3 Ways To Protect Your Dock Pilings From Barnacles And Other Aquatic Organisms

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Barnacles and other aquatic growth can build up on your boat dock within months of installation. As they grow in numbers, they can cause an unsightly appearance and place hundreds of pounds of unnecessary stress on your dock. If you've got a dock that's bogged down with crustaceans and algae, here are 3 ways you can take care of the problem.

1. Scrape Off Your Pilings

There are products on the market that are specifically designed to handle the task of barnacle removal. The simplest of these products are the barnacle scrapers. Barnacle scrapers attach to standard threaded poles and have 2 metal sides -- one flat, and one curved. Using a barnacle scraper is simple; all you have to do is stand on the dock and rub the scrapers up and down your pilings. With each pass, you can remove up to 9 inches of barnacle buildup.

Barnacle scrapers are effective, but they provide little protection against shipworms that burrow deep into the surface of wood pilings.

2. Wrap Up Your Pilings

A better option for protecting your dock from barnacles and other aquatic organisms is to have your pilings wrapped with a protective piling wrap system. When you hire a contractor to install pile wrap, trained divers will go beneath the surface of the water and place 2-3 layers of polymer plastic around the circumferences of your pilings. This wrap will not only protect against new barnacle growth, but it will kill any existing populations of boring worms that have taken up residence in your pilings.

3. Replace Your Pilings

A final option in preventing aquatic organisms from destroying your dock is to have your pilings replaced with chromated copper arsenate-treated wood pilings. This compound bonds securely to wood, creating an unfavorable environment for crustaceans to adhere to and protecting against fungi, bacteria, and wood-boring worms. CCA-treated pilings require no maintenance once they're installed. 

While this compound may release small amounts of arsenic into the environment over time and is banned for use in several applications, it's still legal and widely used for submerged dock pilings. It should be noted that pile replacement can cost $400-$600 or more per pile, but you can significantly prolong the lives of your piles by replacing them with CCA-treated wood.

If your dock piles are loaded with barnacles and other aquatic organisms, they'll soon fail if you don't enact one of the above 3 solutions. Contact a dock repair specialist, like Abbott's Construction Services Inc., today to discuss which barnacle-busting option is right for your dock.