What’s the best way to shade our dock?


We need shade on our dock. We tried a large umbrella, but the wind destroyed it. Can you suggest a structure to provide shade but allow the wind to go through?
—Sick of the Sun

The right shading solution depends on your dock’s location, construction, and dimensions (plus how badly and permanently you want to avoid Mr. Sun). Need a solid, free-standing structure to simply break up the blinding rays? Consider a pergola or an arbour. If you’ve got some carpentry skills, you can build this yourself. “It’s pretty simple,” says Dave Anderson of Anderson Contracting in Bracebridge, Ont. In its humblest form, it’s “four posts, with some beams across, but you can dress it up pretty nicely.” (To provide the most shade, the beams should be close together.) Some deck companies sell pergola and gazebo kits. A similar option is a wood sunshade—basically a frame structure draped with removable fabric panels.

If a big post-and-beam arrangement—classy and elegant in some situations—would look clunky and weird on your dock, check with marine accessory retailers or awning manufacturers for lighter, removable shade solutions. The Canadian company Davlin–The Awning Factory, for instance, makes custom-designed awnings that can mount to the side of the dock. You can shade part or all of your dock, use them to protect outdoor furniture, and attach side curtains to block the sun as it rises and sets. “The possibilities are limitless,” says company treasurer Linda Spearn. “It really gives you more use of the dock.” Other companies, such as EZ Dock Okanagan, sell removable “roof” systems that mount to a floating dock.

Don’t ditch the wide-brimmed hat and SPF before checking into permit requirements. A small pergola may not need a building permit, but even minor work around water could need an okay from your municipality, your local authority,
or a higher level of government.