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.