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When I purchased my 1979 Morgan Out Island 41 in 2000, the deck was pretty worn out.  The non-skid areas were worn down to the point that they no longer had any grip.  On the rest of the deck surfaces, the gel coat had oxidized to a point on no return.  Plus most of the deck was covered with spider cracks.  Drastic measures were called for!  I had seen Tread Master covering on other boats and like the look and feel of it.  So I took a drawing of the deck of an OI 41 that I had done in AutoCad2000 and started laying out sheets of 35" x 47" to see the best way to place them with the least amount of waste.  

I ordered the TreadMaster needed from SailNet.  I also ordered the epoxy they sold for applying the TreadMaster.  It is a two part epoxy (mixed 1:1) and was about 1/4 the price of some of the better known brands.

After the materials arrived, I coated the entire top deck with epoxy - a thick layer over the non-skid areas to bring them smooth, and a thin layer over the other areas to fill in the spider cracks.  

Next I sanded down the areas not to be covered - first with a 80 grit sandpaper, moving up to a 400 grit.  All these areas were then painted using the "roll and tip" method and Interlux Brightside Polyurethane paint.  This is a one part polyurethane enamel that is easy to use and hard as nails when it cures.  I had read a lot about  the "roll and tip" method, what rollers and brushes to use, etc - but actually doing it was easier, yet more involved.  The basic idea is to roll paint (to get an even thickness) onto an area, and then lightly brush the area (in one direction) to remove the bubbles.  My first attempt was on a warm breezy day.  It worked fine at first, but then the paint started to cure to fast and would not level out.  Turns out there were three thing working against me as time went along:1) It was breezy - this causes the paint to "flash" (the solvent evaporates too fast) leaving behind paint that had not had time to level out.  2) It was warm - too warm - 90F, and again this caused the paint to "flash".  3) I was using straight paint, rather than diluting it with some thinner (Interlux Brightsides uses their 333 Brushing Liquid).  This adds more solvent to the mixture, therefore making it take longer for the paint to setup.  After learning these lessons, I carefully choose my days to be not too hot (low 80's), only a light breeze, and I added solvent.  I used a cheap short nap roller and a disposable foam brush to apply the paint.  Before painting, Interlux recommends that the surface be cleaned (I used Acetone and then a tack cloth - run lightly over the surface).  Using this method, I applied 3 coats to all areas of the deck not to be covered by the TreadMaster.  I did run the paint just into the areas to be covered to give a finished look.  Overall the process was slow and tedious, boring and no fun at all - but in the end has produced a great finish that people refuse to believe is not gel coat.

After the painting was done, it was time for some fun - putting down the TreadMaster.  For tools, I used a pair of heavy scissors, a scalpel, a 1000 sheet package of white printer/copier paper, several rolls of blue paint tape, a gallon of Acetone, rags, mixing cups for epoxy, spreaders for the epoxy and of course the epoxy and TreadMaster.  My first piece, I tried to cut in place with the scalpel, but could not get a really close fit - so I came up with the paper template method.  I taped down the first piece of paper and could trim it as necessary with the scalpel.  I then taped the second piece of paper to the first and trimmed - and so on until I had covered several feet.  This template was then carefully taken up and placed and taped on a piece of TreadMaster.  I then used the scissors to cut out the TreadMaster.  This method worked without a flaw for the entire boat.  After several pieces had been cut out, I would mix up a batch of epoxy and spread it out on the deck.  TreadMaster was them placed onto the epoxy, starting on one side and rolling out to the other - making sure to remove any air pockets.  Edges were taped down - either to the toe rail where they butted up against, or to the next piece.  Acetone was used to remove any excess epoxy that may have squeezed out - you must get it before it cures - or it is there for a long time to come!  After the job was completed, Annabelle looked like an entirely different boat.

So now two years later how do I feel about it?  I would do it again without changing one thing - well maybe a couple of things.  There are a couple of places where I did not pay close enough attention and the epoxy ran down a couple of places on the painted deck.  Prying the cured epoxy pulls the paint up.  Also, I have a few joints and edges where the TreadMaster is peeling up - I should have made sure that there was plenty of epoxy there, and did not get Acetone under those areas killing the epoxy.  My TreadMaster is a medium gray color and it gets HOT in the summer sun.  I would look for the lightest gray (or off white) I could get.

So if your deck is old and is showing it - give it a try - your friends and neighbors will not believe it is the same boat.

Please address general comments to web@dv-fansler.com

This page was last modified: 01/22/14
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