Closed-foam EVA nonskid from SeaDek first appeared as original equipment on swim platforms but is now a popular choice for nonskid decking inside many saltwater fishing boats, runabouts and watersports boats. It offers excellent traction, cushions feet and cuts glare. It looks nice too.
Available in a wide range of colors, patterns and textures, SeaDek nonskid can really dress up a boat. Most installations are custom designs using 6-millimeter-thick material (two 3-millimeter sheets of contrasting colors laminated together). Ken Gardon of Blue Seas Fabrication — a SeaDek-certified fabricator and installer in San Diego, California — offers these tips when specing out SeaDek for your boat.
Fabricators such as Blue Seas can engrave just about anything you want, including patterns such as diamonds or fractals. Many customers opt to have the boat name emblazoned on the deck, and some add fish designs. Certified fabricators can help you refine the art file and advise on positioning, says Gardon.
SeaDek supplies a stencil kit ($35.95) consisting of clear Mylar plastic sheets, an indelible marker and instructions to create templates that you submit for a quote and (with your approval) for the design and production of your nonskid deck. The final product — a series of SeaDek panels with peel-and-stick adhesive — is only as good as these templates, says Gardon. SeaDek’s online video takes you through the process. If a template seems incomplete or otherwise amiss, authorized SeaDek fabricators will circle back with the customer to get it squared away before production begins.
Go With Cool Colors
Resist the temptation to go with a dark color such as deep blue or black for the top layer. Lighter hues such as white, beach sand or cool gray stay cooler on sunny days. Dark colors are OK for the underlying layer, since the engraved highlights represent a fraction of the surface area.
Consider the Texture
SeaDek offers two nonskid textures — embossed dots or brushed wood grain. A brushed texture offers the classic teak look that some boat owners prefer, especially when complemented by engraved teak lines. Embossed dots reflect a contemporary design. Both offer outstanding traction, says Gardon.
Don’t Overdo It
You can get carried away and cover too many surfaces. Some customers spec out SeaDek on the gunwales and inwales, as well as the deck. However, sometimes it’s the contrast between smooth gelcoat surfaces and the textured SeaDek that brings out the best in a boat interior, accentuating the highlights in both. So, avoid the temptation to overdo it.
Prep Is The Key
SeaDek uses 3M pressure-sensitive peel-and-stick adhesive. But to ensure proper bonding, the deck must be cleaned of dirt, oil, wax or other contaminants, says Gardon. Scrub the deck with a stiff-bristle brush and soap and water, rinse thoroughly, and dry it with a towel to eliminate water spots. Then wipe down each section of the deck with denatured alcohol.
Align and Install
Position each section of nonskid and tape it in place. Lift one corner slightly, peel away a bit of the backing, and lay the corner back down. Do this again to an adjacent corner. Now remove the positioning tape, lift the opposite side, slowly peel away the backing (beginning at the two corners you just laid down), and lay down the rest of the nonskid. Press firmly to fully activate the adhesive.
Many customers go the DIY route, but if you feel uncomfortable with creating the templates and installing SeaDek, seek a SeaDek-certified fabricator to digitally pattern the design, cut the material using CNC technology, and install the final product. A list of fabricators and installers is on the SeaDek website.
Care and Cleaning
Gardon recommends cleaning SeaDek with fresh water, mild soap and a medium-bristle brush. Use a small, stiff-bristle brush and ammonia on stubborn spots such as dried fish blood or a pressure washer on a light nozzle setting. Keep the boat covered when not in use. Avoid dropping sharp objects that might damage the EVA foam.
With proper care, SeaDek nonskid should last as long as 10 years before you need to replace it, says Gardon. Templates are kept on file for returning customers, so replacing SeaDek nonskid panels is relatively easy and affordable. No new templates or design work is required. You simply order the replacement from the fabricator or SeaDek.