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Expert Advice on Building Your Dock: An Interview with David L DeBrule of Upper Keys Marine Construction, Inc.

By David DeBrule

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Upper Keys Marine Construction, Inc. is a family owned and operated full-service marine contractor. We have been in business since 1970 and serve the commercial and residential customer of Monroe County from Ocean Reef to Key West. We specialize in marine construction, including docks, seawalls boat lifts and all marine accessories.

Can you briefly explain the differences between a regular dock and a floating dock?

Fixed dock/piers are constructed out of various types of materials such as wood, concrete or composites and they are at a fixed elevation. They are more suitable for various applications such as shallow water where aquatic vegetation is an issue. Floating docks are secured in place with pilings but rise with the tide. They offer stability to the user and ease of boarding to areas that have larger than normal tidal changes, as well as afford protection during heavy wave activity.

Is there anything homeowners should do before they meet with a contractor about building their dock?

Prior to meeting with a contractor, the homeowner should have some concept or idea of what they are looking for and their needs. An experienced marine contractor can assist in making the right decisions.

What are some of the most popular design features that homeowners in Florida are asking for in new docks?

Composite materials because they offer ease of care and maintenance. Boat lifts and/or davits for the security and maintenance of the vessels. And multiple accessories such as lighting, power pedestals and fish cleaning stations.

What are the main things that influence what can or can't be built?

Environmental restrictions such as aquatic and shoreline vegetation, and water depth.

What advice would you give homeowners about maintenance to help avoid repairs and prolong the life of their new dock?

Start by using high-quality materials designed to withstand the harsh marine environment, maintain any accessories with moving parts such as boat lifts and davits, and avoid making any alterations that may reduce the structural integrity of the dock or seawall.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

Email at buildit@upperkeysmarine.com or phone at 305-853-2644.

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