Contractor Tips: Waterfront Decking


There are few natural features that are more enjoyable than a waterfront view. For contractors who have clients with homes on the water’s edge, it’s important to remember that building in these types of fragile landscapes — which often present some harsh weather conditions — should be done with care.

One way you can ensure the waterfront deck, boardwalk, float or dock you build will stand the test of time and weather is to use only high-quality, durable materials — such as composite decking. That being said, not all composite materials are created equal, so it’s important to understand what to look for when selecting the right product for your client.

Following are a few key factors to consider and potentially discuss with your client when planning any waterfront project that utilizes decking boards.

Avoid a Slippery Slope — Keep Safety First

As tranquil and peaceful as an outdoor deck with a waterfront view may appear to be on the surface, high moisture, temperature variations and wind filled with salt spray and abrasive sand can wreak havoc on decking materials. Unlike on the mainland where a worn-out pressure treated deck causes some embarrassment or inconvenience for the deck owner, extreme waterfront conditions can cause a very slippery — and dangerous — situation on a deck or boardwalk that overlooks the water or a dock that floats on the water.

DuraLife by Barrette Outdoor Living composite decking materials feature superior slip resistance and traction when walking. Made with a deep, embossed wood grain combined with a co-extruded surface that provides superior traction even when wet, DuraLife decking is 136% more slip resistant when wet and 56% more slip resistant when dry as compared to competitor’s products.

Location, Location, Location … and Orientation

Obviously, the whole point of adding a waterfront deck is so your client can take full advantage of the much-coveted view their property affords. As a contractor — whether you are working with an architect or designing the project yourself — it’s important to consider a number of factors in addition to location.

Be sure to take notice of the overall orientation of the area you plan to build on — does the sun set or rise over the area, will the deck be in full sun for most of the day or will it be mostly shaded, etc. Also consider the deck’s proximity to neighbors, public access points and roadways — your client will probably want some privacy while soaking in the view.  

Another composite deck design consideration should be to determine where the primary and secondary entrance points are located. Unlike landlocked deck installations, a waterfront 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.


Reasons to Use Composite Decking Materials  

While pressure treated 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 more extreme elements — like salt water spray, high winds, sand and other variables more common in a coastal area. That’s why pressure treated wood requires regular and time-consuming maintenance — painting, staining, sealing — 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 — are considered low-maintenance and require no painting, staining or sealing. Along with providing superior resistance to mold and mildew — an important consideration when building anything near water — composite decking will also never crack or splinter, making it more comfortable underfoot, even in bare feet.

DuraLife® composite decking as well as docks and boardwalk planks take protection a step further by adding a layer of polypropylene to the exterior surface which helps products keep their great looks for years to come without the need for constant upkeep. And unlike pressure treated lumber — which require toxic products for maintenance — eco-friendly composite decking requires little more than the occasional sweep or warm water rinse. 

Staining is another important factor to consider when presenting composite decking to your client as an option. Whereas pressure treated wood decking is susceptible to staining from salt and chlorine, composite decking resists this type of staining because any water left behind simply drains from its surface. 

Finally, DuraLife by Barrette Outdoor Living offers one of the industry’s best product warranties on its decking, dock and boardwalk products with its 25 Year Transferable Limited Warranty. No matter what brand you and your client decide to use, note the warranty terms and make sure the product you choose offers adequate coverage. 

Experience the DuraLife Difference

Want a few samples of our decking or dock boards to share with your client so they can see the DuraLife difference first hand? You can order samples in any combination of collection, color and profile and have them shipped directly to your door — all just a click away!