Floating Pier VS Dock: Make the Right Choice - Hisea Dock

Floating Pier VS Dock: Make the Right Choice



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These two words pier vs dock look similar, and they are often used interchangeably to represent the same meaning. Nonetheless, they are two different structures that have distinct meanings. Before choosing the best between a pier or dock, it is crucial to weigh the advantages and limitations of each option carefully. This article will explain the meaning of floating pier and dock, the pier dock difference, and how to make the right choice between the two.

Floating Platform
Source: Hisea Dock

Definition of Floating Pier and Dock

A dock can be defined as a structure where boats are tied up. It is an enclosed area of water that is separated from the ocean or open sea. A dock comprises a harbor that is surrounded by walls. This enclosed area known as the dock is majorly used for trading and shipping activities like loading, unloading, and fixing ships without going into the open ocean. Docks are usually fixed (anchored with posts into the ground) or floating and are not too far from the water.

Floating Dock
Source: Hisea Dock

Floating piers are structures that are extended out to the waters, far away from the shore. They are walking platforms usually made of wood, plastic, or concrete and supported by strong pillars. These pillars are the backbone that helps the structure stand firm against tidal currents. Piers are often used in shallow waters such as lakes and riverbanks where the depth is not suitable for traditional construction methods.

Pier vs Dock: Different Cost

Piers are usually built with durable materials like wood, steel, or reinforced concrete. Therefore, the cost of building and maintaining a pier greatly depends on the type of material that is used, the location, and the size of the floating pier. Piers constructed with durable materials like concrete and steel are more expensive than other materials like plastic and wood. 

Also, the cost of building a fixed pier is generally more expensive than a floating pier because it requires a solid foundation. A dock is an enclosed area on the water where shipping activities are carried out. The type of material used for constructing a dock is one of the factors that determine the cost of installing a maintaining a dock. 

In terms of maintenance, docks require less maintenance, but they are more prone to damage from storms and other unfavorable weather conditions. Also, docks are cleaned and repaired more often because they are fixed in a permanent position.

Different Function Between Pier and Dock

A pier is a long and narrow platform that extends out to the water, far from the shore. Piers are commonly used for recreational activities such as sunbathing, and fishing, or serve as a walkway. In addition, piers are more stable than docks and they can be easily accessible via a walkway from the shore.

Docks are structures that are typically constructed using anchored structures or floating platforms. They are structures that extend out from the shore into the water. Docks are enclosed areas commonly used for trading and shipping activities (such as loading, unloading, and fixing boats). They are also used for boat storage, boarding, and disembarking boats. Unlike piers, docks are less stable and easily affected by wind waves because they are designed to stay afloat on water.

Pier vs Dock: Differences in Design

Piers are long and narrow structures that are designed to accommodate a large number of people and also have enough space for recreational activities. Float piers include a walkway that enables easy access from the shore. Some piers are designed to have additional amenities like benches or picnic tables. Piers are often designed to have strong foundations that can provide stability for the structure. The foundations are made of reinforced concrete, wood, or other strong materials.

Floating Dock Construction
Source: Hisea Dock

Docks are enclosed structures that are usually shorter than piers. These structures are constructed with anchored structures or floating platforms that are connected to the seashore. Some docks are designed to have additional features like boat hoists or lifts. These boat lifts and hoists help to ease the movement of boats within the dock. In addition, docks include a walkway that allows easy access from the water, and they are frequently used for shipping activities. 

Durability of Boat Docks and Piers

The materials used for the construction of the docks and piers affect their durability greatly. Some of the materials used for the construction of boat docks and piers are wood, steel, aluminum, concrete, and composite materials (a combination of plastic and wood fibers).

Woods are less durable because they are prone to decay and rot over time. Iron alloys such as steel and aluminum are more durable, but they are susceptible to corrosion if used in salty water. Composite materials like the combination of both plastic and wood fibers often last longer because they are highly resistant to corrosion, rot, and decay. Also, the design and the environment where the boat piers and docks are constructed affect their durability.

Purposes Between Pier and Dock

Though these two structures are commonly used to provide easy access from the shore to the water, they have their distinct purpose for both private leisure and commercial activities.

For Commercial

For commercial purposes, piers are commonly used for shipping activities, fishing, and for passenger transport. While docks are often used for loading and unloading passengers and cargo from boats. Docks and piers that will be used for this type of purpose are usually constructed with relatively hard materials that can support heavy loads. Steel and reinforced concrete are popular choices because they are strong and durable.

For Private Leisure

A private dock is mainly used for launching and docking smaller boats, like fishing and sunbathing. This type of purpose usually uses lightweight and easily removable material such as plastic. Hisea Dock’s floating docks made of lightweight and high-quality plastic are gaining popularity because of their resistance to corrosion and low maintenance requirement.

private dock
Source: Hisea Dock

Applications of Piers and Docks

Piers and docks are applicable in different settings including private, industrial, and commercial sites. Here, we will explore the different applications of pier vs dock:

Situations Where Piers are Preferable

Piers are used in various waterfronts location due to their ability to adapt to soft and unstable ocean floors, tidal zones, and uneven and changing water levels. A more detailed explanation of each situation where docks piers are preferable is given below:

Uneven and Changing Water Levels

Piers is the best choice for areas that have uneven and constantly changing water levels. They can be constructed with adjustable pilings or supports that can be easily lowered or raised to accommodate different water levels. The ability to adapt to changing water levels is why pier floats are a more reliable option for this kind of situation.

Tidal Zones

The areas on the water where the ebb and flow of the tides affect water levels are called tidal zones. Strong structures like piers that can withstand the continuous movement of water are preferrable in tidal zones. Also, a pier is a reliable option in tidal zones because it can design to have additional features like adjustable gangways or ladders.

Soft and Unstable Ocean Floors

Piers are preferable in areas with unstable and soft ocean floors because they include a strong and stable foundation. The foundation is made of deep pilings that will go down into the water to solid ground. Docks are not a practical choice because they may become unstable or even sink over time in this type of area.

Situations Where Docks are Preferable

Docks are widely used in different waterfront locations due to their versatility and usefulness for different situations like recreational activities, marine transportation, waterfront dining, and entertainment. 

Floating Restaurant
Source: Hisea Dock

Marine Transportation

Docks are often used for marine transportation since they can accommodate boats of different designs and sizes. They can be built to include specialized features that will facilitate the loading and unloading of passengers and cargo. In addition, docks can be designed to have an anchor and mooring line to keep boats and ships in place.

Recreational Activities

Dock is the best option for recreational or water-based activities like sunbathing, fishing, and swimming. They are designed with lower profiles and wider decks that provide more space for socializing and lounging. They can also be configured with specialized features like water slides and diving boards, which will make them more suitable for recreational activities.

Waterfront Dining and Entertainment

Another situation where a dock is preferable is waterfront dining and entertainment. Docks provide a unique setting for bars, restaurants, lounges, and other entertainment activities. They can be designed with specialized features (such as sound and lighting systems) that will provide the right ambiance and welcoming atmosphere for guests.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Pier and Dock

Choosing the best between a pier dock without detailed information may look like a daunting task. To make a wise decision, here are some of the factors that should be considered when considering either going for a dock or a pier:

Water Depth and Wave

First, there is a need to consider the water depth and the wave conditions in the area where the pier and dock will be installed. For instance, if the water is deep, it is better to choose pier floats because they provide more strength and stability. On the other side, a dock is good for shallow water that has low waves.

Also, the wave conditions of the intended location of installation should be considered. A pier is more suitable for water with strong tidal currents and high waves because it is built to withstand those kinds of conditions. While a floating dock can be used if the water is calm, and the waves are low.

Purpose and Use

Another factor that should be considered before choosing between a plastic floating pier or dock is the intended purpose and use. It is more appropriate to choose a pier for fishing and water activities that will require a sturdy and stable structure. Piers are ideal for recreational activities since they are designed to have stronger supports and wider decks.

However, a dock is a more practical choice for water activities like boat storage, loading, and unloading passengers or cargo. Docks are designed with lower profiles and narrow decks to facilitate loading, and unloading, and to accommodate boats. A dock may also be configured to include specialized features like boat lifts and anchors.

Budget and Maintenance

Budget is another important factor that should be considered when choosing between a pier and a dock. Due to the complexity of design and the type of materials used for the construction of piers, they are more expensive than docks. Therefore, a dock is a more cost-effective solution. However, it is necessary to note that some cheaper docks don’t last long.

This is why suppliers need to buy their docks from a reliable supplier like Hisea Dock. On the other side, the maintenance requirements of a dock and a pier must be compared to make an informed choice. Compared to piers, docks require less maintenance, but they require periodic repair and cleaning.

Hisea Dock: Reliable Supplier of Various Waterfront Solutions

Hisea Dock is a reliable and trustworthy supplier manufacturer of floating docks and other waterfront solutions with good quality for various applications. This company is well-known for creating sizes and models of docks and floating piers for sale. Some of the advantages of these floating docks for sale are environmentally friendly, highly durable, and easy to install.

Floating Dock
Source: Hisea Dock

Possessed a Full Line of Floating Dock Accessories and Floating Dock Parts

Hisea Dock possesses a full line of floating dock accessories and parts. They are fully aware that floating docks need periodic maintenance. Therefore, the company has made available all the components needed to keep the floating docks in good condition.

Special Request of Plastic Floating Docks Can be Customized

Another key strength of Hisea Docks is that they understand that each client has his or her own special needs and preference. Therefore, they offer customized plastic floating docks that will be designed to fit any size and shape and meet different needs. In addition, the customized floating docks can be configured to include special features like rails, swim platforms, and benches.


In conclusion, Piers and docks are both used for waterfront solutions, but they have their differences. Therefore, to make an informed decision, there are some factors to consider before choosing between a floating pier vs dock. These factors include water depth and wave, purpose and use, budget, and maintenance.

To get a high-quality floating dock for sale, there is a need to also buy from a reliable and professional manufacturer and supplier. Hisea Dock is a reliable manufacturer and supplier in China with more than 10 years of experience. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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