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Considerations When Building A New Residential Dock

by Ryan Wright

Building a dock is a great way to get the most out of your property. Whether you're located along a beach, on a river, or on a lake, a dock can help you to utilize your home's environment to its fullest. Of course, not all docks are created equally. In fact, most docks need to be designed to fit the exact property that they will be constructed on. In addition to the local conditions, it is also important to consider what the dock will be used for.

Although it is important to have a professional and experienced contractor work through these issues with you, it is also extremely helpful to understand the major considerations that go into any dock project before your first meeting.


Perhaps the most important factor to consider when constructing a dock is the actual depth of the water. Shallow water can make it easier to launch certain types of craft, but deep water is often more desirable for permanent docks and for larger boats that will be stored in the water. Before your first consultation with a dock construction contractor, make sure you have an idea of the depth of the water where the dock will be built. Exact measurements will need to be taken, but having this information available initially will give you a better idea of your options from the beginning.

Keep in mind that dredging is sometimes an option if you need to increase the depth near your property, but there may be local restrictions that limit how and where your dredging can be performed.


The grade of the land in the area that you intend to build is just as important as the depth of the water. Different construction techniques are required for steep slopes, and particularly large or small grades may limit your dock options. As with water depth, having exact grade measurements is not necessary to begin planning, but it is also helpful to have a good idea.

Floating or Standing?

Floating and standing docks are the two most common types installed by most homeowners. As the name implies, a floating dock is not supported below the water line. This type of dock sits on top of the water, and it is anchored to the shore. There are a variety of different types of floating docks as well as various methods of securing them. Contrary to popular belief, floating docks do not necessarily have to be less stable than standing docks. Additionally, a floating dock is often better able to withstand heavy waves and wind.

Standing docks are supported by legs that are secured to the ground at the bottom of the water. These docks are generally highly stable, and there are a variety of styles available, as well as many possible decking materials. Many standing docks are height adjustable as well, allowing you to adjust the dock for various water conditions. Non-adjustable docks may sometimes end up below the water line in rough weather, however, making them less suitable for installation in highly variable conditions.

Decking Material

Finally, you will need to decide on the type of decking material that you are interested in using. Common materials include wood, plastic, and metal (usually aluminum). Wood can range from a highly cost-effective option to an expensive but beautiful one, depending on the type of wood that you choose to have installed. Aluminum and plastic often offer more durability and less maintenance, but some homeowners still prefer the natural look of wood. It is also important to keep in mind that customizing decking material is not possible with all dock designs.

Ultimately, knowing a bit about your property and having an idea of how your dock will be used will help to make your dock design process go more smoothly. Once you have a little basic knowledge, your dock construction company can help to guide you through the rest of the process.