Looking Forward To Water Fun? Prep Your Wooden Boat Dock With These Tips

by Grace Motley

As the summer nears, lakeside property owners will soon begin clearing away the debris left behind by a long, cold winter. Exposure to severe temperatures, along with layers of ice and snow, can be particularly wearing on structures and surfaces nearest the water. 

Boat docks built from wood are particularly susceptible to experiencing advanced aging and condition issues due to exposure to winter weather. Property owners can help to ensure that their wooden boat docks are sturdy and safe by using the following preparation tips. 

Check for loose, cracked, or damaged wood

The freezing and thawing action of lake water in winter exerts stress on the materials used in wooden docks, boathouses, and other structures located near or over the water. A careful visual examination of wooden boards, pilings, decking, railings, and stairs will help owners spot any areas where the lumber has become loosened or damaged. 

If the lumber is still structurally sound, adding new screws or nails to hold it in place may be sufficient to restore soundness to the structure. However, lumber that is cracked or broken, or areas where significant decay issues have developed, may require replacement in order to ensure that the dock or structure is safe for use. 

Clean and protect the surface

Like the wooden deck of a home, boat docks constructed from lumber should undergo periodic cleaning, followed by an application of a protective paint, stain, or sealant product. If the boat dock is showing signs of neglect or accelerated aging, pressure washing is a good way to clean away layers of grime, mold, or lichen growth. 

If areas of roughened wood are found after pressure washing, dock owners may want to consider using coarse sandpaper to smooth the surfaces before applying a sealant or protective coating product with a portable sprayer or roller. Older or neglected docks may also benefit from receiving a second layer of the protective coating, once the first coat is dry. 

Improve railings and walkways for ease of access

Falls from docks can result in accidental drownings, broken bones, and other injuries. Dock owners can help to prevent these problems from occurring by choosing to improve the protective railings on their wooden decks and by ensuring that walkways and steps are safe and easy to use. 

Dock owners who need to make more substantial improvements or repairs to their current wooden docks may also want to consider upgrading to aluminum, vinyl, steel, or other materials. 

To learn more about preparing a wooden dock for summer use, or to get boat dock supplies, reach out to a local supplier.