The natural environment of a narrow boat is a wet one. Damp mossy locks and the beautiful, but changeable, British weather combine to make moving around the exterior of the narrowboat potentially hazardous. Here we look at ways of making the process safer.

Lifejackets are an essential piece of narrow boaters cruising kit
Anti slip paint on a narrowboat
Anti slip protection should be used on narrowboat roof and gunwales

Anti-Slip… What Do You Need To Know?

Often the deck tops, gunwale sides and roof of a narrowboat are coated with an anti-slip paint. Due to the nature of cruising in these craft, it is often necessary for crew to step onto the gunwale and anti-slip provides a safer surface.
Here follows the most commonly available options.

Professional Anti-Slip Painting

Source either through chandleries or manufacturers websites this is the ideal anti-slip solution, widely used by professional narrow boat builders / canal boat painters. Supplied in various profile heights to suit you applications. Higher profiles may provide better anti-slip properties, but can be more abrasive when it come to cleaning and potentially has less paint coverage per metre than alternative lower profiled anti-slip paints.  Consider anti-slip paints with UV protection as this is well suited to canal boat applications.

Some other applications for these paints include the Severn, Forth and Humber suspension bridges, UK military vehicles and boats, Royal Mail, TNT, Carlsberg and many other delivery lorries, Network Rail, Newcastle Metro, North sea Oil platforms etc.

Advantages of Professional Anti-Slip Paints:

  • Purpose designed for the application
  • Tried and independently tested slip resistance
  • Consistent, manufactured to International standard ISO 9001
  • Designed to withstand long term UV exposure in tough conditions
  • Non abrasive so can be safely knelt, sat and lied on
  • Tough and flexible so can cope with movement and flexing
  • Can provide a surface that is easy to keep clean and maintain
  • Available in a large range of standard colours
  • Easy to apply
  • A consistent anti-slip finish for the duration of the product
  • Quick and simple to refresh with an additional coat when required

DIY Approach To Anti-Slip Painting

A main benefit to this approach is being able colour match the anti-slip paint with the boat colours. To apply, the painter sprinkles fine kiln dried silica sand onto the wet surface of the fresh paint. Once dried the excess is brushed off and the process repeated until the desired thickness or effect is achieved. By the use of masking tape, patterns can introduced into the anti-slip finish such as panels on the roof or decorative details to gunwale tops.

The key to a long lasting finish is the type and quantity of sand that is introduced into the coach enamel. Damp sharp builders’ sand simply will not last, with paint flaking in a very short period of time.

A consideration regarding this type of DIY anti-slip finish is once applied, it can be lets say unsociable when it comes to cleaning as it can be produce an extremely rough finish.

Anti-slip Matting

Modular plastic decking material is available from most chandlers. Commonly supplied in 30cm clip-together squares and a wide variety of colours. This type of material is ideal for front deck wells and stern decks as it can be easily cut to shape with a sharp knife and removed for cleaning.

Anti-slip Self Adhesive Sheet

Again, these products are available from most chandlers. They are ideal for high wear areas such as the entry and exit points over the gunwales. The sheets are flexible, easy to cut to shape and usually have an anti-slip raised chequered pattern embossed into the top surface for safety.


Not what you're looking for? Try some other items within this chapter...

crick boat show 2024

(Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May 2024)


Britain's biggest inland waterways show.

Advance tickets can be ordered by phone and online until 12midday on Friday 17 May 2024. If you are planning to purchase advance tickets, we recommend that you do so well before this deadline to allow time for postal delivery.
Children 16 and under – free entry Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Trade & Preview Day – Friday 24 May 2024
Get ahead and visit The Fit Out Pontoon before everyone else on Preview Day!
Preview Day tickets are strictly limited to a maximum of 1,000 pre-booked visitors and give entry to the Show from 10am – 6pm on Friday 24 May.