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Modern Dock Features Ideal for UV and Humidity Protection

by Duncan Seawall

Most people living along Florida's coasts are familiar with the state's warm, humid climate. While this environment supports lush vegetation and a thriving marine ecosystem, it can take a toll on docks and other waterfront structures. The hot sun and frequent rainfall expose docks to extreme weathering on a daily basis. As a result, dock materials must be highly durable to withstand these challenging conditions year-round.



Related Blog: Five of the Most Popular Dock Safety Accessories

Materials That Struggle in the Florida Weather

Many residents, business owners, or boating enthusiasts with waterfront property in Southwest Florida initially chose wood for their private docks due to its natural appearance. However, untreated wood does not hold up well over time near the ocean shores or inland waterways. The combination of UV exposure, humidity, rainfall, and occasional saltwater intrusion causes wood to crack, warp, rot, and degrade rapidly if not properly maintained.

Concrete docks may seem like a more durable option, but they are prone to surface cracks and fading when subjected to Florida's climate extremes. Both wood and concrete require frequent repairs, refinishing, or replacement every 5–10 years. Fortunately, there are modern materials and dock features that provide much better protection against Florida's weathering effects.



Composite and Plastic Decking for Low Maintenance

A more suitable choice for docks is composite and plastic decking material designed to withstand UV rays and moisture. Composite decking is made of recycled timber and high-grade plastic called polyethylene to give a realistic wood-grain texture while being 100% waterproof and maintenance-free. Their cellular construction acts as a built-in moisture barrier that requires no waterproofing, painting, or staining.

This barrier also prevents warping, swelling, or other damage from occurring over time, thus saving homeowners on maintenance costs. Both composite and plastic decking products come with long-term warranties, often spanning decades, to provide homeowners with peace of mind.

Their non-porous surfaces simply wipe clean between uses, requiring no sanding, sealing, or refinishing that wood docks demand. Thanks to these low-maintenance qualities, composite and plastic docks retain their attractive appearance for decades while withstanding Florida's harsh marine environment.



Railing and Post Options

Matching low-maintenance railing and posts complete the dock upgrade. Made from the same durable composite or plastic materials as the decking, these railing and post systems create a uniform structure without needing paint or sealant. The railing components interconnect for a continuous design and added safety.

Posts are installed into sleeves that rest on the decking, preventing direct exposure to moisture at the waterline that could lead to rotting. Together, the railing, posts, and decking will withstand Florida's weather for decades while retaining an attractive appearance with minimal care.

Thanks to the sturdiness and longevity of stainless steel screws, modern dock designs keep boards secure instead of nails that can rust. They also feature routed edges for the end pieces rather than a flat edge, which prevents water from pooling and damaging the material over time. For context, routed edges are grooved channels that cut into the ends of each deck board. This channel routing is done on the perimeter boards that meet the dock framing so that water drains out rather than pooling on top of the decking material.



Additional Protective Features

Consider adding a roof structure or canopy cover over portions of the dock for extra sun and rain protection. Applying a protective sealant to any remaining wood components, like deck framing, also provides an additional layer of shielding from moisture. With the right upgrades or complete overhaul, docks become an extension of the outdoor living space and a place to relax by the water.

Are you in need of a new dock? Contact Duncan Seawall, a full-service marine construction company in Southwest Florida. Our areas of expertise include docks, seawalls, boat lifts, dock lighting, dredging, and other marine construction needs for both residential and commercial clients.


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