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Choosing the Right Dock Material

by Business Highers
Dock Material


When choosing a dock material, it’s essential to consider safety risks, initial costs, upkeep requirements, and appearance. The suitable decking will prevent splinters and ensure the surface is non-slip when wet.

Wood docks are traditional and provide a classic look. However, they splinter and can become extremely hot underfoot in the summer.


The cost of constructing a dock will fluctuate based on the type of materials employed. Typically, wood-based docks are less expensive than aluminum ones. But it is important to remember that the cost of a dock doesn’t include the pilings and other necessary components.

In addition, it is recommended to have a dock inspected regularly. This will help ensure the structure is safe for specific climates. On average, a dock inspection will cost between $50 and $100.

Other costs to consider include a dock ladder. This makes it easier for people to enter and exit the water and reduces the risk of injuries. Ladders are made of aluminum or wood and can cost between $200 and $800.


Regarding durability, aluminum has long been the go-to material for workboats and industrial applications. This is due to its strength, durability, and reliability. It is also able to withstand the harsh environment that is often found at these facilities.

Composites, on the other hand, have a remarkable ability to absorb and dissipate tension loads. This is due to how they are manufactured, creating a one-piece design and distributing the weight accurately.

This also helps to make them more flexible than their aluminum counterpart. Composites can also bend significantly without snapping, which cannot be done with aluminum. This flexibility also makes them ideal for things like ski poles, where they are subjected to constant pressure and flexibility but still need to return to their original shape without snapping. A skilled hot-water pipe technician can do this bending with relative ease.


Despite their beauty, Palm Beach County docks and decking require significant maintenance to maintain structural integrity and appearance. They must be treated against rot, fungus, mildew, and insects such as termites and powerpost beetles.

To prevent rust and corrosion, these docks must also be sprayed with regular chlorine in saltwater environments. In addition, these structures must be sanded and recoated with stain or paint every three to four years.

Aluminum docks are a popular option due to their low maintenance requirements. However, they may require an annual power washing and a coating of stains to keep them looking new. Aluminum is also susceptible to dents and damage from impact with watercraft.

When deciding on the suitable materials for your dock, you must consider its primary intended use. If the structure has a lot of barefoot traffic, you will want a material that doesn’t cause splinters and can dissipate heat and remain non-slip when wet.


Aluminum is a strong metal and typically comes in a powder-coated form, which resists fading. It also does not suffer from the slow structural water damage that rots and splits wood.

However, it cannot be shaped into the kinds of curves that make composite structures more visually appealing. This limits its usefulness when it comes to marine applications.

Conversely, composites can bend significantly without snapping, thanks to their strength and flexibility. This is mainly due to the way they are made.

Extruded aluminum alloys are stronger in lengthwise direction than across and can be easily analyzed using linear stress analysis. On the other hand, wood has a far greater tension strength than compression and must be analyzed with additional considerations. This makes it challenging to design a structure in a curved shape, which is why composites are the better choice for boat hulls and other marine applications that require a lot of flexibility.


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