Let’s face it, docks, especially the dock piling, take a lot of hammer.
Threats include the movement of the body of water they’re partially submerged in, the fact that they spend their lives submerged and the effects of storms and hurricanes. It’s clear, they need to be made of stern stuff.
If you’re planning to build a dock, you need to get the dock piling material right. Here’s our ultimate guide to your choices, so you can select one that’s right for you.
This guide broadly falls under two headings – natural and synthetic materials.
We’ll begin by going through natural options. Everybody loves the look of a dock flanked by natural organic wood pilings. Not only do they look great, but they’re actually ideal for the job if you select the correct types.
They’re also versatile as they are easy to trim to the correct size, unlike synthetic products.
Here are the options available to you:
Treated Wood Piling
Wood is an ideal material to be submerged in water. The lower oxygen levels mean that in water alone, it can last indefinitely.
The problems come from creatures that would like to make their home in the wood pilings, salt in the water and the part of the pile that is exposed to the air. This is where treated wood pilings come into their own.
Treated to withstand sea and brackish water, they are far more hardwearing and long lasting than untreated timber.
When you inspect pilings for sale, make sure that they are not only sound and straight but also that they are not leaching wood treatment. If you do not reject any in this state, this could leach into the water and cause contamination.
Hardwood Dock Piling
With a durability similar to teak, hardwood piling such as greenheart, could be a great choice for your dock.
It is highly durable and resistant to marine borers – a major consideration in a dock piling material.
Although they come untreated, they are still better than treated woods at standing up to the pressures of the job. This also has the added benefit of nothing nasty potentially leaching into the water.
As well as the traditional look of wood for decks, there are also a range of modern materials that can do the job just as well – if not better!
Here’s our rundown of two of the best:
Fiberglass Dock Piling
Fiberglass appears in many functions these days, and this is largely due to its versatility and strength relative to its weight.
There are many advantages to fiberglass dock piling. It is highly weather resistant, low maintenance and extremely durable.
Whereas wood is natural and inherently not uniform, fiberglass pilings are straight as a die and exactly alike. This means less hassle checking for quality, and worrying about potential flaws being exposed in future.
They are now available in a range of colors. While the initial cost is greater than wood, this is offset by their outstanding longevity. They are not susceptible to rot and the effects of the water, so make a great long-term investment.
Concrete Dock Piling
Concrete may not be as evocative as wood, but it’s certainly up to the task of supporting a deck.
At least, when reinforced with steel or another material to improve its tensile strength. Other advantages of concrete include its resistance to decay and the fact that it doesn’t impact on water quality.
In fact, once the concrete is fully cured, it is quite inert in both fresh and saltwater environments.
Make sure that any concrete pilings for sale have been allowed to fully cure, for at least thirty days, so that there is no leaching of chemicals from the piles into the water.
Accessorize for Longevity
You can also accessorize your dock pilings to keep strong and pristine for years to come. Here are your options:
This option is actually heat shrunk onto wooden dock pilings before they are ever installed. This makes a waterproof layer on the outside of the pile that cannot be breached. This is a great option to ensure the longevity of your dock piling.
There are also options that can be retro-fitted to wooden dock piling once they’ve been inspected and cleaned to prevent further damage.
Piling caps pretty much do what you’d expect – they keep the top of the dock pilings protected from the elements.
The advantage of piling caps is that they help to limit water damage at the exposed, cut end of the dock piling. They also prevent sun damage, which can similarly weaken the piling.
They come in flat and pointed varieties. We recommend the pointed type unless you want to encourage local birds to use your dock poles as a potty.
Which Dock Piling Material is Right for Me?
This will come down to a number of factors, including cost and environment.
If you can go for it, fiberglass is a great option in most environments as it is so hardwearing and not susceptible to rot and insect attack, which is one downside of wood. It also fares well in bad weather.
If the weather is less of a factor where you are and you’re looking to keep costs down, the wood is a great, affordable option. However, try to go for a treated wood, a hardwood or at least a protective sleeve to increase its durability.
The Takeaway: Choosing the Right Dock Piling for Your Project
There are several great options for you to choose from – whether you choose to go the natural or synthetic route.
Whatever you choose, make sure that it can stand up to the conditions it will face in your area. It’s better to make a bigger initial investment, than have to pay out again and again for something more easily damaged.
At Decks and Docks Lumber Company, we’ve got a great range of awesome dock pilings for your next project.
Click here to check out your options today!