What You Need to Know About Boat Dock Construction

As with deck construction, the dock’s location and usage will impact the type of materials and design you choose. Most private docks are more than just boat mooring platforms; they serve multiple purposes and are subject to more harsh conditions than regular decks. To extend the life of your dock, be sure to use hot-dipped galvanized fasteners. They resist rust better than standard screws and nails.

Dock BuildingA dock is a marine structure where boaters secure their watercraft. It can be stationary, floating, or on pilings. Boat Dock Construction Charleston SC is often built at a higher elevation than the surrounding water, with space for multiple boats to be tied down simultaneously.

Before starting construction on a new dock it’s important to consider the desired functionality, features and materials to ensure that the final product is exactly what you need it to be. Adding a dock to waterfront property is an investment, and it’s best not to rush the planning process to save some money on materials or time. Choosing the right dock can improve your quality of life at home, increase the value of your property and make it more enjoyable to use your watercrafts.

There are many types of docks to choose from, and each one has its own unique benefits. Whether you want a permanent or removable dock, there’s sure to be an option that fits your needs. Floating docks come in several varieties, including wood, aluminum and composite planking. Aluminum and composite docks are the most durable options and will last longer than wood, which requires annual maintenance and is prone to mold and mildew.

For a more permanent option, there are also fixed or crib docks. These are designed and built by professionals and are the most expensive type of dock. They’re made from large treated timbers that are placed every 10 feet on the lake bottom and look like a crate. The crates are filled with rocks to provide strength and stability.

Another great feature of some docks is their ability to be “bubbled” in the winter. This method draws warmer lake water up from underneath the dock to prevent ice damage.


Like any other structure, docks can be made from a variety of materials. Most often, wood or a material that looks like it is used to cover the dock. In recent years, due to potential performance problems, many who built with pressure treated wood in the past have tried using other materials. While wood may be the most cost conservative dock planking option, it is also prone to splitting and warping especially in an environment where the majority of the surface is exposed to moisture. In addition, wood can splinter overtime which is particularly bad for a dock that is frequently used by children and adults walking barefoot. Paint and stain applied to the wood can help protect it, but it will have to be re-applied every few years.

Concrete and aluminum are also popular choices for dock construction. Both of these materials are extremely strong and durable, although they do have some drawbacks. Concrete can be heavy and brittle, while aluminum can rust if it is not properly treated or protected. One way to avoid these issues is by choosing an aluminum dock that is constructed with galvanized hardware.

Plastic is also a good choice for docks because it is a relatively inexpensive and low maintenance material. However, it tends to heat up in the sun and has a plastic feel underfoot. Another downside is that it may crack or break in a severe storm. To minimize these problems, consider purchasing a more expensive composite decking that is designed to last for decades. The most important thing is to keep in mind that the location and purpose of your boat dock will affect the type, size and style of construction required. Check with local authorities for regulations and permits before constructing your dock.


The height of a boat dock is an important factor to consider. You want the dock to be high enough to allow you to safely board your boat and walk around comfortably, but not so high that it is difficult to get into and out of the water. The ideal height of a boat dock will depend on a few different factors, including water depth and fluctuations in the water level.

If your boat dock will be in a body of water that is prone to dramatic weather changes, it may be best to use PVC pipe as your footers rather than wood. Concrete-filled PVC pipe will help to keep your dock stable and protected from direct contact with the water. You will want to sink your PVC footers at least 3ft into the bed of the lake, river or ocean bed.

Another factor to consider is how you will be using your boat dock. If you will be launching and retrieving boats regularly, it may be necessary to install a boat lift. A boat lift will keep your boat out of the water, preventing the growth of algae and mussels on the pontoons and protecting it from banging against dock or pilings during high winds.

If you will only be using your boat dock for swimming and entertainment, a lower dock will probably work better for you. Keep in mind that your boat dock will need to be accessible by both cars and pedestrians, so you will want to make sure that the walkways are wide enough for everyone to move easily and safely. The walkways should also be free from ice, snow, grease and any other material that could create a tripping or slipping hazard.


One of the most crucial components of any dock is the piles that anchor it to the bottom of the lake or pond. They’re responsible for supporting the weight of the entire structure and regulating shoreline erosion, so it’s important that you take into consideration the type of pilings you choose to use in your waterfront building project.

A professional dock builder will be able to guide you in selecting the appropriate piles for your project. Considerations include the water depth, load capacity and the soil condition. Ideally, you want to select pilings that have a high load-bearing capacity and are made of a material that is resistant to corrosion.

Wood dock pilings are rot-resistant and typically less expensive than concrete or metal ones. However, they can bend over time under pressure from waves and loads, so you will need to replace them periodically.

Concrete dock pilings are made of a mixture of cement, aggregates and steel reinforcements that make them a durable choice for both residential and commercial use. They’re ideal for heavy loads like boats, ships and industrial equipment because of their strength.

Screw pilings, which are also known as helical piles, are an excellent option for dock construction because they’re durable and can be installed quickly and easily. Techno Metal Post has adapted their machinery for water-based installations and can install them from the shore or with a boat rigged up to receive the installation equipment.

In addition, helical piles are environmentally friendly and don’t cause any damage to the surrounding environment or natural habitats. They’re also resistant to marine borers, insects and rusting. They are also a long-lasting alternative to timber pilings.


Many dock owners choose to build seating directly into the design of their dock. This eliminates the need for additional furniture that will only detract from the beauty of the water. In addition, building the seating into the dock design can save money.

Another popular choice is to install a large inverted L-shaped platform that works well for staging water sports activities like water ski and wakeboard riding. This layout also provides easy access for loading and unloading passengers into and out of the boat. In addition, this layout provides ample room for storing equipment, life jackets and beach towels.

A long walkway with square platforms at intervals can also work well to help people safely cross low tide or muddy banks. These walkways can also be used to provide a nice look and a more interesting layout of the dock.

Some dock designs can be quite elaborate with multiple levels, stairs and decks. In these cases, a professional may be needed to help with the construction and installation. Depending on the type of dock and the area it is located in, permits may be required.

While most docks are built to accommodate boats, they can be used for many other purposes as well. These uses may include fishing, swimming, relaxing, dining and entertaining. Depending on the location and needs of the owner, there are many ways that these additional features can be integrated into a custom boat dock construction project.

Previously, people would build tables and chairs on their docks that were made of wood and metal. Unfortunately, these types of set ups tend to rot and rust quickly when placed in a waterfront environment. KillerDock offers a fantastic solution to this problem by designing and fabricating a set of metal dock tables that will last for years to come.