How to Keep Dock Ladders Rust Free

dock ladder
  • 1-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-200

Dock ladders are a very important safety feature that will be used quite often if you own waterfront property. The main problem one may face with dock ladders is a potential for rust to form. Over time the rust can eat through the metal of the ladder making it completely unsafe to use. There are precautions you can take and remedies you can employ to prevent as well as fix rust on dock ladders.

Step 1 - Remove Rust

Even though many dock ladders are made from stainless steel they can still rust. It is important to remove any rust that has formed on dock ladders to prevent it from spreading. You will need to remove the ladder and make sure it is completely dry. To remove the rust, use steel wool and vigorously scrub the metal until you can see the stainless steel underneath. Once the rust is completely removed you can then go through other methods to prevent rust from forming again.

Step 2 - Paint

dock ladder

Dock ladders are often left as bare stainless steel and sometimes aluminum. Though they look fine like this it also makes them more susceptible to rust. One way to prevent dock ladders from rusting is to paint them. You need to use a high quality acrylic paint. They make acrylic paint that is specialized for dock ladders as it is waterproof. The paint is applied with any brush you may have but you can also use spray paint as long as the same formula is used.

Step 3 - Use Automotive Wax

It seems impossible that wax would be useful in preventing rust from forming but it is very useful. Remove any rust currently on the dock ladders. They can be painted as added protection but that is optional. Use any type of automotive wax and rub it all over the metal where it is under water the majority of the time.

You can put the wax over the metal however you please, with either a thick coat or a thin one. You will need to reapply the wax once every season or every other season depending on how much wax you used.

Step 4 - Apply Waterproof Tape

dock ladder

There are many kinds of tapes you can purchase but make sure it is waterproof. Some forms of duct tape can always work. When you apply the tape, do so in one long piece and on an angle with it winding around and overlapping. The tape provides a barrier between the metal and the water but also provides grip when you are using the dock ladder. This requires attention to detail when applying it and you will need to replace the tape every six months to one year.