What You Need to Know About Dock Installation

Many docks are built using modular sections. These may be lightweight cubes that are easy to handle or larger and heavier sections that require several people to carry them.

The best practice is to pre-assemble as much of the dock on shore as possible before it goes into the water. This makes installing brackets, posts, and foot pads easier. Click Here to learn more.

dock installation

The type of materials you use for your dock can affect how well it functions, looks, and performs. Choosing the right material can save you money in the long run by reducing the need for yearly maintenance, repairs, or replacements.

Wood is a popular choice for building boat docks. It offers a natural appearance, is easy to work with, and typically costs less upfront than other options. However, it requires regular upkeep, including power washing, staining or painting, and replacing rotten boards.

There are many types of wood to choose from, including hardwoods like IPE and red cedar, and softwoods such as spruce and hemlock. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Hardwoods take longer to grow and are more dense than softwoods, making them harder to work with but a stronger option in marine environments.

Besides the material, you also need to consider your dock’s intended use. If you’re building a deck to host swimmers or sunbathers, you need a material that won’t give them splinters or become slippery when wet. Similarly, if you’re planning to use your dock for recreational boating, you need a surface that can withstand scrubbing and the occasional wave slap.

If your dock will be built in a tidal lake, you’ll need to consider the water levels and sand or clay bed that the pilings will be driven into. If the water level fluctuates significantly or the sand or clay bed is too loose to hold your dock in place, it’s likely that your dock will eventually sink into the water.

In such cases, a crib dock is a better choice. This type of dock uses a series of wooden beams anchored into the bottom of the lake to support a floating dock. To build a crib dock, you’ll need to have access to heavy machinery like an excavator or piledriver.

Another option is to go with a synthetic dock system. Man-made materials can look just as appealing as traditional wood, but they require significantly less upkeep. Synthetic pilings are designed to last far longer than traditional wood, and they’re often backed by a warranty. They’re a good fit for commercial marinas and other docks where durability and ease of maintenance are key factors.

The location of your dock is important, not only for accessibility but also to avoid conflicts with littoral rights, which are the ownership rights of adjacent waterfront property owners. Depending on the type of dock you choose, it may be possible to install it permanently in your water, or you might opt for a removable model that can be pulled out at the end of each season. If you’re going with a permanent dock, it will be important to understand local bylaws and the requirements for dock construction in your area.

The installation of residential docks in tidal, coastal or navigable waters is regulated by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Land and Water Resources Division (LWRD). LWRD’s permit program balances private rights of access to public trust resources with coastal resource preservation and navigation. The process to obtain a dock permit can vary, depending on the size of your dock, what coastal resources are affected and whether there are shellfish lease areas nearby.

Choosing the right company to construct your dock is just as important as the materials used. Look for a company that has a track record of creating quality, long-lasting and durable docks. In addition, make sure the company is licensed and insured to carry out work on your property.

It’s also important to consider how your dock will be used, as this can affect its design and features. For example, if you’re planning to use your dock for fishing, boating or diving, it may be necessary to build in seating to provide safe access to the water. This is a popular trend among waterfront property owners and can improve functionality as well as cut costs by eliminating the need for additional outdoor seating.

A floating dock can be anchored with concrete or steel pilings drilled into the lake bottom, or they can be supported on a platform of dense buoyant foam, plastic or wood. These are the simplest types of docks and are easy to install. If you’re considering a more complex or permanent dock, it is recommended that you hire a professional to ensure the proper anchoring and mooring methods are used in your specific environment.

The right dock installation is the foundation for your entire lakeside experience. A dock that’s not properly installed can be unstable and may collapse. That’s why it’s important to choose a professional who has the necessary expertise to ensure your dock is correctly installed and secured on shore.

A reputable, locally owned company like offers both classroom and hands-on training for their professionals. Apprentices and journeymen receive comprehensive training from veteran dock builders and industry experts. This extensive training translates into unparalleled productivity for members on the job.

In addition to the initial on-the-job training, a professional should have the tools and knowledge to handle unforeseen problems during a dock installation project. dock builders also provide a warranty on their work that covers any issues that arise during the course of a project.

The first step in ensuring your dock is properly installed is to understand the unique characteristics of your waterfront. Is the shoreline sandy, rocky, or soil-based? What’s the water level like year to year? Understanding these factors will help you choose the right dock size and shape for your site.

Next, it’s important to pre-assemble as much of the dock structure as possible before you take it in to the water. This will save you time and effort in the long run and can make for a smoother installation process. For example, assembling the crossarms and upright posts on land before taking them to the lake will help ensure they are at the proper height upon installation.

When installing your dock, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. In particular, pay attention to fastener locations and placements. Using pencil lines to mark the location of nails and screws might seem like overkill, but it will guarantee that all the fasteners are driven at the same depth from edge to edge and with equal spacing between them.

Once you have your basic dock frame in place, it’s time to start adding the accessories. These can be as simple as a swim ladder or as complex as a boathouse. Just be sure to take into account future growth as you plan out your accessories. This will prevent you from having to take the dock out and rebuild it later on down the road.

Keeping your dock in top condition requires regular maintenance. That’s especially important if you plan to use your dock for boat storage or other recreational activities. Docks can suffer from damage from weather, debris, and even the wear and tear of boat trailers. When you’re proactive about dock maintenance, it’s easier to spot problems and repair them before they worsen or become more expensive to fix.

In addition to regularly cleaning and repairing your dock, you also need to keep it protected from the elements. This is why it’s important to select the right materials for your dock. You want something that’s built to last, withstand harsh weather and resist corrosion. That’s why choosing high-quality materials like pressure-treated lumber or aluminum is a good idea. These materials are more resistant to rot and decay, and they don’t require as much maintenance as traditional wood-based decking. When it comes to hardware, choosing galvanized or marine-grade stainless steel is essential. These materials are less likely to rust and are better able to withstand the salty water environment of a lake or pond.

Another way to reduce your dock’s maintenance is to install a concrete apron space. This helps protect the surface from damage caused by vehicle tires, snow chains and ice scrapers. It’s also a great way to keep your dock’s foundation safe from water settling.

If you want to add on to your dock in the future, make sure it’s designed to accommodate that expansion. This is a relatively easy modification that can save you from the cost of tearing down and replacing your dock later on. This will allow you to maximize the value of your property, and it will prevent you from having to move your boat in the winter.

It’s also a good idea to choose a dock with removable parts for a more compact and easy-to-store design. This will help you to reduce the amount of time it takes to take out and put in your dock, as well as the number of times you’ll need to re-tighten fasteners. Finally, be sure to choose hot-dipped galvanized nails, screws and bolts for your dock. These will resist rust for years, and they’ll be more resistant to the effects of salty water.