Having a slippery boat dock can be incredibly dangerous, and while there isn’t much you can do under certain circumstances, there are a few best practices to be aware of. The most common culprit is typically the buildup of mold or algae that makes your boat dock very slick and unsafe.
The good news is there are many methods to prevent your boat dock from becoming a hazard to you and your family. In this post, I’ll break down a few of the best ways to treat your dock to ensure it is slip-resistant. and a couple of other tips to keep you safe.
Regular cleaning and maintenance
If your dock is older, regular cleaning and maintenance is crucial to remove mold, algae, bird droppings, or even fish secrete that can make it slippery when wet.
It’s also a good idea to make it a regular routine to remove any debris from your dock, especially after any storms. This will prevent moisture and build-up. Moisture is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and algae which will all make your dock slippery.
The importance of deep cleaning with a pressure washer
The most vital step to preventing your dock from becoming slippery is to do a deep cleaning with a pressure washer at least once a year. A pressure washer not only removes any build-up of mold or algae but it also can provide added traction if the wood grain is exposed.
I would highly recommend a gasoline-powered pressure washer like this one by Simpson built around a Honda motor that I found on Amazon here. These are much better for deep-cleaning wood surfaces as opposed to cheap electric ones and usually have a higher max PSI rating and gallons per minute (GPM) rating.. The electric models are great for washing cars, but no so much in actually cleaning wood docks based on my experience.
Keep in mind that if you have an older dock, you’ll want to make sure that the wood isn’t too brittle if using a pressure washer.
Hand clean your dock with a marine dock cleaner
If your dock is smaller, hand cleaning is another option. It’s a good idea to choose an eco-friendly cleaning solution with non-hazardous chemicals that can water pollution like this product you can pick up on Amazon here by Defy. If you notice that buildup is the cause of your dock being extra slippery, a product like this I would recommend if you don’t have a pressure washer.
For most products like this, you simply apply them and wait 15 minutes to let the product soak in. You can then follow up a brush, and finally rinse clean with a hose.
Anti-slip wood dock paint
After thoroughly cleaning your dock, a marine-grade anti-slip paint can add an extra layer of slip resistance ensuring your dock is safe. It’s important to let your dock thoroughly dry out after cleaning before applying any products to it, as wood can be extremely porous and hold a lot of water.
Once your dock is completely dried, apply a wood primer and finally an anti-slip paint like Soft Tread. This marine-grade anti-slip coating comes in a variety of grit that will best suit your dock needs.
Anti-slip grip tape is incredibly easy to install, inexpensive, and once in place, it provides superior anti-slip qualities for your dock. All you have to do is peel off the back layer and stick it in place. The material is similar to a low-grade black sandpaper, like that you see on a skateboard.
When choosing a grip tape, make sure to get one that is waterproof so it can withstand the elements. The grip tape will also need to be replaced every couple of years.
Since grip tape has such a rough texture, it doesn’t feel so great on bare feet and it also gets hot under the sun, so you’ll want to wear shoes if you decide to go with this option. Check out some of these grip tapes made specifically for docks and outdoor spaces like this one you can pick up for less than 10 bucks.
You can find these in thinner varieties that are a little less obvious when installed, but still do the job.
If you’re dealing with a slippery dock and you don’t have the time to fix it right away, boat shoes may be your answer. There are a number of brands and styles to choose from depending on your personal preference and budget. Here are some of the top-rated boat shoes on the market.
This boat shoe brand is the original boat shoe and comes in a variety of colors and styles to fit the aesthetics of the entire family. Sperry is a trusted, well-known brand you can rely on that is stylish, comfortable, and provides great anti-slip.
A tried and true favorite of the brand is the original Gold Cup shoe.
This brand has a similar price point to Sperry, but still provides high-quality boat shoes that come in many different styles. The Ankle Deck Boot is 100% waterproof and is best seller here on Amazon, and a very good practical option if you spend a lot of time working on a dock surface.
For a more modern take on the classic boat shoe, the Terrex ClimaCool by Adidas is a popular choice. It’s a lightweight shoe allowing breathability and provides maximum grip without sacrificing style.
Simply put, to guarantee your boat dock isn’t slippery, regular cleaning and anti-slip products are two of the most important steps you can take to minimize the amount of buildup that most often causes a slippery surface.
You can also take it a step further by installing grip around trouble areas, as well as ensuring you wear the best non-slip footwear you can find.
If you’re also concerned with dock preservation (as all dock owners should be), be sure to check out my post: Wood Dock Preservation 101: 4 Sealants and Products to Use.