A Guide To Dock Building Materials

It doesn’t matter if your property sits on a pond, river, lake, or ocean, having a private dock can provide numerous benefits. A private dock provides guaranteed slip availability without the associated fees, the ability to customize the dock for a specific type of watercraft, and the opportunity to implement increased security measures. A well-designed dock also adds to a property’s value. 

A List Of Dock Building Materials

Perhaps the most important decision to make when designing and building a dock is the selection of the material. The right dock material will be easy to work with, environmentally friendly, and will require little maintenance. Let’s explore the various materials that are commonly used to build a deck.

HDPE Lumber

Also known as plastic lumber or plastic wood, HDPE is a favorite among dock builders. HDPE lumber can be used for both the understructure and the actual dock plank. 

These planks are very easy to work with and do not require any special tools. Each board can be cut, routered, and drilled like traditional wood lumber. HDPE does not absorb water or liquids so it will never rot, even when placed directly in the water. It is resistant to mold and mildew. 

Say goodbye to splinters – plastic lumber does not crack, splinter, or peel. 

Unlike pressure-treated lumber, plastic lumber will not leach chemicals into the surrounding environment, making it an eco-friendly building material. 

Plastic dock boards require very little maintenance. Simply check the boards occasionally for damage and when dirty, clean with a power washer or soft bristle brush. 

Available in a huge variety of sizes and colors, plastic wood retains its color even when exposed to the elements thanks to the inclusion of UV inhibitors during the extrusion process. Never worry about painting or staining a dock again! 


Wood can be very aesthetically pleasing and is often the most affordable option when it comes to upfront costs. However, the required maintenance and frequent need to replace various boards make wood a more expensive option in the long run. Yearly painting, staining, and the replacement of rotted or warped wood planks are typical. 

Pressure-treated boards will last longer in marine environments but the chemicals used during the pressure treatment will leach into the water and soil over time. 

Wood will ultimately split, peel, and splinter, making it an unfriendly walking surface for those who like to go barefoot. 


Aluminum is a lightweight and long-lasting option for dock building. However, there are still some issues that aluminum dock owners regularly face. 

  1. Aluminum can be difficult to clean. 
  2. Repairs to aluminum docks can be very difficult. If damage occurs, it may require the entire dock to be replaced or a large section, instead of just a few boards. 
  3. Aluminum can corrode. Many dock dealers will boast that aluminum won’t ever rust and they are correct  – but it can and does corrode, especially when exposed to saltwater. 

Questions To Ask During The Dock Building Process

Here are the factors you need to consider when building a new dock or remodeling an existing dock. 

  1. What type of water is the dock exposed to? 
  2. Will the dock be exposed to waves and harsh weather conditions like hurricanes? 
  3. Does the water level change drastically throughout the day?
  4. Will boats be moored to the dock?
  5. What type of boats or watercraft will be moored to the dock? 
  6. What type of soil will surround the dock? 
  7. Does the dock need special rails, built-in benches, or other features? 

Be sure to create a list of questions for both the product manufacturer and any professional contractors you speak with during the design process. 

Plastic Lumber Yard Can Answer Your Dock Material Questions 

If you have questions about which of our HDPE lumber products would be best suited for your dock, contact our team at info@plasticlumberyard.com or call (610) 277-3900.