Whether solid handrails are made from wood, composite lumber, fiberglass, or marine-grade aluminum, they provide more stability and safety than rope rails. If it's time to reconstruct your deteriorating boat dock or if you're building a custom dock from scratch, consider these reasons for incorporating solid handrails into your building plans.
While you may have fond memories of sitting on an open dock and dangling your feet in the water or playing with a swinging rope rail, you probably realize how dangerous that was now that you are an adult. Safety on your dock should always be your top concern. Solid handrails are simply more stable than rope rails and are more likely to stop a child who suddenly dashes away. Swinging rope railings are inherently attractive to young children, who instinctively reach out to touch objects at eye level. A child could be surprised by how much the rope sways and easily lose their balance. Solid handrails won't sway and will provide resistance if a child leans or pulls on them.
Handrails are available with perpendicular or diagonal supports to keep kids from climbing them and potentially falling off the dock. If cost is a concern, you can add a single-top handrail to your dock and attach netting or other temporary barriers to it. Of course, railings are not a substitute for teaching children about water and boating safety. However, they can provide an extra measure of security.
Stability for the Elderly and Mobility Impaired
Even if you are in the prime of life and there are no disabled people in your household, it's still wise to add railings to your dock for the future. Docks are built for long-term use, and improvements in marine building materials make them more corrosion-resistant than ever. Some manufacturers of pilings, decking, and railings guarantee their products for 30 years or more. It's likely that the dock you build today will be the one you use when you are older. A solid handrail will help you walk or provide a secure support to lean on when you need it. If you develop a condition that makes it difficult to walk, like arthritis or fibromyalgia, you'll have a safer dock to get you to your boat and your favorite fishing spot.
If you ever sell your home, potential buyers will not view solid handrails as a drawback. They are aesthetically appealing, and if you use a corrosion-resistant material they will remain free of rust or rot. It's likely that buyers will view them as an additional safety feature, especially if they look solid and new.
Your marine construction contractor can help you with selecting the right design and materials for your needs. Discuss your ideas with them as well as your concerns for safety, aesthetics, and your future needs. They can help you design a dock that will meet local permit requirements and that will also help you create wonderful family memories of the water. Contact a representative from a company like Abbott's Construction Services Inc. for more information.