If you live along the coast and would like to build a boat dock at your residence, then you should learn about your residential dock options. You can make a residential boat dock with several types of support systems, which you can create out of many materials and build with a variety of safety features.

Read on to learn about just a few of your options and the unique advantages of each.

Dock Support System

One of the most important decisions you must make when you construct a dock at your home is the dock foundation or support system type. Your options include piling or crib foundation as well as a suspension or floating dock.

Piling Foundation

Piling foundations are popular due to their stability and strength. These foundations are created by driving wooden support beams or PVC pipes at least several feet into the seabed. You then need to attach a frame that supports your dock deck to the top of these beams slightly above the water surface.

The stability of piling foundations makes them great options for docks built in high-flow water areas, and they are so versatile they can support a variety of deck sizes and shapes.

Crib Foundation

Crib foundations are even more sturdy and durable than piling foundations, but they are prohibited in many cities because they can disrupt shoreline water flow and the travel of some aquatic life. You can create this dock foundation by using heavy stones to fill a wooden framework that spans from the seabed up to the dock deck.

While crib foundations can stay in great shape for many decades, they can be more costly than traditional piling foundations.

Suspension Dock

A suspension dock support system consists of a series of suspension cables that span from the dock surface to support beams on nearby land. When supported by these cables, your dock is literally suspended in the air, just slightly above the surface of the water.

These modern docks are great options if you want to minimize disruption to the local aquatic life as much as possible, although they can take longer to build than classic dock foundations.

Floating Dock

Floating docks float on the water surface. This dock style is typically made of just a wooden frame and deck with buoyant air-filled drums attached to the underside. While not as stable as other dock types, floating docks are affordable and you can remove them from the water.

Deck Material

Another decision you have when designing your residential boat dock the deck material. Natural wood and composite wood are both popular deck options.

Natural Wood

Pressure-treated pine, cedar wood, and many exotic hardwood species are natural wood types that tend to hold up well when frequently exposed to seawater and spray.

Pressure-treated pine is very popular due to its affordability and durability, although this wood does need annual treatment with a waterproofing sealer when used as dock decking to ward off wood rot. A pressure-treated pine deck can last 20 years or longer with proper maintenance.

Cedar wood decks are attractive and durable. While cedar is naturally rot-resistant due to its oil content, many industry professionals may recommend an annual application of a waterproofing sealer to extend your deck’s lifespan. A cedar deck should last about 25 years or longer with proper care.

Some types of exotic hardwood, such as Ipe, Tigerwood, and Garapa, are great deck wood options. Many exotic hardwood species can stay in good condition for 75 years or longer, even with frequent water exposure. These wood species are naturally rot, mold, and mildew resistant and much less likely to splinter over time as pressure-treated pine and cedar can.

In addition, you don’t typically need to seal most exotic hardwoods on an annual basis, but many people choose to oil their exotic hardwood decks annually to maintain their attractive appearances.

Composite Wood

Composite is another affordable deck material option. While composite wood is resistant to rot and mildew with no need for annual waterproofing treatments, its lifespan can vary depending on the specific composite wood you choose.

Unfortunately, all composite decks tend to become very hot when hit with direct sunlight, which can make walking on them with bare feet during the hot summer undesirable, and composite decks also tend to become more slippery when wet than natural wood decks.

Deck Railings

Deck railings help keep you, your family, and your guests safe. When you are constructing a new dock, check with local building codes to determine if there are specific requirements your deck handrails must meet.

If local building codes do not suggest otherwise, Marine Construction Magazine suggests that all boat deck shore-to-dock walkways and non-boarding areas of docks have 42-inch high solid handrails surrounding them with intermediate rails placed about 22-inches above the deck surface. If children will frequently walk on the deck, then you should install a guard that spans from the deck to the intermediate rail.

While you can construct railings out of wood or metal, some boat owners enjoy the appearance of glass railings. These railings provide an unobstructed view of the ocean and have an attractive, modern appearance.

If you plan to install a residential boat dock at your home soon, then keep these options in mind as you choose your dock design. Contact Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc., to begin designing your new custom boat dock today.