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Springtime Projects for the Home Improvement Enthusiast

Well this past weekend temperatures here in the Deep South  hit the mid 80s. What happened to the mild 70s I wanted?  The greening of the trees means it’s time for outside projects to move from planning to doing. Here are a few of the things we are working on.

Matt is working diligently to finish his deck project.  If the weather cooperates, he soon will be adding railings and caps.

I have the dock renovation going on.  2000 feet of decking and a lot of paint will be going on over the next few months.  Prepping as always is the biggest, but most necessary step in the process.  Also in a dock makeover, it is important to start high and work down.  The roofing is first, then the eaves, and overhangs and columns must be done before the decking part can even begin.  Paint your high areas first or you will have a speckled deck.  The exception to this rule is taking care of what is underneath the decking before covering it with new dock decking.  After the high areas are finished, I will begin the demolition in stages of the dock decking.  Once the decking is removed, we will inspect the structural steel and the pressure treated lumber that forms the framework and joists that support the decking.

Spraying the eaves with the Milwaukee Tools airless paint system
Milwaukee Airless Paint System being used to Paint Eaves

As with most marine applications, this dock is built using 24″ OC joist. The dock is a floating dock, conforming to the new environmental standards and using encapsulated flotation.  Using 16″ OC joists would add extra weight and result in more flotation being needed.  However the 24″ span requires the use of dock decking that can handle the greater joist span. In this case, several companies make products especially for this application and we will be using a composite or synthetic decking to create a low maintenance surface.

Structural steel will have to be cleaned of loose rust and then primed and painted before beginning the tasks of replacing bad lumber joists.  On a dock, everything is subject to extremes in moisture, wind and sun so don’t skimp on quality.  The decking being replaced is comprised of redwood that has been installed for nearly 40 years, 5/4 pressure treated lumber on walkways has been down for 10 years, and the real decking killer on this project, the two large platform decks go through lumber decking every few years.  The shallow water platform still has some of the original redwood 2x12s as decking. That is quite impressive.

Once the decking has been removed then the fun really begins. Replacing the existing deck with the new composite product means saying good bye to splinters finally and hopefully no more boards warping and pulling through the screws, no more popped nails leading to bloodied toes. One of the main considerations in choosing the docking material was selecting a material and color that didn’t become excessively hot on summer days. Several years ago I built a deck that was composite and dark in color and that product would not work in this application as shade only exist beneath the boat slip’s covered area. I tried a piece of the dark material and as expected we showed a huge temperature gain between air temperature and surface temperature. To make sure the chosen dock material had acceptable heat gains we used Milwaukee’s M12 Temp Sensor and Fluke’s TI-32 Thermographer to record surface temperatures in various conditions.

Fluke Thermographic Image of Various Decking Products

As you can see here, there is a great variation between different docking products and even between colors of the same product.  The farther south you live, the lighter the color you should choose.  One product that really blew away competition in the minimal heat gain area was the white Genova Products decking. That is the cool material seen in the top of the photo, the surface temperature measured 73 F. However 5/4 Genova is not acceptable for this project since it is limited to spans of 16″ or less.(Correction and Editor’s Note: I just spoke with Joe Holt at Genova Products, turns out Genova’s first profile was the 2″ made for docking and spans of 24″.  So if heat gain is an issue and if you live in many areas it is, take a look at Genova’s 2″ product.)

Grey is the lightest color we have found in decking for marine docks.  Therefore grey will be the chosen color for this project.  Well it is off to the store to pick up some rust converter and primer. If you have thoughts or comments on products related to marine dock applications let us know.  If you know of a product that has worked well for you, we want to hear about it.

I will be posting updates on the dock renovation progress, so check in and see where we are in the process.

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