How To Keep Your Lake Dock Pilings In Great Shape

If you have a waterfront lake property, then it may be wise to have your own personal pier or dock constructed on the property. This will allow you to enjoy the view of the water and to also launch boats and other recreation vehicles directly into the lake. While a pier can last a long time without needing repairs, you will need to make sure that dock pilings remain strong. Pilings are either water-jetted or otherwise forced into the lake bottom with great pressure. This is necessary so that the pier or dock remains solid above the waterline. If you want your pilings to continue to offer security, then follow the tips below to protect fragile areas from deterioration. 

Use A Wrap At The Waterline

Wood pier pilings are typically made out of chemically treated wood to protect the cellulose fibers from water, aquatic animals, fungi, and insects. Creosote and copper arsenate varieties are often used. Some pilings are fitted with fiberglass, PVC, or epoxy coatings. All of these different treatments and coatings will protect the wood. However, if the wood becomes damaged in some way, then the piling may be susceptible to rot. This is especially true if an exterior coating, like PVC, is broken open and the interior of the piling is left exposed.

There are two areas of the wood pilings that are most likely to become damaged, the waterline area is one of them. The spot where the piling and waterline meet will be susceptible to pressure from waves that hit the wood daily. You are likely to see some indentations in the pilings where this occurs. To protect the pilings, you will need to wrap them. Purchase a material called pile wrap from your local marine supply store. This wrap will be a black polyethylene material that can be formed around the pilings. You will need to overlap the material when installing it and you should also use long nails and screws to secure the wrap to the pilings.

Before you can protect the pilings with the wrap, you will need to figure out how much protection is needed. The wrap should provide protection when the water level is high or low. If the dock was installed over a year ago, you may see grooves or some discoloration that indicate high and low water levels. If not, then consider the fact that seasonal high and low levels are likely to fluctuate 12 to 18 inches throughout the year. The highest level will be in the summer and the lowest in the winter. Consider placing the wrap during the summer months. Make sure the wrap extends a few inches above the current waterline to account for abnormally high water levels. The wrap also should extend about two feet below the waterline as well.

Place Piling Caps

The flat tops of the pilings are also susceptible to damage. Not only is the wood exposed to adverse weather conditions, but the pilings are perfect resting areas for birds. This can lead to bird droppings falling on the wood. The droppings contain uric acid that is highly corrosive to a variety of materials, like wood. The fecal material also contains some fungi that may lead to decomposition. The easiest way to prevent bird dropping issues is to place cone-shaped caps on the tops of the pilings.

Cone-shaped caps are made out of the same polyethylene material as piling wraps. The caps slip right over the tops of the pilings, and steel screws or nails can secure them. Make sure to measure the diameter of your pilings carefully to make sure that the caps will fit as snug as possible. Ill fitting caps can lead to the buildup of moisture underneath them. This can encourage fungi growth and deterioration due to wood rot. Contact a company like Abbott's Construction Services Inc. for more information on keeping your dock pilings in great shape.