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ahhudgins
02-14-2010, 11:15 AM
Iíve got to rebuild the floating section of a dock this spring. The original builder obviously didn't apply any sealer to the wood since it was built, so Iíve got to decide whether to just use treated decking boards (and seal from time to time) or go with the composite. Most of what Iíve found on the internet is positive about the composite, but I did find a few sites that say itís not all itís cracked up to be. Has anyone used composite decking and had any serious problems such as a warping, splitting, staining, etc? I know that anything that sits in the sun year round is going to fade.

JohnE
02-14-2010, 11:21 AM
If you go with composite, just recognize that it doesn't really have any strength to it. Where treated lumber will help to stiffen everything up, the composite will not. At least not as much. All I'm saying is to make sure the floating dock is solidly built before going composite. I'd be a fan of trex for the floating dock. You won't have an issue of fading that you will with some of the others.

ahhudgins
02-14-2010, 11:47 AM
I did read that the joists need to be on 16" centers instead of the usual 24" because the composite will sag. It was also suggested that long pieces of composite be carried by two people (and on it's side) because it may break. We do have some inconsiderate people who will pull tubes down our cove, which will throw out some rollers and rock the docks. I never thought about the strength being a problem, was only thinking about the cosmetic issue.
I think for the floater, composite may be a bad choice.
Thanks for the input.

JohnE
02-14-2010, 12:18 PM
I don't know that composite is necessarily bad, just block between the joists maybe every 4' to stiffen everything. YOu can also go 12" OC joists.

DemolitionMan
02-14-2010, 12:26 PM
The only problem I had with my trex, is that the builder's supply that I use ran out and I was three pieces short. The next shipment they got the shade was a little different . So make sure that you can get all of your supplies at one time because the color may vary. Beside's that I love it.

JohnE
02-14-2010, 12:28 PM
The Trex should weather to the same color eventually...

TX.X-30 fan
02-14-2010, 01:52 PM
16" OC johnEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, you had me going there for a minute though, I thought you knew what you were talking aboot. :D

TX.X-30 fan
02-14-2010, 01:53 PM
I would get some opinions on the different composite, trex was first but there are many now.

ahhudgins
02-14-2010, 07:15 PM
I think all of the composites would do fine on a solid deck, but the floater is 16' X 20' and it does flex and bob a lot when a roller comes through. I did read that the composite runs the risk of breaking if you allow it to bend, unlike the standard wood decking. Iím prepared to rebuild everything under the decking (12Ē, 14Ē, or 16Ē OC) but I donít want to turn around and have to redo it again in a few years. I would love to know if anyone has installed it on a floater.
Thanks for all of the input so far.

2RLAKE
02-14-2010, 07:34 PM
i have Choice Deck on my dock, as well as the 12x48 upper deck at our TN lake house ... they get a ton of sun and are holding up well. The dock is 8.5 years old and the decking still looks great ... just pressure wash it carefully every 2 years

Very happy with it ... no splinters and no maintenance.

JohnE
02-15-2010, 08:15 AM
16" OC johnEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, you had me going there for a minute though, I thought you knew what you were talking aboot. :D


I usually frame 19.2" OC.;)

Mag_Red
02-15-2010, 08:21 AM
If you can afford it, Ipe would be the ideal material to use. 100% wood, hard as nails. Same stuff they used on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. 16" OC8p

SkiDog
02-15-2010, 08:44 AM
IF you do use a composite decking, be sure to leave a small gap inbetween the boards. They will not shrink like conventional lumber will after it dries, and it'll WILL hold water!

ahhudgins
02-15-2010, 09:06 PM
i have Choice Deck on my dock, as well as the 12x48 upper deck at our TN lake house ... they get a ton of sun and are holding up well. The dock is 8.5 years old and the decking still looks great ... just pressure wash it carefully every 2 years

Very happy with it ... no splinters and no maintenance.
Was any of the dock floating, or was it all stationary? I'm worried about the composite cracking when the foating section flexes. The floating section has a 10 foot extension to accommodate a pontoon boat. When a roller comes in the cove, the entire floater will do the ďwaveĒ from front to back. I rebuilt the stationary part last spring, and the floater is my project this spring. I would love to use the composite but I havenít heard of anyone using it on a foundation that moves.

east tx skier
02-15-2010, 10:06 PM
Composite is fine for the decking. Just go sturdy with the underpinning. A little tar paper on the horizontal surfaces under the decking will keep the water off them really well.

russlars
02-15-2010, 11:50 PM
FWIW on my dock I have the product called "Evergrain". It has been on the dock for about 4-5 years now and had held up very well. It fades a fair amount in the first year, but after that stays the same. It has a wood grain pattern in it and so it looks like real wood and isn't slick when it gets wet. I have it on my deck also. In our damp Northwest climate it does require a good pressure washing every year because anything horizontal will grow mildew. That is the only thing I ever do to it to keep it looking good.

BillF
02-16-2010, 08:14 AM
I rebuilt my dock two years ago with pressure-treated wood but I wish I would have waited a bit as now there are composites out there specific to docks/marinas. I don't recall all of the brands but the two I do remember are Latitudes Marine and CorrectDock. These boards are thicker than a standard deck board and can span 24" OC.

piper_chuck
02-16-2010, 08:32 AM
Trex, and probably other brands, offer a 2x6 (1.5x5.5) board, which is spec'd for 24" OC for 100psf installations. If you want to be able to go to 200psf, use the same boards at 16" OC.

When I read about special marine composite deck boards, I find myself wondering if they are really any different or if they're just rebranded for the marine industry so the dealers can charge higher prices.

2RLAKE
02-16-2010, 11:38 AM
my dock is floating ... steel frame and composite decking

ahhudgins
02-16-2010, 01:25 PM
Thanks for verifying your dock is floating, and to everyone else as well for their input. I think I will go with the composite and and just use 16", 14", 12" or 19.2" OC joists 8p. When my neighbor had a new composite deck added to his house, I thought he went over board by using 16" OC joists, but now I know why. I will go to Lowes and Home Depot and see if they will let me try to break a few pieces!!

I also have to wonder about the special "Marine decking". That's like motor oil being labeled for "SUV and small truck".

JohnE
02-16-2010, 01:31 PM
Trex isn't going to break. Some of the other composites are more 'plastic like' and I can see those breaking.

I didn't think of the Ipe wood. Good call Mag. It's about the same price as a good composite and will weather a nice gray. Search 'Ipe Depot'. I'd probably go with that over any of the composites.

russlars
02-16-2010, 02:40 PM
Thanks for verifying your dock is floating, and to everyone else as well for their input. I think I will go with the composite and and just use 16", 14", 12" or 19.2" OC joists 8p. When my neighbor had a new composite deck added to his house, I thought he went over board by using 16" OC joists, but now I know why. I will go to Lowes and Home Depot and see if they will let me try to break a few pieces!!

I also have to wonder about the special "Marine decking". That's like motor oil being labeled for "SUV and small truck".
My dock is floating also and have had no breakage problems or expansion/contraction issues with the Evergrain decking. One other thing I would recommend is screwing it down with stainless steel deck screws. They make one called "Headcote" that you can buy from McFeeleys that has a painted head to match your decking if you don't like the silver look. The guy that built my dock talked me into the "composite" decking screws but they seem to be developing some rust on them. When I built my deck I used the Headcotes and they have held up perfect. The stainless will cost you a bit more, but well worth it for longevity. Better to spend a little more now and only do it once!

Ski-me
02-16-2010, 02:47 PM
FWIW on my dock I have the product called "Evergrain". It has been on the dock for about 4-5 years now and had held up very well. It fades a fair amount in the first year, but after that stays the same. It has a wood grain pattern in it and so it looks like real wood and isn't slick when it gets wet. I have it on my deck also. In our damp Northwest climate it does require a good pressure washing every year because anything horizontal will grow mildew. That is the only thing I ever do to it to keep it looking good.

We have "Evergrain" at our house here in Colorado. So far after 2 years, it has help up quite nicely. I do like the look of the wood grain pattern as well. Looks more "real" if that can be. :rolleyes: Laying flat, it does not have the strength as others have pointed out. Carrying it in a vertical fashion helps a lot!

In Idaho, we re-decked our community dock with standard Trex type material. The only difference I've noticed is how "HOT" the decking gets in the sun compared to wood. It gets so hot that water needs to be splashed on it first before sitting on it. Also, I have noticed that our ladder that was drilled into the Trex decking does not hold it too well. Probably need some under mounting support to keep things attached well.

Finally, it is nice to pre-drill the holes with a counter sinking bit before screwing down each board. I've noticed that if you don't pre-drill, you get a slight bulge in the decking at each screw hole location. Takes longer but may look better overall.

russlars
02-16-2010, 03:27 PM
Finally, it is nice to pre-drill the holes with a counter sinking bit before screwing down each board. I've noticed that if you don't pre-drill, you get a slight bulge in the decking at each screw hole location. Takes longer but may look better overall.

Sorry, forgot to mention that important detail. They make a real nice drill that drills and countersinks to match the head of the screws you are using so everything ends up nice and flat and tidy!

BillF
02-17-2010, 12:48 PM
There are plenty of marketing gimmicks out there but I just checked on the boards I referenced earlier (Latitudes Marine and CorrectDock) and the "marine" boards are actually thicker profiles than a standard composite deck board. Latitudes Marine is 1-1/4" thick and CorrectDock is 1-1/8" thick. Standard composite boards seem to be just under 1" thick (15/16" or so). The Latitudes Marine board stated 100psf at 24" OC, 200 psf at 19.2" OC and 300 psf at 12" OC.

For your fasteners, you might want to think about using a hidden fastener system. No predrilling, splitting, mushrooming or visible screwheads. If you go with a standard composite deck board, you can buy the boards pregrooved to accept various hidden fasteners. If you went with a marine composite board I believe you would need to use a biscuit joiner or router to create the slot for hidden fasteners. There are also hidden fasteners for hardwoods such as Ipe that Mag and JohnE referenced.

Good luck. Be sure to post some pics and what you ended up going with.

JohnE
02-17-2010, 07:02 PM
I wouldn't go with hidden fastners in this case. They don't really connect the decking to the framing as securely as a conventional fastner. Fine on a stationary deck, not as good on a moving dock.

CruisinGA
02-17-2010, 08:33 PM
We have Ipe decking on our floating dock. It has an aluminum frame though, so flex is not much of a concern.

You can let it weather to a gray shade, or treat it once a year and it will keep looking brand new.

Our deck is only a few years old, but it looks like this stuff is going to last forever.

Our neighbors' gray composite decking is HOT in the sun- too hot for bare feet to walk on. Our Ipe gets warm, but not nearly as hot as that composite decking did.

2RLAKE
02-17-2010, 09:05 PM
One last thought .... i've taken various pieces of my decking up, so access is good and that would require regular fastners. I have an underwater pump for water on the dock ... slide, washing the boat, etc. I also have run low voltage lighting over time. Also, i have two floats that have split and will need replacing ... access to the frame will be important

piper_chuck
02-17-2010, 09:16 PM
I met with a dock person yesterday who gave me a couple samples of this stuff: http://vekadeck.com/default.asp

My impression is it looks and feels like plastic. Not sure of the price difference between it and other options...

Still thinking about whether to build the dock myself or pay an extra $4K to have someone else do it.

ahhudgins
02-17-2010, 10:45 PM
I had been researching the mounting systems for the composite. The pre-drilling with screws seemed to be the way to go. Now with all of the information you guys have given me, I canít make up my mind!! Ha Ha. I like the thought of composite for less maintenance and the looks. If the composite does get a lot hotter than the wood, I guess everyone will have to get used to wearing flip flops. I will look into all of the materials you guys have mentioned. I still have plenty of time to make up my mind. The driveway is about 300ft long and itís still covered in about 8 inches of snow. Weíve had a lot of Global Warming in Virginia this winter.:mad:

TX.X-30 fan
02-18-2010, 08:43 AM
I usually frame 19.2" OC.;)




I was messing with you john, but seriously I would not use the standard thickness stuff on 16" even because over time it will sag.................... 12" and the sag issues are removed.