What You Need to Know About Dock Construction

When building a dock, it’s important to choose the right materials. A dock needs to be durable, strong, and safe. It also should be aesthetically appealing. Dock Construction

Pine is a popular choice for dock beams because it is affordable and has good durability. It can be pressure-treated to increase its rot, parasites, and water resistance. For professional assistance, contact Top-Notch Dock Building.

Docks are the connection between land and water; thus, they must be sturdy, durable, and safe. They are constantly exposed to harsh marine conditions, including rot and corrosion, which can degrade the structure over time. Therefore, the choice of materials used in dock construction is vitally important. While a higher-quality material will always cost more upfront, it will likely last longer and require less seasonal maintenance, saving money in the long run.

Many people choose to build their own docks, which is a rewarding and satisfying project for those with the time and resources. While there are several different materials that can be used, wood is the most common. Some popular choices include pressure-treated pine and cedar. Cedar is a premium option that offers natural resistance to rot and decay, as well as wood-boring insects. While it does require a bit more maintenance than other wood options, such as re-staining every two years, its superior performance in a marine environment is worth the extra effort.

For more durable, low-maintenance docks, concrete is a great option. Often used in commercial and industrial applications, this material is strong enough to support heavier vessels and can withstand rough waters. It may be installed using precast sections or poured in place techniques, depending on the design of the dock. Concrete also has the added benefit of being impervious to water, which means it won’t deteriorate or impact water quality.

Another modern alternative to traditional dock materials is synthetic piles made of fiberglass. These are manufactured to never rot, rust or crumble, making them a popular choice for docks that will be subjected to heavy use. This type of piling is typically fastened with blind bolts, which is a safer and more secure method than traditional screws.

Alternatively, aluminum is a highly-strengthened and low-maintenance material that will not corrode or rot. This is often used in commercial and other high-load docks, as it can withstand the weight of larger boats, yet it is lightweight enough to reduce installation costs.


The design of docks should take environmental conditions into account. If a dock is exposed to a lot of wind, sand or wave action, the structure should have features that can protect it. These could include “fingers” that extend from the dock to provide additional stability. These can also help to deflect waves from the dock and reduce noise and vibrations from passing boats. It’s important to consult with local experts when selecting the design for a dock. They will be familiar with local weather patterns and can help you determine the best materials to use.

The most common construction material used in docks is wood, but there are many other options, including concrete, aluminum and steel. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The type of material you choose will depend on your specific requirements and budget. Wood is a traditional option that can last for decades, but it’s also susceptible to insects, rot and warping. Concrete and metal are less prone to damage, but they are more expensive.

Another factor to consider when choosing a dock construction material is the floor conditions of the body of water. In lakes, rivers, ponds and the ocean, the bottom can consist of sand, silt, clay, rock or vegetation. These factors will determine whether a dock can be built. Generally, sand and silt are unsuitable for pilings or pipes, while clay and rock are suitable.

The elevation of the dock is also important. It should be high enough for a boat to enter and exit easily, but not so high that the water level can change quickly. Generally, it’s recommended to have the bottom of the dock’s beams a few inches above the maximum lake water level.

Docks can be either permanent or removable. A permanent dock requires less maintenance, but it may be more difficult to build in areas with harsh winters and heavy ice. A removable dock requires more work each fall and spring, but it can be adjusted to suit the level of the water. A professional dock builder can help you decide which type of dock is the best fit for your property. They will perform a consultation and evaluate your shoreline, then design and build your new dock.


Whether you’re planning an addition to your existing dock or a new build, it’s always a good idea to get a permit before starting construction. Rules and regulations vary from state to state, as well as localities and HOAs. A good place to start is your state’s website, then consult the local laws or check with your county or city.

Some areas of the country have protected wetlands or environmentally sensitive areas that dictate how a dock may be constructed. Some require a fixed pier with no float in order to avoid disturbance of the soft bottom substrate and its associated organisms. This is particularly important where a significant area of intertidal flats must be traversed to access navigable waters. In such cases, a dock design that uses stringers, legs or float stops will help to minimize the impact.

Other areas of the country have specific requirements based on their shoreline and lake bottom configuration, or on their location in relation to shellfish lease areas. A thorough exploration of these issues must take place during the conceptual design phase to avoid any difficulties during the permit process.

If you live on a river, it’s also important to consider how the water flow will affect the mooring and dock facility. Inflow and outflow flows must be considered in the structural layout as they can greatly impact the ease with which boats and moors can enter and leave the dock.

The prevailing climatic conditions at your dock site must be taken into account as well. For example, in winter, the ice flow can restrict access to your dock and cause it to become unstable. It’s also a good idea to plan for snow removal, as well as ice storms.

The construction of a dock starts with the footers and outer posts. Once the frame is in place, decking material can be added. It’s a good idea to use galvanized screws for decking, as they will last longer and prevent the leachates from chemically treated woods from contaminating the water. Using steel screws is even better.


When constructing your own dock, it’s important to understand what requirements you’ll need to meet. Depending on where you live, your dock will need to comply with certain planning regulations. Additionally, you may be required to get a permit before beginning construction. Having the right permit can save you time and money by preventing delays and potential fines from your local or state government.

A dock is a structure that extends from the shore into a body of water to serve as a mooring for boats and other water-based activities. While docks vary in size and design, they generally allow people to access and enjoy their waterfront property. Docks are often built on private property, but they can also be constructed in public waters. As a result, they’re subject to the same types of public safety and environmental concerns as any other type of water-based infrastructure.

In some cases, building a dock may require you to obtain a permit. The exact requirements will vary from place to place, but common criteria might include ensuring that the dock doesn’t interfere with the free flow of water underneath it or restrict navigation. In addition, your dock may be required to display a dock ID and be built from a particular material.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Land and Water Resources Division (LWRD) regulates the construction of docks in tidal coastal and navigable waters. The goal of this regulation is to protect marine resources, promote safe navigation, balance private rights of access with public trust rights, and ensure that any encroachment into these waters is done in a way that doesn’t impact other property owners.