Why Your Dock’s Foundation Piling is So Important
What could be more wonderful than enjoying your morning cuppa on a newly built dock?
Offering recreational and functional use, investing in your own dock for a waterfront home is one way to add some serious value to your property.
But the construction of a dock requires expert skill – the most important aspect being its foundation piling.
Though docks carry similar load requirements to most decks, there are a few fundamental differences between their footers and piling.
In this blog, we will outline the importance of having a solid foundation piling for your dock and how to achieve it.
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How Does Foundation Piling Work?
Docks are the perfect addition to any waterfront home or business for a number of reasons: entertainment, fishing, swimming or easy access to a lake or river.
Just like decks, docks are comprised of footers, posts, beams, joists, decking, and railings.
However, the techniques and requirements for laying a dock’s foundation piling are a little different due to the fact that a dock sits in the water.
But before you install your dock, it’s best to figure out how you’re going to use it.
Will your dock have any accessories to it?
Such as: a boat docking station, a bench, a ladder, a cleaning station for fish, storage lockers or lighting and railings.
All of these factors ultimately affect the foundation piling of your dock.
What Is the Function of a Foundation?
Essentially, foundations provide support for all structures.
They transfer the full load of the structure to layers of soil and rock beneath the earth.
Generally, this has enough load-bearing capacity to support the weight of any size structure, depending on a few important aspects:
- The type of structure
- The original condition of the ground
- Durability of materials used in setting the foundation
- Proximity to surrounding structures
- Noise and vibration sensitivity
- The presence of other elements, such as water
Piled foundations are typically known as deep-set foundations.
They are formed from long, column-like structures made from steel, concrete or timber, and are driven or ‘piled’ into the ground.
Generally speaking, a piled foundation has a depth of three times its breadth.
In the case of a dock foundation, piling is really important as the foundations are sitting in water.
This means that the surrounding soil is not suitable to prevent excessive settlement, and a deep-set foundation is paramount.
The Importance of Laying a Solid Foundation
Driven piling is known as one of the best engineering solutions around.
Driven piles are relatively easy to install as they displace the soil around them.
Other driven foundations may require you to physically remove the soil before you lay the foundation, undermining the integrity of strength of the overall foundation.
While also costing you more time and money!
The fact that driven piles displace and compact the soil around them, means that they have additional support.
There is no chance of a driven pile moving in its place, as the soil surrounding it only reinforces its strength.
Strength is what you need for the best possible foundation to support your dock in the years to come.
Eliminate guesswork, and create a reliable and cost-effective foundation by laying a driven piling network.
How to Create a Solid Foundation
Foundation piling is the one section of your dock construction that needs close scrutiny.
At the end of the day, your entire dock rests on the strength and integrity of your foundation.
When installing your foundation, there are three primary considerations to keep in mind:
1. Prevent rot
Most especially if they are made from wood. Ensure they are coated with adequate chemicals to stave off wood rot. Otherwise, look at alternate materials such as fiberglass or reinforced concrete.
2. Create a protective barrier
Considering the amount of time your pilings are going to be submerged in water, it’s vital that a protective barrier is created around them before driving into the ground.
For example- wrap wood pilings.
3. Protect your pilings above water
This comes in the form of piling caps.
They protect the section of your pilings exposed to the sun from UV rays, rain, snow and other elements.
Choosing the Right Type of Piling
- Treated Wood Piling
Treated wood pilings are used for a myriad of things, from telephone poles to standard landscaping fences and throughout most marinas.
The type of wood piling you need to consider is one that is adequately treated for salt-water immersion.
Look for treated wood pilings with a saltwater immersion treatment of 2.5 CCA.
- Greenheart Wood Piling
This form of wood is known the world-over for its incredible strength and durability.
This rainforest hardwood is perfect for extreme construction applications and is almost four times as strong as treated pine or fir wood variations.
Greenheart wood is also amazingly resistant to marine bore and decay – they don’t even require prior chemical treatment!
- Fiberglass Piling
Although a little pricier than wood pilings, fiberglass pilings are known to last decades, with very little deterioration.
They do not have a tendency to rot, crumble or rust and are worth the investment for a dock foundation which can last up to thirty years!
Protect Your Foundation Piling
To save yourself a whole lot of heartache, it’s important to make the initial investment in protecting your piling before it’s sunk into the ground.
This protection is known to extend the life-span of your piling, tenfold, while also reducing environmental impact.
Opt for a pile sleeve to be applied to your piling prior to setting them on the ground.
These pile sleeves are manufactured from PVC and heat shrunk around your piling for a perfectly snug fit and the ultimate protection.
Professionally applied piling wrap will protect from bores, erosion, and wear and tear over the years.
Build the Ultimate Foundation with Decks & Docks
At Decks & Docks, we are true specialists in the construction of decks, docks, piers, and seawalls.
Supplying the marine construction industry across Florida and Southeast United States, we have the best products for all your marine construction needs.
If you’re looking for experts in dock installation, we are your go-to! Take a look at our project gallery for more.
Get in touch with us at Decks & Docks for a contractor to assist with your dock construction today.
- About the Author
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James Hertler has served professional builders and homeowners on the Jersey Shore since 2006. With decades of industry experience, his team provides deep product knowledge and specialized service. Professional deck builders and marine contractors will find that they understand the business and work hard to make every job run smoothly. Homeowners working independently or with a contractor will find him a great resource from planning to delivery. All of their customers will find that James goes the extra mile to help turn a construction project into a beautiful outdoor living space.