Focus on good design and clever construction Though ipe sinks in water, it is an excellent material for docks, says Jason Schell of Custom Outdoor Structures in Enon, Ohio: It doesn’t get slippery when wet, splinter like pressure-treated wood, or contract and expand much with changes in temperature and humidity. And it’s beautiful. Schell’s company originally built this ipe dock on Lake Lakengren in Ohio without the benches. Because the seawall below could shift, the company cantilevered the dock over it. However, the two-level design this required resulted in a tripping hazard, so the company returned a year later and built ipe benches along the change in elevation, with a centered gate to guide foot traffic. — Laurie Elden