Whether you’re planning on building a new dock or renovating an existing one, the decking material you use will determine how long your dock lasts and how much maintenance it will require. This choice also impacts how it performs and looks. Docks are made from several different materials including aluminum, wood and plastic. Be sure to choose a material that’s able to withstand the elements of your climate.
Boat Dock Decking Materials
Treated softwood or hardwood is a popular choice for dock decking because many people find the natural appearance of wood aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a good choice if you have a limited budget. In addition to needing to be sealed properly initially, wood docks do require extra care and maintenance including yearly power washing and repeated staining or sealing every few years. Without proper care, wooden docks will become susceptible to rot and splinters. The amount of additional care required is why wood decks can end up neglected.
Aluminum decking is durable and lightweight and requires very little maintenance compared to wooden docks, but does come with a higher price tag. It’s susceptible to rust and denting and is often paired with heavier duty steel to improve durability. Aluminum can become hot from being in the sun and isn’t as pretty as wood, so it’s often combined with other materials such as composite to make it look nicer.
Made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic which gives it a natural look, composite decking only requires occasional washing to prevent mildew and is less expensive than aluminum. It’s durable, eco-friendly, comes in various colors and can even have a smooth wood grain finish. Plastic decking contains no organic materials so it won’t support mold or mildew. It’s lightweight and maintenance-free and although the cheapest option, it’s not the most durable and usually needs to be replaced faster than other materials.
How to Choose the Right Dock Decking Material
You’ll want to consider what you intend to use your dock for when looking at materials. If your dock will be used for swimming or sunbathing with lots of bare foot traffic, you’ll want a material that won’t cause splinters, will dissipate heat and be non-slip when it gets wet. You’ll also need to consider your climate, seasons and overall water conditions and ensure the look and feel of your dock is also aesthetically appealing.
Each material will come with a different price tag and while it might be tempting to go with the cheapest option, you’ll want to choose a material that will provide longevity and durability with the least amount of maintenance requirements. If you plan to include a boat or kayak launch or any other additional features, you’ll want to incorporate those into your dock plan as well.
RGC Marine is an industry leader in dock systems and boat lifts. We use the highest quality materials in our products and offer free standing and floating dock systems that are durable, lightweight and can be easily removed at the end of the season. For a more visually appealing dock, opt for DeckWave composite, constructed with a plastic injection process and reinforced with fiberglass. This material is slip resistant, never hot to the touch, and has the highest strength to weight ratio of any plastic decking. It’s also environmentally friendly and uses responsibly sourced materials.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how to choose the best dock system for your needs.