Choosing the Right Material for Dock Construction

Whether you’re replacing an old dock or building from scratch, the material you choose makes all the difference. Your options depend on the type of shoreline and lake bottom and the weather conditions in your area.

Dock Construction

Wood is a natural choice that’s durable and blends in with the environment. Hardwoods such as Ipe and Cumaru are naturally resistant to rot, mold and mildew. Visit to learn more.

When it comes to dock construction, the right material is critical. The material used for the pilings (the base of a dock that holds up the decking) is an important decision, as they must be strong enough to support the weight of the structure and resist corrosion. The best choice for a dock is a metal such as steel, which can withstand the harshest conditions. This is especially true in coastal areas where the water is salty or brackish and where freezing temperatures can occur in the winter.

Other materials that are often used for dock construction include wood, concrete, and plastic. While each has its own advantages and disadvantages, it is important to think about how the dock will be used before choosing a specific material. If the dock is going to be used for swimming or sunbathing, for example, where there will be lots of bare feet on the surface, it is important to choose a material that won’t cause splinters and will still be non-slip when it gets wet.

Another important consideration is the climate in which the dock will be built. If there are frequently storms or if the water freezes over in the winter, it may be necessary to build an ice-breaking structure such as a ramp or an extension of the dock in order to accommodate boats and vehicles. In addition, the entrance channel to the dock must be deep enough to accommodate ships and container vessels. This can be done by dredging the existing stagnant water or by changing the water inflow by connecting it to nearby rivers or seas.

Choosing the right material for the beams is also important, as they provide much of the strength and stability for the whole dock. Wood beams are usually constructed from hardwood, such as cypress or redwood, which is a good choice for durability and longevity. Another excellent option is douglas fir, which has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and is naturally resistant to abrasion and impact.

Floats are also an important part of dock construction and they need to be strong enough to keep the entire dock stable in the water. The most popular floats for dock construction are made from plastic, which has the advantage of being very easy to work with and does not require any special tools. It also won’t rot and is highly resistant to mold and mildew. In addition, it is very lightweight.


There are a wide variety of options for dock construction. A dock can be a simple structure that houses the boat and provides access to the water, or it can be elaborate with walkways, seating areas, fishing platforms and more. The type of dock that you choose will depend on your personal needs, the shoreline and lake bottom configuration, local ordinances and regulations, and your budget. While some localities don’t require permits for dock construction, it’s a good idea to file plans before beginning work, particularly when building or replacing an existing structure.

A dock should be constructed so that as much of the material is above the water line as possible, as constant contact with water will cause materials to degrade faster. This will also help to protect the structure from harsh weather patterns, which are more common on large bodies of water. However, you don’t want the dock to be too high above the water, as this will make it difficult for boats to berth.

Choosing the right dock design will help to ensure that your investment in the dock is a success. The shape of the dock should be designed with consideration to the size and types of vessels that will be berthed there. The dock’s location should also be taken into account, as some locations may experience extreme weather conditions. If your location experiences frequent wind storms, it is a good idea to include surge protection in the design of your dock.

It’s important to use quality hardware in your dock construction, especially in saltwater environments. Galvanized or stainless steel is the preferred choice, as it will not corrode or impact the water quality. It’s also a good idea to use coated or galvanized nails, as regular nails will rust and contribute to corrosion of the metal hardware.

If you’re building a floating dock, it’s best to begin by constructing the main structure of the dock using a frame that is built to your specifications. Once the base is complete, you can install the floats. It’s a good idea to leave +/- 6” between the main structure and the floats so they can be easily removed or installed.


A good dock should be able to provide watercrafts with secure berthing. Usually, the docks are rectangular in construction to offer maximum berthing length. However, the docks may also be curved or oblong in shape to cater to specific needs.

Most dock builders learn their trade through a three- or four-year formal apprenticeship, which includes significant on-the-job training. During this time, they typically take Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety courses, as well as standard first aid and CPR. In addition, they will often receive specialized training in welding and other tool or skill-specific certifications.

The most important aspect of a dock is its ability to handle the local environment. Whether it is in a lake, river, or ocean, the water conditions will affect which type of dock will work best on your property. A dock builder will assess your site and the water conditions to determine if a floating or fixed dock is the right choice.

When building a new dock, it is important to think about future expansion. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on a large dock and then find that it does not accommodate your needs later on. It is best to plan for this ahead of time by considering how many boats you will be able to accommodate, and making sure there are enough spaces for them.

In addition, it is important to consider how the weather and climate will affect the construction of a dock. For example, if your area experiences a lot of rain, you might need to reinforce the structure. Similarly, if the shoreline is shallow, you might need to consider dredging, which involves using a backhoe to remove sediment from the bottom of the lake.

Another aspect of dock construction is determining what type of fasteners to use. A good option is concrete anchors, which can be poured on-site and are a great solution for windy, wavy conditions. If possible, a chain anchored system should be used instead of individual anchors. This will help prevent the anchors from spinning around in a windy, wavy condition and potentially damaging the dock.


If a dock is not maintained properly, it can become a danger to anyone entering or leaving the water. It can also break down and fall into the lake, causing damage to the environment and disrupting marine life. The best way to prevent this is to keep up with routine maintenance and inspections.

This will help the structure last longer and avoid costly repairs in the future. In addition, it will protect users from potentially dangerous elements such as algae and bacteria that can grow in moist environments. Choosing the right materials for a dock is also important. Wood is a traditional choice, but it must be kept dry to avoid insects, rot, warping and splintering. Other options include concrete, aluminum and steel. Regardless of which material is used, it must be treated to ensure it is water resistant and durable.

It is a good idea to schedule regular inspections, at least once per month. This will help to identify and address any issues that may be arising before they become serious problems. This includes checking for rotting boards, raised nails and screws, and any other structural issues.

Another crucial aspect of dock construction is ensuring the structure is protected against wind, waves and other weather conditions. This can be done by adding a breakwater or other type of barrier to the dock. It is also important to ensure the entrance channel of the dock is deep enough for ships to berth. This is often accomplished by dredging the area regularly.

Docks can be built of a variety of materials, including wood, concrete, aluminum and steel. However, steel is the strongest and most durable option for docks. The best way to protect a metal dock from corrosion is to use a galvanized coating. This will prevent rust and other damaging effects of the sun and water.

Another key aspect of dock construction is ensuring the structure meets local regulations and ordinances. This is especially important for public docks, which are subject to a number of laws and restrictions. Depending on the area where a dock is located, there may be strict rules regarding size, shape and location. The dock must also be anchored in an appropriate area to withstand strong winds and currents.