When planning the construction of a dock, one key question is what type of decking to use. The choice of decking material will affect the look of the dock, how it feels underfoot, and even how heavy it is. Wood, composite, and aluminum decking are the most common options, and each one has its own advantages.
Many people prefer wood decks for their traditional feel and natural look, as well as the fact that lumber is a renewable resource. In order to have a deck that will last when exposed to the elements, however, it's important to choose the right wood and to keep up with maintenance. Wood decks will have to be power washed each year, and sanded and stained every few years.
Pressure-treated wood is wood that has had chemicals applied to preserve the wood and prevent damage from insects, mold, and moisture. It is less expensive than untreated decking, which requires special types of wood. However, some people don't like the idea of using wood that has been chemically treated.
Untreated decking must be made from a wood with natural resistance to moisture and damage. Common choices for dock materials include cedar, redwood, teak and tropical ipe. These woods are more expensive than pressure-treated wood, but they do not require chemical treatment.
Composite decking is made from a mix of recycled plastics and organic material like wood fiber. It is lower-maintenance than a wood dock, but you will still need to keep it clean to prevent fungi or mildew from growing on it. However, there's no need to sand or finish it like a wood deck.
Inexpensive composite decking is sometimes described as having a "plastic" or "hollow" feel, so if this would bother you, be sure to feel your decking before purchasing it. The best composite decking will have a non-skid, slightly rough surface that feels pleasant to the touch.
Out of all the materials available for your dock's decking, aluminum is the lightest. This can be a big advantage if your dock is designed to be removed at the end of the season, and it's also a plus if you ever need to pull up the decking to work on the dock frame beneath it. In addition, aluminum is practically maintenance-free. It doesn't rust or warp, so all you need to do is periodically clean it to keep it looking good.
Some people consider aluminum decking to look more commercial and less attractive than wood decking. However, it's possible to get aluminum decking powder-coated to nearly any color now, including shades that mimic the look of natural wood.
Contact a service like Okanagan Dock construction for more details.