Posted on December 1, 2022

Your Complete Guide to Boat Dock Decking Materials & Options

Your Complete Guide to Boat Dock Decking Materials & Options

Written by ShoreMaster Marketing

You can still get to the water without a boat dock, but a boat dock makes the experience so much nicer. You can have your own personal getaway right on the water, attach some accessories to the perimeter that fit your lifestyle and hobbies, and give you a better place to put your boat than just tying it off to something on shore.

One of the biggest priorities you as a dock owner should have is the boat dock design, including the decking material. Since dock decking can make up 25 to 50% of the total cost of your boat dock, it’s worth making an investment that will last and that you’ll love for years. After all, this is what you’ll spend your summers walking, standing, and relaxing on—it’s important to make the best choice.

At ShoreMaster, we’ve seen docks made from an array of materials all across the quality spectrum. When choosing your system, such as an aluminum dock vs. wood dock, consider your priorities as a dock owner, get in touch with a local ShoreMaster dealer to have a more personalized conversation about your dream dock, and keep these three big options in mind.

a dock on a lake with a sunset in the background

Real Wood Decking

Natural wood, typically red cedar or IPE hardwood, is a popular choice for traditionalists because of the beauty and the warm feel. These types of woods on their own naturally resist rot, decay, and insects because of their natural oils and tannins without needing pre-treatment. Pressure-treated woods will also stand up to the rigors of waterfront life better. While the woods used in dock decking require the same level of maintenance, consider that you’ll want to power wash your dock decking annually and stain or finish the wood again every three to four years.

Composite or Plastic Decking

Plastic decking is made of some combination of polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyvinyl chloride. The deck boards contain no organic materials, are very lightweight and shiny, and can be injection molded, rotationally molded, or extruded. Composite decking is the logical combination of wood and plastic decking: it includes recycled inorganic materials like those in plastic decking with organic wood fibers chemically bonded together. Both types weather better and require less maintenance than natural woods, although composite decking is slightly more susceptible to decay from mold, fungi, or mildew, and plastic can crack. ShoreMaster plastic decks come in flow-through options to allow dirt, water, and sunlight to pass through the dock surface or slip-resistant Vertex decking without holes.

Aluminum Decking

Aluminum is now widely considered the best decking material option for your money—it has a higher upfront cost than the other dock decking options but pays for itself over time. It requires virtually no maintenance outside of occasional cleaning and won’t rot, decay, warp, or twist. Aluminum is a lightweight material but remains extremely durable no matter what’s thrown at it. Because the material reflects and dissipates heat, it’s cooler to the touch even when the sun is shining. It also comes in many boat dock colors, thanks to powder coating. Our wood grain aluminum decking is a great option if you want the traditional look without the maintenance.

ShoreMaster High-Quality Decking Options

ShoreMaster is an industry leader in premium docks. We offer eight different decking options to choose from. Whether you’re setting up a brand-new dock system or refreshing an old waterfront, we have the options and features you need to complete your waterfront. While our website has a wealth of information on the benefits and features of our dock systems, nothing beats the expertise of an authorized dealer who knows the products and the local water they’ll be used in. To learn more about what would make your ideal waterfront a reality, get in touch with a local ShoreMaster dealer