Check the bent dock in the background.

Spring is the time of the year for repairs or boat dock maintenance

It’s springtime and we are past the time of King tides now, at least in South Florida. Anyone living on the water knows what I’m talking about! We are also now at the end of our rainy season. I’ve been out working on a number of docks Decks & wood fences and all around I see many of the same things. Spring time is the best time of the year for dock repairs and maintenance.

The wood is starting to separate and it’s starting to come apart from where it’s attached to the other boards. Some of the wood is even covered with patches or mostly covered with dark colors that come from the algae that grows in our rainiest wettest times. In South Florida we have quite a different system than up north. Up north you have the rain and the freezing that expands the wood each time freezing and thawing occurs. Here it’s the opposite. We have the rain and then the heat expands the moisture into steam and the woods spread and open as well. As algae grows it also can act in the same way but on top of that it brings in bacteria insects and is the base of a food chain that grows over time. Left alone, the deterioration of any wooden structure will accelerate exponentially year by year.

If you have any of these signs on your docks, decks or fencing, please read through this. Quality Stains & Sealers are an amazing life extender and a brilliant beautifier for all of these situations.

1) Gently pressure clean all wood surfaces

The first step that needs to be done before anything is applied is to very carefully and gently pressure clean all the wood surfaces without damaging the wood. If you get too close or aggressive with your pressure cleaner tip you’ll see the wood starting to expand, part and even get fuzzy at times. You are too close! Back up a few inches until you see that you are doing productive cleaning without any damage. If you have dark patches from mosses or algae, use a bleach pump sprayer and spray everything with bleach first. Be cautious of the fumes if you do anything in enclosed areas! A light Breeze always helps! Let that sit for an hour and then do your pressure cleaning. It can save a lot of work! Take your time! Get the whole thing done and give it 24 hours at least to dry.

2) Apply stain and / or sealer

After that, it’s time to apply the stain and or sealer. All-in-one stain and sealer is one step and comes out very beautiful most times if you do it right. A lot of people aren’t aware that even clear waterproofing can stop up to 98% of the UV rays. That alone and just in and of itself will extend the life of your wood by years. Throw-in a beautiful stain like a cedar tone transparent and you will have a beautifully refinished dock, deck or fence. On some fences the stains won’t come out or there might be some old paint or various other discolorations on the boards. At this time I’d recommend you go with an opaque stain. No transparency. Almost like a paint. My advice is to never paint your wood! Eventually it will start to peel and flake.

In order to put the next paint layer on you have to remove anything that’s loose and if it all doesn’t come off you will see patches of where there was no paint and then you applied over it. If you go with stain, it soaks into the wood. It does not just stay on the surface like paint. The same goes with concrete! Don’t paint stain! Stain doesn’t usually last as long as paint. But when it’s time to do a touch-up or complete refinish, the cleanup and pressure cleaning is faster, easier and to just reapply the stain and or sealer is easy as well.

Wood difference before and after being pressured cleaned.
Wood difference before and after being pressured cleaned.

Note that some fencing, especially shadow box, it is much more labor-saving to spray than any other way to apply it. You will cut your time and labor down incredibly. And the job should end up looking better! Once you do this and look back you will be amazed at the difference! And you’ll get another 3 to 10 years out of something that probably would have fell apart in the next year or two.

One of the other times to use opaque stain sealer is when you have to replace lumber. The new Lumber is pressure treated, not absorbent and will be a different color and texture than the remaining wood. A transparent finish will still show that difference. An opaque stain sealer will cover everything with one uniform coat. Sometimes it’s required that you put two coats to achieve this goal.

So get out and take a look at your wood! It’s cooler out now, the rain is less and the weather is more pleasant and there is never a better time to consider moving in the direction of repairing your boat dock than right now!


Written by Handyman Dan – (954) 770-5157

Max Francisco
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