5 Things to Consider When Creating a Custom Dock
All docks are not created equal. Some docks are even dangerous. While the process of building one is similar to traditional decks, a custom dock can make all the difference to a marina.
Though they have a similar weight distribution, with the same joists and decking, there are some important differences. Because a dock needs to account for placement variations and the fact that part of it will be submerged, a custom dock is essential.
The good news: you can have a dock that is built to serve most marinas and will function for years to come. However, it’s important to consider exactly how it will be used and if it will just be used for anchoring or not.
Go beyond the simple 8 foot square with a boat tied to one pillar.
Consider all of the possible uses for your dock and develop a plan. While planning, there are a few things you should consider:
Custom Dock Height
A large portion of the dock will be submerged in water. However, you will probably want as much of the dock above the water line as possible. This is in large part because anything under the water will fall victim to harsher conditions through a variety of weather patterns.
On the flip side, you don’t want your dock too high above the water because then you might have trouble getting to your boat. You’ll also have trouble fishing or diving off your dock if it is too high.
When it comes to dock height, analyze the measurements and go at your plan like an architect would. Consider the exact dimensions you need for it to function in the ways you need it to while crafting a height that will offer minimal weather damage to your custom dock.
Some people think that sinking their wood posts in the bed of the pond, lake or ocean to create a dock footer is the best option. While it may be an easier option, it isn’t necessarily the most stable option.
When planning the construction of your custom dock, consider using a PVC pipe filled with concrete that will surround your posts. This will make for the most stable footers possible for your dock.
You can use a 12-inch or an 18-inch PVC pipe for the footers. The great thing about using PVC pipe is that it will extend several inches above the water so that any exposed wood will be kept from going under the water. Again, this will help keep your dock from unnecessary damage and let it function seamlessly for years to come.
How to Frame It
Your footers are good to go, and your posts are set where you want them. Now it is time to start building your custom dock to your heart’s desire. You can build the dock similar to the way you might build a deck.
You’ll create a frame to make sure the measurements, joist spacing, and shape you want are correct and will work with the footers and posts in place. You will then apply the decking material.
Once that is in place, you can use support posts to support the deck. It is important to wait until this part of the process to put the posts in, as the frame can add stability. It will also offer you better and more accurate measurements than those taken from the initial outer posts you’ve installed.
Deck Materials 101
You are going to have many choices when it comes to your custom dock. While pressure treated wood has been a popular option throughout the years, many people are experimenting with other materials that might outperform pressure treated wood.
That’s not to say pressure treated wood isn’t a good option. But it is a tad more likely to check, warp, and spit in environments that are exposed to constant moisture. Furthermore, because docks are located above water the stain or paint will over peel or ship.
Not only is this bad for the water source your dock is in, it also gives your dock a worn and unsafe appearance. However, there are many lumber options that come in a variety of colors, treatments, and prices that will make your custom dock a beautiful one.
Enter: composite decking. Composite decking is all the rage in 2018 because of its superiority in moisture resistance. However, it is composed of plastic so it can sometimes become very hot in the sun. Make sure you’ve got your flip-flops nearby in the summer months.
It does have a plastic look and feel to it, which some people don’t care for. It can be inexpensive, but the higher-end composite materials are recommended for ultimate moisture protection.
Modified wood is a good option. It is transformed from a softwood to a more durable, water-resistant wood. The good news: you don’t have to stain it and it doesn’t heat up in the sun. It’s real wood so your custom dock will still look rich and natural.
It’s a better option than pressure treated wood, and it will certainly outperform its counterparts. It is also a bit more durable than the other options. It is truly an ideal material for boat docks.
If size doesn’t matter to you, then shape should. Think outside the box and go with a fresh new shape for your dock. Regardless of whether you’re building a custom dock for a residential or commercial space, go with something modern.
You can create angles that are conducive to docking success while offering something beautiful to look at. Some of the newer shapes even create more access points for your boats.
Up the ante with better function and nicer visual appeal with your dock shape.
Let’s face it, having a dock is awesome. It’s a gateway to the adventures of the open waters. Whether you’re a fisherman, an avid speed-boater, or just enjoy a ride around the lake in a canoe, docks are the home for your adventure vessel.
However, making sure your dock will function for years and add appeal to any natural body of water is important. Consider these elements when designing your dock. You’ll be happy you got all of the details right; from the perfect decking material to the optimal measurements for your dock.
When you’re ready to hire the best there is to design your dock, contact us today.
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James Hertler has served professional builders and homeowners on the Jersey Shore since 2006. With decades of industry experience, his team provides deep product knowledge and specialized service. Professional deck builders and marine contractors will find that they understand the business and work hard to make every job run smoothly. Homeowners working independently or with a contractor will find him a great resource from planning to delivery. All of their customers will find that James goes the extra mile to help turn a construction project into a beautiful outdoor living space.