On the Water Designs Blog

Fall Dock Maintenance

Now that summer is drawing to a close, it’s time to start thinking about repairing and maintaining your dock for the fall. Your dock has probably sustained a number of damages over the summer and will likely face many more challenges come winter. Repairing your dock in the fall is the best way to prepare it for the harsh conditions of winter. Keep your dock in its best condition all year long with these fall dock maintenance tips.

Wooden Docks

Although wooden docks require a bit more maintenance than aluminium docks, the amount of work need isn’t unreasonable. It’s best to get started on these repairs as early in the season as possible while it’s still comfortable to work outside and before environmental damage such as frost and ice has arrived. Start by inspecting and replacing any loose bolts or screws. If your bumpers are starting to look weathered or worn consider replacing them with something new. Sand, prime and repaint any areas that look damaged or splintered to prevent deterioration. Replace any severely damaged or rotten planks with new ones. Winterize your dock in a location safe from potential ice damage and leave any anchoring systems loose to allow for movement in the spring.

Aluminum Docks

Aluminum docks are easier to maintain but still require some attention come the fall. If removing the docks for the winter take the opportunity to inspect it for any damage that may have happened over the season. Replace any weathered deck boards and dock bumpers that need it.Winterize your aluminum dock away from potential ice damage.

Maintaining your dock during the fall is a simple process that will significantly improve the safety and longevity of your dock. For more information about dock repair and to order to latest docks designs, accessories and supplies, contact us today at On the Water Designs.

How to Keep Your PWC Clean and Safe

With the end of summer fast approaching, now’s the time to take full advantage of your local body of water. Personal water crafts (also known as PWCs), such as jet skis and Seadoos, are a great way to enjoy any local lake or river. Like any piece of water equipment, PWCs need proper care and maintenance to stay safe and usable. Here are some tips for taking care of your PWCs this summer.

Check Your Engine Fluids

For motorized PWCs such as jetskis, it’s important that you properly maintain your engine fluids. Older models of jet skis require premixed oil and fuel, whereas newer models have separate oil and fuel tanks. When you take your PWC out of storage for the season, check your engine fluids. If you have old fluid remaining, you’ll want to dispose of it. Consult a professional before disposing of fuel, and never dispose of it in storm drains, streams and sewers because it can cause contamination and fire.

Repair Loose or Damaged Parts

Before putting your personal water craft on the water, inspect it for any loose or damaged parts. Look over all the wiring to ensure that everything is properly connected and fully operational. If you smell fuel, do not start your PWC—the smell could be an indication of a leak or a crack in your fuel tank.

Keep it Safe with a PWC Lift or Roller Ramp

The best way to prevent damage to your PWC is to make sure that it is properly stored. PWCs should be stored in a dry place out of the sun. Get your PWC out of the water conveniently with a roller ramp or PWC Lift. Roller ramps are a great way to get your PWC right up on shore and safe from waves. This is an especially great solution if you have a gradual slope leading to the water and can get the PWC close to shore to keep the total length of the roller ramp to a minimum.

PWC Lifts are very popular and come in a variety of designs. Cantilever models are less expensive and easy to maintain. Vertical models lift higher and are often used in rough bodies of water like lake Simcoe or Georgian Bay. Specialty models are also available that allow the PWC to lift and rotate directly on the dock for easier maintenance of the PWC

On The Water Designs offers the best variety of storage solutionsfor your personal water crafts, including all parts and accessories. For more information about personal water craft storage and maintenance, and to find the roller ramp or PWC lift that’s right for you, contact us today at On The Water Designs.

Low-Maintenance Decking Options for Your Dock

The decking is one of the most noticeable things about your dock. Think of it as the surface of your dock; without it, the structure and frame of your dock would be useless. It’s important to have decking that is reliable and sturdy so that no one gets hurt while walking or sitting on it.

Just like a car or a boat, a dock requires a certain degree of maintenance and care to stay in good shape. Many of us are busy and can’t always find the time to do the necessary repairs and tune-ups. Before committing to a dock, it’s important to understand the kind of upkeep it will require. If you’re looking for quality low-maintenance decking options for your dock, here are a few of the choices that might be right for you.

Pressure Treated

    • Least expensive option
    • New Micro Pro Formula is coloured brown to look more like cedar
    • Uses a copper based preservative to give many years of rot and bug resistant use
    • PT is Heavier than alternatives like Cedar
    • Mixture of Pine, Spruce & Fur means the decking is not always a consistent look
    • PT does not need to be maintained every year and will go grey with age.
    • It can be stained to maintain a fresh look
    • Choose Pressure Treated decking if you want an economical decking solution

Pressure treated wood is treated with chemicals that make it resistant to insect infestations and rot. It’s an affordable decking option that will last you many years, but it does require some regular maintenance. Pressure treated decks need to be thoroughly cleaned and sealed once a year to avoid discolouration, splintering, or organic material buildup (such as algae).


    • Our most common decking option
    • Naturally rot & bug resistant so does not contain any chemicals
    • 5/4 Decking typically lasts about 10 years with minimal maintenance and can be stained to maintain a fresh look
    • Cedar is lighter weight than PT lumber but may develop cracks and splinters with age
    • Sanding or pressure washing (on a low setting) will keep the surface clean.
    • Choose Cedar if you want an natural, environmentally friendly decking solution

Cedar naturally contains rot-resistant oil, so it can repel rot, insects and decay with having to be sprayed with chemicals. Cedar is also moisture-resistant so it won’t warp if wet. Cedar decking can last as much as 15 years with only minimal board replacements. Cedar decking must be cleaned thoroughly once a year and it shouldn’t be pressure washed as it could damage the wood.

PVC Decking

    • The most common alternative to wood
    • Not to be confused with Composite decking which contains wood fibers, PVC decking is 100% synthetic which means less mold, mildew, and performance issues
    • PVC Decking is available in a variety of colours meaning you can have the look you want without the maintenance.
    • PVC Decking requires support every 16” as it is not nearly as strong as wood decking
    • It gets warmer than wood, especially in the darker colours
    • It is more expensive than wood. Anywhere to 2x to 5x the cost
    • Choose PVC Decking if you want a coloured decking without the maintenance


    • With the popularity of PVC Decking, aluminum has become primarily a choice for commercial applications.
    • It is the ultimate in low maintenance as aluminum will never rust, rot or wear out for a very long lifespan
    • Aluminum can be painted but it is often costly and will eventually wear off with foot traffic
    • Aluminum is often priced similar to PVC decking
    • Aluminum does not have the same natural look and feel of wood or PVC and can be louder to walk on
    • Choose aluminum if you want a dock that will last forever and are not concerned with maintaining a natural look and feel

Aluminum decking is a great alternative if you’re wary of the attention that wood decking needs. Aluminum decking requires fewer repairs and last many years longer on average than wood decking because it isn’t susceptible to deterioration or bug and mold infestations.

Aluminum decks also don’t require sealing or painting, and they are easier to clean than pressure-treated or cedar decks. Aluminum decking is usually more expensive than wood decks, but because it costs less to repair over time, the price difference between the two options balances itself out.

It’s important to have a well-maintained dock for health and safety reasons. If you’re uncertain about your decking option for your new or redesigned dock, contact us and we’ll find the solution that suits your needs.

How to Build a Floating Dock

The outdoor season is coming quickly, and you’ve decided to put some work into the family cottage by installing a new dock. You’ve started the process by picking your dock design – an L shaped floating dock which is perfect for parking three mooring boats. You’ve also decided you want a dock that your family can spend time on – so you’ve opted for a stable 10x 20’ dock with plenty of room and stability.

Here are some things to consider when assembling a new floating dock.

Dock Floatation

This is the foundation of any dock. Whether you decide to choose barrels, pontoons, or floats, it is important to choose a solution that gives you enough floatation to ensure that you will have enough stability for your dock. Typically, to get the right floatation, 25-36lbs / sq. ft is what you should aim for, and adding floatation in critical spots of your dock is important to add needed stability — like for example, at the end of a finger dock.

Every floating dock needs an anchoring system. Our anchor chains are installed like an x across the end of the floating dock to help hold the dock from moving side to side.

If you’ve seen our previous post on dock hardware, we outlined why aluminum is the best choice when it comes to reinforcing your dock. Being highly resistant to corrosion and rust are two important factors.

Dock Hardware

If you remember our previous post on dock hardware, we outlined why aluminum hardware is the number one choice when it comes to hardware for reinforcing your dock. Being highly resistant to corrosion and resistant to rust are two important factors - not to mention that once they are installed, they are easy to maintain.

The right hardware ensures your dock is built strong and square. Wood softens over time — the hardware ensures that the critical connections in your dock frame stay intact in comparison to screws which can loosen against aging lumber.

Our Dock Systems

At On the Water Designs, we offer two series: The Classic Series and the Design series.

Our Classic series docs are made with Canadian Materials and are Micro Pro Sienna treated in our Muskoka facility.

It also features:

    • Classic Series Designs Includes:
    • 2”x 6” Micro Pro Sienna Framing
    • 5/4x 6’ Micro Pro Sienna Decking
    • Aluminum Structural Hardware
    • Galvanized Fasteners
    • Foam Filled Roto Moulded Plastic Floats

Don’t want to build your own dock from scratch? Let us build it for you using the same materials and professional construction techniques. Check out our resources page for price lists.

The Designer series is a wonderful choice if you are ready to have a handcrafted dock that is durable, lightweight and long-lasting thanks to its aluminum frame. It has a 10 year warranty, and is made from the highest quality materials.

The Designer Series also features…

    • Custom floats – the standard size floats 14” off the water but you can opt for 18” designs
    • A wide variety of standard sizes– 6’, 8, 10’ wide and 10’, 15’, 20’ long
    • 25lbs / sq. Ft buoyancy that can be upgraded to 40lbs
    • Decking support stringers installed every 16”
    • Decking offered in western red decking, solid PVC and aluminum

Don’t wait any longer to get that dock in shape. The outdoor season is just around the corner!

Aluminum Dock Hardware vs. Steel Dock Hardware

Which one should you choose? When thinking about what hardware to use with your dock, you want to think about longevity, durability and materials that will give you the least headaches. Here’s a comparison between aluminum and steel dock hardware.

Aluminum Dock Hardware

Aluminum Hardware is the perfect choice for residential applications where low maintenance, long lasting solutions are key. Aluminum hardware doesn’t rust, rot or wear out. The light weight nature of aluminum means you can eliminate over 40lbs from even the smallest dock section compared to steel and due to aluminum’s high strength to weight ratio you’ll see no reduction in strength as a result. At On the water designs our aluminum dock hardware is made from custom extrusions meaning no bends or welds to create weak spots. Extrusion technology also vastly reduces the time to produce each item allowing aluminum hardware to be sold at less expensively than steel.

Aluminum hardware is some of the best material to use for a docking system, due to being highly resistant to corrosion. It is immensely strong, durable and lightweight. Plus, once they it is installed, it is easy to maintain for years to come. Because it is lightweight, it is very easy to carry and assemble each season. Our hardware is produced from specially designed aluminum extrusions that maximize the strength of each bracket, which eliminates the need for welding.

What’s important to know is that they it is versatile and long lasting --- aluminum does not rust! This makes it a viable choice for building on water. Aluminum hardware also offers flexibility as it is designed to be used with either pole or floating docks.

Finally, you can also reuse aluminum hardware on your next dock if the wood is worn out. Aluminum is also fully recyclable, which means that you can dispose of it easily and ethically.

Steel Dock Hardware

Steen hardware is a great choice for commercial applications and very rough conditions. To ensure your hardware can withstand the rougher conditions be sure to chose designs that utilize ¼” thick material and larger ½” diameter fasteners. The heavy duty hardware is more expensive than residential versions but is worthwhile when maximum strength is required.


Hot Dipped Galvanized fasteners are the most common choice and are compatible with either line of hardware. Stainless Steel is also an option but is more expensive. Residential hardware most commonly utilizes 3/8” diameter fasteners and commercial hardware upgrades to ½” diameter. If fastening through a single piece of lumber you’ll want a 2-1/2” long bolt. If using two pieces you’ll need a 4” bolt.

While aluminum and steel look relatively the same and carry out similar functions, there are some differences between the two that are important to note. The thickness of aluminum makes it 3/16” and it is 60% the weight of comparable steel parts. Its strength to weight ratio surpasses that of steel.

However, steel can stand higher temperatures much better than aluminum. Steel also corrodes more easily and unfortunately wears down at a far faster rate than aluminum due to its non-porous characteristic. Aluminum has a higher resistance to oxidation and corrosion - it takes an extremely acidic situation to get aluminum to corrode.

Finally, steel is typically more expensive than aluminum.

From this you can see that in most situations, aluminum would fare as the better choice. It is highly durable, resistant to corrosion, lightweight and easy to assemble, maintain and eventually dispose of.

Check out some of the docks we have built here. If you’re looking to build a dock, contact us for a quote today!

What Kind of Dock Do I Need?

When it comes to choosing a dock, one size does not fit all. There are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right dock for you (and your location). As trained dock professionals, we take every detail of your circumstances into account before we recommend a dock. From the size of your boat to the level of water fluctuation you experience, we note every detail. Our commitment to delivering the product that best suits your needs ensures our docks’ longevity.

What Types of Docks Are There?

There are many different types of docks. Before you choose one, you should know the characteristics and benefits of each type.

Pole Dock

Pole docks are designed for shallow water. You should choose this option only if your lake bed is quite solid (not too muddy). This dock is the most environmentally safe because not very much of the dock touches the water. It also does not need to be attached to the shoreline. This dock is the most affordable of the options, but it cannot be used in water over 6 feet.

Floating Dock

Floating docks are great for water that fluctuates a lot. They move with the water levels, staying a consistent height above the water. Most floating docks can also be left in the water for the winter. In this case, the ramp simply needs to be disconnected from shore and the chains loosened to allow the dock flexibility to move with any ice shifting. If you are in an area with lots of ice movement, you can relocate the dock to a nearby bay.

Tower Dock

Tower docks are similar to pole docks, but they can be lifted out of the water like a drawbridge at the end of summer, leaving you with little to do when it comes to winterization. This is the easiest dock to use from season to season.

On The Water Designs is able to build several varieties of docks that will match most bodies of water and boats. Our expert dock building and design team will discuss with you the dock that best meets the needs of your lake and boat. We will take into account the size of your boat (and how it affects water level), the general water fluctuation around the dock, and natural environmental factors. There are many different types of docks and choosing the right one is vital to ensure its safety and longevity.

If you are curious to see what dock might work for you, check out our Dock Analysis tool to get a brief analysis of your summer cottage’s dock needs. Whether you want a pole dock, floating dock, or tower dock, On The Water Designs can give you the summer water experience of your dreams. Give us a call to find out more!

1490 Hwy 11 N
 Kilworthy, ON P0E 1G0
Call: (705) 689-0884

Email: info@onthewaterdesigns.com
To speak to a representative Call Toll Free: 1-866-477-0177