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The Effects of Heavy Rains on Florida Docks

by Scott Myers

Rain is a part of life in Florida. During the rainy season from about June through September, heavy rains can wreak havoc on our waterfront properties and docks. We can have months of rain, leaving us water-logged. Not only can heavy rains cause the loss of waterfront property, but wooden boat docks are also susceptible to problems caused by the water falling from the sky.

Related Blog: 5 Things You Can Do to Extend the Life of Your Dock


The Rain Effect on Wood

Most woods do not hold up well to rain, except for "cedar, redwood, teak, and ipe," as found on Hunker. Most other woods require protection from "rain and humidity, or else they quickly warp, crack and rot." After wood has been cut and dried, continuous water exposure and drying out results in swelling and shrinking, respectively. As the Hunker article points out, "this natural movement can cause gaps or curling when boards are installed next to each other," possibly leading to "cracking and warping."


The other problem caused by rain is "rot," when wood does not have sufficient "natural oils to resist it." Wood that is shaded and cannot dry out is more vulnerable to rot. "Even weather-resistant species become vulnerable in extremely wet, shady conditions." As the Hunker author advises, "the best way to avoid rot on exterior wood is to paint or finish it regularly after cleaning it with a solution of detergent or trisodium phosphate, chlorine bleach and water."


Even those wood species noted above to be the most durable to water also have the possibility for decay, as found on BCT UMASS Amherst. Pressure treated wood is known to have a longer lifespan, and it "is resistant to attack by termites and carpenter ants." While "pressure treating does make wood rot resistant, it doesn't make wood water resistant." "Dry rot" is most likely caused by "intermittent wetting." 


What Are the Best Materials for Florida Docks?


You have a selection of materials to withstand the Florida elements, as long as you keep them maintained with regular maintenance. 

  • Pressure treated wood is an affordable selection with routine cleaning and sealing to ward off "splitting, cracking or warping."
  • Composite decking that is "hybrid product made mostly of recycled plastic and wood fibers." This weather-resistant decking needs "minimal maintenance."
  • The combination is a way of using composite decking with wood railings that can create a customized look. With the addition of a "composite top plate," the railings will be better protected from the warping and cracking effects of consistent rains. 
  • Wooden dock pilings must be "marine grade" wood. 
  • All docks have a metal component. The steel components are stainless or galvanized steel, or a metal treated to withstand marine conditions. 


All the Dock and Decking Options at Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift, LLC

Since 1979, the team at Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift, LLC has been working with the best products to construct the highest-quality docks for our Southwest Florida customers. We offer our customers a selection of material options to custom-design their dock within their budget.

When you meet with us, you will learn about all the decking options you have and help in the selection of the pilings, substructure, and fasteners. Click here to download our Complete Guide to Docks to begin planning your dock project.


Whether you need help in minor dock maintenance or repairs to major dock construction or replacement, there is never a job too small or too big. We're here to help our Southwest Florida neighbors have the best experience in coasting living. It is always an honor to have the opportunity to show what we know and what we are ready to do for you.

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