Whether you are constructing a new dock or installing new decking on an existing dock, the decking material that you choose will be one of the most important decisions that you will make. Dock owners are spoiled for choices nowadays, so you are certain to find a decking material that fits your particular needs and budget. Aluminum and wood are two common and popular options, and each decking material has its own advantages and adherents.

Why Decking Matters

The decking is arguably the most important part of any dock. Without decking, your dock is really just a frame sitting in the water and that is not much use to anyone. From a practical standpoint, your decking will have the greatest impact on your dock's durability, maintenance costs, and aesthetics. While railings and roofs are sometimes added to docks and can greatly influence their appearance, the decking itself is always going to be one of the first things that anyone notices. Because the decking is such a central feature, it is important to make a choice that you are prepared to live with for the foreseeable future.

Traditional Wood Decking

Wood is one of the oldest and most traditional styles of decking available for docks. While many types of wood have natural properties that allow them to stand up to exposure and pests, the true reason for choosing wood will always be its appearance. Wood decking offers a classic and upscale appearance that other decking materials can come close to but have not yet matched. Wood can also offer a rustic look that's extremely well suited to lakefront cabins and other rural properties.

Unfortunately, wood is not without its share of downsides. In particular, wood decking will require significantly more maintenance than most other decking choices. Wood decking must be cleaned regularly and retreated every few years. Without these maintenance steps, wood decks will deteriorate and ultimately begin to break down and rot. On the bright side, wood decking that has been well maintained is highly durable and will last for years.

Aluminum Decking

Aluminum is a popular alternative to wood, and it offers a number of advantages. By far the largest advantage of aluminum is its resistance to pests and rot and extremely low maintenance requirements. Aluminum decking does require regular cleaning but will not need to be regular retreatments like wood decking. Aluminum has heat advantages too – it dissipates heat more rapidly than many other decking materials, making it a cooler choice for a dock that is exposed to harsh sunlight.

While aluminum decking may not have the traditional, rustic appearance of natural wood, there are plenty of cosmetic options available and the majority of them are highly durable. In fact, powder-coated aluminum is probably one of the most durable finishes available for any dock surface. If you like the natural appearance of aluminum or are just looking to save some money in your budget, uncolored aluminum is a great choice as well.

Which Is Right for You?

Both aluminum and wood work well as dock decking. Taken from a purely objective standpoint, aluminum decking tends to be lower maintenance, longer lasting, and more resistant to the various threats that can potentially ruin a dock. While this can make a good practical choice, you may still find wood decking to be more attractive on a subjective level. Luckily, properly maintained wood decking is an excellent and durable surface as well.

Ultimately, either decking material will work well and look great as long as it is properly installed and maintained. Since decking has such a drastic impact on the appearance of your dock, the most important factor should be the style that you find most appealing.

For more information, get in touch with a dock construction company.