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Save Your Pilings From Marine Borers With PVC Wrapping

by Duncan Seawall

Part of why we love being out on the water around Florida is that it's full of interesting creatures, but some of them can wreck wooden structures. One of the hazards that undermines pilings is marine borers. The most costly are limnoria, which you might know better as gribbles, and shipworms. Left untreated in warm coastal waters, the damage of marine borers is done in less than a year and wood will have to be completely replaced.

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What Happens to Unprotected Pilings?

Limnoria are several species of very small crustaceans that will attack wood just below the water surface. Limnoria will bore into and eat away at wood pilings and you'll see the damage develop as more and more of the piling disappears. These pilings often resemble an hourglass as the section at the water's surface is eaten away the fastest. Shipworms will really sneak up on you though. They float through the water as larvae that are less than one millimeter across. The larvae burrow deep into the wood leaving only a tiny hole on the surface. Once they are inside, shipworms start growing and eating. Some shipworms get up to two feet long and never leave their wooden home. The structure can be in danger of collapse, but you might not see it coming because the damage doesn't show on the outside.

Protecting Your Pilings

Can you imagine having to abandon a brand new dock after only a year and waiting on repairs to be made? PVC wrapped pilings are a proven method used for decades to help prevent marine borers. PVC wrapping goes above the highest tide line and below the surface of the mud at the bottom, making a barrier that marine borers can't punch through. The PVC wrapping effectively cuts off the water flow and oxygen to the piling that marine borers need to survive inside the wood. Your pilings will survive for years without ever becoming a hospitable place for these pests to live.

Why Choose PVC Wrap?

PVC wrapped pilings have the long-term advantage of not cracking easily, corroding, or weathering away over time. In brackish or saltwater, in any kind of weather, PVC wrapping is durable. It can also be used in tandem with pressure treated wood to offer better protection against a variety of marine borers. Wood treated with creosote or a different preservative is another popular method of protecting against marine borers. It can be applied as part of a coating or as a pressure treatment that forces the creosote deep into the wood. While this works at first, coatings can crack or wear off and the pressure treatment will leach out into the water over time until it is no longer effective. Adding PVC wrapping around the piling protects it twice over by combining the chemical barrier of creosote and the physical barrier of the PVC. The pressure treatment will last as it is protected from water flushing it out of the wood and the surrounding water is not affected by leached creosote.

Part of a Beautiful Structure

Don't think of PVC wrapped pilings as only a way to protect against marine borers. When the water level is low, pilings peek out and are a visible component of your dock that add to the impression it gives. Wood pilings eventually weather, discolor, and splinter. PVC wrapped pilings match the sleek look of your new dock and will continue to look great over time. The striking white decking and stainless steel cables in the above custom pier is a dramatic difference from the usual old wooden ones we're all familiar with. The PVC wrapped pilings go well with the overall design and will remain a sturdy foundation so the family can enjoy the pier for years to come.

Thinking about what kind of dock would be perfect for you? Learn more about incorporating this smart option into your build by contacting us today.

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