Docks have long been an important part of coastal communities. The oldest dock that we are aware of was built in Egypt around 2500 BCE. A dock of this type would have been constructed with function in mind, primarily for launching fishing or trading ships. These ports may have also been used to launch exploratory vessels.
Nowadays, contractors have access to more materials than ever before, and they can build docks without using a single splinter of wood. Innovators continue to develop new composites and materials. This post will cover two dock piling innovations that we believe will benefit marine contractors and homeowners.
What is the best dock piling material for me?
Let’s compare traditional pilings to the new products that will help make dock projects even more durable.
Wood was initially used for the majority, if not all, of dock projects. The railroads, who needed strong ties for their tracks, introduced pressure-treated wood to the market around the middle of the 19th century. It grew in demand throughout the 20th century. The wood has been treated in different ways, but the end goal remains the same: to ensure that the lumber will last and be durable for your project. Treated wood remains one of the most popular options for pilings because it’s easy to find and work with.
Concrete and steel dock pilings can also be used in various projects, but they are more commonly used for commercial ones. Concrete pilings and metal pilings can last for a long time, but they may not be suitable for small-scale projects.
Marine contractors and homeowners now have the option of using composite pilings for dock construction. This newer alternative to piles tries to combine the best of all worlds and succeeds.
Composite pilings have higher strength and durability than wood pilings that have been treated. Composite piling can be environmentally-friendly, depending on the brand. Treated wood could leach chemicals into the water where it’s embedded. Composite pilings are easy to use and comply with regulations.
How to Repair Wood Pilings
Piling repair and protection is a key area of innovation because many decks still use wood pilings, especially those that were built before the advent of fiberglass pilings.
Wood pilings can be damaged by rot or marine organisms that want to gnaw at the wood or make it their home. Such damage affects their structural integrity and puts your dock at risk. However, replacing a wood piling can be difficult and expensive. SnapJacket is a solution that can be used to repair damaged wood pilings.
SnapJacket consists of two plastic pieces that snap around the damaged woodpile to form a casing. The casing is filled with concrete, which fills in the holes and decayed woodpile parts. The woodpile is strengthened by the new, partially concreted piling while the casing of hard plastic protects it for many years. This not only delays the need for immediate replacement but also strengthens the existing structure.
Do not forget to protect your piles!
Even after investing in a durable piling solution, you should still take additional measures to protect your pilings. The use of pile caps will give your deck an attractive, finished look and protect your pilings against UV rays. Check your pile caps regularly after storms to ensure they are not damaged.
Consider adding piling sleeves to your treated wood pilings to prolong their life. Sleeves such as DuroSleeve limit the amount of water that contacts wooden pilings and can prolong the life of those piles.
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