Non-Skid application guide | Baltic Sails - Progresss through Research
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Non-Skid application guide

Baltic Sails - Progresss through Research
Published by Yannic-Tim Noack in boatworks · 24 March 2021
Tags: nonskidguide
The most important skill in boatbuilding
If there is no grip on your boat, you can't perform. Not at all. That is why I think it is one of the most useful skills for an individual to have in his toolbox.
Methods of Non-Skid application
Grip Tape
Grip tape is possibly the fastes and easiest way to apply grip to your deck. Its fairly cheap, allthough not much cheaper then paint with particles, fairly light if used in small amounts and most of us carry it with us anyways.

Grip tape is great when it comes to high stress areas like the gunshale or the edge of the wings. It is great in these areas because the underlying surface is already prepared flat and glossy and will ideally hold your tape well and is will continually also stick well there. We personally use 3M safety walk (I believe Type 3=).

In the 49er and the 29er, people often apply skateboard griptape to the center of the hull after the deck grip has been used up. It is a very cheam and efficient solution but is obviously not as beatiful as the original white non-skid.

You can also use it on deck but you will have to sand the undelying deck flat and make it rather smooth in order for the tape to stick at all. You will have to polish it too if you want it to stick forever. Lifting edges will become and issue over time, especially if the tape is experiencing horizontal forces.
Paints with particles
Paints with particles are the least work intese way to updating your non-skid in a non-tape way. it can be applied onto existing non-skid surfaces as well as sanded glossy surfaces.

2-part paints with particles mixed into them has been a technique used widly on surfboards, especially windsurfing. It is great for shorter term repairs like renewing grip in the middle of the season when you don't have time to do a complete refit.

The surface may be unevenly clustered with sand potentially a different colour as the rest of the boat.

Nautix grip is often used on the wings as a quick fix mid-season and should last you about half to a full season if you did 2-3 coats. The sand will wear off rather inversely. Fast at the beginning and slower towards the end. It is not something I would recommend as your only on-deck grpi sollution because of that and the fine sand particles in it.
If you use Nautix, we recommend you apply it onto already existing non-skid after you have slightly heyes the surface with 120 grit paper. Note: Nautix Grip will yellow with time.

Example products
  • Nautix Grip (yellows over time)
  • Paint with sand particles like Awlgrip +sand or Alexseal + sand
Broadcast method and sand
This is the longest lasting, most labour intense and most beatiful way of updating non-skid. It can be done with both paint or gelcoat, where paint is cleaner to work with and easier to repair but slightly less durable.

Broadcast method includes three steps:
  1. Base coat
  2. braodcast
  3. seal-coat

First a base coat is applied to the surface. Sand is broadcasted on it in a thick layer and the base coat traps on the particles touching it. That way you get a very even surface of non-skid later on.
The paint is left to tack up for approx 12 hours, additional sand is removed first with a broom, then with a vacuum and then at least one (max 3) seal coats are applied on top of it. The seal coats are very paint intese because it runs thoughout the particles and locks them in place thoroughly.

This method is very time intensive because of the taping jobs you will have to do and the surface prep, where you should ideally remove all existing non-skid to reduce weight gain after the refit.

This is work will, if done good, last you two to 5 seasons. You may have to rework the surface a little with some more paint if you dropped your boom on it but other than that no maintenance should be necessary.

With Paint
Because you are using paint and the colour of paint doesn't fade as much over time as gelcoat would, repair spots will be less visible and when doing spot repairs, you will hardly be able to see them after the
For both broadcast and mixing you can choose a variety of different sands.

There are various different types of sand you could be using for your project. Most manufacturers have different grain sizes which mostly cannot be compared from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Softpoint Softsand Rubber
The american company softpoint solutions has a wide range of products to choose from. We absolutely recommend you use their Softsand Rubber. We have used it in our latest refit and we are absolutely amazed at how it turned out for us. The grain we got is perfect for the wings and hull of the 49er and also very comfortable if you are sailing bare feet, if you are into that as much as I am.
They use this silicone-type soft particles to create the texture. This allows the deck some softness to the touch and minimum weight.
Awlgrip was the original company that came up with this non-skid stuff. Awlgrip uses a crystalising sand particle type that crystalises when activated with paint. This texture is very harsh and more like sandpaper than the Softsand. Awlgrip is rarely used with broadcast. from what I have heard, it is prone to popping through the deck with use and wear.

Alternative Sands
I am sure there are loads more companies that sell non-skid sand nowadays. Write a commend or drop us an email to tell us about what sand you prefer and want other people to use.

Nautix come with sand premixed and the grain is something like 200 grit paper.

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