Waterfront Decking Installation Tips for Contractors


Is there anything more enjoyable then spending time eating, entertaining or just relaxing on a waterfront deck? It’s the best of both worlds. You get to experience all of the enjoyable sights, sounds and aromas associated with the shoreline, without ever having to get your feet wet. 

A well-built, high quality deck, boardwalk, or composite dock provides all the comfort and stability of dry land, while putting you as close as possible to the water. That said, not all waterfront decks – and the materials they are made from - are created equal.   

Waterfront Deck Safety is a Slippery Slope

As tranquil and peaceful as these outdoor spaces appear to be on the surface, it’s the extreme conditions of high moisture, temperature variations and wind filled with salt spray and abrasive sand that can wreak havoc on decking materials both seen and unseen. Unlike on the mainland where a worn out pressure treated deck cause some embarrassment or inconvenience for the deck owner, these types of malfunctions could cause a very dangerous situation on deck that’s overlooking or suspended over water. Here’s what you need to know as you plan a new waterfront deck for your client.

Location and Orientation of Waterfront Decks

It goes without saying that you’ll want your client’s new composite deck to take full advantage of the waterfront view that the property affords. However, deck builders and designers should also be considerate of other important factors, such as the orientation of the outdoor space to the (rising and setting) sun, as well as the deck’s proximity to other neighbors, public access points and roadways.

Another deck design consideration should be made to determine where the primary and secondary entrance points are located. Unlike in a traditional type of landlocked deck installation, a waterfront composite deck may offer very few (if any) options for providing a way to access the deck space without going through the interior of the home first.

Moisture Matters and Material Selection  

Although pressure treated (PT) lumber is designed to repel moisture and prevent insect damage far better than untreated wood, there are limits to how well it performs over time – especially when exposed to the elements. That’s why PT wood manufacturers often require that the lumber is regularly maintained with additional paints, stains and other sealers, in order to remain both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.

On the other hand, composite decking materials – made from a combination of recycled hardwood fibers and polypropylene plastic - require no staining or painting. Since all of the raw materials are combined and melted together before being shaped into dimensional lumber decking, the composite material is exactly the same from one end to the other. Along with its superior resistance to mold and mildew growth (a very important consideration when building anything near water) another advantage of composite decking is that it will never crack or splinter, making it more comfortable underfoot, even in bare feet.

DuraLife® composite decking, docks, and boardwalk planks all take this protection a step further by adding a layer of co-extruded polypropylene to the exterior surface of each composite board it produces and backs it with a 25-year limited warranty. Unlike pressure treated lumber and stains that can leech harmful chemicals into the environment over time, the capped technology of DuraLife composite decking will stay looking great year after year with little more than the occasional sweep or warm water rinse. 

Deck installers should also inform their clients that even when properly maintained, traditional lumber decking is susceptible to staining from salt and chlorine, whereas composite decking resists this type of staining because any water left behind simply drains from its surface.  Staining can be particularly noticeable along waterfront deck installations that are located near the ocean or by swimming pools as salt and chlorinated water evaporates and tends to leave traces of these chemicals behind.

Lastly, although some PVC decking products can become slippery when wet, DuraLife composites are made with a deep, embossed wood grain combined with a co-extruded surface that provides superior traction even when wet.

A Forever View Deserves a Forever Deck

There are very few natural features that are more universally enjoyed than a waterfront view. If your client is fortunate enough to live in an area or in a home that has access to one, it’s important to remember that building in these fragile landscapes should be done with care. Commit to only using high quality materials – such as composite decking – so that the waterfront deck you build today will be able to stand up and deliver a lifetime of magical moments.

Get samples of DuraLife composite decking and have them shipped directly to your door. Choose your samples now! 

This article is made possible by DuraLife. DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products. More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.