Need A Dock? Three Materials To Consider

Constructing a dock on your private property is a luxury that many homeowners enjoy. If your property fronts a body of water, a dock becomes a functional extension of your outdoor living space. It provides a peaceful place for you to fish, swim, dock a boat, or just entertain friends and family members. A dock can provide income when you rent space for friends and neighbors to tie up. Whatever your reason for adding a dock, choosing the right materials for construction is vital. Discuss the options with your marine construction professional before the job begins:


Docks come in several materials, but the natural look of wood is probably the most popular. Depending upon your needs and how you want you dock to look, some woods work better than others:

  • Ipe: Ipe is sometimes called Brazilian walnut and is a popular choice for dock decking. One of the hardest woods in the world, Ipe is resistant to infestation and water -- two factors that make it ideal for dock construction. Because it's such a hardwood, however, it's difficult to cut and plane. This makes it a more expensive option than softer woods such as cedar. Ipe is also a less sustainably harvested wood because it doesn't grow as profusely as others types of wood. If you're considering Ipe wood decking, talk with your contractor about price and the time frame needed to build this type of dock.
  • Cedar: Red or yellow cedar can be used in dock decking. These woods are softer and less dense than Ipe wood, but they're also less expensive, lighter weight, and much easier to work with. Cedar cuts and planes easily and provides less wear and tear on tools than hardwoods do. It's not quite as impervious to insects and rot, however. If you choose a soft wood such as cedar as your choice of dock decking, understand the maintenance involved. You'll need to reseal this wood on a regular basis to keep it functioning safely. 

Composite Decking

Composite is another type of material that works well for docks. Made from wood dust and plastic resin, composite decking is manufactured to mimic the look of real wood without all the maintenance. In fact, if you elect composite as a decking material, your dock will be virtually maintenance-free -- no sealing, painting, or staining required. Composite decking is the material you want if you're looking for longevity without upkeep. When properly constructed, a dock made of composite material may last upwards of 30 years without needing much in the way of maintenance.

Vinyl/PVC Decking

This type of decking is another low-maintenance option. Lightweight and easy to work with, vinyl decking is nearly indestructible. Benefits of this type of decking include price, low cost of installation, fast build times, and durability. This material comes with a slip-resistant finish for safety and is resistant to heat build-up. As a result, vinyl decking typically won't fade, crack, peel, splinter, or rot. Easy to maintain and quick to install, a vinyl or PVC dock will have your dock up and running in record time.

Regardless of which type of material is right for you, there's a marine contractor out there that knows how best to work with it. This is the person you want to talk with in detail before deciding on your dock's design and major functions. A quality marine contractor will eagerly answer any questions you have regarding your new construction, and he's the person who can best recommend the right materials for your climate and lifestyle. Choosing the right contractor for your marine construction can make or break your new dock.