7 Tips to Extend the Life of your Boat Dock, keep it in Optimal Condition, and Safe for your Boat & Guests
Let's talk about your boat dock. You bob your boat next to it, walk across it, and the dock takes a harsh beating from weather elements all year long. It deserves more credit, yet, there's a chance you often take it for granted.
Cleaning a boat dock, keeping it safe and in optimal condition takes time and precautions. But taking the time to offer your dock a little TLC (tender loving care) all year round may prevent costly repairs down the road. Here are five tips to keep your boat dock in optimal condition, safe, and extend its life.
1. Inspect it regularly
Safety must always be at the forefront. Every time you walk the boat dock, check for imperfections. Look for screws or nails backing out of the wooden planks, any signs of rotting boards, and loose screws, nails, and planks. The last thing you want is a child or guests to trip and fall or even catch splinters in their feet.
Find out if anything is missing. That means you should take a look at the overall structure, both below and above the waterline. Are the bolts, nuts, crossbeams, and fasteners solid? The moment you jerk your boat dock, does it feel like its pilings are loose? Are the lashing straps tight enough around the floating platform? The moment you realize anything that needs fixing, do not hesitate. Instead, plan to handle the necessary repairs as soon as possible.
2. Clean your boat dock
In addition to keeping your boat dock clear of debris, loose gear, and toys, please keep it clean. A stiff scrub brush and biodegradable soap or other environmentally safe cleaning solutions such as baking soda paste are effective. However, a pressure washer may make the entire process of cleaning your boat dock easier. Keep in mind that using pressure washers can quickly "burn" the wooden surface, particularly if the spray nozzle is close to the surface.
That means the wood is likely to be softer, and splinters will begin to appear. So, take a sander to the boards and smooth out or rough spots. It is also recommended to take the time to sand out any rusty spots, particularly on the steel supports and parts.
Do not forget to eliminate growth whenever necessary. Barnacles, other related creatures, and plants can result in damage that cannot be noticed until they are removed. Use a putty knife to remove such creatures and plants. Be sure to scrub the area using an abrasive pad.
3. Fix your boat dock's imperfections
Do not wait to make expensive repairs. The famous Murphy's Law will definitely find its way, and covering your boat dock with a carpet only hides problems that are likely to get worse and cost you a lot of money in the future. If you have noticed any signs of damage in various areas of your wooden dock, it is recommended to use wood filler or marine putty to repair splits and holes.
Consider replacing nails or screws if they are backing out. Also, evaluate if the boards need to be replaced as well. Keep in mind that it does not matter how much the boat dock is used; its hardware is likely to loosen with time and trust with the weather, which is why regular dock maintenance is crucial. Be sure to lubricate all moving parts and replace rusted parts whenever possible.
4. Seal your boat dock
Wooden docks are vulnerable to the marine environment due to moisture, changing temperatures, and sunshine. For this reason, you should use only treated lumber. Once you have cleaned the dock, repaired, and sanded it, apply a thin layer of waterproof sealant that's environmentally friendly.
Note that there are different types of sealants available that are low volatile organic compounds. But it is recommended to check local regulations before you apply. Also, if you remove the boat dock during the winter, it is in your best interest to allow the sealant to dry before you begin the installation process.
5. Protect its sides and corners
Let's face the reality; sometimes, even the greatest captain's packing strategy can go haywire depending on the strength and direction of the wind or other factors beyond his or her control. Nevertheless, it is possible to minimize potential parking damages to your boat dock by placing carpet or rubber mats on the dock's corners and sides. It is also possible to install old tires or rubber bumpers on the sides to prevent damage associated with boat impact.
6. Avoid "temporary fixes."
Minor dock issues may be tempting to cover up with just a quick fix. For instance, you may be tempted to use indoor fasteners or other related products. However, it is recommended to use fasteners and other products that are meant for the outdoor environment or are waterproof. In addition, you should not ignore loose boards or even missing screws and nails. Once you realize your boat dock needs repair, get the job done right within the shortest time possible to ensure that the seemingly minor issue will not turn into a costly repair in the future.
7. Know when to replace the wooden planks
The wood used to construct your boat dock will inevitably begin to discolor, deteriorate, and probably become too weak to maintain. This is why it is recommended to get our professional to do a thorough inspection of the dock at the end of every season. Then, let the professional evaluate whether or not the wooden planks need to be replaced.
Whenever in doubt, contact a professional
You may not need a dock maintenance professional for every matter, but someone with boat dock maintenance expertise can best execute most of the tips discussed in this article. So whether you are looking to construct a new boat dock or need dock maintenance services, there is no reason to settle for anything less than the best. Contact us to learn more about VW Docks dock management, repairs, and other related services and request a quote.
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