Are you planning on building or repairing a boat dock? If yes, you most certainly are in search of a decking material that lasts long, is low-maintenance, budget-friendly, easy to install, moisture, pest, and rot-resistant, and is eco-friendly, aren’t you?
To be precise, finding a decking material that checks all of these boxes is difficult. And, there isn’t a one size fits all approach while selecting a boat dock decking material. What you can do is choose the material that best fulfills your personal selection criteria.
We’ve put together 9 boat dock decking materials from wood to aluminum to plastic dock decking in this post. Read on to find out what these decking materials offer and what their drawbacks are!
Best Boat Dock Decking Materials
Softwoods are less dense and easier to cut and drill and, therefore, install. Red cedar decking is one of the most common when it comes to softwoods. They come in various levels of hardness and pest and rot resistance.
It is recommended you invest in a good-quality softwood for your decking, one that contains more heartwood, the wood type that grows toward the center of the tree. This portion of the tree, unlike the outer sapwood, is more resistant to insects and decay.
Since softwood grows quickly, it is available at a cheaper cost commercially. So, if you’re looking for an inexpensive decking material for your dock, softwood might definitely catch your eye.
However, softwood decking is disadvantageous when it comes to the durability factor. Untreated softwood only lasts for around 10 to 15 years.
Since hardwoods take longer to grow than softwoods, this wood type is quite expensive in comparison. Hardwoods are also denser than softwood. Nevertheless, despite the difference between softwood and hardwood, they require similar care and maintenance.
It is recommended you power wash your hardwood decking annually and refinish or stain the dock once in a few years. The oil and tannins present in the wood provide resistance to insects and decay.
While hardwoods can be difficult to work with and install due to their density and weight, it is definitely one of the best materials for decking.
What’s more, hardwoods are extremely durable and are considered to be durable for 40 years and over. Some of the prized hardwoods are mahogany, teak, and oak.
3. Treated woods
To all the pals on a budget, treated wood might possibly be one of the best dock decking materials for you!
Pressure-treated woods, while providing a similar aesthetics to that of real wood, are a lot more cost-effective. These also come in a wide range of aesthetic options and are easy to cut and manipulate into desired shapes.
While treated woods, if sealed properly, are water-resistant to some degree, it requires frequent attention and maintenance. If you don’t want moisture issues to prevail, you need to clean the decking religiously and seal and refinish the dock every few years.
Moreover, treated woods are prone to splinters. Overall, with proper care, the durability of a treated wood dock is around 10 to 20 years.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), a common chemical used in pressure-treated wood, has been found to leach Arsenic into nearby water and soil, which can be hazardous to nearby aquatic as well terrestrial ecosystems, including humans.
Given how light-maintenance PVC decking is, these are rightfully one of the most popular decking materials. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) is whipped into a less dense foam in order to create PVC decking material.
PVC docks almost look like wood ones and keep their color and texture for long, even with slight maintenance.
If you’re stressed about mold and mildew issues, worry not! PVC decking materials are impressively resistant to moisture, weather, and insect issues. This decking material is durable for about 30 years, give or take.
On the downside, high-quality PVC can be expensive. But looking at the future perspective, we’d say these are probably a good investment.
Also, PVC decks don’t fare well in extreme heat. The heating and cooling might cause the material to warp. Nevertheless, the structural changes are not as extreme as in the case of vinyl decking. Moreover, PVC dock can be uncomfortably hot to walk on during extremely sunny days.
Unlike PVC, which is completely synthetic and inorganic, composite decking is engineered using natural wood pulp and recycled plastics and is an eco-friendly decking option.
Composite decking comes in a range of aesthetics with a woodgrain finish. These are impressively durable, for around 25 to 30 years, despite demanding minimal care.
Moreover, compositive decking is more resistant to weather-induced contraction and expansion in comparison to PVC docks. Therefore, it makes a fantastic decking choice if you live in a location with unpredictable weather changes.
As composite decking include a certain percentage of organic material, they are not as resistant as PVC to moisture, fungi, and rot.
Moreover, composite decking is relatively more expensive than other wood options. This decking option is also more heavy and dense than its synthetic PVC counterparts and is therefore difficult to install.
If you’re not confident that you’ll be able to care for wooden docks, and if other synthetic options didn’t quite appeal to you, aluminum decking can be a great choice for you.
They don’t require heavy maintenance; in fact, one can say no maintenance at all as it doesn’t warp, rust, rot, decay, or twist.
Clean your aluminum dock whenever you notice dirt or dust accumulation, and you should be fine. This characteristic makes aluminum a great decking material for public places.
Aluminum decking is also lightweight and a durable docking option. Many aluminum decking suppliers provide their buyers with at least 20 years warranty. But with proper maintenance and care, this metal decking can last a lot longer than this.
Aluminum decking is generally painted or powder-coated. Powder-coated aluminum decking also offers one of the best paint durability when it comes to decking materials.
On the downside, being a metal, aluminum can get intensely hot during sunny days. This decking option is also notorious for denting easily and not imparting the aesthetic and character wooden decking material provides.
7. Capped Composite
As we’ve discussed before, first generations composite deckings weren’t as impressive as PVC when it comes to moisture resistance.
In fact, many users refrained from using compositive decking for docks or infrastructures near to a water body, given how it is prone to moisture collection underneath it.
These days, buyers are provided with a better version of composite decking – capped composite decking, in which it is fully capped using an engineered resin that offers better resistance and protection from moisture, termites, fungi, and rot issues.
Capped composite is also UV resistant; thus, with proper maintenance, its appearance looks fresh and new for years. Despite being capped with resin, his decking material remains grippy even when it’s wet.
Nevertheless, although cost-effective than PVC decking, composite decking can still be out of price range for many on a budget. These are typically more expensive than wooden decking materials.
Furthermore, due to the added inorganic materials, capped composite decking absorbs more heat than natural wood, making it hot to walk on.
8. Capped PVC
Capped PVC has an extra layer of hard outer shell for added protection to regular PVC decks. The capping is bonded to the core material during the manufacturing process. These PVC deckings are highly customizable and can be found commercially, featuring a variety of designs and textures.
Capped PVC decking materials are extremely durable and resistant to insects, termites, and harsh weather conditions. These decking materials are often scratch and stain-resistant. Moreover, as in the case of PVC decking, these do not require heavy maintenance.
On the downside, capped PVC is not quite budget-friendly. In fact, it is probably the most expensive decking option for your deck.
9. Modified Wood
Modified wood, as the name suggests, is natural wood modified using various thermal processes to make them denser and moisture, rot, and pest resistant. This decking option is undoubtedly the choice of many, given how features it offers are far superior to natural wood decking.
For instance, unlike natural wood, the susceptibility to weather-induced shrinkage and expansion is relatively lower in modified wood. This characteristic makes it a great decking option for docks.
Likewise, the thermal treatment cooks or degrades the sugar of the wood, thus making modified wood resistant to insects, fungi, termites, and rotting.
Furthermore, the best thing about modified wood is that, unlike treated wood, these do not have added toxic chemicals in them, therefore, making them extremely environmentally friendly.
The drawback of modified wood is that the thermal treatment makes these wood somewhat brittle than their other wooden counterparts. Also, it can cost you relatively expensive than pressure-treated or other wood options available commercially.
Which of these 9 dock decking materials ticked all of your checkboxes? Well, even if they didn’t, all of these are pretty great decking materials if given proper care and maintenance.
All these advancements in wood and plastic engineering technologies might sometimes be difficult to catch up with. Do you have any other decking material suggestions that we aren’t aware of yet? Let us know!