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June 2024

Dock Construction Basics

Dock Construction is a raised platform for loading, unloading, building, and repairing ships. It may be constructed within natural water spaces or inserted into what would normally be dry land.

In most areas, dock construction requires a permit and is subject to local regulations. This includes water quality, environmental protection, and mooring laws.

Back in the day, if you wanted to construct your dock, it was necessary to dig a footing hole that was at least 24 inches in diameter. Cardboard footing tubes or forms were set in the holes and filled with concrete to form the pier base. A galvanized post anchor would then be set into the wet concrete to prevent lateral movement of wood support posts. Special “roll bars” go between the joists, and standard plywood is laid on top of the roll bar to create a composite deck. A welded wire mesh and concrete layer encases the plywood, creating a reinforced structure.

Aluminum decking has become a popular alternative to wood and concrete in many dock and deck construction projects. It is lightweight and has a long lifespan. It is also fire-resistant and non-combustible, and it can withstand heavy traffic. However, it is important to understand the limitations of this type of material before choosing it for your project.

Aluminum decking should be specified with salt-water resistance when a project is located close to the sea or coastal river. This requires a special pre-treatment process and regular maintenance to ensure the decking lasts for as long as possible.

To make aluminum decking, the raw material is heated, usually using electrical heaters, to around 600 degrees Celsius. Then, it is pressed through a die, a machined tool that gives the finished product shape. The extruded section is then cooled in a water bath, which improves its strength characteristics. This is known as tempering.

The resulting material is then powder-coated with a very durable and protective finish. It is a highly specialized process that requires great skill. This is why a specialist powder coater should carry it out. Otherwise, the coating can prematurely degrade, causing the profile to oxidize and flake off.

Unlike wooden decking, which is susceptible to insect damage, insects cannot attack aluminum. This makes it a more durable option, especially in areas prone to rain or snowfall. It is also less likely to warp or buckle over time and has a more even surface than timber.

Another benefit of using aluminum for your project is that it can be constructed without the need for any screws or nails. It can be held down with plastic clips or rubber packers, which the supplier provides. These fixings should be carefully selected to prevent electrolytic corrosion, which can occur when dissimilar metals are joined together. This is particularly important with aluminum and steel decking, where using a sacrificial cathodic material can help mitigate the effect.

The final decision to choose an aluminum decking system will largely depend on the individual project requirements. There are several things to consider, including the location and layout of the structure, its size and shape, and the level of upkeep required. An experienced installer should be able to advise the client on these issues.

Floating docks can be constructed from various materials, including aluminum, steel, and plastic. The latter is the most environmentally friendly, as it does not contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life. It is also more affordable than other dock designs, and it is easy to clean and repair if damaged. Among the top plastic dock manufacturers is Hisedock, which has clients in over 45 countries.

When deciding whether to go with a floating dock or a fixed one, it’s important to consider the body of water you will be installing it in. This will help you determine what type of features and accessories you may want to add. For example, extra safety railings are a good idea for docks that sit on the ocean or other salty bodies of water where corrosion can be an issue. Other accessories, like kayak and canoe launches, swimming platforms and slides, and personal watercraft ports are popular choices in recreational settings, like summer camps and waterside resorts.

Floating docks are designed to rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the tide. This is an ideal choice for tidal waters, but they also work well for non-tidal bodies of water. Since they are less invasive than fixed docks with piles or legs, these types of installations tend to be less disruptive to the surrounding environment as well.

These types of installations require a minimum of two inches (plastic) to four inches (aluminum) of water depth to maintain their stability. They are able to withstand waves of up to one foot, though they are not meant for use in areas with frequent through traffic by boats whose wakes could cause damage to the dock.

They are available in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes to suit your waterfront aesthetic. Depending on the company you choose to work with, they may also offer modular floating dock sections and configurations that can be customized and expanded to fit your specific needs.

These are typically made with wood or aluminum framing and a deck that rests on the surface of the water. They can be constructed with a ramp that adjusts to rising and falling tides, or a gangway that connects the dock to the shoreline. These types of installations are a good option for lakes and rivers because they do not have the same environmental concerns as oceans and other salty bodies of water, and they are relatively less invasive than fixed installations with legs or pilings that can damage sediment.

The type of dock you choose depends on what your specific needs are for your waterfront property. For example, if your waterfront is on the ocean, you want a dock that can withstand salty conditions and abrasions from waves, wind and currents. In this case, you need to consider a structural dock, which has a solid foundation anchored in the bottom by wooden or metal pilings. This type of dock is a good option for permanent, year-round use and provides stability without movement in the water.

Alternatively, if your property is on a river or other tidal waterway, a floating dock is a better choice. Floating docks are easy to remove and reposition, making them great for seasonal uses. They also cause less damage to the sediment and don’t require many (if any) permits. They are also more resistant to movement in the water due to storms and tidal surges, but they may be less stable if you’re expecting frequent large changes in water level.

When choosing a dock, it’s important to determine what your budget is and what kind of maintenance you’re willing to undertake. If you have limited funds, a basic floating dock can still provide all the benefits of a traditional dock, just on a smaller scale. It will also be easier to maintain, since the construction materials are less likely to rust or decay over time.

A pier is another useful marine construction used for mooring or berthing large sea-going vessels and container ships. They are also used for loading and unloading cargo. A dry dock is a similar structure, but it can be drained to allow for examining, repairing or building ships.

In some cases, a permit is required to build a dock. If your dock or pier is located in a tidal regulated area, you’ll need to apply for a permit. If your site is in a flood hazard zone, the permit will need to address both the dock construction and the riparian zone disturbance.

The construction of a new dock requires a significant investment of money and labor. Before you start the process, be sure to thoroughly investigate your options and discuss any potential problems with the local zoning authorities or conservation agency.