How Do You Clean a Pier?
During spring and summer, it is very common to see people lounging or tanning on the boat pier. However, as the traffic on the pier increases, it also leads to an accumulation of grime, grease, and dirt. Further, the water also pushes out a fair bit of junk onto the pier surface. If the pier is left uncleaned, it not only makes the pier look unattractive, but the accumulated debris can lead to faster wear and tear of the structure. While cleaning the pier is an obvious solution, it is important to be aware that the method of cleanup is important since not all surfaces can be treated in the same way.
Natural Dock Cleaning Tips
Tips for how to clean a pier differ significantly when it comes to wood. In most cases, pier cleaning is a DIY project that requires getting down on your knees and putting in some elbow grease:
- Inspect first: Before you start the clean-up process, inspect the dock for integrity and stability. At the same time, inspect any ladders, railings, or dock accessories like portable steps for stability and intactness. Check manually to see if there are any loose or rotting boards and/or the presence of screws/nails sticking freely up in the air. If there are any rotten or loose boards, you may need to repair before cleaning.
- Pressure washer: One of the best ways to start cleaning the pier is to use a pressure washer, especially if the dock is made of wood. If the dock is made from pressure-treated lumber a pressure washer can be used every 12-24 months for cleaning. However, you have to make sure that the pressure washer does not cause the wood to splinter or form jagged edges. To avoid this problem, hold the pressure washer at some distance or adjust the water pressure such that it is adequate for cleaning but will not damage the wood.
- If there are stains or spots on the pressure-treated lumber, then you should select a cleaning solution that is EPA approved and won’t harm the wood or the environment. After applying the solution, use a rag or a stiff brush to remove the blemishes.
- In general, it is recommended that hardwood docks be cleaned every 12-24 months. To maintain the aesthetics of hardwood, the dock wood should be sealed and polished/stained regularly.
Cleaning Piers Made from Other Materials
- Composite decking: Unlike hardwood, composite docks do not require frequent cleaning. To maintain the aesthetics of the composite, cleaning once every 12 months is recommended. Dirt, algae, and debris on the composite deck can be removed with pressure washing.
- Aluminum docks: Aluminum docks are sturdy and durable and can withstand pressure washing without issues. However, if there are any oil spots or dark stains, only use solutions approved by the EPA to protect the environment.
When cleaning these surfaces, avoid toxic chemicals like phosphorus, ammonia, bleach, chlorine, petroleum solvents, phthalates, and degreasing agents.
To prevent further contamination of the waters, it is important to limit the use of caustic chemicals. Both ammonia and phosphorus are commonly found in many home-cleaning products and should be avoided as they are detrimental to both marine life and humans. Always read the product label before using it.
What Chemicals Are Used to Clean the Pier?
Find a solution that is phosphate and ammonia-free, has a neutral pH, and is biodegradable.
If the pier has coatings of mildew or algae, then a good option is to use a solution of baking soda combined with white vinegar. After application of the solution, let it sit for 15-60 minutes and then give it a good scrub.
Two Other Options
- If you have a wooden pier and if it is rotted, loose, or unstable, then a piecemeal repair will only be a temporary fix. In such scenarios, it is best to replace the pier with a low maintenance AccuDock floating pier. Maintenance of the AccuDock floating pier is easily accomplished with water, a stiff brush, and an eco-friendly detergent. In fact, the AccuDock contains expanded polystyrene on the surface which makes it highly resistant to algae and other marine growth; meaning it will require less maintenance than other fabrics.
- In some scenarios, after you have tried everything, it is recommended that you call a professional who deals with pier cleaning. This may save you time and agony.
There is nothing magical about cleaning a pier but the important thing is to minimize the contamination of the waters by avoiding the use of harsh and toxic chemicals. Our polluted waters have already caused immense loss of marine life and harm to humans. The key is to read labels, select EPA approved solutions, and a pressure washer. In most cases, regular maintenance will keep the pier looking like new for many years.