How Long Do Docks Last?

December 2021 Multimedia ShoreMaster

The humble boat dock does so much work for us boaters. We don’t appreciate them nearly enough for all of the important work they do. Depending on how much maintenance you do, what materials your dock is made of, and the water conditions on your shoreline, your dock could last between 20and 30 years. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can add up to a decade to your dock’s lifespan. Here are some tips to get the most out of your dock.

Buy the Right Dock from the Start

Your dock isn’t something that you should skimp on—after all, it’s meant to hold you, your loved ones, your boat, and be the center of your lakefront activities. Choose a high-quality, well-constructed dock from a trusted waterfront dealer: it’ll be a more costly investment upfront, but the dock is sure to last longer and perform better. Choose features that you’ll enjoy or a dock system that can be expanded or changed as your needs change. 

Choose Your Decking Materials

Your dock decking materials will determine how much money and maintenance you’ll end up putting into your dock. Pressure-treated wood is cheaper upfront but requires more frequent repairs and maintenance. Hardwoods are denser and more resistant to damage than softer woods but still require regular care. Composite decking, a combination of wood and plastic fibers, is easier to maintain than wood but can be prone to cracking, as can plastic. Aluminum requires no maintenance, won’t suffer from the same kinds of damage as other decking materials, and is a comfortable and attractive (if expensive) choice.

Clean Your Dock

This means putting elbow grease into it—clear the gaps, scrub stains, inspect for wear and tear, and spray it down with water from your hose and an environmentally-safe cleaner that’s appropriate for your dock’s materials. While us seasonal boaters have to deal with tearing down and putting up our docks every year, this also gives us a good opportunity to really thoroughly clean and inspect them for damage in-between seasons. 

Brush Up on Common Repairs

If your dock gets damaged and you’re handy, you might be able to DIY a solution for common fixes. Small areas of rotted wood can be replaced with new lumber. Rust stains can be removed with white vinegar, dish soap, or commercial rust removers. Bent or warped dock boards can in theory be flattened with a board straightener, it’s easier just to replace them. Re-staining and sanding a hardwood dock can bring back its original color and feel.

Know When It’s Time to Replace

Sometimes it’s just time to let a good dock go. If your dock is experiencing widespread damage from rot or rust—more than just small isolated areas or single boards—it’s not going to be stable enough to support you or your boat. Foundation damage is another thing to look for in a permanently installed dock that experiences constant exposure to the water and elements. If you have a wheel-in or sectional dock, like a lot of seasonal boat owners, you probably won’t be leaving it in the water all year round, which will alleviate some of the stress on it but not save it completely.

Your dock is a sturdy part of your waterfront setup that can support you, your boat, and all of your waterfront activities for years. Just don’t forget to take care of it like you would your boat so that you can keep enjoying the water.

For more information:

ShoreMaster, LLC
1025 International Drive
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
800.328.8945

www.shoremaster.com

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