What is the best wood for building a boat dock?

What is the best wood for building a boat dock?

We’re big fans of a wide variety of dock styles here at VW Docks. From sectional to floating, there are more benefits than drawbacks to most styles. There’s also ways to make just about any style fit anybody’s own aesthetic preferences or accessibility needs.

However, for many lakefront home owners or others with property on lakes, rivers or other bodies of water, there is just something about the classic wood dock. A well-built, well-maintained wooden boat dock.

What qualities make a good wood type for boat docks?

You can’t just go out and pick up any wood for a boat dock project. Some woods don’t have the durability required for a dock, especially when you need it to stand up to water and harsh weather – and some minor bumps from boats that could occur from time to time.

But the right wood type can make a great boat dock that your family and friends will be able to enjoy for as many years as possible. Some of the most popular types of wood for these kinds of projects are:

  • Different varieties of cedar
  • Redwood
  • Cypress

Do note that if your dock design includes permanent piles or cribs, then it’s a good idea to go with a strong hardwood. That could be Douglas fir, tamarack or hemlock.

Pressure treated pine

One of the first wood types brought up when building a boat dock is pine. Pressure treated pine, to be exact.

With regular maintenance, pressure treated pine is sure to last. There are some regular maintenance needs that will need to be considered each season, but they are nothing to major. Without the maintenance, though, the pine could begin to rot or decay.


There are many varieties of cedar that can be good options for when you want to build a boat dock.

Cedar has the following features that make it a solid choice:

  • More resistant to rot, though a sealer may be needed
  • Long lifespan
  • Stains work well on types of cedar

It is important that you seal cedar, though. Without sealing, cedar, like any other type of wood, can be more prone to rot.

Two types of cedar stand above the rest whenever a project involves water: eastern white cedar and western red cedar.

Western red cedar

Western red cedar checks all the boxes you want for a wood that’s going to be used for a dock. It’s got quite the history of being used for such projects.

This wood type is durable and lasts an incredibly long time when taken care of properly – even when exposed to harsh elements such as water. Treat the western red cedar with preservatives and it will absolutely hold up.

On top of that, you cannot beat the beautiful coloring of this wood. It has a great range in color, from red-brown to what can be described more as a pink-brown. Each piece can have unique streaks and darker coloring, too.

Want to stain? Perfect idea when it comes to western red cedar, which is both pitch and resin-free. Because of those qualities, this wood type can work well with many different finishes, all the way from darker stains to semi-transparent stains.

Why VW Docks uses western red cedar

Call us biased – and that’s just fine. In our opinion, western red cedar is the go-to wood for building boat docks.

Why, well first of all, it’s sustainably sourced, a factor that is important no matter the type of wood you want for your boat dock. In fact, western red cedar is sourced from some of the most sustainably managed forests in the world.

But most of all, especially in the harsher climates of the Upper Midwest, VW Docks chooses this wood for its great weather resistance. It’s what helps the docks we build for customers last so long.

Wood sectional boat docks made with western red cedar

Our sectional wood docks made from western red cedar have been our most popular boat dock for over 50 years. It’s no secret why.

These docks are perfect for many family-friendly recreational activities, including:

  • Small boat slips for easy access boating
  • Fishing
  • Swimming

Wood sectional docks are made with high quality materials, including heavy gauge steel anchor plates, brackets and braces plus patented pipe casting, at a price that works for every budget. The size also makes this style great for use in residential areas where other docks are present.

Did we mention this style of dock is also very DIY friendly? The lightweight sections are easy to install and remove from the water – all without getting wet. One section weighs just 80 pounds, and folds down one after another with our specially designed winch system.

Let’s design your dream dock

At VW Docks, we specialize in more than only sectional wood docks. In addition to those, we also design and install sectional aluminum docks as well as floating docks for residential and also commercial waterfront properties.

The type of dock you choose should meet your envisioned uses for the dock – and how much maintenance you are looking to put into it so that the investment can last for years to come.

Don’t want the maintenance of a wooden dock, then perhaps a sectional aluminum dock is the way to go. These, too, feature sections weighing only 80 pounds and are a very sharp dock that stand the test of time, while looking good.

Plus, there’s no staining, painting, sealing or replacing boards over time.

Or, you could get some benefits of both wood and aluminum (or steel) with our floating docks. With this style, you have the advantage of steel or aluminum strength plus the beauty of wood decking. Of course, we also offer the same SunWalk decking as our aluminum sectional docks.

It’s all up to you.

Find a VW Docks dealer near you

Get the ball rolling on your dream dock project? Find a VW Docks dealer close to your home or project location.

VW Docks currently has dealers in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, each an expert in helping you find the best dock design to fit your unique vision and needs.

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