A Guide to Wood vs Aluminum Dock Decking
Without dock decking your dock is useless. It's the part of your dock everyone will see first and walk on.
When you ask someone about their dock, they will tell you two things: the style and the material of their dock.
Choosing the right dock decking will provide you and your family with safety and security while using your boat. Each of your options has pros and cons. So, be sure to choose the option that fits your budget and needs.
Keep on reading to learn more!
Wood Dock Decking
Wood has been the traditional choice for building docks. Many people appreciate the natural beauty and inherent strength of wood.
Initial Investment & Long-Term Costs
The initial investment of a wood dock is fairly affordable for those in the market for a dock. They also can last for many years, making them affordable for the long term.
The decking makes up 25-50% of the total cost of the dock system. The best wood for dock decking that has been treated can cost twice as much as untreated wood.
The problem with wood is that it can rot, crack, splinter, and warp. Insects are also attracted to wood which can damage your dock.
Many of these issues are caused because wood is more vulnerable to moisture than aluminum. Docks are literally put on water, so you are putting your wood dock on top of its weakness.
Wood that is splintering or cracking can become a safety hazard to those who are barefoot. You can expect that people are going to be walking barefoot on your dock.
The above issues are easily preventable with regular maintenance. As long as you maintain a regular treatment schedule, your wood dock will be protected from the water.
Treating dock wood involves sealing the wood with a protective coating. Regular pressure washing is also essential in between coating applications.
Pressure washing will remove any mildew or harmful substances. You can pressure wash yourself, or have a professional do it at a rate of $1 per square foot.
Wood is softer than aluminum. It could be damaged by extreme weather or boats running into it. This will require you to make regular repairs to keep yours in a safe condition.
You will also need to perform regular checks of the metal parts holding the dock together. Look at the screws, nuts, and bolts holding the wood together.
Lubricate any moving parts to ensure they move smoothly. When there isn't enough lubricating material, the metal parts can seize or fuse together.
When a wood dock is completed, it can be quite heavy. They will become even heavier when they become wet.
This may not be an issue for you if you have a professional install the dock. Once the dock is in place, the weight may not matter to you.
Look For a Sectional Dock
To help combat the weight look for a dock that is built to be sectional. This will limit the weight to a manageable amount.
This will allow for you to install the dock yourself by maneuvering the eighty-pound sections yourself. The VW docks are a perfect example of this allowing you to install the entire dock decking system without getting in the water.
Aluminum Dock Decking
Aluminum is rust resistant and perfectly suited as a strong material to withstand use outdoors and on the water. They are sturdy and light compared to other materials like wood.
Aluminum is better than metal like steel that will rust or corrode over time. You will have to perform regular maintenance to maintain an aluminum dock over time though.
Bugs will not be attracted to the metal. Aluminum won't have the same splintering and warping issues that wood has.
Proper installation is vital for your aluminum dock, or it can be a safety hazard. Check the that it has been welded properly so that the joints are strong.
The traditional material for building docks is wood, so by choosing aluminum, you are going to have a unique looking dock. The look could be a drawback for you if you want a look that blends in with the surrounding nature.
Initial Investment & Long-Term Costs
The initial cost of purchasing and installing an aluminum dock is more than a wood dock. The long-term cost of maintenance is cheaper though.
Roll In Docks
If you are in the market for a roll-in dock aluminum is the way to go. The whole purpose of a roll-in dock is that you can move it in place when needed and put it away when not.
Weight is the dominating factor here so a wood dock would not be functional. This is especially the case since roll-in docks are designed for slopes and soft or rocky bottoms.
While swim platforms were traditionally built of wood, aluminum is becoming more popular. It is difficult to maintain a regular treatment schedule on a dock floating out in the middle of a lake.
You have to take a boat out to the floating dock to treat the wood. The chemicals that are used to treat the wood have been shown to be toxic to humans and animals.
You don't want these chemicals washing off and contaminating the water. This makes aluminum docks more environmentally friendly.
Your Next Dock
It is essential to consider the cost, durability, safety, and environment when deciding on the right dock for your home.
If you don't mind the upfront cost and are looking for lighter weight with less maintenance, then aluminum is the right choice. If your budget is lower and you don't mind regular maintenance, then wood dock decking is a good choice.
If you're still struggling to decide, let one of our dealers help you.
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