How to Use Screws or Nails on Docks

A boat dock is constantly exposed to the forces of nature.

Screws

A boat dock is a decked surface built out over the waterA boat dock is a decked surface built out over the water
Rain and salt spray attack the planks, and the sun beats down on their fully exposed surfaces. When the decking planks on your dock are showing signs of decay or rot, you should replace them. While you are performing this task, you may also wish to add additional components like cleats. For fastening the planks, you can use either nails or screws. To fasten the cleats near the outer edge of the plank ends, you'll probably need a special type of screw.

Using the drill driver, back out and remove the screws on the dock planking you wish to replace. If the screws are rusted or badly corroded, discard them. If they show only minor signs of wear, you may wish to reuse them.

Place the pre-cut replacement dock plank evenly in the space the old plank occupied. Have you helper hold the other end while you drill a pair of pilot holes in one end of the plank.

Drive your galvanized or stainless steel screws and then perform the same action on the other end of the plank. Your replacement plank is now securely installed.

Nails

Galvanized nails resist rust and grip securely.

Using your crowbar or pry bar, remove any rotted deck plank that was previously secured with nails. Put it aside to be discarded later.

Place the pre-cut replacement dock plank evenly in the space the old plank occupied. Have you helper hold the other end while you drill a pair of pilot holes in one end.

Using the hammer, drive a galvanized nail into the each pilot hole you drilled. A pilot hole helps guide the nail your are driving straight down and lessens the risk that an errant hammer blow will bend it out of shape.

Perform the same action on the other end of the plank. Your replacement plank is now nailed down securely.

Installing a Cleat

Position the cleat where you wish to install it. Use the pencil to mark the center of the mounting holes.

Set the cleat aside and drill pilot holes into the pencil marks. Make your holes approximately one-third smalller than the shank diameter of the lag screws you will be installing. The idea here is to drill pilot holes deep enough to allow you to drive the lag screws into the framing below the planks.

Insert a galvanized lag screw into each hole in the base of the cleat. Drive each lag screw into the deck and framing using your socket wrench. As the cleat begins to suck up, re-tighten each lag screw until each is firmly secured. You dock is repaired and your new cleats are properly installed.

Things You Will Need

  • Hot-dipped galvanized nails
  • Hot dipped galvanized screws or stainless steel screws of the identical length
  • One or more galvanized dock cleats
  • Hot-dipped galvanized lag screws (sometimes referred to as lag bolts)
  • Hammer and drill driver and bits
  • Pry bar or crowbar
  • Socket wrench and socket sized to the head of the galvanized lag screws
  • Pencil
  • Dock decking planks, pre-cut to the proper length
  • Helper

Tip

  • Because there may be tremendous lateral forces pulling on the lines attached to your cleats, you should use the longest lag screws you can. If the cleats pull loose, the boat tied to them will drift away.

About the Author

Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.