Designing a boat dock can be intimidating with all the choices you need to make to get the perfect dock for you. The main goal is to design a dock that will last as long as possible that will also fit your needs. One of the biggest factors in deciding how long your dock will last before needing repaired of replaced is the material it is constructed out of. Today we’ll discuss the different materials used for building boat docks and the benefits of each one.
Different Types of Boat Dock Materials
Wood is one of the two most common materials used for boat docks. If you’re on a budget, wood is by far the cheapest option you will find to build your dock out of. A lot of major hardware stores and marine suppliers even sell dock kits for you to build your own wooden dock. These normally include all hardware needed to fasten and secure the dock, all that would be needed is the wood.
The major disadvantage to owning a wooden dock is it’s short lifetime and all the maintenance that comes with it. Water and wood don’t work well with each other, and over time wood will begin to rot and splinter after several years of being exposed to the water. Wood is treated with chemicals to help resist water absorption, but over time that protective layer will fade away. The average life time of a wood boat dock is between 10 and 15 years. The different types of wood can also increase the life of a dock if a timber such as cedar is used. Great upkeep and maintenance, such as replacing individual boards as needed, will increase the life of the dock. Wood is a good option for budgets, but won’t last as long as other materials.
The next most common material option for boat docks is steel. Steel is a heavy, durable material that can withstand heavier loads of pressure from waves and traffic than wood. The tensile strength of steel allows it to bend and turn then return to it’s original form. This makes steel a better dock material for community docks or areas with more boat traffic. It is the strongest material that you can make a dock out of. As expected, such superior strength comes with an increase in price.
There are also some disadvantages with steel. The biggest concern you’ll have with steel is rust. As with wood, steel over time will degrade when exposed to wet conditions. To combat this and expand the life of a dock we dip steel dock frames into a mixture of molten zinc to give it a protective layer against corrosion. This process is called hot-dipped galvanization. The average life time of a steel dock is around 50 years. Compared to wood, steel is a far superior option.
Another form of metal that is great for docks is Aluminum. It is a lightweight material that has nearly the same strength as steel. The greatest thing about aluminum compared to steel is the resistance to corrosion. Aluminum doesn’t lose its strength while in the water oxidizing, meaning it lasts considerably longer than steel and requires next to no maintenance. However, aluminum is more expensive than steel. The lifespan of aluminum is higher than steel, so you’re looking at around 65+ years of use with this material. If you’re looking for a durable, cool-to-the-touch, lightweight material then aluminum is the best option for you.
Polyethylene (EZ Dock)
A great material for the water that will never rot, splinter, or rust is plastic. Plastic, such as polyethylene, can be used to create durable, floating dock sections that will last longer than any of the materials listed above. It features the durability and longevity of aluminum, without the high price. In addition to its durability, EZ Dock sections also offer flexibility when it comes to design and budget. With EZ Dock, you’re able to expand, reconfigure, or remove sections of your dock with ease. No other material offers this flexibility in the design. You also won’t have to worry about decking and floats with EZ Dock, so it’s pretty budget friendly compared to the other options. Overall if you are looking for a dock with the least amount of headaches that will last the longest, then EZ Dock is your option.
If you’re interested in building a new boat dock, or have any questions regarding the materials discussed in this blog feel free to reach out to our team of experts for more information. We’ll make sure to understand all of your needs and come up with the perfect solution for you!