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Cleaning Processes for the Different Dock Decking Materials

by Duncan Seawall

Maintaining your new dock is a crucial part of not only extending its lifestyle, but of keeping it in a safe working condition for you and anyone who may use it. But, each dock is different and different deckings require different cleaning methods.

Here is a quick guide with links to help you know the decking choices you have and how to keep your dock looking great.


1. Pressure-Treated Lumber Decking

Protective chemicals are forced into pressure treated lumber to prevent insect and weather-related decay. This type of material can be painted or stained, or left in its natural-appearing condition. It is a very low maintenance type of decking, and tends to be more affordable than other dock materials.


This type of material can be cleaned using biodegradable detergents, or pressure washed with water. Cleaning is not necessary on a regular basis, and is only required every year or two, depending on dirt buildup or discoloration.


A pressure washer is the easiest and least labor-intensive method. To clean a pressure treated dock with detergent, use a solution that is approved for use in an open environment and a stiff brush or scrubbing tool. It is also important to note that pressure treated lumber that is periodically submerged may experience salt-related discoloration.

2. Tropical Hardwood Decking

The most attractive aspects of tropical hardwoods are their appearance and durability. This type of wood is more expensive than pressure treated woods, and requires occasional maintenance. While tropical hardwoods may be painted, this is not usually done as it would detract from the natural beauty of the wood grain and appearance.


Hardwood can be washed with a stiff brush or pressure washer as needed. To achieve maximum appearance and longevity, hardwood docks should be sealed or stained periodically. Washing and sealing should take place every 1 to 2 years, as desired or needed.

3. Composite Decking 

Typically made using recycled plastic and resins, this type of dock is designed to resemble wood in appearance, but is built to last for much longer periods of time. It is not vulnerable to weathering, and only requires infrequent cleaning. Manufacturer specifications say that cleaning is necessary once every other year.

Pressure washing with water is the best way to clean composite decking. The material is not prone to material absorption, but may accumulate dirt over time and occasionally shows signs of minimal algae buildup.

4. Recycled Plastic Decking

Recycled plastic lumber is similar to composite decking, but its recycled nature means that it is more sustainable and is also a better environmental option. This material is ideal for painted docks since it bonds well to both latex and acrylic paints.


Paint should be applied every 2 to 3 years. Between paint applications, and prior to repainting, recycled dock materials can be cleaned to prolong appearance and material design safety.


Pressure washing may cause paint to peel or fleck, and should be avoided. Instead, When it comes to cleaning, sweeping or rinsing is all you may need. When you have more stubborn stains or mold, use soapy, warm water with a soft brush, or even a mop, to scrub the deck clean.  

5. Recycled Composite Decking

Sustainability is becoming a popular trend around the world. Here in Florida, Duncan Seawall is proud to offer an eco-friendly choice to our homeowners and commercial businesses. We offer Trex decking as a popular choice. Made from nearly 100% recycled material, this type of dock decking is available in an assortment of wood-like grains.

The beauty of recycled composite decking is its durability and low maintenance qualities: never splitting or rotting and never having to stain or paint. The easiest method is to use a pressure washer, with or without biodegradable detergents applied with a medium-bristled brush, for a damage-free cleaning.

At Duncan Seawall, Dock & Boat Lift, LLC, we have years of experience to help you select the decking materials for a dock that is best for your waterfront location, and we have our process down to a science. Contact us today for more information. 

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