What Materials Can Make Your Boat Dock Most Durable?

Posted on: 14 July 2015

Whether you're lucky enough to live on the waterfront, or just own a camping site or raw acreage bordering a creek, river, pond, or lake, you're likely wanting to take advantage of your property's natural features by investing in a boat or jet-ski. However, if you're planning to launch anything bigger than a kayak from your little part of the mainland, you'll need a boat dock. The constant water exposure and temperature fluctuations inherent in marine construction can be hard on wood, stone, and other building materials -- so to get the most from your money, you'll want to invest in quality, long-lasting materials, and ensure that you're building a deck that suits your lifestyle. Read on to learn more about some of the factors you'll want to take into account before undergoing construction, as well as the materials you'll want to consider.

What should you consider before building your dock? 

  • How will your dock be used?

A well-constructed dock can not only provide a place for you to launch and land boats, but can also be expanded to serve as a gathering area for friends and family members who want to enjoy the ambiance of the water. By constructing a deck parallel to the shoreline with a dock jutting out, you'll be able to create an inviting outdoor area while having your water transportation close at hand. This may be an ideal arrangement if the waterfront is fairly far from your house and you don't want guests to have to walk back and forth to get food or drinks.

On the other hand, if you're more worried about function and funding over expansion, or if you already have an extensive outdoor entertainment area, a simple straight or L-shaped boat dock should provide you with everything you need at a relatively low cost.

  • What is your budget?

When beginning any construction project, whether DIY or professional, it's important to have two financial figures in mind. One is the amount you think you'll spend -- and the other is the maximum you're willing to spend. During even the best-planned project, things can go awry (extra rocky dirt requiring extra work to excavate, storms or flooding delaying progress), and you don't want to find yourself financially strapped before your project is finished. By putting a "ceiling" on the amount you're willing to spend, you'll be better able to contain costs and reduce stress.

What materials are best for water construction?

There are several elements to your dock, including floating pylons and support beams -- however, the component you'll likely notice most will be the decking that provides the sitting or walking surface between you and the water. This is also where the majority of costs are concentrated when it comes to deck construction, so choosing a durable material can help minimize any repair costs down the road. 

Two materials that are particularly good at resisting water damage over the long term are cedar and composite decking. Because cedar trees thrive in moist climates and contain natural water-repellent oils, they are especially suited to handle natural precipitation and long-term water exposure. Cedar is frequently used to construct roof shingles, siding, and patio furniture, and requires no chemical treatment to retain its water resistance. 

Composite decking is a popular choice for a variety of projects, including marine construction. Its popularity is due to the fact that it is made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic, fused together to form a substance that looks and acts like wood, but has the durability of plastic. This decking can be manufactured in a variety of colors, and requires no paint or sealing. Some composite decking even contains UV filters that can help prevent fading. 

Either decking option should provide you with years of use and relatively little maintenance along the way -- helping free up time and funds for upgrades to your seacraft collection.