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Materials Used in Dock Construction

Water holds a central place in our relationship with nature, from the serenity of a calm lake to the tumult of the open sea. Dock builders are critical in engineering our interface with water bodies, whether for leisure or commerce.

Dock Construction

Choose a suitable decking material for your dock, such as a modern through-flow look or classic hardwood. Ensure your dock pilings are properly treated and can withstand the harsh conditions of the marine environment. Visit https://lakewyliedockconstruction.com/ to learn more.

Docks play a critical role in the marine industry at the point where land meets water, so they need to be strong, durable and above all safe. This may seem to narrow down the options for building them, but it hasn’t stopped several materials from being used successfully in this type of construction.

Wood is a traditional choice for building docks because it is a natural, sturdy material with good traction in muddy or sandy conditions. It’s important to choose the right type of wood, though – pressure treated pine is one of the most popular choices and it can last for decades when properly cared for. This type of wood is also readily available, allowing it to be more affordable than some other types of dock materials.

Another option is composite wood, which has the appearance of natural wood but can withstand harsher weather conditions and other environmental elements. It doesn’t require staining or painting, and it has built-in UV inhibitors to help it retain its color even when exposed to the sun. This type of material is also lightweight, which may be necessary for certain dock designs or engineering requirements.

Pilings are the foundation of a dock, and they need to be constructed of strong, long-lasting materials. Natural marine timbers like Douglas fir, tamarack and hemlock are all suitable for this purpose, as well as some other types of wood. It’s important to choose these carefully because they are able to stand up to the saltwater and corrosive elements of a marine environment.

Alternatively, there are also modified woods which are made of natural softwood that has been changed through a modification process to become incredibly durable and water-resistant. These materials are ideal for boat docks because they don’t need staining, won’t splinter or crack, and can compete with the durability of tropical hardwoods.

For a more modern approach, many dock builders are using modified wood to construct both the decking and benches for their installations. This saves money by reducing the need to buy and install separate pieces of furniture, and it creates a uniform appearance for the dock that is both beautiful and functional.


Many docks are constructed of concrete. This is because it offers many advantages over wood, especially in terms of durability and longevity. In addition, it doesn’t need to be stained or treated with chemicals like chromated copper arsenates (CCA) that are harmful for the environment and banned in many areas. Concrete is also resistant to corrosion, making it an excellent choice for waterfront construction.

While concrete docks are heavier than wooden structures, they’re easier to transport and install on the water’s surface. This makes them more stable and safe for boaters, swimmers, and other water users. In addition, they are less susceptible to rot and insect infestations, and can be built in a wider range of shapes and sizes than wood.

Concrete can be mixed and transported in a variety of ways depending on the size of the structure, the amount needed, and other factors. In most cases, it’s hauled by truck, poured free under gravity or through a tremie pipe, pumped through a pipeline, or carried in a wheelbarrow or skip for manual placement underwater.

One of the most important considerations for any homeowner looking to build a dock is what material to use. While wood is a common choice for homeowners, the majority of commercial and industrial docks are made from concrete or other materials. If you’re considering building a dock, it’s important to choose the best material for your specific needs and budget.

In addition to choosing the right material for your dock, it’s important to consider the location where you want to build it. You may need to obtain a permit for pier or dock construction on public beachfronts or other regulated shorelines, while private ponds and lakes may be fine for personal projects without a permit.

Another key factor to consider is how much maintenance your dock will require over its lifetime. While some alternatives like foam or floats may require regular replacement, a concrete dock can last for 30 or more years with minimal upkeep. This is because concrete does not degrade due to exposure to UV rays like natural wood does. Additionally, concrete doesn’t attract heat as easily as wood does and retains it longer, so it stays cooler in the summer.


A steel dock is the perfect choice for many waterfront areas due to its durability and strength. Steel is highly resistant to rust and corrosion, and if galvanized before being used in dock construction, it can hold up for well over 30 years. Steel can also be drilled and bolted, which makes it easy to install other components like dock lights, gangways, and boat lifts.

A dock is a large structure built on the shore of a water body to provide storage, loading, and unloading spaces for ships and other vessels. It’s a complex piece of engineering that requires special attention to detail to ensure it’s structurally sound and safe for use. Whether a floating dock or one that’s fixed to the seafloor or lake bottom, it must be designed to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions.

Whether it’s wood, concrete, or steel, all types of docks are constructed using fasteners to help secure the framework and hold the decking materials in place. For this reason, a quality dock builder uses fasteners with a high level of corrosion resistance such as stainless steel or galvanized carbon steel. They also make sure the fasteners are laser straight and evenly spaced to give the dock a finished look that is both functional and aesthetic.

While a dock’s frame is constructed of heavy duty, durable materials, its decking is where it really comes alive with color and design. Depending on the client’s needs, the deck can be finished with a modern through-flow, wood-grained or HDPE plastic decking material that will last for years. Once the frame is built to exact specifications, the outer support posts can be installed and the decking can be laid.

While the actual process of dock building varies depending on what type of structure is being constructed, all dock builders must first conduct a thorough site assessment to determine the best way to construct a safe and functional waterfront structure. For example, the floor conditions of a lake or river can vary significantly from sand, silt, and mud to clay and rock. Some are better suited for floating or piling docks, while others require the construction of canals that link to nearby rivers or other bodies of water.

Other Materials

While wood is a popular choice for dock construction, other materials are also used. Steel is a good choice for dock beams as it is very strong and doesn’t shrink or rust. It is more expensive than wood, however. Steel is also a great choice for dock pilings as it is very durable and can withstand the loads of a dock.

Aluminum is a great material for the structure of docks as it is very lightweight, easy to work with, and will not corrode or rust. It is also an eco-friendly choice as it can be recycled at the end of its life. Another benefit of aluminum is that it can be painted to match the color and style of your property.

Choosing the right material for your dock’s foundation is crucial as it transfers the full load of the structure to the layers of soil and rock underneath. Piled foundations are usually made of concrete, steel, or timber. The choice depends on the type of water, floor conditions, and other factors. For example, sand, silt, and mud can’t support the piles of a floating dock, while clay and rock are more compatible with fixed jetties.

Beams are a vital component of a dock’s construction as they hold the decking in place and create the framework for the entire structure. Douglas fir is an excellent choice for wooden dock beams due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural durability. Other woods that can be used include cypress, maple, and redwood.

The floats that keep your dock afloat are an important consideration as they determine how stable and secure your dock will be. Floats are available in a variety of materials, including wood, concrete, and aluminum. Each has its own unique benefits and disadvantages. Wood floats are affordable upfront, but require regular maintenance to keep them safe and structurally sound. Concrete floats are often more expensive than wood, but they are sturdy and require less maintenance.

For a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood docks, plastic is a great choice. Polyethylene (PE) is an environmentally friendly and long-lasting alternative to wood for the decking and planking of a dock. PE is a durable material that doesn’t absorb water or rot and is resistant to mold, mildew, and insects. In addition, it’s a flexible and comfortable surface to walk on.