A dock is an important addition and asset to any waterfront property or camp. Apart from providing necessary access for fishing, swimming, boating, or entertainment, it adds value to your property. However, for you to continue enjoying your waterfront deck, you must ensure it is in a good state of repair.
Typically, the cost of repairing a dock will depend on factors such as the nature of the damage, the construction materials used, and style. Your dock repair contractor will first evaluate the features and location of your dock as part of the maintenance and repair cost assessment.
Gulf Coast Docks and Pilings take a beating over time thereby making them structurally weak. Also, because of the underwater conditions, dock bracing may be destroyed and eaten away by wood boring worms. In some circumstances, docks may be poorly designed or made with inferior materials, and this is a major contributor for the wasting away of this useful resources.
The solution to the above problems is to have the docks and pilings strengthened and firmly supported. Various techniques are frequently used which can extend the lifespan and longevity of your boat slip. The following are possible solutions along with brief descriptions of what each method entails.
When you are dealing with old or damaged pilings, concrete encapsulation is the best solution to implement due to its ability to restore and refurbish the pilings to a more serviceable state. It is a renovation process involving a complete feeling of the outer PVC jacket using a specially formulated concrete mix. The mixture then gradually slips into and fills out the cracks and empty spaces left by the boring worms. This process strengthens the piles thereby giving them another lease on life.
Cross bracing gives your boat slip superior rigidity and durability. With this method, a cross brace refers to a bar that goes from one pile to another while rising at an angle. On one side, it may be down close to the mud foot while on the other end it may rise to an approximately 30 to 45-degree angle. The beauty with cross bracing is that it provides accountability and structural integrity side to side between the piles on a section of the boat slip. It is a nice, sturdy solution that has been a trusted staple for many years.
When making an attempt to pull up to the dock, you may find yourself limited by water depth and tides. To sort out this problem, you will require boat slip dredging service. This service will give you deep water access by removing the sediment that has buildup.
Most boat slip maintenance companies have modern dredging equipment which can easily be deployed from a location that minimizes damage to seawalls, docks, and the waterfront.
During dredging, the material removed is pumped into containers which are usually sealed. Inside these containers, the sediments are allowed enough time to settle and separate from the water. Finally, the water is directed back to the dredged area and the sediments carried away for disposal.
Once you’ve found a functional plan for your boathouse, you can begin construction either yourself or with a dedicated company. Boathouses will sit on top of the dock, integrating it into either an existing dock space or requiring the dock to be built first.
As is the case with any large-scale construction project, heavy machinery is going to be involved. The difference is, often times, these machines will be floating, such as barges with winch mounts, pile drivers, and more. There’s going to be a lot of moving parts and a lot of juggling schedules around, so be prepared; a simple boathouse can become complicated quickly.
What to Expect when Building a Dock
Building a Boathouse
When the dock is constructed, a large space will be left where the boathouse will be built. Now that there is a platform, the boathouse construction can begin. Start with anchor posts in the corners of where the boathouse will be constructed; the frame can take shape with these in place. The roof frame will be assembled, resting the weight on the surrounding anchor posts.
The roof should be the next step and can be completed with whichever roofing material is best for your job and budget. Many boathouse owners use a metal roof as the shingles can easily detach and wind up in the water. Corrugated steel roof panels, on the other hand, are durable, long-lasting, and require little maintenance to keep it in shape.
If your boathouse utilizes a boatlift, the I-beams will be placed before the rest of the boathouse is constructed. Using a drive shaft, the I-beams are secured in place so that they can lift the water out of the water or set it down into the water without moving the roof frame more than it has to.
The rest of the boathouse is built based on personal preferences. Many choose to forgo having enclosed features or walls, especially if it’s being added to an existing dock. Having only the anchor beams gives your boathouse a simple appearance that still looks like a professionally-designed boathouse.
Other owners will want an enclosed boathouse, especially if it has been built on private property. This way, storage options can be installed for lifejackets, fishing gear, and other boating accessories. This way, your boathouse can be more like a boat garage, with everything you need in one convenient location for your fun day out.
Tips to Remember during Dock Construction
Just as you would regularly give your deck or patio a once-over, a dock can significantly benefit from a little TLC and winter prep.
A quick power washing will remove any top surface contaminants like mold, mildew, salt, and other grime from seeping deeper into the wood. Once the dock's deck has been properly washed, a top coat of stain and/or paint can be used to seal it. Even if you sealed your dock within the last few years, it never hurts to do it again, especially if there’s going to be a chance of a cold snap. The sudden change in temperature can cause premature weathering and rot, and every little bit helps to stretch your dock’s useful life.
Remove the Dock
Taking another page out of our northern neighbor’s playbook, if you have an easily removable dock, you may want to remove and store it for the winter. Many freshwater docks are designed with a series of removable pins, allowing storage in the colder seasons. While they may need to take their docks down by later autumn, you may be able to wait a smidge longer here in the Sunshine State.
The bad news is, it’s going to take a little elbow grease, and may even take a few days to do. The good news? You’ll have peace of mind that you won’t need to replace your dock simply because it randomly dropped into the 30s last night. Piling docks are obviously best to be left alone. Down south, we don't have to worry about lakes freezing, so, chances are, you’ll be fine leaving your standing docks alone, albeit with a little extra maintenance come spring time.
Don’t Undo Hurricane Prep
What Gulf Coast states such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida lack in snow days, we just may make up with a late-striking hurricane. Yes, the hurricane season begins in summer, but you never know when you might have a hurricane in late November, or even in early December. If you have extra hurricane prep items, tools, and accessories, it’s best just to keep them in place during winter if possible. Realistically, no matter how good you’ve been, Santa probably won’t bring you a new boat. By ensuring your boat is well secured, either with a helical anchor or with a dock with tall pilings, you can rest assured knowing that your boat damage would be minimized, and more importantly, prevent your dock from sustaining problems as well. It’s all too common for boats to be tossed into their docks during hurricane season, and sometimes that lasts well into winter.
Use the Right Dock Product
It may seem obvious, but many dock owners, especially new ones, think that any wood sealant is sufficient. However, marine-specific sealants are ideal for protecting wood from salt water and from mold and mildew. Even with pressure treated wood, a marine sealant should be applied every six months to a year to keep it from weathering and splintering.
Hire Us For Your Needs
When you’ve exhausted all of your at-home options or aren’t sure where to begin, you can hire us. We’ll provide your dock and pilings with a free inspection and let you know the best way to preserve your dock all winter long. While we may not have experience with ice and snow, we’re the Gulf Coast’s best choice.
No surprise that in Old Norse, the word bulk actually means "cargo". In fact, in 15th century Europe, what would those contracted to do bulkhead construction quickly learned that ship walls would prevent precious cargo from moving around during the voyage. Accordingly, in construction of ships, any upright panel was referred to as a "head". Similarly, when walls were constructed alongside those “heads”, they were referred to as ship bulkheads. Amazingly, the same term, bulkhead, still applies.
If your dock is not maintained on a regular basis, old and poorly maintained pilings and the dock itself will significantly increase in repair cost. It’s ideal to get the dock checked yearly. Rotting deck boards splitting down the middle also need to be replaced immediately. It is easy to replace one board at a time then to have to replace the whole dock. A few signs that the dock maintenance is required include rickety stringers, wobbly and unstable piles and protruding pier decking. Do not ignore these signs as just every day wear and tear. Give us a call and we will gladly come out and inspect the dock.
Dock Maintenance Checklist:
1. Inspect each dock piling
2. Inspect the toe guards on a dock
3. Inspect the water seal
4. Tighten all dock nuts and bolts
5. If wired, inspect the outlets and the electrical connections
6. Inspect each deck board
7. Inspect the bumpers on the bulkhead and dock
Did you know that dock is a synonym for the words pier and wharf? No surprise there. Historically, a dock was meant to represent anything in the water that people could stand on. Nowadays, the word pier is generally used to denote to manufacturing or commercial structures. Verbiage also changes depending on your location. Along the gulf coast, such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, the word dock is most frequently used. Whereas, in the north, or along the east coast, pier is common nomenclature. Whichever terms you’re using to describe your dock, pier, wharf, or floating structure, it’s important that you keep it safe, sturdy and reliable.
Deep South Marine Restoration is in the business of keeping you, your patrons and your families safe. This is why we offer free dock inspections from Texas to Florida. Don’t worry if your city isn’t listed below, if you’re along the gulf coast, reach out to us, and we’ll check your dock pilings out too!
Below is a list of the many cities we provide services to throughout the Gulf Coast. It’s not an exclusive list, so if you’re not listed, be sure to give a call for your free dock piling inspection. From Texas to Florida, Deep South is your expert marine contractor.
New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Metairie, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Bossier City, Kenner, Monroe, Alexandria, Houma, Marrero, New Iberia, Laplace, Prairieville, Central, Slidell, Terrytown, Ruston, Harvey, Bayou Cane, Hammond, Sulphur, Chalmette, Shenandoah, Natchitoches, Gretna, Opelousas, Zachary, Estelle, Thibodaux, Pineville, River Ridge, Baker, Belle Chasse, Crowley, West Monroe, Minden, Bayou Blue, Moss Bluff, Abbeville, Luling, Mandeville, Woodmere, Youngsville, Bogalusa, Morgan City, Claiborne, Broussard, Destrehan, Jefferson, Timberlane, DeRidder, Bastrop, Gonzales, Gardere, Eunice, Jennings, Denham Springs, Reserve and Raceland, Covington, Waggaman, Fort Polk South, Merrydale, Harahan, St. Rose, Scott, Carencro, Oak Hills Place, Westwego, Breaux Bridge, Prien, Rayne, Galliano, Donaldsonville, Lacombe, Oakdale, Schriever, Eden Isle and Franklin, Ville Platte, Village St. George, Old Jefferson, Bridge City, St. Gabriel, Ponchatoula, Larose, Tallulah, Plaquemine, Red Chute, Inniswold, Meraux, Leesville, Walker, St. Martinville and Patterson, Violet, Brownfields, Marksville, Jeanerette, Cut Off, Monticello, Chackbay, Avondale, Grambling, Gray, Port Allen, Springhill, Bayou Vista, Carlyss, Swartz, Mansfield, Berwick, Winnsboro, Elmwood, New Roads, Kaplan, Westlake, Addis, Jonesboro, Winnfield, Arabi and Church Point, Eastwood, Amite City, Brownsville, Vidalia, Bunkie, Ball, Farmerville, Jackson, Franklinton, Lake Providence, Bawcomville, Rayville, Vivian, South Vacherie, Richwood, Gramercy, Jena, Ferriday, Lutcher, Vinton, Hahnville, Haughton, Welsh, Chauvin, Iowa, Greenwood, Westminster, Mamou, DeQuincy, Norco, Milton, Homer, Sunset, Blanchard, Natalbany and Delhi, Arcadia, Pierre Part, Many, Brusly, Lake Arthur, Fort Polk North, Bayou Gauche, Lockport, Pearl River, Garyville, Abita Springs, New Llano, Sterlington, Kinder, Boutte, Bourg, Baldwin, Kentwood, Poydras, Lafourche Crossing, Amelia, Erwinville, Mathews, North Vacherie, Jonesville and Ossun, Haynesville, Edgard, Grand Point, Port Barre, Simmesport, Erath, Port Sulphur and Stonewall, Golden Meadow, Benton, Labadieville, Montz, Zwolle and Jean Lafitte, Deville, Cottonport, Charenton, Livingston, Minorca and Delcambre, Coushatta, White Castle, Basile, Independence, Duson, Des Allemands, Oberlin, Henderson, St. Francisville, Oak Grove, Bernice, Rosepine, Midway, Presquille, Pine Prairie, Lakeshore, Sorrento, Belle Rose, Clinton, Logansport, Colfax, Iota, Vienna Bend, New Sarpy, Montegut, Ringgold, Livonia, Grand Isle, Bayou Country Club, Gueydan and Paradis, Olla, Mansura, Bayou L'Ourse, Ama, Glenmora, Urania, Lawtell, Killian, Banks Springs, Hackberry, Lafitte, Maurice, Paulina, Cade, Krotz Springs and Roseland, Lecompte, Sibley, Paincourtville, French Settlement, Elton, Cullen, Dulac, Merryville, Catahoula, Albany, Leonville, Empire, Woodworth, Lockport Heights and Newellton, Arnaudville, Maringouin, Ventress and Union, St. Joseph, Lakeview, Melville, Campti, Cecilia, Welcome, Clarks, Kraemer and Oil City, Dubach and Boyce, Cotton Valley, Plain Dealing, Slaughter, Estherwood, Washington, Choudrant, Gibsland, Start, Grand Coteau, St. James, Wisner, Barataria, Fordoche and Moreauville, Supreme, Boothville, Loreauville, Longville, Lemannville, Fifth Ward, Bordelonville, Sarepta, Buras, Simsboro, Sorrel and Anacoco, Epps, Madisonville, Tangipahoa, Morse, Wallace, Forest Hill and Choctaw, Doyline, Crescent, Folsom, Mooringsport, Hessmer, Rosedale, Marion, Belmont, Port Vincent, Watson, Tickfaw, Calhoun, Montgomery, Pleasant Hill, Lydia, Clayton and Reddell, Greensburg, Parks, Prospect, Ridgecrest, Mermentau, Starks, Mangham, Napoleonville, Grosse Tete, Florien, Convent, Simpson, Waterproof, Provencal and Cheneyville, Siracusaville, Morganza, Mer Rouge, Natchez, Killona, Wilson, Pitkin, Gilbert and Junction City, Martin, Frierson, Elizabeth, Singer, Chatham, Richmond, Monterey, Grayson, Hayes, Sicily Island, Springfield, St. Maurice, Cankton, Clarence, Sun, Pollock, Oretta, Hornbeck and Gillis, Bayou Goula, Hodge, Turkey Creek, Hester, Converse, Dry Prong, Lacassine, Goldonna, Fort Jesup, Kilbourne, Glencoe, Vienna, Tullos, Columbia, North Hodge, Fenton, Chataignier, Egan, South Mansfield and Spokane, Cameron, Forest, Harrisonburg, Pleasure Bend, Varnado, Georgetown, Dodson, Roanoke, Norwood, Hosston, Point Place, Evergreen, Center Point, Keachi, Hall Summit, East Hodge, Collinston, Saline, Bonita, Rodessa, Ashland, Dixie Inn, and Dubberly, Romeville, Lucky, Delta, Belcher, Noble, Montpelier, Baskin and Castor, Angie and Grand Cane, Plaucheville, Athens, Heflin, Reeves, Wallace Ridge, Fisher, Calvin, Venice, Joyce and Ida, Bienville and Creola, Edgefield, McNary, Rock Hill, Bayou Corne, Shongaloo, Quitman, Lisbon, Robeline, Palmetto, Gilliam, Longstreet, Atlanta, Pioneer, Eros, Downsville, Spearsville and Oak Ridge, Jamestown, Powhatan, Branch, Pointe a la Hache, Lillie, Moonshine, Sikes, Stanley, Bryceland, Triumph, Jordan Hill, Mount Lebanon, Taft, Mound, Sugartown
Why is protecting your pilings that hold up your dock or boat house so important? There are many reasons to protect your pilings before you see the first sign of decay.
First, the structural stability of a dock is an important factor, especially when you or your family are the ones that will be walking, running, or jumping on it. The last thing you want is for one of your precious family members to be running on a dock and have the dock collapse because you failed to protect it against the known factors that deteriorate every piling that touches the water. Some of the ways your pilings can become under attack is from wood boring worms. These worms will, not can, burrow into the wooden piling that is not protected and continue to degrade the piling over its lifespan. Marine pests like the wood burrowing worm or the Gribble, a crustacean that eats through any wood in the water, even the old ships that sailed the ocean, are two of the most common reasons for you pilings to become damaged or fall apart. Sometimes we forget about these dock pilings because they are out of sight and out of mind... at least until your dock is all of a sudden listing or leaning and cracked. Don’t worry too much about it if it has not happened yet though. There are still ways to protect dock pilings and any wood supports that will increase their lifespan tremendously. One way to protect dock pilings is by wrapping them with piling wraps. A piling wrap is a protective layer of a plastic type material that the burrowing animals cannot penetrate. This can be done before or after you have an infestation, but more than likely, it will be cheaper if you do it before such as when you are installing them. After the decay is already there, it would have to be neutralized then wrapped so you are not just covering up the worms and letting them continue to eat the wood beneath the covering. I have seen some docks and pilings that were totally broken apart just from these pests.
The piling protection is not limited to pilings either. The wraps can be applied to pilings, bulkheads, docks, boathouses, and sea walls. Anything that is in the water can be infiltrated and damaged. You MUST protect your investment on the water just as you would your vehicle. Customers who buy new vehicles will wax their cars right when they purchase them to protect the paint, and when you purchase or build a new home you are required to have termite protection. The same theory should apply to camps, boat houses, and docks. You are spending, usually, a great deal of money or many of these items and you should do what you have to do to protect that investment for as long as possible. Often times the reason that these docks or pilings go so long without protection is that most people do not know the pilings are under attack by an almost microscopic, hungry, wood eating menace. Just as you do you research before buying a car or any electronic item, people need to do research on homes near the water, homes on the water, or camps to understand what is possible and what is necessary to ensure you enjoy your investment for the longest period of time possible.
Now, these pests aren’t the only reasons docks get demolished. Hurricanes, storms, spills, and other natural happenings can also damage your docks, pilings, bulkheads, and boathouses, but the majority owners already know the risk they take with those acts of nature. It’s the “nature” living IN the water you should be educated on and learn how to protect yourself against.
Take a look around the next time you take your boat down the river. You'll see the extent of what these creatures are capable of doing to docks, pilings and bulkheads. You can really see the piling damage when the water is extremely low due to the minimal amount of rain, or lack of rain actually, that most are experiencing in the Gulf States. Next time you are cruising the waterways, pay close attention to the camps along the river and look at all of the pilings under the docks, and even under the camps themselves. More often than not, the pilings you see will show strong indications of the presence of the wood burrowing worms and some piling will even be damaged so badly that they are no longer intact. Without knowing the root cause of piling damage, many people never realize how badly of an effect they could have. The worms and Gribbles do not just affect older camps and docks that have been there a long time, but you can also see signs of their presence on the pilings that are only months or just a few years old.
If learning about the dangers of not protecting your pilings, docks, and bulkheads can help residential customers, then surely the commercial uses like retaining walls for lakes at parks, and even older dams made of wood should be protected as well and their care takers educated on their dangers. The last thing a commercial operator needs is for a visitor to hurt themselves on a deteriorated, failing dock or wooden structure. Lawsuits will definitely be filed and they will surely be asked why measures were not taken to prevent this from happening. Many of our parks in Louisiana have docks or bridges to help us navigate the swampy, wet areas, and view the wildlife habitats of our native wildlife. Even some of our golf courses have bridges to allow golfers to navigate the course over the swampy areas. Unfortunately for me, that is where my ball usually ends up. Overall, please try to educate yourself on the ways you can protect yourself from experiencing the issues that many have faced with having to rebuild a dock, protect pilings, or strengthen the base of a raised home. In the grand scheme of things you will see a huge benefit, financially and with less stress in your life. Contact us today to see if you might have an infestation in your docks or pilings.