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#1067 - 10/21/05 11:05 PM Building a Pier
TheBigRagu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/29/05
Posts: 8
Loc: Mississippi
I am in the beginning stages of building a pier on my 2 acre pond. We have recently drained enough water from the pond so that we will be able to dig holes and set our main posts in concrete. Once the concrete settles and the pond refills we will have a strong base for our pier that should remain there for years. My question is... What should we use as "main posts"? We have thought about "treated" 4x6's, "cresote treated" railroad ties, and telephone poles. Does anyone have any suggestions/ideas about what we should use? We wany something that will be able to withstand being under water. Also if anyone know of any links that might have "blueprints" for building piers it would be greatly appreciated. We were thinking about something octogon in shape and about 20x20 in size... Thanks, Ragu

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#1068 - 10/22/05 08:21 AM Re: Building a Pier
Theo Gallus Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12282
Loc: Central Ohio
Ragu (I hope someday I know you well enough to call you Carmine):

Maybe 3-6 months ago there were some BIG discussions on pier/dock construction, with emphasis on post material selection. I will try to summarize what I can remember and hopefully someone will know where to find the thread(s). I also recommend you search for them or try reviewing titles to look for likely threads.

Some people really worry about putting any kind of treated posts in their pond, figuring that whatever (creosote, etc.) is use to kill insects and agents of decay would be bad for fish and fish-eating humans. One non-wood alternative which was mentioned was plastic pipe (PVC?) filled with rebar and concrete. There was a fair amount of detail on different kinds of posts and at least a couple of diagrams showing dock construction plans with a discussion on what sizes of lumber would cover different length spans. We have also had discussions on floating docks of various materials (commercially available and do-it-yourself).

Personally, for my small dock I used Hedgeapple (Osage Orange, aka Bois d'Arc) posts for in the water. This wood, untreated, will outlast any treated softwood in wet conditions (I have 100 year old Hedge fence posts on my farm with the below-ground portions still solid). Downside is it's harder than hell, doesn't grow everywhere, and tends toward being crooked (requiring a large selection of posts in order to find ones straight enough for a dock and limiting the length of straight sections available for such use).
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#1069 - 10/22/05 08:39 AM Re: Building a Pier
ewest Offline
Moderator
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 16449
Loc: Miss.
Ditto Theo's comments. Here is one link. There is one post that goes through the entire plan and another that uses metal posts. Try a search. ewest

http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=20;t=001467
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#1070 - 10/22/05 01:55 PM Re: Building a Pier
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
I would never allow fish in my pond that could't stand a little pressure treated pine or oak in it. \:\)
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#1071 - 10/22/05 02:17 PM Re: Building a Pier
Bernie H. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Ky
I built a 3.5 acre pond in 1984. Used broken telephone poles(they were cheaper) to support a U-shaped dock to park my 15ft. boat in. I left the poles at their various heights until the following year when I had a roof built on it.They worked great,and I don't believe the fish or swimmers have suffered a bit. Dock is solid as a rock.

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#1072 - 10/23/05 11:32 AM Re: Building a Pier
squeeky Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/28/03
Posts: 193
I used heavy gauge used drill stem pipe
set in concrete. Don't know its longevity
in water though. I agree about the enduring
quaility of Bois d' Arc wood. I've seen fence
posts made from the stuff that must be 60 or 70 years old.

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#1073 - 10/26/05 05:33 AM Re: Building a Pier
zhkent Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/18/04
Posts: 229
Loc: Burlington, Kansas
Ragu,
Like Theo I used Hedge.
I also used hedge for everything but the decking, link should take you to a picture.
dock
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#1074 - 10/26/05 05:48 AM Re: Building a Pier
Dave Davidson Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
I used to build custom knives and tried bois d'arc several times for the handles. Beautiful wood that only a rasp would cut. Only one problem. It had the tendency to split several years later. I'm not sure just how that would effect a pier because of the strength.

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#1075 - 10/26/05 08:00 AM Re: Building a Pier
Theo Gallus Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12282
Loc: Central Ohio
Kent, those are some heavy logs you used!

DD, I suspect the biggest problem from splitting would be loss of (short) nails holding decking, etc on rather than a serious structural failure. My experience with hedge posts agrees with a noticeable incidence of splits, but they do not seem to get long or deep enough to be a major structural problem. I just have to replace some fence staples (2" at their longest). I have not had long (5" and longer) case hardened nails used for attaching 2"x6" cross pieces come out.
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#1076 - 10/26/05 05:22 PM Re: Building a Pier
Dave Davidson Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
I agree, Theo. I think that stuff could split and still be plenty strong for a pier. It made my knives almost useless. They no longer had a smooth handle.

One thing, I would damn sure put the decking on before that stuff dried and hardend some more.

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#1077 - 11/01/05 07:31 AM Re: Building a Pier
Ryan Freeze Offline
Lunker

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 1284
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I decided to build my 16'x4' dock from a combination of steel, wood, and composite. The posts were built from 3"x1"wall steel pipe with a 1'x1'x 3/4" steel plate welded to the bottom at a slight angle to match the slope. I then welded a 30"x 1" Pin (salvaged anchor bolts for concrete barrier) to the bottom. The main frame was constructed of 4x4x1/4" angle iron welded. I drilled two holes approx. 12' out 3" and welded 3"id x 3 1/2" pipes over the holes. The 3"x3 1/2" short pipes had 2 1" holes in each which I welded 7/8" nuts to. The posts slipped through the frame and short pipes and bolts could be tightened to clamp the post. This design allows the dock to be adjusted if needed. The bank side had concrete piers dug 30" deep. I used concrete tubes for this. The entire frame was coated with organic zinc, epoxy, followed by a coat of urethane. Joists were laid across the angles, I used 4x4s left over from a fence I had to redo because the wife wanted vinyl (that's another story). Over the 4x4's I laid the composite decking. It stays cool, has good traction when wet, doesn't rot and requires no sealer. I do bridge construction so all the steel and paint was free but I still would have not done it any other way. Check out the picture Dock photo
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#1078 - 11/01/05 10:54 PM Re: Building a Pier
Canepole Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 26
Loc: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
I rarely know enough about pond topics to contribute anything useful. So I read and learn. The accumulated knowledge available in this forum is most remarkable.
I spent a military career in public health and near the end had responsibility for the Army's food analysis and diagnostic laboratory. I would like to add something about the toxicity of pressure treated wood in building piers. I know we all have to die of something, but I don't want it to be cancer. Most of us are old enough to have seen someone we knew well auger in with cancer. It's almost always pretty savage near the end. I believe that much of that cancer is avoidable. And it is almost impossible to know the precise effects of various carcinogens on humans. Until they allow us to do toxicologic testing on convicts and Jihadists, human studies are retrospective or speculative based on work in other species. There can be huge differences between much more closely related species. For example, the lethal dose for a known carcinogen, aflatoxin, is more than 30 times higher for a mouse than it is for a rabbit. My point is that we should all avoid all known carcinogens, at least when it is not too hard to do so.
I found lots of peer-reviewed articles on the dangers of the leached components of pressure treated wood. Pretty bad stuff. Lots of known carcinogens and primary toxins. Here is a brief abstract:

The effects of using wood treated with chromated copper arsenate in shallow-water environments: A review
Weis, JS; Weis, P
Estuaries.

Studies published over the past several years have documented that copper, chromium, and arsenic leach from pressure-treated wood placed in estuaries, and that these toxic metals accumulate in nearby sediments and biota. We have found bioaccumulation and deleterious effects in the epibiotic ("fouling") community, particularly in poorly flushed areas and on new wood. The epibiota showed reduced species richness, diversity, and biomass. Barnacles and encrusting bryozoa that settled on new treated wood grew more slowly than those that settled on untreated wood or plastic substrate. In laboratory studies, trophic transfer of the contaminants from epibiota to their consumers has also been demonstrated. We have also found accumulation of the treatment metals in the fine-grained fraction of nearby sediments and in the benthic infauna. Infauna also had reduced species richness and diversity in sediments adjacent to treated-wood structures. While standard toxicity tests with amphipods did not demonstrate acute toxicity of these sandy sediments, sublethal effects on development were seen in juvenile mysids. Overall, the extent and severity of effects of pressure-treated wood in an estuary depends on the amount and age of the wood and the degree of dilution by water movements.

Anyway, that my two bits. Tom Pool

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#1079 - 11/02/05 05:46 PM Re: Building a Pier
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
 Quote:
Overall, the extent and severity of effects of pressure-treated wood in an estuary depends on the amount and age of the wood and the degree of dilution by water movements.

Canepole, I can appreciate your caution, and I think the last sentence says it all. Amount, age, and dilution.(400,000gal., 1 million gal.) People use this wood to border their gardens, it is handled every day by people; if it is that dangerous, I wonder why it is not banned. The fact that barnacles dont grow as rapidly while attached to it as to non treated wood, is haardly enough to scare most people. If the same tests were run on the various metals, plastics,concrete mentioned; could not the same conclusions possibly be drawn? Just a thought. I think I will still put in 2 4x6 posts for a pier and not be concerned. But,again, I see your concern.
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#1080 - 11/02/05 06:15 PM Re: Building a Pier
Ryan Freeze Offline
Lunker

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 1284
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Canepole and Burger, CCA lumber is a thing of the past. I'm pretty sure this has been brought up before. See New Rules for Pressure Treated Wood . The CCA treated lumber Burger is describing is hardly available at your local lumber yards. It may be of more concern to make sure proper fastener materials are utilized so that people don't fall through the pier 3 years after it is built due to corrosion failure of the fasteners. I'd be more interested in tests showing the hazards of lumber that is actually being sold to the public. You should be able to pick up the MSDS sheets at you local yard. By law these are to be readily available/posted.
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#1081 - 11/03/05 01:52 PM Re: Building a Pier
Canepole Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 26
Loc: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Burger, Ryan, those are good points, and the website is informative. There won't be CCA around much longer, so my point is moot. I would point out that there are lots of things known to be bad for health that are not banned, and I don't want them banned. Don't protect me from my pleasures. I don't smoke but I don't want it banned, and taking nitrited meats up to cooking temperatures is probably not very smart either. But I eat bacon till Hell won't have it, and I don't want it banned. But I will always avoid any exposure to potential toxins if there are safer alternatives that don't jeopardize my pleasure centers. I'm better educated than I was this time yesterday, and I thank you both. In 6 hours I'm going to start a flight from Guam to Oklahoma to look in on the construction of my new pond. I feel like handing out cigars. Best regards, Tom

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#1082 - 11/03/05 02:20 PM Re: Building a Pier
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
Bon voyage, canepole. I think you will be enjoying the weather when you get back to OK.
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#1083 - 11/03/05 06:50 PM Re: Building a Pier
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
You guys just about have me talked out of using treated lumber.

I'm going to build a floating dock about 8' wide and 30' long. It will probably be made from 2x12, 2x6, and 1x6 lumber. What's the best commonly found lumber to use? Cedar? Redwood? How about the composite stuff used to build decks?

I am hoping to find somewhat affordable stainless steel fasteners. I'm afraid galvanized nails/screws/bolts would rust through after 5-6 years.

Thoughts?
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#1084 - 11/04/05 10:40 AM Re: Building a Pier
Ryan Freeze Offline
Lunker

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 1284
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Bobad, Here's my 2 cents.

Redwood is very nice, doesn't warp or split, has a nice dark red color and is very resistant to rotting. It is VERY expensive. I tried to find a price for you but the company I used to get it from hasn't stocked it for 10 years. I try to avoid non-stock items when possible.

Cedar is nice, weathers well, needs sealer occasionally, readily available, looks nice but isn't very strong. Usually cedar decks are framed with treated pine and covered with cedar. If the frame was treated pine with cedar 5/4x6 decking, the joists would need to be 12"o/c instead of 16" o/c for most composits and treated pine 5/4" decking.

As for composit, it is looks nice, you can choose from a limited amount of colors, needs no sealer. Not as slippery as other materials when wet. Shouldn't crack, warp or split. It is usually framed with treated pine and covered with the composit decking. The exposed exterior joists can be covered with vinyl fascia cover. Pilot holes have to be predrilled with a countersink type bit before screwing it down. It is expensive.

approximate prices for decking
Redwood: wouldn't consider
Composit: $4.50 sq. ft.
Cedar: $1.95 sq. ft. + sealer + extra framing
Treated Pine: $1.35 sq. ft. + sealer after 1 year

There are several types of fasteners made of various materials/coatings that are approved for use with the new treated pine. If you go this route just make sure you buy the right type and you should be fine.

If you use wood, one of the biggest mistakes I often see is that the lumber is not crowned during the install. Look at the end of the decking board. When it is laid ready to be attached the rings should look like the sun is rising. The wood will shrink and the board will cup down resulting in a smoother deck/dock and water will run off more readily. Joist should also be crowned. Look down the narrow edge. The board will arch up or down slightly. Put all of the crowns up. Just some tips if you didn't already know.
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"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." Stephen W. Hawking

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#1085 - 11/04/05 07:52 PM Re: Building a Pier
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
Very good and precise information, Ryan.

Thanks
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#1086 - 11/07/05 12:47 PM Re: Building a Pier
Brettski Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 6799
Loc: Illinois
....and my 2 cents
I have done alot of landlubber deck work, and galvanized flooring fasterners are off my list. The only galvanized hardware I will use is the heavy duty bolt/lags for the framing. When it comes to a fastener that will be exposed to water or precip. on a horizontal surface (the deck surface, where it doesn't readily shed like a vertical surface), stainless is the game. Yep, stainless is considerably more expensive, but it NEVER compromises the finish. The only drawback to stainless is that the metal is somewhat softer than gavlvanized and electro-finished fasteners, so the heads can strip more readily if you are not used to driving them. The answer to that dilemna is square drive heads, not phillips.
I plan on building a pier this coming year while our project is being bottomscaped and the dam is constructed. I am a big fan of treated framing and intend to do the same for the pond. Ryan is right, the new age "green-treat" is a considerably more eco-friendly product. I foresee composite for the decking. Why? a) the better grades are virtually rot-proof b) the additional cost is not outrageous for a smaller type pier project c) each pc is identically straight; no twist, warp, cup, knots or swale. The only jury that is still out is a serious consideration to use the under-deck (hidden) galvanized fastener systems. If I did this, I WOULD go with galvanized screws since finish failure would be well hidden.
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#1087 - 11/07/05 06:44 PM Re: Building a Pier
ahvatsa Offline
Lunker

Registered: 10/02/04
Posts: 352
Loc: Poth/McCoy, Texas

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#1088 - 11/07/05 07:09 PM Re: Building a Pier
Ted Lea FOREVERGREEN Offline
Lunker

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 969
Loc: NW Ohio (Waynesfield)
My deck 14X25 is covered with Trex and cedar. (about 50/50)Used Trex where the swimming ladder and diving board is and cedar on the entry way. I was too busy (and unskilled) to do this my self so opted for the $7800.00 to have it done while the pond was filling in spring of 2003.The starter rows were all stainless square drive (almost like torx)and look great. The remainder were air gunned in and look terrible. I looked up application methods on the Trex site and states that you can air drive the nails "DONT" The material swells up around the nail hole and has a torn look to it.Shortly after I had this done I was at a HomeDepot grand opening and got talking to the people that make the Depot version of Trex. I thought it looked a lot better as had some shape to it instead of the rounded edges. We encounter many trex decks that are in shaded back yards as part of our lawn care operation that have been torn out after 10-15 years as they DO rot away. Most seem to be in heavy shaded areas and are irrigated.PS I used treated 6x8's and if to do over would pour concrete in smooth bore plastic(18 or 24 inch) tile,I believe they make a form for these applications also (sonatube?)or something close. Have observed several of these in Ohio of late and they look great.
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#1089 - 11/07/05 07:20 PM Re: Building a Pier
Brettski Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 6799
Loc: Illinois
Forevergreen,
very interesting regarding the Trex decking in shaded and humid locations....so I understand, the point you make is that the older Trex product is far from bullet-proof in constant humid climates? Also, expand a little on the plastic sono-tube thing. I have used the cardboard tubes numerous times on landlubber projects...I realize that these would only be useful as a form, then deteriorate. Do you mean to pour a concrete pier (tube) to above the water line? I envision a substantial post-hole in the bottom of the pond with a 16' long treated 6 x 6 in the middle....basically a long fence pole that projects above the water surface.
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#1090 - 11/07/05 08:07 PM Re: Building a Pier
Ted Lea FOREVERGREEN Offline
Lunker

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 969
Loc: NW Ohio (Waynesfield)
The older Trex appears to be the same as the material on my 2003deck. Time will tell if it will hold up. I wanted something nonwood with some traction and no splintering for the swimmers.It also fads fast and have stained and sealed it twice.I believe Trex stated that it wont take stain but it does. I wanted to match the cedar.I wouldnt consider the climate of the decks Ive seen removed as a constant humid condition as the falls and winters are usually very dry. The spring and summer conditions with the irrigation is humid however. Trex also seems to get mold on it as many surfaces do in this situation. Unless Trex has come out with some new designs in the last 2 years I think some of the other composite products may be worth looking at. I also looked into their railing design and found it very weak and unappealing. Their website looked great however. The piers are installed in dry ponds and are basically a heavy smooth bore (Hancor) field tile or ditch tile that are supported with a wooden framework and poured to above the future water line. Most of these seem to get steel beam framework to attach the decking to.The water in never in contact with the concrete.I also see several square 18 inch bare concrete piers that Im sure will last a long time also. A lot of the ponds around here are constructed by tile and excavation companies that have this type of material for other purposes. Seems like a good way to form and use up short pieces of culvert tile at the same time. It may be overkill as far as a form but keeping the water away may have some merit.
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#1091 - 11/07/05 10:38 PM Re: Building a Pier
Tuzz Offline
Lunker

Registered: 08/17/03
Posts: 234
Loc: Greenfield Park, NY
I'd like to do my pier without draining water. Not sure about material and or floating vs. fixed design. Sounds like we could use an article in Pond Boss with a few ideas on plans.
Personally I'm looking for simple to launch a small row boat or kayak for those folk who don't want wet feet doing it.

Just want a KISS (Deep It Simple Stupid)design.

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