Materials For Your Dock

Filed in Lakeside Living by on August 3, 2014

The first walk to the end of the dock at the beginning of each season signifies a fresh start. It’s a fresh canvas for summer memories of swimming, boating, eating, toasting, playing and relaxing with friends and family.

If it’s time to replace your dock and make a fresh start of lakeside living, local dock dealers encourage lake country residents to research options now, before the season begins.

vinyl dock

Vinyl Decking Photo Source: DH Docks & Tracks

Vinyl decking on an aluminum dock frame is definitely the most popular pick, according to Dave Hochmayr, owner of DH Docks & Tracks in Nisswa.

“Good vinyl will have a lifetime warranty and be comfortable to walk on with bare feet. It should also be non-slip when wet and easy to clean,” Hochmayr says. “Unlike some woods or composite dock materials, vinyl will stay comfortable to the touch in the blazing summer sun, and it won’t warp.”

Hochmayr does warm that people who really want the look of a wood dock should avoid vinyl, and that some vinyls have a poor warranty and may be very brittle. He also recommends that people avoid the “open grate” type of vinyl decking material as it’s not bare-foot friendly: plank decking is a much more comfortable option.

Gary Suckow, CEO of VoyageR Dock, says he sees a bright future for polypropylene decking material on docks.

“It’s a plastic material that’s durable and flexible and has a good strength to it,” Suckow says. “It’s a composite material so that if it is gouged or scratched, the color is carried all the way through the material and it’s not as noticeable.

Suckow says he steers people away from decking materials that can fade or splinter, such as wood.

Gary Jensen of Brainerd Recreation agrees that polypropylene decking material on docks is a popular material and looks great. “especially as sideboard material on docks. It’s boat-friendly, requires next to zero maintenance, and it has the appearance of natural stained wood.”

The new composite polypropylene also contains UV stabilizers to protect the material from fading caused by the sun. “It’s a very durable material – it’s resistant to molding and rotting and lasts a long time,” Jensen says.

Jensen also promotes the benefits and reliability of aluminum dock decking. “It’s also very durable and resists corrosion. It doesn’t absorb heat and has a natural cooling tendency because it distributes heat so well, and it’s easy on bare feet and easy to walk on.”

Ask a lot of questions when you’re shopping for a dock,” Suckow advises. “Just because two docks may look alike on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re the same on the inside. Check the thickness of the frame tube – one is likely much more durable than the other.”

The websites of dock manufactures and dealers are a great place to start your dock shopping. The sites offer details on dock frames, decking materials, configurations, accessories, comparisons, warranty information and more.

by Amy Chaffins

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