How to choose the best boat dock decking material

How to choose the best boat dock decking material

Boat docks are so much more than a place to hop in and out of boats. They’re a significant, practically required part of a waterfront property.

This is why so many lakefront or riverfront homeowners put so much time and thought into making sure their property features high-quality boat docks that will last long-term and adds some unique characteristics to the rest of the property.

Of all the many design and functionality options boat dock owners must consider, decking material may be one of the most significant. A dock that has the right decking to match its environment and other surroundings, it not only will hold up under conditions tossed its way, but also will look good, too.

However, there are many boat dock decking options. How do you choose which material is best for your dock and property? Let’s diver deeper into each of the leading options to help you answer that question.

Pressure-treated wood: A natural, cost-effective choice

If money is your primary concern, then pressure-treated wood dock decking may make the most sense for your boat dock project.

A dock that covers about 300 square feet of space is likely going to cost you only $500, give or take. Compare that with composite, vinyl and other materials and you will find the price of a similar-sized dock climb quickly closer to $1,500.

Other advantages of using pressure-treated wood include the ability to cut the wood pieces to shapes that best fit your dock design and more flexibility regarding color choices that other materials may not offer.

There are disadvantages to this material, though, just like any other. Pressure-treated wood must be refinished every few years. The more you take care of it, the longer the decking and the rest of the dock structure will last. It could last 10 or 20 years - that’s up to how much time and effort you put into maintenance.

Splinters and nails are always a concern with wood, too. It can also tend to be sensitive to moisture, even if it is sealed properly. So, that means a natural, pressure-treated wood dock is going to require re-sealing and cleaning more often.

However, if you take good care of a wood dock, it’s going to stay looking great for a long time and can really add a beautiful characteristic to any lakefront property.

Wester red cedar wood: When you want a beautiful dock

Natural wood cannot be beat when what you are aiming for is a beautiful boat dock that looks attractive. In most cases, the natural wood you are using for your boat dock is going to be treated, which allows it to hold up well when exposed to the elements.

VW Docks uses western red cedar wood for our sectional wood docks. This wood type is known for its stunning color, which ranges from red-brown to pink-brown. It’s also highly durable and can hold up under wet conditions for years when treated correctly.

Our sectional wood docks that feature western red cedar wood are one of our most popular dock styles. They’re economical and ideal for residential use.

Composite planks: Less maintenance

Composite plans are much less hassle when it comes to maintenance. They require virtually no maintenance due to normal wear and tear. That’s the biggest advantage of this decking material.

Still, composite decking does need to be swept and washed every so often to prevent mildew buildup. You may also need to find a color that you are comfortable with because, according to Boating Magazine, composite planks can sometimes peel if sanded, pressure-washed or exposed to strong cleaners.

Also consider that you are going to pay more for composite than pressure-treated wood, as far as disadvantages go Installation isn’t necessarily more intensive, though, so labor costs (if you aren’t doing the install yourself) shouldn’t be higher.

Vinyl: Lowest maintenance requirement and lightweight

If you want a dock that is going to last a long time on your property and requires the least amount of maintenance, then consider vinyl. Vinyl is not porous, so they don’t have the mildew issue of some composite types as long as they are kept swept clean.

They also hold up well against scratches and gouges. Additionally, they are very light.

Disadvantages of vinyl are without a doubt the cost. But it’s an investment that pays off in the long-run. Another criticism is that it can sometimes feel like plastic.

Modified wood: Durable and eco-friendly

Modified wood, many in the boat dock industry will tell you, is one of the most eco-friendly material options available. It gives your dock the look of a natural wood dock with the added benefit of better durability.

Some benefits of modified wood to highlight include a cooler feel under foot than some other materials and the fact that it does not splinter.

However, it is a much pricier option that isn’t meant for tight budgets. But if you want decking for your dock that is going to last a long time and won’t require much maintenance along the way, then you can’t go wrong with modified wood.

Sunwalk: Strong and a slip-resistant walking surface

Finally, let’s cover one of the more innovative boat dock decking materials that’s widely available, including through VW Docks.

Sunwalk decking combines the strength and durability features of some of the other popular non-wood decking materials with an added bonus of slip-resistant surfacing that adds safety to this decking’s long list of benefits.

With Sunwalk, there’s no need for maintenance and it offers a clean, uniform appeal on our aluminum sectional docks. What’s more is that it is ADA-compliant, which is perfect for both residential and commercial needs that may need to take accessibility into consideration.

VW Docks can design and build your dock

No matter what boat dock decking material you want to go with, VW Docks can help you design and build any type of dock you have envisioned for your property. We can even help you decide which decking material best fits your boating and recreation activity needs.

Get the process started by requesting a free quote. Just tell us about your project and we’ll put together a custom solution for you.

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