With summer here, it’s time to get your deck ready for the hottest season’s unique challenges and ensure your waterfront space is well-maintained. Let’s explore the best summer dock maintenance practices for marine decking and what materials are easiest to manage and most reliable for your marine decking.
Maintenance Tips For Your Marine Dock
During the summer months, marine decking faces increased foot traffic, higher temperatures and prolonged exposure to UV rays, all of which can gradually impact its condition. To safeguard the longevity, safety and aesthetic appeal of the dock, regular dock maintenance becomes imperative. Consider the following essential summer maintenance practices:
Keep Your Marine Dock Clean
Initiate your dock maintenance routine by thoroughly cleaning the deck surface. Clear away debris, leaves and any accumulation of algae or mildew that may have occurred during the spring. Utilizing a pressure washer or a solution of mild soap and water can effectively restore the deck’s cleanliness.
As a general guideline, it is recommended to clean your marine deck at least once or twice a year, especially before and after the summer season. This regular cleaning helps prevent the buildup of dirt, debris and organic matter that can lead to stains, mold and mildew.
In addition to regular annual or biannual cleanings, you may need to perform more frequent spot cleanings or maintenance if you notice specific issues or heavy soiling. Factors such as nearby trees, vegetation or exposure to saltwater may necessitate more frequent cleaning to remove debris or prevent discoloration.
Inspecting and Repairing
Conduct a meticulous inspection of the decking to identify any signs of damage, such as loose boards, protruding nails or rotten sections. Wooden decking may be warped, cracked, splintered or chipped, which is also important to identify. Promptly replace or repair these areas to prevent further deterioration and maintain the structural integrity of the dock.
If your dock is in need of serious repairs, it is essential to take prompt and appropriate action to ensure its safety, structural integrity and functionality. Conduct a thorough assessment of the dock to determine the extent of the damage. Next, you’ll want to get in touch with a contractor or a dock repair specialist with expertise in marine structures.
Sealing and Staining (For Wooden Decks)
Wooden decks typically require more maintenance when it comes to long-term care. For homeowners with traditional wood decks, applying a fresh coat of sealant and stain serves as an additional protective measure. This treatment helps shield the wood from the elements, including the sun’s UV rays and moisture, which can lead to fading and degradation over time.
Softwoods, such as pine or cedar, tend to fade more quickly compared to hardwoods like oak or teak. Additionally, lighter-colored woods may show signs of fading more visibly than darker-colored ones. The intensity of UV radiation also plays a significant role. Areas with high levels of sunlight or regions closer to the equator will typically experience more intense UV exposure, leading to faster fading of wood.
To stain and seal your deck, follow these steps:
- Prepare the deck: Start by thoroughly cleaning the deck surface to remove any dirt, debris, or mildew. Rinse the deck thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before proceeding.
- Sand the deck (if necessary): If the wood surface has rough or uneven areas, you may need to sand it down to create a smooth and even surface. Use a power sander or sandpaper to remove any splinters, rough spots or old coatings.
- Choose the right sealant and stain: Select a high-quality sealant and stain specifically designed for exterior wood surfaces. Consider factors such as the desired color, level of UV protection and water repellency.
- Apply the sealant: Start by applying the sealant to the deck surface. Use a brush, roller or sprayer to evenly coat the wood. Pay extra attention to the end grain of the boards and any cracks or crevices.
- Apply the stain: Once the sealant has dried, apply the wood stain to achieve the desired color and finish. Use a brush, roller or sprayer to apply the stain evenly, ensuring complete coverage of the wood surface.
- Wipe off excess stain: After applying the stain, carefully inspect the deck for any excess or puddles of stain. Use a clean cloth or rag to wipe away the excess and prevent uneven drying or blotching.
- Allow proper drying time: Give the sealant and stain adequate time to dry and cure. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for drying time, which typically range from a few hours to a couple of days. Avoid foot traffic or placing furniture on the deck until it is completely dry.
Protect Your Deck (And Your Feet) from the Sun’s Rays And Heat
When using traditional deck materials such as metal or composite decking, shielding the deck from direct sunlight is crucial to prevent excessive heat retention. Consider using canopies, umbrellas or awnings to provide shade and create a more comfortable surface for barefoot walking. This measure not only safeguards the deck but also ensures a more enjoyable experience for all your guests.
By implementing these summer maintenance practices, homeowners can effectively extend the lifespan of their marine decking, uphold its safety and preserve its visual appeal throughout the season and for years to come.
Choose Marine Deck Boards That Can Handle The Summer
The type of decking material used in a marine dock can have a significant impact on how the dock handles the challenges posed by summer weather. Different materials have varying properties that can affect their durability, resistance to weather elements and maintenance requirements. Here’s how different decking materials can influence the performance of a marine dock during the summer:
- Wooden Dock Boards: Traditional wood decking, such as pressure-treated lumber or tropical hardwoods, offers a natural and aesthetically pleasing option for marine docks. However, wood decking is more susceptible to weather-related issues. It typically requires regular maintenance, such as sealing, staining and periodic reapplication of protective coatings to protect it from moisture, UV rays and rotting. Wood decking can also be prone to warping, splintering and decay if not properly cared for.
- Composite Dock Boards: Composite decking is made from a combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic materials. It offers a more durable and low-maintenance alternative to wood, as composite decking is resistant to fading, staining, rot, decay and insect damage. It can withstand exposure to moisture, UV rays and fluctuating temperatures, making it suitable for summer weather conditions. However, composite boards can retain heat from the sun, making it an uncomfortable option for bare feet. And while composite boards are generally resistant to staining, they are not stain-proof. Depending on the spills, it may be difficult to remove the stain.
- PVC Dock Boards: Known for its durability, low maintenance and resistance to mold and mildew, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) decking is a synthetic material that is highly resistant to moisture, UV rays and fading. Because it retains its color and shape over time, PVC boards do not require sealing, staining or painting, making it well-suited for withstanding the challenges of summer weather.
- Aluminum Dock Boards: Aluminum decking is lightweight, durable and resistant to moisture, rot and UV rays. It does not require sealing or staining and is easy to clean. Aluminum decking is known for its heat dissipation properties, which can help keep the dock surface cooler under direct sunlight — this makes it a favorable option for summer weather, providing a comfortable surface for barefoot walking.
- Polypropylene Dock Boards: Polypropylene decking is known for its excellent resistance to summer sun and weather conditions. Polypropylene decking is specifically engineered to be highly resistant to fading and discoloration caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays. Unlike some other decking materials, polypropylene does not easily fade or degrade when subjected to intense sunlight.
Polypropylene: The Best Choice For Low-Maintenance Marine Decking
If you’re looking for an easy, maintenance-free dock board material, polypropylene is what you need. Polypropylene does not absorb water, which helps prevent issues such as rot, mold and mildew. This moisture resistance also contributes to its overall durability and longevity.
Another huge advantage of polypropylene dock boards in the summertime is their ability to dissipate heat effectively. Polypropylene does not retain heat like some other materials, such as metal or certain types of composite decking. This means that it is bare feet friendly, even for kids.
Finally, polypropylene decking requires minimal maintenance to no maintenance at all, especially when compared to traditional wood decking. It does not require sealing, staining or painting, saving homeowners time and effort during the summer months. Routine cleaning with mild soap and water is typically sufficient to keep polypropylene decking in good condition.
Polypropylene decking is the most reliable choice for withstanding the summer sun and weather conditions. Titan Deck goes a step further — their polypropylene deck boards are specifically engineered to be easy to install and uninstall, so if you decide to swap out your current dock boards for Titan Deck polypropylene boards, the process is hassle-free.
For more information on various polypropylene plastic marine decking solutions, check out Titan Deck or contact a Titan Deck Expert for more information.