How to Build a Dock

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How to Build a Dock

If you own waterfront property and would like to utilize it, one way to do so is with a simple dock. Building a dock is not as difficult as it seems. However, if you are a novice at carpentry, building a dock is best left to the experts.

Plan Your Dock

First off, decide what you would like to use your dock for. Many people like to create a simple dock to easily get on and off their boat. Others like to create a dock on the water where they can have a place to sunbathe or enjoy a few drinks with friends.

Another consideration for creating a dock is what kind of materials you would like to use. Obviously, many people create their dock out of wood, however another possible material that is used to create a dock can be metal- usually aluminum.

Docks in general come in two configurations. The first type of dock is a simple long and thin section that makes it easy for a person to get on and off a boat. Other types of docks include two parts. The first is a long and thin section and the second part is a wider dock section usually after the thin section for a place to lounge out on. Whatever your choice, figure how far out you will need to go from land to access your boat. Take into consideration the depth of water from land and the size of your boat. For instance, a row boat will only need a couple of feet of water; where as a 22 footer will need to be docked in a considerable depth of water.

Designing Your Dock

dockAgain, decide how far out your boat will need to be docked. Most docks are made of two sections; the first is about 10 to 16 feet long and about 4 feet wide. This part of the dock comes straight off the land. In most cases it will be attached to a wider section (e.g. 10x 10 or 12×12 feet square).

Now you will need to decide whether you would like your dock to have posts that go from the dock into the ground beneath the water or if you would like the dock to float.

If you choose to build your dock from wood, you can purchase pressure treated lumber that is generally 2″x6″ or 2″x8″ sizes.

First build the large frame which will most likely be in a square or rectangle. It should be noted for the long, narrow portion of the dock, you can construct this by laying 3 twelve foot long boards 2″x6″ and cut a 4 foot long board and attach it to the 3 boards. Now, that you have a general frame for the long, thin section, you will need to attach floor boards to the top of the frame.

For the larger section of the dock, the construction will be similar, however make a frame to the size of your liking (e.g. 10×10 feet)

Choose Between a Dock that Floats or a Dock with Posts

Not every dock can have posts. If the soil is very loose you will need to go with a floating dock, however if the soil is firm and sandy or rocky in nature, you can usually be OK with a dock that has posts.

Floating Docks

You can easily create a floating dock by inserting Styrofoam between the floor boards and the frame on your dock. The process is pretty simple, affordable and effective.

Docks with Posts

If the soil underneath the dock is stable enough to support posts, then installing posts is a good option giving your dock added stability. Posts can be created with either wood or metal (aluminum).

Some home improvement stores sell pre made posts that slide down into brackets. This is a great solution, especially for those individuals that would like to remove their dock during the winter months. With sliding posts you can easily remove the posts and the dock fairly quickly. For those looking for stationary posts, use 4″x4″ wooden posts made out of pressure treated wood and drive them into the soil with a mallet about a foot or what ever depth is required to make the post stable.

Attaching the Dock to Each Other

You should now have two parts of the dock, they need to be connected to each other, but they can’t be rigid. A dock must be able to move with the motion of the water and waves. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to buy eye-bolts and attach eye bolts to each part of the dock. Now buy steel rods that go through the eye bolts of both parts of the dock- this will allow free movement.

Lastly, you will need to make sure that there is a post that is attached to the dock to tie up your boat securely. You might also need some small rubber tires or other form of material to ensure that your boat is safe when it gently rubs up against your dock. And finally, check out your dock before allowing anyone to access it. Make sure it is safe and that it was built properly.

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  1. coolhand said,

    on April 4th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Using Pressure Treated Lumber is NOT a good idea as it leaks toxins into the water … I think its actually illegal to use it on or near bodies of water in Canada.

  2. jamiedentims said,

    on March 21st, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Hi – re your “shell post” on the 18 /03 please pm and we will sort you out this is a second hand one

  3. admin said,

    on June 15th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Jess – yes, in many municipalities, you do need a permit. I recommend checking with your local municipality – they will be able to let you know who to contact in your area.

  4. jess said,

    on June 15th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    hi! very constructive site. I want to know if i need a permit before building my dock?.. do I have to tell the environnement department?