Building a dock requires wooden components that can stand up to the elements and near constant contact with a body of water. Not all types of wood are suitable for dock construction. Porous soft woods make poor material choices for dock construction, while hardwoods may require specialized treatment to last in a body of water containing a high salt content.
Preferred Wood Types
The type of wood chosen to construct a dock directly influences the platform's longevity and ability to withstand constant interaction with the elements. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the best wood boards for building a dock are Western red cedar, redwood, cypress and eastern white cedar. Permanent dock piles or dock cribs should use stronger hardwoods, including Douglas fir, tamarack and hemlock. Western larch, spruce and pine can substitute in the construction of permanent piles when the previously mentioned hardwoods are not available in sufficient quantity.
Retention Rates of Pressure-Treated Wood
The water source surrounding a dock plays a role in the type of wood used in its construction. According to Building Products Plus, a timber-supply company, pressured-treated lumber is necessary when constructing a dock in a freshwater or saltwater location. However, harmful chemicals can enter the water supply from the chemicals used in making pressure-treated lumber, so a builder must be careful in choosing it. The EPA sets minimum retention-rate standards for treated lumber used in different water environments. The retention rate refers to the amount of preserving chemicals the wood holds when it's in use. Pressure-treated lumber at a retention rate of .60 pounds per cubic foot (PCF) is the minimum measurement when constructing a dock in freshwater. In saltwater, pressured-treated lumber at 2.5 pounds per cubic feet is the minimum for building a dock safely.
Dock construction must include some metal components to reinforce wooden parts and provide a sufficient anchor into the water body's floor. According to Building Products Plus, a builder should use stainless steel, galvanized steel or a metal specifically treated to resist corrosion in a marine environment when constructing a deck in saltwater or freshwater. These metals should also comprise all screws, nails and bolts used in construction. The proper metal helps preserve the structural integrity of the dock and acts as a safety mechanism in the event wooden components break or crack.
Painting and Sealing Wood
Painting and sealing wood components of a dock only provides temporary protection against wood rot and the degradation effects of constant water exposure. These coatings can peel and blister, causing water to enter underneath and hasten the rotting process. A dock constructed without pressure-treated lumber may require constant maintenance and monitoring to ensure wooden components are not degrading at a rate that could endanger the dock's structure.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
How to Install Dock Piling
It is not that difficult to install a dock piling if you have the right tools and the soil conditions are suitable....
How to Build a Wood Boat Dock
The construction of a boat dock is very similar to the construction of a deck you would build at your home, with...
How to Build a Basic Dock
Boat docks can be built in many sizes depending upon where they will be used and what type of floating craft will...
How to Paint Boat Docks
Keeping a boat dock in good shape is nearly as important as keeping your boat in good shape. Docks have to withstand...
How to Build a Dock for a Pond
Before you build a dock for a pond,determine the bottom conditions of the pond. A floating dock is recommended if the soil...
How to Use Composite Decking for a Dock Pier
Sunlight, harsh weather, humidity, waves, saltwater and wind take even more of a toll on dock piers than on regular decks. For...
How do I Build Warf Cribs?
Wharf cribs are the support mechanisms for wharf or dock decks. They were made from railway ties, which were filled with rocks...
Tips on Wood Dock Construction
Wood boat docks are very common and tend to be the most inexpensive form of permanent docks. The work can be physically...
What Wood to Use to Build a Dock
If you have property near a body of water it is nice to have a dock even if you don't have a...