By Andrew Spaulding
Last week Michael Argyelan, Crowley’s Store Manager, invited me to help him replace the non-skid on the deck of his Frers 33 with KiwiGrip over the weekend. Who could turn down an offer like that? Since the application went pretty well, I decided to share the experience with you. KiwiGrip is a one-part, water-based, non-toxic, acrylic polymer that is rolled into a non-skid surface. These are great features that really make a non-skid project accessible to Do-It-Yourselfers.
My favorite part of this project was that we didn’t need to sand the deck. The original non-skid on the boat was worn almost entirely smooth. KiwiGrip recommends sanding only areas that are loose or very rough. Otherwise, all the deck needs before taping is a de-waxing followed by a cleaning to remove all residual dirt and debris. Of course, you will want to fill any holes or deep scratches before applying KiwiGrip.
Step one for our project was taping the deck off. Thankfully, Michael had the deck cleaned and taped off before I arrived. A great time saving trick-of-the-trade to remember is to tape the non-skid areas to within a ¼ inch of the actual finish edge that you want. Once the deck is fully covered and taped off, use fine-line tape to cover the last ¼ of an inch. It is important to cover everything that isn’t going to be rolled with the new non-skid as the KiwiGrip does tend to splatter during the rolling process. Since the fine-line tape is on top of all the other taping and cover material, you can peel the fine line tape off while the paint is still wet to get your edge and not worry about removing the rest of the tape until the deck is dry.
KiwiGrip comes out of the can the consistency of thick yogurt. It is best to brush or trowel the KiwiGrip onto the deck in an even layer before rolling it. The thickness of the application and your rolling technique will vary the level of texture of the non-skid. We found that we needed to maintain a thicker coat to cover color variations in the deck. This lead us to use more product than the instructions suggested we would use. We used 2.5 cans (4 liters per can) to cover the deck and cockpit on a 33 foot sailboat. We also applied the KiwiGrip thicker in high traffic areas in an attempt to extend the time between re-application.
KiwiGrip comes with a proprietary roller sleeve to use with the product. We cut up a second roller sleeve into small pieces to use in areas where the roller wouldn’t fit. A dabbing motion with the piece of roller sleeve led to a texture that is consistent with the rolled portion for a smooth transition around stanchions and other deck hardware. As soon as the KiwiGrip was rolled out to an even texture, we pulled the tape off. Pulling the tape right away lets the edge smooth out a bit while it is curing. Also, once the KiwiGrip cures the tape needs to be cut away or it can pull off the KiwiGrip, so we figured that pulling the tape off right away would save us time in the long run.
One reason that Michael chose to apply KiwiGrip is that it is easy to repair. When a spot gets worn or damaged, he will need to clean the area thoroughly and roll some more KiwiGrip on to the deck. If repainting all of your non-skid seems like too big of a project, our Fiberglass Shop would be happy to apply KiwiGrip to the whole deck. Then, years down the road, when it needs some touch-ups or repair you can do that yourself. We will update you mid-season to let you know how the KiwiGrip is holding up.
KiwiGrip is available in the Crowley’s Ships Store in white and light grey (light blue, light green, creamy yellow are available by special order). Custom colors are available. A can of 4 liters retails for $149.99 and the 1 liter can is $44.99. For complete directions and additional information, click here for the KiwiGrip website. Michael or I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have about this project. You can reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org and me at email@example.com.