paint for your deck also has to be non-skid so its not a safety hazard. After all, the worst thing that could happen on a boat would be for someone to slid off your deck because you didn’t use a non-skid surface treatment.

As with any boat painting, preparation of the surface is the majority of the work that goes into painting your boat. Preparation of the deck is no different. You should properly sand and prime your deck, taking care to note which kind of primer you use (two-part or one-part paint). Make sure any paint and primer you use are compatible. For best results, use the same brand of each because it will provide you with the clearest picture of what paint to use with which primer.

Also before you begin painting, make sure to cover hardware with plastic or remove entirely from your boat deck. You don’t want paint flecks on any metal surfaces as this can make your paint job look very cheap and rushed. Paint your deck only when temperatures are between 50°F to 85°F with a dew point lower than 80.

There are two methods for creating a non-skid surface using marine deck paint. The first is by creating a molded gelcoat that’s designed as a non-skid layering. The second method is to add a non-skid texture to the paint itself.

Marine Deck Paint

Marine Deck Paint

A molded gelcoat works because it is applied over a surface that’s been cleaned with medium to coarse bronze wool. The gelcoat is applied in two coats, no more than 8 hours apart and sometimes with a second round of sanding with a coarse bronze wool piece. The gelcoat is also thinner by 30-35% to reduce drying time and ensure the molding created by the wool remains.

The second method is also known as the “Shake-n-Bake” method. The area is prepped with a coarse bronze wool, but then its sanded with 120 grit sandpaper before paint application. The non-skid media can be added to the paint prior to painting, or alternatively it can be sprinkled over the wet coat of paint after application. The key to successfully applying the non-skid media is to ensure you vacuum up any media not absorbed by the wet paint and always allow several days before you use the deck.

If you want to keep things as simple as possible, you can also buy polyurethane one-step paints that already have the non-skid compound added to the paint. This cuts down on application time but tends to cost more money. Consulting the label of your deck brand of paint will tell you whether or not the non-skid compound is in the paint or if you’ll need to add non-skid media. Either way you choose, you must always ensure your marine deck paint has a non-skid component to prevent accidents.

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