Millions of us take to the water for recreational boating, spending billion dollars on our watercraft and various accessories.
If you’re lucky enough to live on the waterfront, you might have your own patch of paradise in the form of a residential dock.
However, wind and water will cause your dock to look a little rundown over time. It’s sometimes hard to know whether investing in dock repair is the best option, or if you need the whole thing replaced.
Are things worse than they look, or better than they seem? Here’s how to know when you need to go for dock repair, and when a full replacement is a better choice.
Warping and Splitting Wood
Wooden docks are popular because they look so much more attractive than functional but unsightly concrete slipways.
However, they’re more prone to cracking than their uglier cousins.
Good maintenance will help to prevent the wood from cracking. But when wood spends years in the water, it’s likely that it will eventually warp and bend as it absorbs moisture and expands.
If cracks are minor, and only affect one or two pieces of wood, you may be able to get the situation under control with dock repair. By replacing the beams or standing pieces of wood quickly, you can keep the structure stable.
However, if a lot of the wood is cracked, it may be too late. You could end up chasing your tail, replacing one piece, then another, followed by another, making the project very difficult. At times like this, rather than dock repair, dock replacement may be more appropriate.
Remember that the impact of your boat hitting the dock can also cause physical damage. It can cause wood to crack and bend over time.
Always keep fenders ready to protect both the boat and the dock. Old tires are a handy choice if you have nothing else to work with.
Wood and water aren’t a natural mix, as wood can rot when exposed to the elements. However, a small amount of rot won’t really affect the safety or stability of your dock, and you can sand it off quickly.
As time goes on though, you’ll find it becomes more and more of a problem. Dock repairs can be used to replace rotten wood, but when you place fresh new wood next to old wood, it can inherit the older wood’s issues.
To avoid the problems of working with wood altogether, many homeowners are opting for smart aluminum dock platforms. No need to stain, coat or replace parts – and no splinters either! Come and talk to us if you like the sound of that.
Wood and water might not always sit well together, but neither do many metals and water.
Over time, you may need dock repairs to replace various metal parts that have become rusty – or damaged by other causes.
Using galvanized or coated metal parts for your dock will help. Using this material for everything from the poles right down to the screws is a wise choice, as it can add years to your dock’s life.
However, galvanized metals are more expensive, and even these parts will wear down over time. Screws get stripped by impact, and metal poles get dinged – which can compromise the protection from waterproof coatings, for example.
Eventually, you’ll need a replacement. But undergoing dock repairs to replace rusted or worn out metal parts can extend the life of your dock even further.
If your dock isn’t floating, it relies on supports or foundations to stay level.
Underwater foundations can become less sturdy as they get older, which can result in a dangerous dock, which could subside dramatically while someone is standing on it.
If you notice serious erosion, dock repairs are not the answer. You need a replacement in place as soon as possible before someone gets hurt.
Meanwhile, if you have a supported dock, you may have other issues. Supports need to be sunk down and driven deep into the ground.
They should be at least 4 feet into solid ground. And they need to go much deeper than this where there’s a silty or muddy bottom.
These can wobble-free as tides shift and waves lap up against them – and as the ground underneath them moves.
Especially considering that most of the post stays underwater, you’ll need to replace the supports every so often. Or you’ll at least need to spend time repositioning them and shoring them up. Given that they’re submerged, this can be quite a tricky task.
As an alternative, we suggest that you take the time to look into floating docks. They’re easy to put together, fast to set up, and you avoid both of these major issues altogether.
Time For Dock Repair or Replacement?
Hopefully, your dock is savable for the time being. But when you need the whole thing replaced, we’re ready to provide you with a range of options.
Check out our Docks and Seawalls galleries.