What product should I use to protect my wood dock against water and UV rays?
Understanding the characteristics of your wood dock
There are two main types of dock, namely floating docks and post docks. When you have a sandy lake floor, a very low and stable water level, you may prefer to build a simple and lower cost post dock. However, any complications such as uneven or rocky lake floor for example should be sufficient to convince you to only consider a floating dock.
For additional savings, one may also choose treated wood. However, the product quality will be important and especially its waterproof properties in order to protect the top of the dock from the rain and the underside from the splashes. With the use of more noble woods such as cedar or larch, the protection against water becomes less important, because these types of wood possess the characteristic of being rot-resistant. The most important thing then will be to have no direct contact between the wood and water. To do so, a distance of 10 inches should be enough.
Regardless of the material your dock is made with (treated wood, larch or cedar), exposure to the sun remains a major issue. In a short time, your magnificent new dock will get gray and have a monotonous aspect.
Three types of finishing product to protect your dock
There are several types of finishing products for outdoor wood and the functions are multiple. There are paintings, dyes and oils.
With paint, it is easier to wash the surface when it offers a gloss finish. The color is easier to control because the type of wood, its age or the sanding grit, does not influence it. Moreover, paints are very effective against the action of the sun. However, as soon as the paint film cracks, it lets water penetrate and even delays drying of the wood thus making the wood conducive to mushroom formation and rot. For the paint to continue to protect the wood, do not allow the film to crack and, if necessary, sand and start over.
Normally, the decision to install wood surfaces rests on being able to see the natural veining of the wood. The use of water-based stain containing acrylics will help you protect your wood surface while leaving the appearance of natural wood. These products normally protect the vertical exterior cladding pretty well but tend to also form films that may peel fairly quickly, leaving you with a sanding job each time you clean it up.
Finally, another finishing product is natural oil-based stain. We will not discuss chemical oil based stains as lots of them are being removed from the market and are very nasty. Natural oil-based stains are excellent water repellent sealants and contain natural antifungal ingredients. Even if several layers are applied, these products do not form a film on the surface of the wood, as they only saturate the wood. They are therefore excellent products for the exterior surfaces like the docks. To maximize sun protection, it is good to keep in mind that higher pigment content will tend to give a better protection against UV rays. By applying a thin layer of oil to feed the wood without over-saturating it, no sanding will be required before maintenance.
Properly prepare the surface
This should be a mantra! Properly prepare the surface. Although the best finishing product in the world is used, the surface must have been previously cleaned and sanded before application. Once done, you can lay down comfortably and enjoy the landscape your dock.
It's interesting to know how to protect boat docks from the water. They are literally in and over the water all day, so protecting them makes a lot of sense. I like how you said that stain is good because it leaves the natural look of the wood. If we ever move onto waterfront property, like I want, I'll remember this.
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