If your dock has taken a beating over the winter, or has not been neglected in recent years, it is a good time to start looking into repairing the damage before it is too late.
Water takes a toll on every dock, especially salt water that we see near Annapolis and the Severn River. In addition to the wood, your dock has other parts, including a shore anchor, electrical connections, metal chains, aluminum dock coverings, and more.
Where do you even start?
Let’s look at some of the other types of repairs that your boat dock might need.
Most dock bumpers or rub rails are made from rubber, PVC, foam, or vinyl and the designs can vary tremendously. Dock bumpers, sometimes called dock fenders, are what absorb the shock when the boat touches the side of the dock.
While a good quality PVC bumper can last if a decade, rubber, and foam generally last no more than 3 years.
If you see any significant damage to the bumpers, it is far better to replace the bumper than risk damaging your boat.
Some docks include a covered roof to protect users from the sun and the deck from rain or snow. These coverings are sometimes made from sail canvas, but other times they are made from aluminum or even palm leaves (palapas). The abuse from the sun and water can cause the canvas to rot and even aluminum can become damaged or require painting.
Dock gazebos are a beautiful way to improve the look and functionality. These are mostly wooden structures built with an angled roof that protects a given docking area from rain and weather. As a result, a gazebo often requires its own maintenance and repairs separate from the dock as the structure is typically built separately and then fastened to the decking.
If you have a floating dock, the constant movement of the water puts pressure on the chains, which are snapping back and forth to hold the dock in place. If the chains are showing signs of wear, replace them with a chain that uses 2-inch links and a ¼ inch thickness or larger. Be sure to inspect the chains every season for rust and wear.
Floating dock barrels sometimes called floats, are what hold your dock above the water. The materials used for floating docks can vary tremendously with everything from foam rubber to rubber tire inner-tubes to metal or plastic barrels that are sealed.
Over time, regardless of the type of material your dock has, it will wear down or wear out or crack with time. When your dock no longer floats at the level you want, one or more of the barrels will need to be replaced.
Most people use concrete anchors to secure their floating dock. Unfortunately, even concrete can become damaged during storms, or the metal ring that the chains attach to becomes corroded and breaks.
If you’ve connected electricity to your dock for lights or if it has outlets so you can plug in a cooler or radio, the wiring and connections should be checked regularly. This isn’t a job for a DIYer! Rely on a professional to avoid electrocution!
All the connecting hardware on your dock is subject to rust and breakage. Rusted connective hardware should be replaced before the rust eats through the metal and breaks off the head or the nut.
While a majority of dock issues arise from the wood and subsequent erosion from weathering, there are many other factors that could lead to trouble down the road
Of course, all the wood portions of your dock need to be inspected at least once a year and sealed, painted, sanded, or replaced as needed.
Other items that need to be considered include:
The types of repairs your dock might need will depend on the materials that your dock is made from and whether it’s a floating dock or permanent dock.