Building Your Dock: Wood or Aluminum?
Updated: Sep 6
Style? Ease of installation? Cost? All things to consider when choosing the materials to build your new dock. Read on to see some of the good (and bad) to help you choose between wood and aluminum frames and decking!
(1) Wood Docks
A wooden dock is typically the gold standard when it comes to looks. Different lumber and stains open up many options for sharp-looking, customized dock. A wooden dock might fit the theme or aesthetic of your property or the surrounding properties better, and you might want to consider this as your dock is a semi-permanent addition.
A treatment schedule is usually required to keep your dock in good shape; this requires regular pressure washing and re-application of protective coatings to avoid mildew, mold, or other rot risks. Wooden docks are more prone to not only deterioration, but also to extreme weather or to other threats. Regular maintenance or repairs might be necessary, depending on the care schedule and the weather in your area. Be aware of the maintenance needs of a wooden dock before deciding on this type of dock material!
If you are planning to assemble and install the deck yourself, keep in mind that wooden docks are typically heavier and will require more manpower/equipment to put together than an aluminum dock. If you're having a professional install for you, this won't be a concern.
The short-term cost of a wooden dock is typically less than an aluminum dock, depending on the type of wood chosen. The expense can go up depending on if the wood has been treated or not, but naturally treated wood will last longer and is a smart choice. Wooden docks, when taken care of, are still affordable in the long term; however, some of the maintenance requirements can make a wooden dock slightly more costly to keep up in the long-term than an aluminum dock. Be sure to get estimates on yearly maintenance costs to add to your overall budget!
Wooden docks will inevitably age and can rot, crack or warp over time. This can be mitigated with proper servicing and wood treatment, but is still something to consider for the long-term.
(2) Aluminum Docks
Aluminum decks, while sturdy and secure, aren't going to have the same earthy effect as a wooden dock. Make sure you consider how the dock will look in the area you plan to install it; aluminum docks won't blend in to nature like a wooden dock will. Ask your dock expert about different decking patterns available as well!
Aluminum won't have to be maintained in the same way that a wooden dock will, and won't rust or corrode the same way that another metal such as steel might. This is important for commercial or industrial docks, as the construction allows for easy regular inspections. Often, the decking is configured so that only the top needs to be removed for any inspection of the frame to take place.
Installation of an aluminum dock requires that joints and other welded sections have been welded properly, otherwise it can be a significant safety hazard. However, they are typically easier to install than a wooden dock due to the lighter weight. If you're installing the dock yourself, this could be a important factor.
Initially, the costs of an aluminum dock system will exceed a wooden one. However, this is usually justified due to the security and stability of an aluminum dock, as well as the fact that long-term maintenance costs are not as high as a wooden dock. Aluminum may also need powder coating, which can significantly increase expenses as well. Aluminum might suit a commercial or industrial need better than a homeowner/cottage/residential space due to these costs.
An aluminum dock will give you more peace-of-mind than a wooden one, simply due to the fact that it won't be susceptible to rot, bugs, or mold like a wooden dock will. This will prolong the safety of the dock and will require less maintenance and repair than a traditional wooden dock, saving some time and money in the long-run.
If none of the above options suit what you need, call us for more information on other materials, configurations, or kits to help get you started. Not only do we offer premium products for dock construction, but we also carry accessories such as dock lighting, ladders, cleats, or buoys to help make your space safe and practical.
Visit our website to contact us and talk to a professional today!