How To: Repair Non-Skid Surfaces
A repair to a non-skid surface presents different issues than repairs to a smooth surface as the texture will need to be restored. This article will focus on repairing a small area of damage, in this case, a fastener that has cracked the surface. Much larger repairs are possible but require an alternate approach.
1. In the first image you can see the result of a fastener from the interior of the boat that has cracked the deck. Begin the process by removing the screw and installing a shorter fastener. (If the fastener is not accessible, it is possible to leave it in place.)
2. Using a burr type of abrasive bit, grind away the loose material from the gel coat surface and underlying fiberglass. Take care to chase any fractures in the gel coat as well. You should be left with a shallow depression in the surface with smooth edges. If the fastener is still in place, grind the tip down as well to get it below the surface at least 1/8”.
3. If the depression in the surface is greater than 3/16”, you will need to fill it with a filler prior to casting the finish in non-skid texture. If less than 3/16” you can skip to step 6 to proceed with the gel coat portion of the repair.
4. If a filler is needed an epoxy like MarineTex is a readily available and well suited to this work. You can alternately use a polyester filler (like Bondo) although it may not be as durable. Some epoxies (like WEST Systems) are high quality materials but may not bond well to the polyester gel coat you will use to finish this work and are not recommended. Mix your chosen filler per package instructions and apply it into the void leaving the material below the surface of the surrounding gel coat.
5. When your filler has cured, take the same burr you used to begin the repair and grind the filler to a uniform depth about 1/8” below the nonskid surface.
6. Now you can prepare the stamp mold with the texture. Select an area on undamaged nonskid near the repair site and clean it thoughly. Allow the area to dry and brush on a wet coat of PVA release agent This material will dry to a thin film that will prevent the mold material from sticking to the surface. When dry to the touch, mix up some of the polyester filler and place about a 1” diameter ball onto the dry PVA surface. ( 1)With a clean paint stick or putty knife pat the filler into a flattened shape about 1 ½” in diameter and ½” or more thick. As the filler begins to cure and thicken up, place a small stick vertically into the mass and hold it until it is cured enough to support the stick to create a handle. Allow the filler to come to a full cure.
7. Remove the stamp mold by pushing on one side of the handle. Sand two or more of the edges on the mold to a break in the pattern. This will help to properly align the mold later. If there are air bubbles in the mold face, you will need to use an intact area of the mold over the repair or recast the mold if the air is too widespread.
8. Set the mold over the repair area and twist it around slightly to feel it ‘lock’ into the deck pattern. This may take rotating the mold around until the pattern lines up. With the mold sitting on the deck ‘locked’ in, place a layer of masking tape on the deck along two sides of the mold for a visual reference later.
9. Clean the mold with water to remove any PVA from the casting process, allow to dry, and coat the face and sides of the mold with a new application of PVA and allow that to dry. Additionally apply PVA around the repair area taking care not to get the material inside of the repair itself.
10. You are now ready to cast the gel coat pattern. Mix up a quantity of gel coat following package instructions. Fill the remaining space of your repair area with gel coat using drops off a small stick or similar tool. You are trying to slightly overfill the space. Avoid placing gel coat outside the repair area. If you can sight across the repair area, you would want to see a slight round of gel coat above the surrounding deck. When you have filled the repair area, bring the prepared mold straight down onto the deck using the masking tape as sight lines. Gently push the mold back and forth to ensure it has dropped into the pattern. Allow the repair to cure.
11. When the gel coat has cured, lift the mold off the deck. There will likely be some ‘flashing’ of gel coat beyond the mold from the material displaced. This can be trimmed back with a sharp razor knife. Wash off any remaining PVA and your done!
MATERIALS AND TOOLS NEEDED
PVA (Mold Release)
Polyester Filler (Bondo)
Drill Motor or Dremel type tool
Metal burr grinding bit