Just as you clean and maintain your boat, you should also clean and maintain the dock that holds your boat. Your dock is an expensive and important part of your boating hobby, so take care of it to preserve its value. Here are some instructions to help you clean and maintain your boat dock to help it last for many years.
The build-up of barnacles on and below the waterline of your dock wall and pilings can cause damage to your dock just as they cause damage to the hull of your boat. These crustaceans, when allowed to grow, can grow into a layer several inches thick and weigh a lot. A two- to three-inch layer of barnacles on the hull of a ship can weigh more than one hundred tons. This excess weight on your dock can cause damage to the dock by breaking it apart or collapsing it.
You can remove the barnacles using several different methods. One method is to use a commercial high powered pressure washer, with at least 5000 psi, to remove the hardened barnacle bodies. Spray the nozzle of the pressure washer back and forth across the barnacle-crusted area to remove all particles of the barnacles and algae. Use the pressure washer to also remove any peeling paint or other residues still remaining that may prevent the marine sealant from adhering in a later step. This method is used for the part of your dock you are cleaning to be above the waterline.
Another method uses a sharp-edged metal barnacle scraper on the end of a long pole to remove the crustaceans. You can use this scraper to remove several inches of barnacles on each pass, and the long pole allows you to do the scraping from above the water. You can find a barnacle scraper with a double-sided head at most marine supply stores. One side of the scraper head is rounded to scrape down the side of dock pilings, and the other side is flat to scrape barnacles from any flat dock surface. After using a scraper to remove the barnacles, make sure to remove any peeling paint or other residues that are still on your dock by sanding down the surface of the dock.
Repair Holes in Your Dock
Before you treat your wood dock with a barnacle-protector sealant, take some time to fill any holes in your wood dock. Use a marine epoxy putty and a putty knife to fill in and smooth over any holes in your wood dock. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to allow time for the putty to dry and cure before applying any sealer. Be sure to use a water-safe epoxy putty that can be applied under water. You can find this type of putty at most marine supply stores.
Prevent New Barnacle Growth
After you have removed any barnacles and algae from your dock and patched any holes, treat the dock with a marine sealant to prevent future marine growth. Marine sealants need to be reapplied every few years as they wear off, but reapplication is an easier task than scraping hardened barnacles from your dock.
Marine sealants that can be applied on your dock above and underwater are available at most marine supply stores. Use a paint roller or brush to apply the sealant in an even coating, then follow the product's instructions for drying and curing time.
Treat Metal Dock Hardware
Any metal hardware or other metal surfaces on your dock should be treated periodically with a marine grease. Because these metal parts are subjected to wet conditions, rust can form, damaging hinges, chains, or other metal surfaces. Marine grease has a thick consistency that will help it adhere and remain intact, even when submerged. It is important to reapply this product periodically, according to the product's instructions, to prevent rust damage to your dock.
Use this information to help you care for and protect your boat dock. For more tips, contact a company like Abbott's Construction Services Inc.
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