15 Dock Maintenance, Repair, and Safety Tips
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.
Dock maintenance tricks
A bit of maintenance goes a long way to ensure the dock lasts as long as possible.
1. Hammer down raised nails or replace them with screw nails.
2. Replace rotting or damaged boards.
3. Use a belt sander to smooth out rough spots before they split and cause an injury.
4. Place a piece of carpet or a rubber mat 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 old tires or rubber bumpers to protect the dock and the boat from contact.
6. Power wash the dock once a month to clean out dirt and debris.
7. Inspect connection points monthly for loose nuts and bolts.
8. Sand, prime and paint rusting spots on the steel crib and supports.
Dock safety guide
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.
Put away fishing equipment, gas cans, chairs, cups and empty bottles every evening.
1. Install a non-metal swimming ladder.
2. Install solar-powered lights.
3. Keep a life ring handy in case a swimmer gets into trouble.
4. Young children should always wear a life jacket when they are on the dock.
Things to consider when building a new dock
Eventually the time comes to replace the old 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.
1. Consider water levels, wind, currents, and boat traffic.
2. Plan for increased boat docking. The kids will eventually want their own boat(s).
3. Dock usage is important. Plan for docking, sunbathing, entertaining, and fishing.
4. DIY? Consider the time and manpower required. Is it worth the headache?
Best material for building a new dock
Dock building materials are numerous and vary widely in cost. 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) are potential choices.
The best choice for the 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.