Wood Boat Dock Maintenance

A boat tethered to a wooden dock

A wood boat dock provides a safe and easily accessible place to park your boat and allows access to the lake for swimmers, jet-skiers and numerous other water activities. Be sure you have constructed your wood dock so it does not interfere with the wildlife and natural water movement in the lake. When maintaining your boat dock, take care not to add potential pollutants to the lake water or shoreline vegetation. Here are several suggestions for wood boat dock maintenance that take care of the environment too.

Build Your Dock to Fit the Environment

Construct your wood dock away from habitats of herons and beavers, among other wildlife. Make it wide enough on its pilings so it does not alter the water motion at the shoreline. This will prevent shore erosion while not impeding the natural deposit of alluvial materials. Pontoon docks, built on non-corroding fiberglass pontoons, are the best choice for marshy or weedy shorelines.

The Surfce of Your Wood Dock

Many state and provincial environmental protection programs forbid the use of wood that has been painted, stained or treated with other materials that harm water quality. The upper surface of your dock is best left unpainted and untreated. However, new sealants with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) have been developed specifically for boat docks and other woods that are continuously exposed to water. They contain no oils or petrochemicals that can pollute lake, river or stream water. They are clear in color and harden the wood so it becomes highly water-resistant and less porous. Produced by manufacturers including Zerovoc Technology (TM), they are available direct from online retailers and at building supply stores. You can apply these on your dock while it is in the water without worry about the ecosystem.

Cleaning Your Wood Boat Dock

Use environmentally safe cleaners to clean your boat dock. For a wood boat dock, a 3 to 1 blend of olive oil and white vinegar makes an effective cleanser for stains and mineral salts. For oil-stained areas, scrub in a paste of baking soda and water and rinse it off when dry. Use baking soda to clean aluminum and steel attachments to your boat dock such as ladders. Avoid pressure washers as they may lift off wood splinters and tiny metal flakes from bolts and fasteners, flushing them into the water.

Structural Maintenance

Inspect your boat dock at the start and end of every season for sound structure. Replace splintered, rotted or dried-out, cracked wood slats on the top of the dock as soon as possible. Check all the bolts, nuts, nails and other metal fasteners used in the dock for rust and corrosion, and replace them if they are causing the dock frame or top to loosen. Inspect the connection of your dock to the shoreline, reinforcing it with environmentally sound materials as needed. Test any stairways up to the shoreline every season to assure yourself of their safety. Repair them when necessary at your first opportunity to prevent injuries.