Cribs vs. Steel

Cottage Construction and Repair in Muskoka

Cribs vs. Steel Docks? This is a question I get asked all the time. First, I will be clear that the docks that we build are crib. We have steel workers for the times that we do steel and we complete the top with our craftsmen. So, which is better? The answer is – it depends. The best solution is determined on an individual basis.  

Crib docks are not all created equal, and nor are
steel docks.

We focus on strength in our woord docks. We use douglas fir instead of the less expensive hemlock which is prone to splitting in lower rounds. Hardware store common spikes have little ability to hold your new or aging dock down in the now too common floods. The use of wharf spikes or drift spikes and the method in which we use them combined with notches help mitigate the chances for damage.  It is also critical to fill them with stone. Wood docks have proven themselves for over a century. 

I recently re-built a dock at an Olde Muskoka cottage. The original timbers pulled from bottom rounds circa 1915 were starting to compromise the integrity of the original steel spikes. Wood kept fully submerged does not rot. Tt actually helps preserve it.  The steel spikes however, don’t last forever.

So, what does this mean?

Over a hundred years was a pretty good run! Wood crib docks are repairable and have the ability to protect your boats from wave action, weather from mother nature, or from boaters. A negative to some crib docks is the potential for settling, whereas steel does not. Cribs are not suitable for deep water (over 10 feet), they also are not ideal in soft bottoms. If you choose a steel dock, or your situation requires it, the thickness of the steel matters. Our lakes are acidic, and in many cases we have stray voltage problems that cause electrolysis. The thicker the steel the longer it takes to rust through. Many steel docks that are less than 20 years old are failing. Once they fail they cannot be repaired. It is a matter of starting over with new. This is a particular problem when a structure is above.

Wood Pros

Wood Cons

Steel Pros

Steel Cons

See our dock projects here