Tips For Installing Treadmaster

Boat Articles, Guides, Commentary and archival articles & helpful sailing - information

 The Treadmaster - Installation Guide

Treadmaster Installation

Treadmaster for deck finish

Many boat owners and boatbuilders have come to rely on Treadmaster as their first choice for deck finish. Treadmaster has proven itself over many decades to have ideal properties for use on the decks of boats, and the number of patterns and colors has expanded to suit nearly any application. But Not only does Treadmaster offer incomparable nonskid marine properties in wet conditions, it is highly resistant to UV degradation, oils, chemicals and abrasion. It is much lighter, less expensive and requires less maintenance than laid teak decks.

There are two situations (Removal for repair and newboats) in which the Treadmaster may be the ideal candidate as a deck covering.

Repairs to the decks, especially on molded fiberglass boats, often leave unsightly damage to the original nonskid pattern. Even if the decks are sound, the molded-in non-skid often wears unevenly, leaving a slippery surface. This is true even in molded fiberglass interior areas such as the galley sole, head or shower pans and fiberglass companionway stairs. The nonskid is easily restored, the finish beautified and repairs covered with the application of Treadmaster.

New boats, regardless of the material of which they were built, often have decks covered with Treadmaster. The rubber-like material can be used on properly prepared steel, aluminum, cold-molded wood or ferrocement decks. It offers a handsome appearance, outstanding nonskid properties and better protection to the deck than coatings that are painted onto the surface. On one-off, or custom, fiberglass construction where the deck has no molded non-skid pattern, Treadmaster is an obvious choice.

Preparing the Boat Deck

Treadmaster is applied to the deck with adhesive, so the surface must be prepared as with any other coating. Before beginning, wipe the entire deck with a solvent to remove embedded dirt, grease or wax. This can be done with a degreasing product, alcohol, Liquid Sandpaper or acetone.

All paint and loose material must be removed and the surface roughed up with coarse sandpaper. When sanding a fiberglass deck on a production boat, it is important to remove as much of the existing nonskid pattern as possible. Care must be taken to not grind or sand any areas that the Treadmaster will not cover. Vacuum up any sanding dust before wiping the surface again to remove any remaining dust.

The Choices and Treadmaster Patterns

There are two basic Treadmaster patterns available, the original diamond pattern and a newer smooth pattern. Because of its exceptional nonskid properties, the diamond pattern is most commonly used on main decks and walkways, especially in wet areas. Some owners, however, find the diamond pattern uncomfortable to sit on or too coarse for bare feet in cockpit or interior spaces. Here, the smooth pattern may be a better choice.

Since both patterns are available in the same colors, many boats have a combination of designs, using the diamond pattern on the main decks and the smooth pattern in the cockpit and interior areas. A special engine room-grade Treadmaster, in black, is also available.


Treadmaster should not be butted directly against any fittings, or even to another piece of Treadmaster. Instead, leave gaps between sheets and around all fittings.

Treadmaster sheets are approximate 3' x 4' (actually 35.5" x 47.5") and 1/8" thick. When designing the layout of the sheets on your deck, it's important to use these dimensions to your advantage, creating as little waste as possible.

While the pieces will make relatively easy bends, they should not be used on sharp turns such as up the side of a cabin from the deck. When marking out where the pieces will go on the deck with a tape measure and pencil, leave a consistent gap between pieces and around fittings equal to the width of the masking tape you will use later.

The corners of all pieces of Treadmaster you install should be radiused instead of being left square, as rounded corners have much less tendency to be damaged in use. The larger the radius, the less chance the corner will be scuffed up by a boating shoe. For a professional look, choose a round object to use throughout the layout process to radius all corners identically, a large coin or a small metal can makes an ideal marking guide during the penciling process on the deck and the cutting later. Use it on the deck and later on the Treadmaster to radius all corners, both inside and outside.

Mark out all the pieces on the deck with a pencil. A 4' aluminum ruler can be used as a straight edge and can also be bent into curves on its edge to get fair marks on the deck, although complex or compound curves may require four hands. Once the layout is complete, you may begin cutting the Treadmaster to fit the design you have penciled on the deck.

It is physically easiest to mark the dimensions on the back of the Treadmaster sheets, but this also requires that you “mirror image” the parts as you work.

Simple pieces can be cut to measurements taken directly off the deck. More complicated designs may require the creation of a pattern, which can be made of heavy craft paper, light poster board or even door skin if the piece has a very convoluted shape.

If using patterns, fit them to your pencil lines on the deck and trim until they fit properly, don’t lose track of which side is “up.” If the deck of the boat is highly symmetrical, you may find that the pattern can be used on both sides by simply flipping it over.

Installation Tips and How-To Videos (youtube)

Video lessons:

Anti-Slip Decking Fitting Video

Advanced Teak Effect Deck Manufacture

Treadmaster recommend epoxy adhesive for sticking it down but this is only really needed in warm/hot climates, You can used a special 3M contact cement available on mine and it worked fine in cold climate.

Cut the Treadmaster

Once the Treadmaster is penciled in, start cutting with the largest piece on the deck and work progressively smaller until all the pieces are finished. If you make a mistake on a big piece, you may be able to salvage several smaller pieces from it rather than having to discard an entire sheet.

Treadmaster cuts relatively easily with a box cutter, Exacto knife or scissors if the blades are sharp. It’s best to lay the sheet of Treadmaster on a flat piece of plywood or heavy cardboard so that the blade can penetrate all the way through the material without scraping the deck or table below it.

For straight lines, press the aluminum straightedge firmly along your pencil line and run the knife along in one smooth pass. Make sure the pressure of the knife blade doesn’t deform the pliable Treadmaster as it passes, especially at the beginning and end of the cut. Gentle curves can be cut using the straightedge on its side as a guide. More radical curves must be cut freehand with the knife or scissors. Don’t forget to use your can or coin as a guide to round off all the corners.

When all the Treadmaster pieces are cut, lay them out along the pencil lines on the deck to make sure they all fit and that the design effect is what you want to accomplish. With all the pieces arranged on the deck, mask the perimeter of each piece with good quality masking tape. The radiuses of outside corners may require some thin tape or a lot of small pieces arranged around the bend—inside corners may force you to cut the tape with scissors. A little extra time spent with the masking project will save hours of clean up later.

How to Laying Treadmaster

Treadmaster is permanently affixed to the deck with two-part epoxy adhesive. The thickness of the glue should be determined by how rough the deck surface is, a thin mixture is fine for smooth surfaces while a rough surface of old molded nonskid may require glue with more viscosity and a thicker body. Follow the mixing directions on the adhesive and allow it to pot, or stand after the initial mixing, for the proper length of time. Pay close attention to the temperature as many epoxies will not cure properly in cold weather, especially if cooled by a stiff breeze.

Spread the epoxy on both the bottom of the Treadmaster and the surface area of the deck. It's possible to lay the glue down with a brush, trowel or squeegee but a foam roller is usually the best choice. Rollers made for epoxy work ensure the coats of glue are not too heavy which creates a mess when the excess squeezes out the edges. Too much glue can also cause an uneven final surface in the Treadmaster piece.

Wear disposable rubber gloves and have lots of spares handy. With glue on both halves of the work, carefully flip the Treadmaster piece over and gently put one edge of it in place using the masking tape as your guide. Holding one end of the piece away from the deck, use a small, clean roller, squeegee or other light tool to work any air bubbles out from between the deck and the Treadmaster. This process is similar to applying a bumper sticker, vinyl decal or window film, and is even more important in this case as an air bubble will cause a hard spot after the epoxy has cured. It is not necessary to use much pressure in laying the pieces.

When the piece is smoothed down, clean any excess epoxy from around the edge with rags and solvent. At the same time, clean any epoxy from the Treadmaster’s surface before it cures, now check for gluey fingerprints. When the excess is all cleaned up, pull the masking tape from the deck before the epoxy becomes hard and then proceed to the next piece.

When the job is all done, any paint or finish work in the gaps between Treadmaster pieces can be sanded lightly and a final top coat added to those smooth areas. Be careful at this stage not to sand or paint the edges of the Treadmaster pieces.


Treadmaster requires virtually no maintenance and should last for many years, even in the harshest climate and usage. Because it gives your boat a safer nonskid surface and a custom appearance, it usually increases the value of your boat as well.

Related Items:

Maintaining a good fresh water supply on board

Cleaning Tips - Ways to Clean Sanitation Systems in boat, Muriatic acid cleaning

Ways (products) to Clean Waste Holding Tank

Alternative boat decking materials


Composite/Synthetic Decking - Synthetic teak options, comparison of quality boat decking materials