Realizing that the boardwalks surrounding the tower and fishing pier were worn, park engineers chose to replace the decking for both the boardwalks and piers at the scenic Wall Springs Park in Pinellas County, Fla.
The 35-ft. tall observation tower at Wall Springs Park in Pinellas County, Florida, offers stunning views of the park and the Gulf of Mexico beyond. A regional gem, the tower and about 30-ft. of ramp leading to it were destroyed by arson in 2013. In the midst of an arduous five-year reconstruction project, park engineers realized the boardwalks surrounding the tower and the fishing pier were worn and rotting. They chose to replace the decking with composite decking for those areas to reduce maintenance and increase longevity.
“The original boardwalks installed in 2002 had begun to deteriorate and were becoming a safety hazard,” says John Linton. P.E., senior engineer, parks engineering and design, for Pinellas County. “We then changed the scope of the tower project to include new decking for the boardwalk and fishing pier so the whole area of the park would be updated and safe by the time the tower reopened to the public.”
MoistureShield Vantage is an uncapped wood composite board with a matte finish that evokes the look of real hard wood. “The color is consistent throughout the board and it cut just the same as wood—even better because it didn’t splinter when cut,” says Linton. “And, with wood-grain texture on both sides, contractors didn’t have to worry about which side they were flipping up.”
Additionally, MoistureShield’s SolidCore technology runs through the entire board to ensure protection without a cap. There’s no need for painting, staining and yearly repairs and Vantage is completely resistant to moisture, rot and warping. This was significant in Wall Springs Park because most of the boardwalks are in submerged swamp areas where they receive very little sunlight and are moist most of the day.
“When we first built the boardwalks, the cost of composite decking was considered astronomical. Now, we’re finding the pressure-treated wood doesn’t hold up as long as it used to and we’re facing more frequent, costly replacements,” says Linton. “The longevity of the composite, as well as the reduced maintenance needs, have made it much more cost-effective.”
For longer spans required by commercial boardwalks, the 2 × 6 profile of Vantage was used for the decking. The boardwalks are 6-ft., 9-in. wide with an inside handrail. Linton points out Vantage was the only of the composite products they looked at that offered a 2 × 8 profile that could be used for the top plates on the railings. The rail system has a 6 × 6 post and 2 × 2 rails with galvanized metal mesh inset.