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How to Build a Boat Dock? – A Simple and Detailed Guide

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how to build a boat dock

Building a boat dock gives you many benefits such as avoiding marina traffic to secure your boat, relaxing, fishing, and even swimming. A dock building project can be a little costly initially, but it will save you money in the long run.

Please stick with me because I will provide you with the basic steps on how to build a boat dock. I will also list all the things you need to consider when building a boat dock.

Ways to Build a Boat Dock

There are many types of boat docks, but they all can fall under two main categories: floating and stationary.

There are also different designs and plans that you can consider in building a boat dock. Continue reading the next sections to learn things you can use for your dock project.

1. DIY Floating Dock Plans

Floating docks are ideal for fluctuating water levels. This is the type of dock that you should build on a river. There are many floating dock ideas you can consider.

As boaters say, the limitation in building a boat dock is your imagination. However, there are common shapes of DIY floating docks, including L-shape, T-shape, U-shape, and straight.

 01 L-Shape Floating Dock


The L-shaped dock is a popular design because of its advantages, as enumerated below:

    • Ideal for people with two boats
    • Easy to go in and out
    • Good for swimming or fishing
    • It can accommodate up to 3 boats
 02 T-Shape Floating Dock


It is best to build a T-Shape floating dock if you live on a small body of water. This floating dock design is best for loading and unloading passengers.

 03 U-Shape Floating Dock


The U-Shape floating dock is the best design to protect your boat. If you own a top-quality boat, you can park it in the middle of two sides safely.

 04 Straight Floating Dock


The straight dock allows you to moor multiple boats. It is also the most affordable DIY boat dock. You can also use the dock for other activities like fishing and swimming.

2. DIY Stationary Dock Plans

Stationary docks are ideal for waters that do not fluctuate. This is a perfect dock type for lakes. It is also best to build this type of dock on a pond.

There are also variations of dock construction plans for stationary docks. Some of the known types of stationary docks are crib docks, suspension docks, and piling docks.

 01 Crib Docks

This dock is usually made of a wood framework like the crib. It holds rocks inside to stabilize the structure in the water.

 02 Suspension Docks

This type of dock resembles a bridge with cable support. The advantage of this design is that water can run free beneath it.

 03 Piling Docks

This dock design is old-fashioned. This dock is a stationary dock that is supported by pilings.

What to Prepare to Build a DIY Boat Dock


Doing things yourself feels great. Before starting a project like a boat dock building, the most critical thing is knowing the things to prepare.

A – HomeMade Dock Plan

A dock construction plan and design is important because it will help you visualize the end result of your project. The plan will determine the size and dimensions of your dock.

Furthermore, a dock construction plan indicates the type and the shape of your dock project. The planning stage will answer the basic questions.

Are you building a stationary or a floating dock? A homemade floating dock plan can be a little different from a stationary dock plan.

You can design your boat dock yourself or hire professionals to do it for you. Designing the dock yourself allows you to incorporate anything you want for your dock.

If you consider building a covered boat dock, you need to realize it may cost you more. Covered boat dock plans can also be more difficult to create.

Lastly, boat dock drawings or plans should adhere to the shoreline facility design standards.

B – The Dock Components

You need to prepare all the components before you start your construction. These things can include the frame material, the floats, the decking material, and the nails or bolts.

1. Frames – You can choose the type of frame to use for your boat dock project. Your options include wood, aluminum, and steel.

Wood frame is the traditional material for boat docks. This material can last longer if you pick a good type of tread wood like cedar.

An aluminum frame can be expensive, but it is low maintenance. Steel is more affordable than an aluminum frame. It is also a good material if your dock is heavily used.

2. Floats – If you decide to build a floating boat dock, you will need to pick the float. You can purchase read-made floats. You can also create a DIY float using foam blocks and plastic barrels.

3. Deck – You can choose decks made from wood, PVC, composite, and aluminum.

Like the frame, it is best to pick treated wood if you decide to use wood. PVC decking material is the most popular choice because of its low maintenance.

Composite decks are highly durable and can last up to 30 years. This material is also very eco-friendly.

On the other hand, aluminum decks are also low maintenance. However, this option can be expensive.

4. The Tools – The tools you need to build a DIY boat dock can vary depending on your design and choice of material. I have listed the generic tools below:

  • Hammer
  • Nail Gun
  • Drill
  • Socket Wrench
  • Saw
  • Bolt sets
  • Tape Measure
  • Chalk Line
  • C-Clamps

If you are a seasoned builder, it can be easy to build your boat dock using hand tools. But using power tools if you have access to them is always faster and more efficient.

Build a Floating Dock: Step-by-Step Process


The steps in building a boat dock are highly dependent on your plan and design, as well as the material you use. The type of the boat dock you will build is another factor.

What you will see below are generic steps:

Step 1 – Measure and cut the framing materials.

In most cases, you can buy pre-cut materials. However, for the most part, you might need to measure and cut your materials according to the dimension and layout of your boat dock.

Using your measuring tape, measure your materials. Start measuring the dock frame, then measure the decking materials.

Step 2 – Assemble the frame.

After measuring and cutting your materials, you can start assembling the frame. Use the tool that is appropriate for the material you use.

You will need your nail and hammer if you are using wood. On the other hand, you would need your drill and bolt sets if you use aluminum or steel.

Step 3 – Install the dock floats/erect the posts.

Once the dock frame is ready, install the float properly by ensuring the connection points of the floats are against the frame.

If you are building a stationary dock, erect the posts according to the dimension of your dock. Ensure that your measurements correspond to the measurement of your frame.

Attach the frame to the posts. Some people erect the post first before assembling the frame.

Step 4 – Install the decks.

After attaching the floats, you are now ready to flip the floating dock over and start mounting your decks.

If you are building a stationary dock, you can now start installing the decks on the dock frame.

Step 5 – Do a final check and clean the area.

After installing all the components, the final step is to inspect all the parts and ensure that you did not miss nailing or bolting a component. You might also need to do some cleaning cuts.

Finally, you need to clean the area and keep your tools safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to build a boating dock?

To quote an exact amount is inaccurate. However, for the sake of having a range, the minimum cost can be around $3000, and the maximum can be around $30,000.

What is the best material to make a boat dock?

Although most of the docks you see around your area are made from wood, aluminum is regarded as the best material to use. You will enjoy the result because it doesn’t need any maintenance and doesn’t rot or warp.

What lumber is best for boat dock?

Treated wood is best to use for boat docks. Among the treated woods, treated pine woods shine brighter because of their high durability. Alongside pine wood are cedar wood and hardwoods like Ipe, Tigerwood, and Garapa.


Building a boat dock gives you many advantages, but there are many things to consider when you want to learn how to build a boat dock. You must decide which type of dock to build, what design to apply, and what materials to use.

The cost of building a boat dock is very variable because it is highly dependent on your preferences. Floating boat docks can be more expensive than stationary docks. The materials you use in building the dock also influence the overall cost of your dock project.

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