Aluminum, steel or wood: How to decide what material is best for your boat dock

Aluminum, steel or wood: How to decide what material is best for your boat dock

One of the highlights of any waterfront property, whether it’s on a lake, reservoir or river, is undoubtedly the boat dock. With so many options for designing, building and customizing boat docks, property owners can make sure that their boat dock truly stands out.

The first step to making that happen, though, is making decisions regarding some of the basics, including what type of material should be used to build the boat dock. For many property owners, this decision involves considering three commonly used materials – aluminum, steel and wood.

Each material comes with its own benefits and, depending on the property owner’s own unique needs or personal taste and preferences, could also come with some potential drawbacks. So, here is a look at some of the differences between aluminum, steel and wood boat docks that can help give you a clearer idea of what material may be best for your dock project.

What type of dock you want can determine best material

In some cases, the type of material used for a dock may be determined by the style of boat dock that you choose to have built or installed on your property.

For example, VW Docks floating docks, which are a popular, durable option, come with frames made out of either aluminum or steel. Both options provide a durable frame as a starting point for the ideal boat dock design.

On the other hand, our sectional docks are available in either aluminum or wood. Aluminum is a popular option for sectional docks because it looks good and is also lightweight. Like aluminum, wood also carries an undeniable aesthetic quality and can also be very durable.

If you are not sure what style of dock is the best for your lakeside (or riverside) home, then this blog post about how to choose the best type of boat dock may be helpful.

Why aluminum may be best for your boat dock

Property owners have been keen on aluminum for boat dock frames for a very long time. Aluminum is a great choice for any lakefront home or business owner who wants to invest in a strong but great-looking dock that will raise the aesthetic profile of any property the dock is installed on.

With aluminum, you can get the strength of steel but at a much lighter weight. It is also resistant to corrosion, making it a wise choice of material for those docks that will need to be able to withstand a variety of weather elements.

All in all, aluminum is normally fairly maintenance free compared to some other options.

As far as downsides, though, aluminum’s primary pitfall can sometimes be its price. However, if you are looking for an investment that is worth the cost, then you cannot go wrong here.

Sometimes steel may be a better option

If the price of aluminum is a possible dealbreaker, then you could consider steel as an option. You would be hard pressed to find any material stronger for a dock. It will be able to hold up to any amount of use for your recreation needs.

Steel is also less likely to show the wear and tear from any scrapes and collisions when compared to aluminum or wood. Galvanized steel, a common type of steel for use when in or near water, is also resistant to weather.

Like the other materials, there are a few cons to steel that you should be aware of before deciding to use it for your project. Typically, steel dock frames will not last quite as long as aluminum. They are also heavier.

Still, a steel dock will be most property owners’ best option if strength is what matters most. It’s a very popular choice for that very reason.

When to go with a wood boat dock

If a natural look and a certain sense of nostalgia are what you are looking for, then wood may be your best bet when deciding on a material for building a boat dock. Wood docks are unmatched in natural beauty and they last a surprising amount of time, too. That is if you take care of them, though.

You see, over the years, a wood dock will need more care than its metal counterparts. That’s because wood is known to splinter, crack, discolor and even rot if not properly cared for. In some regions, the potential for insect damage may also be a concern that should not be ignored.

However, if you are committed to caring for a wood dock, then its visual appeal can often be unbeatable. A beautiful wood dock that is cared for, repaired when necessary and treated regularly to help prevent water damage will certainly leave a positive impression on any visitor.

On top of that aesthetic benefit, wood is also normally a very affordable option when you are looking at building a dock on your property.

Research type of wood before committing

There are many different kinds of wood that can be used for boat docks, but not all of them are equal in quality, durability, look, etc.

At VW Docks, we use western red cedar for our sectional wood docks. That’s because we believe that quality makes a difference and should never be sacrificed if you want a boat dock that will look great and last long enough for your investment to feel worth it.

With western red cedar, you get a wood that has a beautiful color, can take on a variety of stains, is durable enough to withstand the elements and is sustainably sourced.

We are ready to build your boat dock

No matter the material you chose for your boat dock, VW Docks is ready to help you each and every step of the way – from design, to build and installation – to bring your dream dock idea to reality.

Feel free to learn more about the types of docks we offer or reach out to us and request a free quote. Simply tell us a little bit about your project and we will get in touch.

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