Whether you are living along Florida’s shoreline or enjoy vistas of one of its crystal clear lakes, you already know what you need to do to maintain your dock. Keeping it safe, looking good, and extending its lifetime are the responsibilities of us “coastliners”.
The initial dock construction however, really has everything to do with protecting your investment by having it installed properly the first time. Exposed to the harshest possible elements including: salt, tropical storms, the famous Floridian sun, and the occasional hurricane; stability is everything in dock construction.
Dock and pier maintenance goes beyond the surface to what lies beneath: dock pilings. There are two basic types of pilings – the ones used as the foundation of a dock and the batter pilings that shore up seawalls that sag.
For your dock, these pilings must be constructed and installed professionally and be paid as close attention to as any other marine structures.
Perpendicular to your dock, pilings offer the indisputable, essential support. Like nautical fencing, these vertical supports are driven into the water bed. How many and how deep is a job for our engineers. They of course calculate the finished size, the weight of the wood itself, the nature of the water’s bottom, and whether or not a boat lift is part of your installation to calculate if your dock is being designed to support the additional weight of the lift or davit and the weight of the vessel itself.
The marine alter ego of dock pilings are batter pilings. Instead of offering structural support from beneath, these are concrete structural supports installed in front of a seawall to keep it upright and to give it the reinforcement it needs after erosion and other natural wear breach its integrity.
Although we recommend that homeowners take an active interest in learning the right techniques for keeping marine structures viable, we do suggest the line be drawn at installing or attempting to repair dock pilings. They are the perfect example of the need for the absolute right tools for the job, having an excellent understanding of the soil conditions beneath the water, as well as knowing the load the pilings must bear.
Additionally, if you have a piling that is not adequately supporting its section of the structure, you will have distribution of weight issues and an uneven underpinning for the dock itself. Have your dock erected properly the first time and you will enjoy it for years and years. Wood pilings can be wrapped in polyethylene to stave off rotting and marine borers.
ENJOY LIFE ON THE WATER’S EDGE
Stay familiar with any changes to your dock. Even an expertly built dock fabricated from pressure treated lumber is not exempt. Take pictures, keep a close eye out.
Any water lover knows that safety is always first. A sound dock is the only dock for your property. You don’t want to issue your guests life jackets at your next party!