5 Simple Ways to Upgrade the Look and Function of Boardwalks, Docks, and Marinas

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Marine properties, be they boardwalks, docks or marinas, are primarily intended for recreation and therefore it’s imperative that they be easily accessible to everyone, safe and well-maintained. A strong and stable foundation is the start of every marine construction project and what comes next is pretty much standard operating order for any marine contractor. But for those who want something a little extra, something better than your standard dock or boardwalk, what are the options?

Thankfully there are many ways to improve both the look and function of your boardwalk, dock or marina that will help it stand apart from the rest. Here are 5 simple things you can do to upgrade your marine property today!

1. Replace Subpar Plastic Piling Caps with Metal

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The primary function of piling caps is to protect wood piles from moisture-damage by allowing water to run off rather than remain standing on the flat face. It’s astounding the impact such a simple piece can have when it comes to protecting your dock’s piles.

The second most common function of a piling cap is aesthetic in nature. The decorative detail of a piling cap helps create a uniform and finished look that will help your dock, boardwalk or marina really pop. Plus they also function as a deterrent for birds which aids in the overall cleanliness of your property.

Furthermore, piling caps can also serve as a safety measure. Selecting a brightly colored piling cap improves visibility for boaters when docking; a minute yet thoughtful service to those using your marina that won’t go unnoticed.

Piling caps can serve a substantial purpurpose from various perspectives, so once you’ve decided to invest in them for your property the question becomes what kind of piling cap do you want? Rubber, plastic/PVC and metal are all common materials for piling caps. Rubber and plastic caps are likely to be the most economical choice, however such economies should only be taken with cautious consideration. In locations where the weather gets cold, PVC piling caps may not be the best choice as they can become brittle and be prone to cracking. Rubber piling caps may experience issues with disintegration overtime, especially in saltwater regions. Metal is going to be the most durable piling cap option and what we would recommend for marine applications.

Metal piling caps are both beautiful and suitable for long lasting wear. Copper, stainless steel and powder-coated aluminum (available in a wide range of colors) are all solid choices that can be ordered in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit your marine piles just right.

2. Modernize Your Dock with LED Lighting

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The lighting on and around your dock has an impact on both safety and beauty. Modernizing your dock's lighting system by switching to LED lights is a great move for a number of reasons.

LED lighting comes in a wide range of different brightness levels and tones - from harsh brights when visibility is the primary concern to warm whites for improving the ambiance of a space. LED lights are very compact and also come in various applications, such as standard bulbs, mini-bulbs, ropes and more.

LED bulbs in standards sizes will easily fit into most existing light fixtures, including fixtures built on piles. LED rope lights are easy to work with and can look great when ran along the sides of a dock. You can also find specialized underwater LED light systems, which are very much growing in popularity.

LED lights are a wonderful value overall. Though they may cost more initially, you'll save money in the long run because they are less expensive to run and have a significantly longer lifespan.

3. Renovate Docks by Adding More Electrical Outlets

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Adding more electrical outlets to your dock is usually a fairly straightforward renovation, but one that will be extremely valuable for boat owners and general dock users alike.

Aim for each boat slip to have an electrical outlet as well as extra outlets to account for small watercraft or personal use. If your dock is an area often frequented by swimmers, having electrical outlets for personal devices is a very useful feature.

Electrical outlets should all have waterproof covers, including those around lounge areas. Also, consider adding some beauty with decorative covers or outlets with built-in lights.

4. Upgrade Your Marine Fenders and Bumpers

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Marine fenders and bumpers are a great add on to any dock system. They are installed on the sides of docks, boat slips and pilings to protect both the boats coming in and out as well as the marine structures themselves. Fenders and bumpers absorb shock and will help maintain the structural stability of your dock or marina. Plus they do wonders in protecting the decking on the surface of your dock, which is often an investment you don’t want to see get damaged.

As their name suggests, marine fenders are larger, burlier bumpers designed to withstand impact from larger boats that you'd encounter in a marina. These are most often made of rubber or foam and are quite industrial in appearance. Since their primary purpose is protection and they are so significant in size, there aren't many options in terms of design.

Thankfully, the average pier, dock, or marina designed for public or private use won't be exposed to such large boats or ships. When only small watercrafts and personal boats will be used around the dock, then dock bumpers are a great choice. Dock bumpers serve the same purpose as marine fenders, but are smaller and come in more attractive options.

Dock bumpers can be made of wood, plastic, foam or rubber. They’re relatively simple to install so whether you’re building a brand new docking system or upgrading an existing one, you shouldn’t run into trouble adding marine bumpers either way. When adding bumpers to your dock or marina, take a look at the option which line the sides of your structure and piles, along with dock wheels, or roller bumpers, which are also great additions for corner protection. Roller bumpers are often made of white plastic, but you can find covers in shades of black or dark gray to coordinate with your system.

5. Invest in Quality Decking and Structural Materials

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If you want to make a high-value investment in changing the appearance of your dock then replacing your decking material is the way to go. Poor quality decking is not only a waste of money since you'll need to continually invest money to maintain it or replace it that much sooner, but it also makes your dock, marina or boardwalk look worn and unappealing.

Replacing the decking is easier than you might expect, so long as the underlying structure is sound. When replacing old decking, consider upgrading to a higher performance material. Examples would be a composite decking specifically designed for marine use, like Pier Advantage composite dock planking which is manufactured by MoistureShield - the marine composite decking industry leader.

For real wood lovers, Pier Advantage also offers a clear grade Pine dock planking that is pressure treated to maximize performance and provides a stunning natural look.

Or if perhaps if your interests are a bit more environmentally driven, Kebony modified wood is an extremely high-performance real wood option that uses eco-friendly technology to make sustainable wood species more reliable without the use of stringent chemicals.

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Upgrading your boardwalk, dock or marina doesn't have to be difficult or overly expensive. There are various tricks to beautify your property and enhancing the function of it. First and foremost, ensure that your dock or marina is built with high-quality materials and is structurally sound - it will save you money in the long run. Once this is complete, you can move forward with the other details, such as lighting and electrical improvements that will make everything more enjoyable for you or your occupants.

For more information on high-quality building materials designed for marine use, contact a Pine River Group representative to discover everything possible for your marina, dock or boardwalk.