how to measure for piling caps

Piling caps can help extend the life of your pilings by reducing their exposure to the sun and elements and limiting the ability of water to pool on top of your piles, which can lead to rot. They’re essential for ensuring a durable, long-lasting dock, and they also help give your dock a finished look. Plus, when you buy your piling caps at Decks & Docks, you can truly customize your dock thanks to our assortment of different piling cap materials and sizes.

Two Methods for Measuring Your Pilings for Piling Caps

Piling caps come in a variety of sizes. Measuring your piles is crucial for identifying the right size piling cap for each of your piles. At Decks & Docks, we carry 26 sizes of piling caps, ranging from 6” to 18” in half-inch increments, in two different shapes: round and square. With our large selection, we’re sure to have the right caps for your needs.

First, ensure your pilings are at your desired height. Make any final cuts before measuring for your piling caps. Making cuts later may alter the measurement of your pile and result in a poor fitting cap, so complete any alterations to your piles before measuring for and buying your pile caps.

There are two different ways you can approach your measurements.

  1. Measure the diameter of your piling at the top. There’s a good chance your piling isn’t perfectly round, so take a few diameter measurements that go all the way across the top of the piling, passing through the center point. Use the largest one as your piling measurement.
  2. Alternatively, you can use the string method to measure your piles. Wrap a length of string around the top of your pile (where a piling cap would go), and mark the length of the string (or cut it). Measure the string and then divide that number (the circumference) by 3.14159 (pi) to get the diameter of your pile.

Because piling size may vary, it’s essential that you measure each of your piles. Make sure you’re writing your numbers down so you can easily grab your piling caps at your nearest Decks & Docks. A good way to remember which measurement is for which pile is to draw a diagram that shows your pile placement. This way, you don’t have to try and guess later on.

If your measurements don’t align with piling cap sizes, always opt for the larger piling cap. Otherwise, your pile cap won’t fit. So if you have a pile that has a diameter of 9.25”, opt for a 9.5” piling cap, not a 9” piling cap.

Choosing the Right Piling Caps

Now that you have your measurements, you’ll need to choose the best piling caps for your project. You can opt for flat piling caps or cone piling caps.

Flat piling caps are aesthetically pleasing and provide an easy way to make your piles looked finished while also protecting them.

Cone piling caps are taller, which can add a little height to your piles, and they discourage birds from roosting on your piles. This means less bird waste on your dock.

At Decks & Docks, we carry a variety of piling caps, including copper, fiberglass, and LLDPE Metallocene-Based Polymer caps, so you can customize your dock to your taste, needs, and budget. We also carry piling cap lights to help make your dock safer and ensure visibility in foggy or dark situations.

Piling caps have different lifespans depending on the material they’re made from. Plastic caps typically last a decade depending on where they’re installed, whereas copper piling caps can last up to 50 years. Location plays a big role in piling cap durability. Piling caps that are exposed to more sunlight, rain, wind, and salt will inevitably age more quickly.

Whether you’re looking for traditional white or black piling caps or something with a bit more flair, Decks & Docks has you covered. Bring in your list of measurements, and we can help you find the perfect piling caps for your goals.

Installing Piling Caps

Once you have your piling caps, it’s time to put them into place!

In addition to your piling caps, you’ll need the appropriate screws to hold them in place. The right screw will depend on your pile material. For pressure-treated lumber, a common dock material, exterior decking screws work well. Other materials may require different screws. For example, we have beautiful copper screws to match our copper piling caps so that you get a nice uniform look. Ask our experts at your nearest Decks & Docks about what hardware you may need and they can help you find the right screws to fit both your piling material and piling cap material.

Pre-drill holes in your caps. Three or four holes evenly spaced around the bottom of the cap will help safely secure your cap.

To install your caps, first, place the cap onto the pile. The cap should cover about an inch of the top of the pile. Then screw the piling cap onto the pile, ensuring that it maintains its shape. Screwing it in too tight can affect the shape and look of the piling cap. Repeat for the remaining piling caps.

If you’re using piling cap lights, you’ll want to install the lights as per the manufacturer’s directions. A good rule of thumb for solar piling cap lights is to install them at intervals of 6 feet so that the light of one doesn’t affect the solar sensor of another light.

Protect Your Dock with Piling Caps & More

Decks & Docks has everything you need to build, repair, and protect a great dock. In addition to a variety of lumber and composite piles, we also carry piling protection, dock lighting, and dock accessories to help ensure your dock looks good and works well for you.

At Decks & Docks, we pride ourselves in being a one-stop-shop and community resource for both homeowners and contractors alike. Stop by your nearest location for great service, expert advice, and top-of-the-line materials.