The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Q&A: Diamonds Are A Woman’s Best Friend!

Question: Three friends and I are outfitting my Skye 51′ for a five-year circumnavigation and we are replacing the old teak decks…I have heard many more pros than cons to Treadmaster and I would like to know your honest opinion on installation, upkeep, durability and general contentment with the product. Any input that you care to supply would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Morgan’s Cloud had teak decks when we bought her in 1991; however, when they started leaking, we replaced the teak with an aggressive nonskid paint. We were happy with the nonskid until we spent two winters living aboard the boat in arctic Norway, when we found that the snow would compact under our weight and turn into mini ice rinks under each foot. So four years ago, as part of a major refit on the boat and in the interests of not having one of us inadvertently skate right off the deck one snowy day, we removed the nonskid paint and installed Treadmaster diamond traction sheets.

We highly recommend Treadmaster: Your shoes grip it like blazes even in the snow, it dampens the crash below when hard things hit the aluminum deck, it’s durable, and it’s easy to clean using a long-handled brush and boat soap. In fact, we like Treadmaster so much we have used smooth traction sheets on the cockpit seats to hold the cushions in place and on the floor of the shower and head.

However, we need to add some caveats:

  • Installing Treadmaster is a huge amount of work. It took us 3 person-months of intense labour. A rough outline of the proceedings are as follows:
    • sanding the deck
    • determining the centre line and cross lines on the boat (not an easy task on a multiply curved surface)
    • designing a layout
    • templating the whole deck (absolutely necessary, along with making sure all fittings can run freely and be removed if necessary with the Treadmaster in place)
    • cutting out the Treadmaster sheets
    • painting the seams between the sheets
    • gluing the sheets down, etc. (more on installation)
  • It’s not a cheap solution. The sheets are 4’ by 3’ and retail for about $100.00 each. We used somewhat over 20 sheets for our boat. (Because of the size of our order, we were able to negotiate a discount with Defender Industries, the US supplier.)
  • It definitely gives the boat an industrial look but, in our opinion, beauty is as beauty does.
  • Sitting on it will give you a bad case of waffle butt.

In summary, unless you can pay someone else to do the work or you have a lot of extra time and energy, we only recommend installing Treadmaster if you are going to be living on and/or sailing the boat in snow. Otherwise, non-skid paint, if applied properly with sufficient grit, will do the trick for significantly less time and money.

But, then again, after using it for four years now, we wouldn’t give it up!

Update Sept 2017

We are hearing very good things about KiwiGrip deck paint and, if we were doing this job again today, we  would seriously consider it in place of Treadmaster.

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How is this product holding up? Have you had to replace any portions? If you have, was it labor intensive? Looking for a little bit of follow up if you can. Thanks!

John Harries

Hi Laura,

The treadmaster is holding up very well indeed. A few of the diamonds have been knocked off around the edges, but nothing that has any effect on function.

One thing I would caution you is that we look at things from an expedition boat point of view, not a yacht. Therefore our judgement of what is acceptable aesthetically may be very different from yours.

Also, if you ever do have to replace treadmaster the work is “prison work” in the words of Colin, AAC European Correspondent…and he’s right! More on his thoughts on deck covering here.


Cockpit steps on our Tayana 47 center cockpit boat are currently varnished teak and I want to change to something more grippy before someone gets hurt. Would you recommend the smoother version of Treadmaster or the diamond pattern version? I’m thinking diamonds will be more secure but maybe pretty uncomfortable for bare feet going up and down those steps, so, in your opinion would the smoother version give adequate traction for this purpose?

John Harries

Hi Airmid,

Your are, I think, right in your assessment. We always wear shoes when going on deck, so the discomfort of the diamond pattern is a non-issue, but it would be quite uncomfortable on bare feet. We do use the smoother version on our cockpit seats and have had no problems with slipping, but then since we always wear good deck shoes or boots I’m not certain that the same would apply with wet bare feet.

Let me check, it’s raining…
…back from the deck.

The smooth stuff feels pretty grippy under bare feet, but the diamond is certainly better. I was also surprised to find that the diamond stuff is really not that uncomfortable, even for my soft feet (I never go bare foot).

How’s that, realtime product testing.


Thanks for going out and getting your feet wet for me, can’t ask for better than that!
I seem to have a growing paranoia over someone (maybe me?) slipping off the second (of 5 steps) step from the top just as the boat lurches, and breaking a rib or cracking a head while far from medical help. So I think I will go for the diamond Treadmaster on the 5 companionway steps and put up with whatever small discomfort there may be when in bare feet. But to improve my footing on the tops of the coamings, since we also frequently sit there, I’ll apply the smooth version. Thanks again!

John Harries

Hi Airmid,

Sounds like a good call to me. I have absolutely nothing to back this up, but I’m going to guess that slipping and falling on the companionway steps is a more common injury than one might think and that a fixation on varnish may often be to blame.

And, I think you are right to forgo the diamonds when you sit—there is nothing attractive, or comfortable, about waffle butt.


Hi John!
On the boat I’m looking to purchase there is a Treadmaster traction sheets installed 10 years ago (maybe more). But between them – a white paint. The paint is in bad condition and I’m thinking what to do – remove the sheets and grind the deck and re-paint it all, or just grind between the sheets and paint that? What would be your advice?
Thank you!

John Harries

Hi Taras,

Definitely repaint between the sheets rather than replacing the treadmaster. As Colin says, removing treadmaster is “prison work”. And treadmaster that has been installed well should last 20 years of more.