A private boat dock is a great feature for a waterfront home. It's not only a place to store your boat, it also provides safe access to the water for swimming, skiing, and other water activities. However, if you ignore boat dock maintenance and let your dock fall into disrepair, it can quickly become an unsafe structure that does more harm than good. Take a look at some important tips that will help you maintain your boat dock so that you can get the most use out of it.
Sealing your boat dock isn't difficult. You can tell whether your dock needs to be sealed simply by sprinkling water on it. If the sealing is still intact, the water will bead up. If it soaks in, then you need to seal it before the wood has a chance to weaken and rot.
Check your weather forecast – you should plan the sealing for a time when there will be no rain for a few days. You also want a day when the temperature is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can prevent the wood from sealing properly. Usually, the best time to seal a dock is in the fall, after you put your boat away for the season and before it gets too cold, or in the spring, before you bring the boat out and before it gets too hot.
Clear your deck off, sweep it, and clean it with a deck cleaning product. Once it's dry, you can apply the sealant by pouring it into a bucket and using a roller to spread it onto the dock. Remember to wear a mask to protect yourself from the fumes. If your dock is located in salt water, or if you live in a rainy area, you may need two or three coats to fully protect it.
The platforms that support your dock are another important thing that you need to check on regularly. Get a good pair of goggles that will let you see under the water, and check with your hands for holes or signs of rot. Holes in wooden platforms can be effectively repaired with marine putty; however, if the platform is rotten or if there are too many holes, you may need to replace the platforms. You can do this by installing a new platform next to the old one first, then removing the old platform with a saw before sliding the new one in place. If you remove the old one before installing the new one, your dock could shift before you can put the new one in place, but installing the new one first helps you avoid this.
If your dock has metal platforms instead of wooden ones, you'll need to treat them with a lubricant that helps them resist rust. If they do become rusted through, new metal will need to be welded on over the holes. If you're using metal chains to keep your dock in place, those should be treated with rust-resistant lubricant as well.
Planks and Hardware
It's a good idea to periodically check the planks to make sure that they're all secure. You may need to hammer down loose nails and replace any damaged boards. Pay special attention to the corners of the dock – if your boat bumps into it, it can damage both the boat and the dock. Nailing pieces of carpet or rubber mats to the corners of the dock can protect both from damage in the event of a less-than-perfect parking job.
You should also be sure to check all of the connection points for loose screws, nuts, and bolts. Replacing screws and tightening bolts are both simple fixes, and checking regularly ensures that your dock remains sturdy and secure.
If your dock has flaws that are beyond your ability to fix, contact a marine contractor like Abbott's Construction Services Inc. to repair it. Your marine contractor can also help you improve and strengthen your dock so that it stays in great shape for as long as possible.