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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Discussion Starter #1
I am redoing the varnish my companionway stairs. I need to ask what type of varnish does everyone recommend to use in this area. I want something with a little grit in it so I don't slip while descending down the stairs. I don't want to put the ugly black sandpaper looking strips down.
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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You can use just about any good quality varnish, and add abrasive to it. I used Minwax Helmsman spar urethane on mine. You can add interlux intergrip to that if you want. Don't use additive from the hardware store, it's just sand and will look bad in varnish.

You could also go with ultimate sole. The ad says it has superior traction when wet. That way you don't have to add anything to it.
 

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Ultimate Sole truly does have non skid characteristics even when wet. And it seems to be a pretty tough product. However the companionway steps are an area of high traffic and high wear.

On our last boat we found some clear stick-down non skid (from Home Depot or somewhere similar) that we put on our freshly varnished steps - looked way better than the "black sandpaper strips" (which we have now on our current boat - I hear what you're saying). This clear stuff worked, stayed stuck and did not visibly stick out.

Even Ultimate Sole is going to wear in that location.....
 

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We have medium brown soft rubber diamond non skid pads installed by the PO. Looks better than the black sandpaper; soft grippy feel, decent match to the darker brown wood stain. I'm not sure the abrasive in the varnish will provide a safe enough grip on an important spot.
 

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Ultimate Sole is a wonderful product. It does indeed have non-slip properties when wet, and it's very easy to apply. I think you could tip over a can on your sole, walk away, and it would self-level and dry bubble-free in a few hours. Well, almost!

Don't know how tough it is. I've put some in my forward cabin sole and in the head over 2 years ago. Still looks great. For kicks, I tried some on the cabin teak trim....looks great, too.

Next spring, I'm gonna re-do my companionway steps with Ultimate Sole. I may also put some sort of attractive step material there, because it is a very high traffic area and sometimes you have heavy boots carrying sand, dirt, etc. No varnish is gonna withstand that, not even the incredibly tough, resilient, and expensive Coelan varnish I used 3 years ago on my cockpit trim (and it still looks good....amaaaazing). But my dog Max -- an 85lb Lab Retriever -- can rather easily scratch it when he boards and I forget to put down a towel for him. And, this is the toughest varnish I've ever seen.

Bill
 

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I made non-skid on stairs once using ground walnut shells. I put down two coats of finish and covered the second coat in crushed walnut shells while it was still wet. Once it dried, I vacuumed off the excess walnut shells then put on a third and fourth coat. The surface was incredibly tenacious non-skid; almost to the point of being uncomfortable in bare feet.
 

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I also used Minwax spar urethane on mine. I find that it's really not slippery at all and has been wearing quite well
 

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salt or sugar on the next to last coat of varnish while it's still wet, has a nice non-slip grip that's re-finish friendly because it doesn't tear up or clog the sandpaper.

Ken.
 

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moderate?
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I used the Ultimate Sole with excellent results but also used clear stick on strips that are normally used for bathtub traction. Looks professional and held up well and easy to replace without re-doing the varnish job.
 

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Hey Melrna, did you manage to ply the soft liner off the coachroof ? Was it as easy as ABC ?
 

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Our companionway steps were looking pretty weathered, and The Admiral just used some kind of cleaning prep on them and teak oil. (Picked both up at a local hardware store.) I would never have believed it possible, but they look brand new again. Seriously. And they're not slippery.

Jim
 

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My steps were a std Varnish that came with my 85 Jeanneau. When I refinished the flooring, I redid the stairs with Ultimate Sole as others have done too. No issues in two yrs as of yet! Not sure I would want to use a std Varnish of some sort.

Marty
 

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The PO had the stick on strips which I thought were ugly. Especially since they were beginning to turn up at the edges and were leaving sticky residue in their wake.

I was looking at a copy of "The World's Best Sailboats Vol II" and saw that Sabre uses sacrificial strips of ash that are slightly proud of the step (raised up above the tread) about 1/8". I ended up routing three 1/4" wide grooves in each tread and inserting a 1/4" x 1/4" x 10" ash strip in each groove. The ash is about 1/8" above the tread and forms a really great non skid cleat. I used a drop of epoxy at each end of the strip to attach it to the tread so that they would be easy to remove when the time came to replace them. The strips are finished with 2 coats of satin urethane. The steps have 5 coats of semi-gloss urethane.

I was afraid that I would end up catching a heel on the tread, but it hasn't happened in 4 years. These non-skid strips are better than any peel-n-stick and are far more attractive, IMHO. I could find some pics if anyone is interested.
 

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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Hey Melrna, did you manage to ply the soft liner off the coachroof ? Was it as easy as ABC ?
No not yet. I have tried twice and made two calls to Hunter. It is a horrible set-up. Liner is very stretchable and can tear easily. :( I will post on my blog when I figure it all out.
Thanks everyone for the recommendations. Looks like Ultimate Sole is the way to go. Camaraderie not sure what kind of strips you are using. Can you please explain a little more? :confused: The first two steps are not my problem, it is that third step while descending that I have a footing problem. Why I am interested in a gritty solution.
 

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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Discussion Starter #15
I was afraid that I would end up catching a heel on the tread, but it hasn't happened in 4 years. These non-skid strips are better than any peel-n-stick and are far more attractive, IMHO. I could find some pics if anyone is interested.
I would love to see pics. My steps already have a groove in them and won't be hard to modify. Might be my best solution yet.
 

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Telstar 28
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I'd second/third/fourth the recommendations for Ultimate Sole as the finish to use. I'd also recommend the clear non-skid strips designed for bath tub use. They're waterproof, and tough, and generally close to invisible.
 
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