15 Tips for Dock Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement

21 March 2011 Around The Property

cottage dock

Dock maintenance tips for cottage owners

The dock may be the most important investment at the cottage. Dock maintenance and repairs are often ignored, but they must be done to keep the dock safe, sturdy and looking great.

The best time to do serious maintenance and repair work on the cottage dock is in the fall when you are closing the cabin. The weather is cool, the bugs are gone, and you will be much happier in the spring.

Essential dock repair and maintenance tricks
A bit of maintenance goes a long way to ensure the dock lasts as long as possible.

Dock safety is also important. An accident on the dock is the last thing anyone wants to see. Common sense and proper precautions will help ensure a safe summer at the cottage.

1. Hammer down raised nails or replace them with screw nails to keep everyone safe when walking in bare feet on the dock.

2. Replace rotting or damaged boards quickly to avoid an accident.

3. Use a belt sander to smooth out rough spots before they split and cause an injury.

4. Place dock fenders on the corners of the dock to avoid damaging the boat when conditions are difficult and parking doesn’t quite go as planned.

5. Install rubber bumpers to protect the dock and the boat from contact during rough conditions.

6. Power wash the dock once a month to clean out dirt and debris to reduce the risk of slipping on slime and to extend dock life.

7. Inspect connection points monthly for loose nuts and bolts. This avoids a nasty surprise later.

8. Sand, prime and paint rusting spots on the steel crib and supports. It makes the dock look better and last longer.

9. Install a sturdy swimming ladder. This lasts longer and should be easier for kids to use without slipping.

10. Install solar-powered lights, or reflectors and and put away fishing equipment, gas cans, chairs, cups and empty bottles every evening.

11. Keep a life ring handy in case a swimmer gets into trouble.

12. Young children should always wear a life jacket when they are on the dock.

13. Eventually the time comes to replace the old cottage dock. This is an expensive project that can cost thousands of dollars. Given the size of the investment it makes sense to plan well when building a new dock at the cabin. Consider water levels, wind, currents, and boat traffic.

14. Plan for increased boat docking. The kids will eventually want their own boat(s).

15. Dock usage is important. Accommodate for docking, sunbathing, entertaining, and fishing.

DIY dock? Consider the time and manpower required. Is it worth the headache?

Best dock for a cottage

It takes time to decide on the best type of dock for a cottage. Dock building materials are numerous and vary widely in cost.

Dock types include: wood, steel frame and wood, galvanized steel and wood, aluminum and wood, all aluminum, and a number of options using composite wood (wood/plastic mix).

The best choice for the cabin dock material is determined by budget, dock use, location, and how long you plan to keep the cabin. Personal preference on the look and feel of the dock also comes into play.

Looking for other maintenance tips at the cabin?

Check out the Staining Techniques page for tips on how to stain a dock.

Go to the Deck Maintenance page for deck tips.

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