Types of Floating Docks and the Best Docking Choices - hiseadock
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Types of Floating Docks and the Best Docking Choices

October 23, 2020
A Boat Dock
Source: Pixabay

Living near a large water body has a lot of perks. You get to own a boat, have a section of a beach all to yourself and everyone would be dying to come to stay at your place. But maintaining all that can be quite a challenge, especially where a personal watercraft lift for boats and jet skis are involved. You will need a place to anchor them and most importantly, you will need a dock.

There are various types of docks to choose from, but the most convenient ones have to be floating docks. A floating dock can be defined in many ways, the most clear description is that it is a lightweight and portable floating jetty or a floating pontoon lift that can rise and fall with the tide. Most are made out of plastic for their buoyancy and duration compared to other materials.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Owning a Dock

Source: Pixabay

A dock installation is a necessity when you live close to a large water body like a big river, a lake or the sea. There are many benefits that are associated with having your own private dock and theory includes the following.

  • Convenience: You get very convenient access to the water anytime you want without the need to answer to anybody. Living close to water is half the story, setting up a dock makes access much easier as it provides you with a ramp that connects the land to the water.  You get to access your boat without having to step into the water.

No Storage Fees: Boats and jet skis cannot be left on the water all through as that could damage them. For most people who do not have their own dock, this forces them to rent out storage facilities and dock space, this costs a lot. Having your floating dock platform will save you a lot of money.

Added Security: By anchoring your vessel close to where you live, you get the privilege of being the first to know if someone tries to nick them away. This would not be the case if you had to rent out space on public dock miles away. There is safety when you are in close proximity to your property.

Unlimited Modifications: There is nothing that will stop you from adding any kind of modifications to your dock. If you add another vessel you can always expand it to accommodate more. You could also choose to add other accessories like a floating pool or gazebo. The options are unlimited.

It Increases your Property Value: Any additions or modifications you do on your waterfront property add more value to it. A simple floating dock will increase the value of your property by up to 15% in some cases. Therefore, having a floating dock is one way of marking up the price of the property in case you ever wish to sell it in the future.

Types of Floating Docks

Floating dock for sale in blue and yellow on the sea

floating dock platforms come in various types depending on their functions and the materials used to make them. Based on these two parameters, the following are the main types of floating docks.

A Straight-Line Floating Dock
Source: Pinterest

Straight-Line Floating Dock

This is the most common type of floating dock that you will find in residential areas. The design is simple. It starts some distance into the shoreline and extends over the water to a point where the level is deep enough for a heavy vessel to anchor. Most6 are rectangularly shaped and are made with wood decking. Sometimes, for the sake of stability, a straight-line floating dock can be designed in a right-angle shape to offer more stability and anchoring space.

Built-In Seating Floating Dock

This is a regular floating dock that ends up with seats erected on the final end of the platform where people can sit. The seats can be in the form of benches and can accommodate as many people depending on the size. A Built-In seating floating dock is good if you receive a lot of visitors on your property. It is also an ideal place to chill as you take a dip into the water. Most are usually raised a considerable distance above the weather and are equipped with a ladder that people can use to disembark from the boats.

Built-In Seating Floating Dock
Source: Pinterest
A Kayak Dock
Source: Pinterest

A Kayak Dock Cradle

This is a type of floating dock that is specifically designed for a Kayak. It usually has unique features and is small enough to be fitted on a gently sloping shore that is connected to a water body. The decking is usually made out of aluminum and it can accommodate several kayaks. The capacity can be increased by the installation of sideway mounts that can hold kayaks by suspending them in midair.

Multi-Level Floating Dock

This is a floating dock that has a staircase design that leads from the weather onto the deck that is constructed at a higher than usual; level away from the water surface. It is the type of design you go for if you want to expand the uses of your dock in the future from just a dock that provides anchorage for your boat. Recreational facilities like gazebos work best for this type of floating dock.

A Multi-Level Floating Dock
Source: Pinterest
A 2-in-1 Floating Dock

2-in1 Floating Dock

This is a floating dock that serves the function of providing a space for your boat and at the same time a space for swimming and other water-related recreational activities. Moist is usually designed in the shape of a T with ladders on either side for people to climb from the water onto the deck. It is the ideal dock to have if you have adventurous children around who do not mind an afternoon dip into the lake.

Mixed Floating Dock

This is a floating dock that is crafted using all types of materials mixed together to create the perfect structure. Most6 are made using aluminum foundation mixed with plastic docks to keep it buoyant all through with the deck receiving some wooden finish. This type of dock is usually simple with nothing more than a flat structure extending into the water. It is the type of dock you go for when you are on a tight budget and have no future plans of expanding or accessorizing it up.

A Mixed Floating Dock
Source: Pinterest

Multipurpose Floating Dock

This is the most complicated of all floating docs. From a distance, it looks like a floating house as it involves the setting up of a structure that doubles up as an anchorage point for your vessels with an added floor on top that houses a shade and a recreational facility where people can sit in and relax while swimming. It costs a lot to set it up since the design is complex and uses a lot of metal to make it sturdy enough to support people and vessels at the same time.

A Floating Pool

This is a floating dock that has an extended section that houses the main dock which is attached to a floating pool on the opposite side. It is a very ingenious way of turning a dock into a recreational area that is safe even for small kids to jump in as it is raised a few meters higher than the main water level. It is the type of structure you set up if you live next to murky waters that may not be safe for swimming.

A Floating Pool
Source: Pinterest
A DIY Floating Dock
Source: Pinterest

DIY Floating Dock

While most people opt to go for pre-made floating docks that only need to be joined up to start working, it is possible to construct your own floating dock from locally available materials. The most common setup involves using plastic tanks with a wooden deck on top of them anchored to the shore by another board. This type of floating docks are usually small and suited for small lakes and rivers that handle minimal boat traffic.

Customizable Floating Docks

This is a versatile type of floating dock that is made out of plastic cube docks that can be rearranged in any shape and size and repurposed for virtually anything you can think of. They can be rearranged to create a bigger dock for more boots, or it can also be re-0designed to allow for a swimming pool in the center. It can also be pushed further into the water and allow people to fish while sitting on top of it. Commercially, it can be converted into a fish-farming cage or a floating restaurant and marina. The options are limitless.

plastic boat floating dock

Choosing the Right Dock

A dock can either make you or break you and all this comes down to one thing, your ability to know which dock will satisfy your needs. It is not a simple thing, to help you make a good choice, here are some of the things you can look at when selecting a dock for your waterfront property.

A Waterfront Home
Source: Pinterest

The Nature of Your Waterfront

How deep is the water? Is it murky or clear? Is it mobile or is it stagnant? All these factors and more play a huge role in the type of dock you choose to go with. If the water is too deep to anchor any foundation into the ground, then permanent types like crib and pipe docks will be out of the equation. You will have to go with a floating dock. If the water experiences a lot of waves then a floating dock may not be ideal and you would be better served by something that is fixed to the seabed.

Your Residency

Do you plan to move any time soon or is that waterfront home your permanent residence? If the latter is the case then you will be doing yourself a big favor by setting a permanent dock that will serve you for years to come with minimal maintenance costs. But if you plan to relocate in the near future, a temporary floating dock would be the best option to go with.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

The Budget

Docks are not cheap, when you decide to have one you better be prepared to blow a hole through your finances. The material used to make a dock affects the price in a huge way, floating docks made out of modular plastics are cheaper compared to aluminum made docks. The prices of the dock types also matter, temporary docks are cheaper to set up compared to permanent ones like pipe and crib docks. You can also choose to go with hiring a floating dock as opposed to installing it fully. The bottom line is you can only have what you can afford.

The Climate

A dock for a waterfront in a cold climate that experiences winters will not be the same as a dock in a tropical area. Living in harsh climates will require either a temporary dock that can be moved and stored during winter or a strong permanent one that can withstand any type of weather and climate. Areas that experience hurricanes will have more robust docks compared to calm areas. Know your areas first before committing yourself to spend on a dock.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

The Laws

There are certain areas that do not allow people to construct permanent types of docks like crib docks. This is due to the adverse effects they have on the environment. They may end up disrupting marine life or blocking the natural flow of water which interferes with the ecosystem, jeopardizing small animals and plants. Familiarize yourself with the laws of your state before starting any kind of construction. Breaking such rules will land you in more trouble than you can handle.

DIY vs Contracting

There are two ways of constructing a dock. You either do it yourself if you have the tools and the expertise, or you hire a professional dock builder who will handle all the work for you. Both have their benefits and limitations. On one hand, going with the DIY option saves you a lot of money since most of the materials needed are cheap and are locally available. The only drawback is that it will not be as good as a professional made one. Going with a contractor will give you a well-made structure that will serve you for years, but it will cost you a lot of money.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pixabay

The Tide

Due to geographical locations, some areas experience extreme forms of tides compared to others. If your waterfront property is located in an area that experiences very high tides then your options will be limited to a floating boat dock as it is the only one that cannot be submerged in water. The opposite holds for areas with lower tides, all you need to do is figure out the highest level the water can reach during high tide then build a dock that is higher than that and you will be set.

Number of Vessels

The more the number of boats in your possession the bigger the dock you will need. The size of the boat also matters a lot. Bigger boats will require deeper waters and deeper waters will either require a floating dock or crib dock that is tall enough to have its foundations set in the waterbed and still be able to accommodate boats on the surface. 

Anchored Boats
Source: Pixabay
A Dock with a Shade
Source: Pinterest

Future Expansions

You also have to think of the future when selecting a dock. Fixed types like crib docks cannot be modified or expanded, the size you choose to go with at the initial phase is what you will be stuck with till it collapses. On the other hand, temporary types like a floating dock can be expanded at any time if you happen to get more vessels and at the same time they can be done away with completely if you decide you no longer need a dock in the future. Flexibility should rank highly in the things to keep into consideration.

Maintenance Costs

Setting up a dock is half the journey, for you to be able to reap the full benefits of having one you will have to factor in maintenance costs. Docks need to be cleaned regularly and since they spend most of their time in contact with water, they are bound to experience wood rot, aluminum calcification, and other issues. at times you will be forced to replace the whole thing. If you live in sears with constant hurricanes and storms then your dock repair costs will go up significantly as you will be dealing with some form of damage every year.

Repair in Progress
Source: Pixabay

Why Choosing the Right Dock is Important

A Sunken Dock
Source: Pixabay

The ability to choose the right dock is underrated since there is more to the process than meets the eye. The reasons why it is so important that you choose the right dock for your waterfront property include the following.

  • It is safer for you and the people you stay with to use the right type of dock. The safety hazards that may pop up due to using a dock that is ill-suited for your property are too many for anything to be left to chance.

It will save you a lot of money when you go with the dock that is well suited for your climate and geographical location. Going with the wrong dock will only force you into replacing it prematurely or having to make modifications that will only make it unsafe for proper use. Either way, that will be money down the drain.

Constructing the right dock will save you from running into trouble with the law. Being conscious of laws that govern the building of a floating dock will save you time and money that would have been lost if you chose to go ahead with construction without consulting first.

It helps you plan for the future. Getting the right dock that aligns with what you have planned for the future will help you achieve those goals faster than if you were to make a decision after you have already set up a dock. It is easier to build a dock for the future than model a future around a dock. It is therefore important that you choose wisely.

It makes life easier. The convenience afforded by using the right dock platform for your property is immense. You will be able to store your water vessels without any worry while at the same time, you get to increase the value of your property by huge margins. There is no losing.

Floating Dock is Accessories

Floating dock accessories are the items that make the operation of the dock more effective. Some are big while others are small, but they all combine to make the dock safe to use. They include the following;

A Cleat
Source: Pixabay


Boat cleats are metallic structures that are fixed onto the deck of the dock that provides anchorage for the boat to be tied to. It is the point around which one fastens the rope to secure the boat to stop it from being carried off by waves.


It is always a good idea to have benches on your dock, but only if it is big enough to allow for that. The last thing you would want is to have benches take over all the space needed for movement, this could make the whole structure unsafe.

Dock Bench
Source: Pinterest
A Dock Ladder
Source: Pinterest


Ladders are very important parts of a dock. They are what people use to embark and disembark the boats Sometimes the water level may be high enough for one to simply step onto the dock from the boat, but on occasions where the water level may be lower than the dock then the only way you will access the deck is by using the ladders.

Dock Bumpers

Since water is not stationary, there is a chance that your boat will bump against the dock as the waves make it sway back and forth. To avoid damage to your boat, protect the boat with dock bumpers which help soften the blow and prevent any chance of scratches. Dock bumpers are a must-have for a dock that is made out of metal.

Dock Bumpers
Source: Pinterest
A Boat Slide
Source: Pinterest

Boat Slides

These are structures that allow the boat to slide onto and off the dock when needed. They are usually slippery to reduce friction and make it easier for boats and jetskis to dock. They can also double up as transfer slides that make it easier for people to climb onto a boat or a jet ski dry dock, especially if they have mobility challenges.

Storage Boxes

These are dock boxes that are used for storing equipment like ropes, life vests, and anything that may come in handy during an emergency. They are usually located in a palace that is easy to access.

Source: Pinterest


Of all types of docks that you can choose from, floating docks are the easiest to set up and maintain and should feature highly on your list. However, the choice should come from a place of knowledge. Before making any decision on constructing a dock, take your time to do exhaustive research, especially on the best dock manufacturers, so that when you finally settle down on your final choice, you will have exactly what your property needs.

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