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6 Most Common Materials Used to Build a Florida Dock

Constructing a dock along the beautiful Floridian waters can be an exciting project for any customer. Whether a major commercial project, with a local dock builder, or a personal DIY endeavor, constructing a dock can be a solid investment that adds value to the property while simultaneously providing outdoor space for relaxation, fishing, or docking your boat.

Picture of a dock on the st johns river with some overcast weather

One of the most important aspects of marine construction involves ensuring that the right materials are utilized to ensure the dock’s safety and longevity.


In this article, we will cover Six of the most common materials for building a dock that can withstand the harsh saltwater/freshwater environment of The Sunshine State.

 

1. Pressure-Treated Pine Docks

Due to its visual appeal and sturdiness, pressure-treated Southern Yellow Pine is one of the most popular and affordable options for building a dock. Pine is usually treated with special chemicals that help increase its resistance to rot, parasites, and decay.


The pressure treatment helps to make the pine more durable, allowing it to endure constant exposure to both salt and freshwater. Oftentimes, pressure-treated pine can last more than a couple of decades, especially when properly maintained.


Pine is one of the most common materials you’ll find across the board for docks. This has a lot to do with availability, but also costs are more reasonable while still having the visual benefits that some other materials might not offer.



2. Cedar Docks

Cedar pergola and some stairs leading down to the water
Cedar Pergola

Another type of wood that is particularly resistant to rot, decay, and insects, cedar has natural oils that prevent it from absorbing moisture – which makes cedar an excellent choice for pergolas, benches, and of course, docks.


Cedar has a higher natural resistance to rot, even without pressure treatment. Additionally, it has a higher resistance to wood boring insects. Cedar also acts as a natural water repellant without any additional chemicals or treatment. However, if you choose cedar, you should still apply any sealants that are recommended by your dock builder.


With a lifespan that can reach to 25 years, cedar’s typical higher price is well worth the investment long term.



3. Composite Docks


Composite materials are similarly resistant to rot, insects, and decay. However, their biggest distinction is that they do not crack or splinter like natural wood. Composites typically have a much higher ability to be waterproof and handle the heat of the Florida sun much more efficiently.


Large marine dock made of composite materials on the river
Composite Dock - Boathouse

One of the most alluring benefits of composite materials is that they come in a variety of colors and textures, which makes them ideal for homeowners to choose something that is a bit more unique. Their variety also helps dock builders seeking to match materials and textures to create a cohesive appearance.


C & H Marine Construction’s composite of choice is WearDeck®. Comprised of HDPE with fiberglass, it is weatherproof, waterproof and heat reflective. It also happens to be rated for ground contact and underwater installation.



4. Polyethene - Plastic Docks

black and orange plastic floating dock with a pair of flip flops resting on it
Example of a type of plastic dock

Plastic (Polyethene) docks are lightweight, low-maintenance, and can last a long time. They’re fairly easy to install and come in a wide variety of colors and textures, making them one of the most popular affordable options for floating docks, jet ski docks, etc.


Unlike composite, plastic docks are fully plastic. This gives them a few advantages, but they also come with a few drawbacks.


The biggest benefit of a plastic dock is that it tends to be the most lightweight material. This can affect costs, but also you may have an engineering need to a lighter material depending on what your project entails. Another benefit is that since it is not mixed with any other materials, it is easily recyclable at the end of its life cycle.


Some drawbacks to plastic are that, unlike composites or nature wood, it lacks visual appeal. It typically doesn’t have texture or other more pleasant aesthetic characteristics.



5. EchoPile - Pilings

EchoPile is a vinyl-fiberglass composite marine piling engineered and designed for the marine contracting industry. They were designed to be both recyclable and eco-friendly but also have an extremely long lifespan.


Their design incorporates internal structures that can provide improved strength over other materials. Whereas wood and some plastics pilings are solid, EcoPile’s have the strength while also being able to cut down on weight.



6. Aluminum Docks

an aluminum dock build located on a smooth small boat launch
Example: Aluminum Gangway

Thanks to its light weight and durability, aluminum is a low-maintenance material that can last for several decades. Aluminum’s strength in relation to weight makes it a highly structurally sound choice. It is common to find aluminum in commercial or otherwise heavy load type docks.


Because of its high thermal conductivity, aluminum is not often used in decking for the average residential dock. Aluminum decking can become hotter to touch than other materials. However, for home located in salt or brackish water you might want to consider aluminum because of its resistance to corrosion.


C & H Marine Construction utilizes aluminum for the majority of our boat lifts because of its structural integrity, especially over time.

 

Conclusion: Florida Dock Materials

Choosing the right materials for your dock can be a formidable undertaking for any dock builder or homeowner. You must take into consideration the type of use, location, environment, etc. and weigh that against the cost of the materials to find the best one for your dock.


To find out more about how you can make your dock dreams a reality, reach out and chat with us. C & H Marine Construction have been building docks in North Florida since 1979. One of our experienced dock builders will be more than happy to sit down and help design your home’s dock.


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