After a summer spent in and on the water, autumn is the perfect season to take care of any lingering maintenance issues that need to be taken care of before the dropping temperatures make it more challenging. It’s easy to forget about maintenance when you’re having fun on a boat, but it’s something you have to make time to ensure the dock stays in perfect working order.
When you have the right tools and knowledge, caring for your dock in autumn isn’t as challenging as you might expect. When the dock is in great shape, it can also prevent more expensive repairs later on. It makes it less likely that dock accidents will occur from deteriorating dock components. Keep your dock safe and aesthetically pleasing with these seven autumn dock care tips.
1. Know the Right Maintenance Options for Your Materials
The decking material used for your dock plays a massive part in how you’ll take care of its maintenance. For those who are still planning a dock, this is an excellent time to consider the level of maintenance you want to do. Different materials will need varying levels of care. The three most common materials, along with their pros and cons, are listed below:
- Composite Decking – Made from plastics, wood, and natural fibers, this is insect and moisture resistant material. It has a unique capping that makes it less likely to decay or gather mildew. Since this material doesn’t have the same issues as wood, it can be easier to maintain.
- Hardwoods – One of the most durable and attractive materials for docks is hardwood. To keep the colors bright, it needs to be oiled and cleaned regularly. Since hardwood is dense, it’s resistant to insects and water, so it’s not as hard to maintain as some materials.
- Pressure Treated Wood – The least expensive dock material is pressure treated wood, but it does need extra maintenance. You can ensure your dock lasts longer by choosing marine-grade wood. This wood needs to be sealed to prevent rot and keep moisture out.
2. Use the Right Process to Clean the Dock
Even cleaning your dock thoroughly once a year is a simple way to keep it in good shape. We recommend doing this in the autumn after a season of sun and fun. The cleaning process includes sweeping things out, but it also entails inspecting the dock for wear and tear, clearing out gaps, and scrubbing away any stains. While pressure washing can be used to clean a dock quickly, it can also splinter and chip the wood. Instead, a simple garden hose will get the job done right.
3. Know When to Apply Finishes and Stains
The best stains to use for a boat dock are going to be water-based. These will give your dock the best appearance while preventing damage to the environment. It’s best to apply stains or finishes in colder fall months since the water levels also tend to be lower. Because of this, the chemicals in the products are less likely to reach the water. The dock should be stained at least once a year to keep it looking great and extend its lifespan.
4. Think About Protection By Applying Rub Rails
The edges of your dock are likely to be quite hard, which means that your boats can get scratched if they scrape up against it. One thing you can do to care for your dock (and your watercraft) is adding in edging or rub rails to your boat dock. You can make your own rub rails using items like old fire hoses or you can simply purchase rub rails for a quicker and more efficient option. Regardless of which you choose, make sure it’s marine grade.
5. Decide Whether Any Sections Need to Be Replaced
Another care tip for the fall season is inspecting all of the wood sections of the dock. Over time, these items can become discolored, start to weaken, or experience etching. You can do a visual inspection on your own or have a professional come out for a fresh pair of eyes. What you want to look for are rotted wood, cracks, and splinters. Take a look at the nails and bolts on the dock for excessive corrosion since this can make your deck less safe and compromise its function.
6. Store Accessories and Items Not Needed for the Season
It’s a good rule of thumb to take items like fishing rods, chairs, empty cups, and other things back to the house at the end of the day after spending time on the water. However, autumn is the ideal time to remove and store accessories and items that you won’t use again until the weather warms up again. This will make it easier to care for and clean the dock, while the items you move will last longer since they are out of the elements.
7. Take a Few Photos to Keep Around for Next Year
Another care tip that can pay off in the future is a simple one. Grab your smartphone or digital camera every fall and take a few photos of your dock and how it’s looking. When you do this once or twice every year, you can easily see if anything has changed in the last few months. You’ll have documentation of whether there is new damage to the dock that needs to be repaired. This can make it easier to maintain and make changes to keep the dock safe for you and anyone else who uses it next year.
Top-Quality Docks and Accessories All Year-Round
Whether you’re looking for accessories for an existing dock or you’re ready to install a deck at your home, Tommy Docks has the products and services you will need. With how-to guides, a store of hardware and accessories, and several dock kits, it’s never been easier to create a port at your home. Check out all the options you have and make sure your dock impresses everyone, no matter what season it is!Contact Tommy Docks today for any of your Dock Kits, Dock Hardware, or Dock Accessory needs!