How to build a floating river dock? - Hiseadock

How To Build A Floating River Dock?



It is evening time, and the river is flowing lazily past your house. You think a boat ride would be a great idea. The only problem is that you do not have a dock on the river, so the idea of boating at sunset goes out of the window. Not this year, though. Our waterfront solutions will make this wish a reality. Without further ado, let us dive into this guide to building a dock on the river. But first, we will see if you can build a dock on the river and the permission you need to do so.

Can You Build A Floating Dock On A River?

Dock construction should never be attempted without obtaining permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers (and local authorities). Unapproved dock construction could bring heavy fines and orders to return the site to its original state. In Texas, for instance, such activities are overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers regional office closest to your home or property can assist you in obtaining a permit to build in the Brazos River bed.

Once approved, several resources are available to help you with building plans, to people who will help you design and build your dock. If you have the resources and know how a floating dock works, you can build your DIY dock.

Things To Consider Before Building Your River Dock


A winter plan for your new dock is essential if your lake freezes. Most kit docks can easily be removed in fall and reinstalled in spring – sometimes even by an individual. A better option is to leave the floating dock in and bubble it rather than removing it.

Several methods exist for bubbling permanent docks. One of the most common types of “ice eaters” is an electric motor with a propeller that is strategically positioned in the water off a dock while operating on a thermostat and timer. Turbulence caused by the propeller prevents the lake from freezing and damaging the dock.


The cost of docks varies from a few thousand dollars for a simple structure to several thousand dollars for complex systems. How you choose to upgrade your shoreline and lake bottom depends on your skill level, your budget, and the type of shoreline and lake bottom you’re dealing with.

Labor accounts for about half of the cost of floating platforms, so cutting the above price tags in half can give you a better estimate of how much it will cost to build one yourself. All you will need are materials in this case. The price of a boat dock depends on a few factors. We divide materials, size, type, and location into four categories.


Floating docks or docks on rivers, in general, are used for various water purposes. The construction of a dock is very specific to the type of boat you will use. For instance, your jet ski will need jet dock cubes as the building block of your floating dock. So while designing, consider the boat specifications and match them with the pontoon cubes you go for.

Types Of Floating River Dock

There are different floating dock designs for different applications to meet your docking requirements. Based on the type of building material you use to build a dock, these can be categorized into three broad types.

Plastic Dock

Floating Island
Source – Hisea Dock

Plastic docks or cube docks are actual floating docks and have a great ability to float, so regardless of how low the water level is or where the water moves, they stay above water. Oftentimes, a plastic dock will be partially submerged in the water and sit on the surface of the water for ships to enter and raise, so they remain secure and dry. Besides being highly durable, environmentally friendly, easy to install, and of excellent design, these docks are also environmentally friendly. 

Wooden Dock

As the name suggests, these are built using wooden pontoons with piers that go deep into the bed of the water body to support the walkway. These require precautions to protect the woodwork and the chances of getting submerged during high tides.

Aluminum Dock

The materials used for kit docks today include aluminum for legs and framework and plastic for decking. Plastic is the standard decking material used in all types of docks. In terms of weight savings, durability, strength, and weather resistance, aluminum and composites outperform wood.

Things You Need To Build A Floating Dock

We’ll start with the things you need to build a floating dock before moving to the procedure.

  • Designing your own fixed or floating dock
  • Communities or homeowners’ associations have restrictions
  • Permit regulations for Army Corps of Engineers
  • Regulations for local permits
  • Supply of docking materials (pilings, piling caps, hardware, jet, and pile drivers, work barges, supports, and planks) OR
  • Shipment of dock materials (dock sections and connectors; other modular parts)
  • Last but not least are the instructions for assembling your equipment and accessories.

How To Build A Plastic Floating Dock

First, Decide Whether You Want A Fixed Dock Or One That Floats

In the case of the fixed dock, the supports and planks are attached to pilings embedded in the riverbed of a fixed dock. The plastic cubes become the walkway. The main dock can have branches leading into smaller docks. In areas with large tidal swings, fixed docks are inconvenient because they remain stationary. It is not uncommon for docks to be several feet above or below the water level under these conditions.

As opposed to that, floating docks consist of multiple modular sections that create a long walkway. A floating dock configuration can also accommodate smaller side docks. A floating dock floats with the tide. In areas with large tidal swings, a floating dock is more convenient to use. Be sure to design your dock to accommodate your vessel’s draft. A sailboat, for example, may require six feet of water to float. To accommodate a boat with a six-foot draft, the dock will need to extend sufficiently into the river.

Find Out What Community Development Restrictions There Are

Before buying permits or dock building materials, find out whether your neighborhood or homeowners’ association has dock building restrictions or guidelines.

Become Familiar With Permit Issues

In the United States, navigable waters are maintained and overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers. This framework allows the Corps to issue permits and ensure regulatory compliance for “piers and wharves.” The Corps also manages wetlands throughout the country. Furthermore, the Corps maintains district offices to educate consumers about local permit requirements. You may also need permits from your state or local jurisdiction in addition to federal permits. Find out which ‘permits’ you require from the local building inspector’s office.

Set Up Your Dock

During the construction of a fixed dock, pilings, associated hardware, and piling caps will be necessary. Chemical treatments can extend the life of pilings by reducing rot. Reduce corrosion and rust in marine environments by using marine-grade hardware.

You can install the pilings using these methods –

  • High-pressure water pumps blow holes in river bottoms with jet-jetting. As the soil settles around the piling, the piling is inserted into this hole.
  • Using a hydraulic “hammer”, the pile is hammered into the bottom until the desired depth has been reached. The process can take time, depending on the quality of the bottom.

The pilings will need to be driven into the river bottom with heavy equipment either way. You will also need a barge for stability while driving the pilings. Most people hire a marine construction company to complete this part of the project since such equipment is usually not available to homeowners, or they lack the expertise to use it.

To tie the network of pilings together, install wood supports once you anchor the pilings to the bottom. To finish the project, screw wooden planks or long quad floats directly into the wood supports in long rows perpendicular to them. It is these planks or plastic cubes that will form a walkway along the dock.

If you are going for a floating cube dock, get your supplies and accessories from Hisea Dock, a leading manufacturer of modular docks and accessories. You can also get your custom modular float cube that suits your needs and designs. A floating dock configuration may include fishing platforms and swim platforms in addition to personal watercraft ports, fishing platforms, and boat launch areas.

How To Maintain A Plastic Floating River Dock

Your boat could be in danger if your river dock has flaws. Here are 6 effective tips for maintaining a jet ski floating dock before even considering getting on your dock. Inspect your floating pontoon cubes for any cracks or loose floats that may be signs of damage. Check for discoloration or corrosion as well.

Although plastic floating dock cubes are very durable, they can still degrade over time, causing you to fall through the dock. Regular visual inspections of the dock are always a good idea. Thus, if there is any damage, you can make emergency repairs right away.


You can enjoy a well-planned dock for decades regardless of your decision. Our supplies will give you a head start, but an online search for “boat docks” will give you great resources, too. Choosing the best building materials, manufacturers, suppliers, and their location impact the costs significantly. 
The freight charges greatly influence the cost of the floating dock as floating dock cubes will be used in large quantities. Check out these top floating dock construction designs to get yourself acquainted with general practices in the field. 
Get in touch with us to customize a floating dock that works best for you.

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