How to Properly Care For Your Dock

Loving life at the water’s edge? There’s nothing better. Whether you’ve just moved into your first waterfront home or are exploring a possible update to your boat dock’s construction, you’ll find there are options to suit every design taste and functionality.

Besides the array of dock accessories like child safety fences and hazard prevention power pedestals for stowing electrical cables, there are tons of choices for outfitting your boat dock:

  • Underwater deck lighting
  • Jet ski lifts
  • Ladders, rails, and flat piling caps
  • Custom benches and seating
  • Boat lifts of all shapes and sizes

The foundation for your outdoor oasis is, of course, the decking you choose for your dock system. Floating or fixed, a look at the variety of dock construction materials proves an interesting exploration into the form, fashion, function, and care of your deck materials.

There are a range of materials from which to choose; each with their own characteristics:

  • Hardwood decking and softwood decking
  • Composite or plastic decking


Wood Decks

These are a classic. Wood decks are warm, welcoming, and typically integrate beautifully as a bridge between your property’s landscaping and its water access.

While hardwoods contain natural oils and organic compounds that do help protect them to an extent from insects and decay, maintaining their “natural beauty” comes at a little cost/sweat equity.

You’ll probably want to pressure wash annually, but we recommend consulting with a Florida dock professional first. We have seen homeowners inflict damage to their docks by setting their power washer to full blast and using the same type of attachment they would to clean concrete.


Wood Deck Power Washing Tips

  • Don’t place the power wash tip too close — you probably want to be about a foot away
  • There are all kinds of nozzle attachments for pressure washers – use the fan tip for a less concentrated force
  • Do not use pressure over 1200 – 1500 PSI or you may actually etch the wood
  • If the wood is a cedar or a pine, you will want to be more in the 500 – 600 PSI range


Wood Deck Sealing

Again, consult a dock pro to confirm how often you should apply a coat of finish or stain and what type to use. Re-apply every three to four years is a good rule of thumb to maintain water resistance and surface integrity.


Composite or Extruded PVC Decking

At the other end of the maintenance spectrum you will find composite decking. As the name implies, this decking is fabricated from a combination of wood fibers and plastic.

Composite decking includes elements like recycled inorganic materials (polyethylene/polypropylene) combined with organic materials such as wood fibers.

Although not as susceptible as wood, these surfaces are not exempt from mold/mildew in damp or shaded areas; so composite docks should still be cleaned regularly.

PVC decking is typically made from a combination of polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyethylene. The boards that will comprise the dock can be injection molded, rotationally molded, or extruded to tailor its build.

Your custom-built dock can make a unique contribution to your home’s shoreline. Consideration of the materials used is the first and best decision for years of enjoyment.


Contact Gibson Marine for more tips and tricks on how to keep your boat dock, and deck in great shape for years to come!

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