How to Build a Floating Dock


Boating and watersports are growing more and more popular. If you participate in these activities, then you’ll need marinas and docking areas. On some real estate, you can use the land there for dock, marinas, and waterfront properties, but if you’re choosing to expand, it can be a little difficult. One thing you could do to fix that is build a floating dock.

This will give you the option to tie off more boats and you can have an area that doesn’t block access to the beach. That means you’ll still have all the swimming areas and the benefit of a dock for your boats and watercrafts. There are specific needs for building this floating platform, but it’s definitely something you can do on your own. Here’s more information about the floating dock and how to build one.

What is a Floating Dock

Before you know what a floating dock is, you first have to understand the other option, which is a stationary dock.

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A stationary dock is a stable dock. This can be an extension of your property for many events, such as family gatherings, because it’s sturdy and still. If you have a lot of high traffic, then you might have experienced a stationary dock because these docks aren’t affected by any watercraft activity and movement surrounding it. If you have a consistent water level, then this dock is great for you because you don’t have to worry about it being covered by higher water levels. You can use it to get in and out of your boat because it gives you sturdy footing.

The issue with the stationary dock that makes people choose floating docks is that it can be difficult to repair. If there are any issues with the pilings, which are deep underwater, this can be very expensive to fix and it’s definitely something you can’t do yourself. These might warp or break and you can’t avoid getting this fixed. Also, if there are dramatic shifts in the water level, it can be hard to use the dock like you normally would. You definitely won’t be able to get in and out of your boat or dock the boat very easily if the water level goes up.

With the floating dock, this is more suitable for fluctuating water levels. The floating docks rise and fall with the depth of the water, which means you’ll never have to worry about it being covered and you’ll never be unable to dock your boat. Floating docks are incredibly versatile and they’re also more affordable. They’re easy to maintain and if you’re handy, you can install it yourself.

The only issue with the floating dock is that it isn’t as sturdy or stationary. For example, you won’t have any gatherings on the floating dock because it’ll be moving with the movement of the water. However, you can always move these gatherings on land. The floating dock is mainly great for you if you have a lake or river that rises and falls or if you’re looking for an affordable option.

Since the floating structure moves in with the water, you’ll always be able to dock your boat. It’s also very customizable, so it’s very easy to make adjustments. Anything you aren’t satisfied with, you can change because you have some versatility with your design. You can choose pieces to add to your dock and enjoy them. You can install the floating dock yourself, but there are services that will install it for you. If you’re interested in the affordability of installing it yourself, then here’s how you can build a floating dock.

Things to Consider Before You Begin

First, you’ll have to think about how handy you are as a person. This is a project that can be done very easily, but you want to take full stock of your skills. If you have experience building things like this, then you should be fine assembling a floating dock yourself. But, if you don’t have any experience doing projects like this, then you might want to consider hiring a professional to build your dock for you. You want to have a dock that’s built right so it’s better to hire a professional than to mess up doing it yourself.

Then, you have to think about the lake bed and the depths of it. Your lake’s bottom should be considered in the design of the dock and the ramp. If you have a sandy and flat lake bottom, you shouldn’t have any trouble. If your lake bottom is rocky and varies a couple feet in depth from the shoreline, then you might need some expert help. Measuring the depth accurately is a tough task and you have to keep in mind that many lakes are drawn and refilled. If you’re like building your dock, over time your dock project might need to be continuously adjusted. A floating dock is a good option for levels like this, but you still want to talk to people about building docks who have more experience.

What You’ll Need

Here’s a list of all the things that you’ll need to gather before you begin building your dock.

  • Drill (View on Amazon) and screwdriver
  • 10 to 20 – L shaped braces
  • a hammer
  • Silicone caulking (View on Amazon)
  • galvanized screws and nails
  • four 55 gallon plastic barrels
  • 100 feet of rope
  • 16 screw in eye hooks
  • 4- 4 by 4 pressure treated posts that are 8 inches long
  • 17 1 x 6 pressure-treated lumber that’s 8 ft long
  • 7 2 by 4 pressure treated lumber that’s 8 ft long
  • 42 by 8 pressure treated lumber that’s 8 ft long

How to Build a Floating Dock

Building Frame

1. First, gather all the materials that are listed above. Make sure you have them already available so that you can build the dock without any issue.

2. Now, you can begin building the frame. What you have to do is head out to the body of water that you want to put the dock in. Get as close as you can so that you don’t have to carry the heavy dock very far.

3. Make sure you are building the frame on a flat surface.

4. Lay out your 2 by 8 boards into a square. Screw these together to make an 8 by 8 inch square.

5. Now, get your barrels. Make sure the plugs in the barrels are tightened and use the silicone caulking to apply a layer over the plug to make sure you have a good seal in the barrel. Some people fill the barrel with some sort of ballast but some people don’t. If you’re looking for more security then you can definitely add ballast to the barrels.

6. Now, you have to begin doing the support. In the middle of a square, place 2 2-by-4 support.

7. Now you can place the barrels on the bottom supports.

Placing the barrels

Placing the barrels is fairly easy. After you screw in all the 4 by 4 posts these will solidify the structure. Use the braces to make things more stable at all of these support intersections.

1. Place the four barrels down without screwing them. You want to position them before you do anything

2. Place the hooks at the bottom layer of the supports where the barrels will lay. You’ll need two on each side of the edges.

3. Now, tie up the barrels. Most people start with one eye hook. Then, they run the rope across the barrel. Then they do that again diagonally. They usually do this until the barrel is secure and then they tie off on the last hook. It should be easy because there’s two hooks on either side of the barrel. You need to do this for all four barrels.

Flip the structure

Now that the barrels are attached, you can flip the structure. It might take multiple people because there are a ton of different boards and the barrels are attached to it. You’ll need to flip it into the water and tie it down. Now you’ll have to deck the structure. Layout the one by four boards and make sure everything fits To the top of the dock. Leave a small amount of space between each board. Secure in the boards along each support.

You should have a fully functioning dock now.

Making a Ramp

Some people decide they want a ramp so that they can easily get on to the loading dock without stepping on the water. You can use your extra boards to build this ramp.

1. Build the shape of the ramp with the 2 by 8 boards. You’ll want to screw them together in that shape. Most people choose a rectangular-shaped ramp. Make sure they’re level also.

2. Then, add the 2 by 4 boards in the middle for support of the ramp. This will be the walkway area so you want to make this sturdy. You’ll need 33 inch pieces of the 2 by 4 board for support about every 3 ft.

3. Then, you’ll want to place a barrel on one side of the ramp. You can secure the barrel with the eye hooks the way you did when you were building the loading dock.

4. Then, you’ll have to flip the ramp. Once you get it upright, you can walk it over to the water.

5. The ramp will be leading to the floating dock. The ramp should be less in the water than the floating dock.

6. Take poles and sink them as far as you can in the lake bed. You want to place them on the ramp so you can stop it from getting pushed from side to side. Everything needs to be able to move with the water changes so don’t secure it too much.

7. Attach the platform to the ramp with a rope, a carabiner, and an eye hook. Basically, you want to be able to disconnect the floating dock if you want to.

Now, you’ll have the floating dock that you need for all of your boating and watersports. You’ll feel so fulfilled if you’ve built the floating dock all by yourself, and if you didn’t, then hopefully you had fun doing a project with friends and family. Floating docks are perfect if you need an adaptable dock, so build away.


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