how to build a floating dock, How to Build a Floating Dock

How to Build a Floating Dock

So, you’ve decided your picturesque house is incomplete without a deck on the water to go along with it—and rightfully so. No waterfront home is truly complete without a way to enjoy time on the water.

Fortunately, floating docks are a popular option for homeowners who want a beautiful, convenient, and affordable dock that can be removed or rearranged on a whim.

They’re also a perfect project for seasoned home DIY enthusiasts who have experience building other large structures for their homes. To help you get started, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to build a floating dock.

Floating Docks vs. Stationary Docks 

There are two main categories of docks: floating and stationary. 

Stationary docks (also called piling docks) are permanent structures. They rest on piles sunk into the ground, making them stable and, of course, permanent. These types of docks are better for areas with floods and fast currents and warmer climates where the water doesn’t freeze.

Floating docks have buoyant floats installed that allows them to rest on the surface of the water. They move with the rise and fall of the tide and can loosely attach to stationary decks or seawalls. These structures are best for areas where water levels change frequently, there are frequent storms, and colder climates where the surface of the water freezes over in the winter.

Should You Build a Floating Dock? 

Homeowners with DIY experience may be intrigued by the idea of building their own floating dock, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Building a floating dock is a pretty big project. 

Before getting started, ask yourself:

  • Have you worked on a big project like this before? 
  • Did your previous large-scale builds turn out well? 
  • Are you confident in your abilities to create a safe and stable structure?
  • Do you know how to design a structure that will bear weight and not put anyone in harm’s way? 

If you’re not sure you can do it alone, reach out to a member of the Decks & Docks team for help. We’ll help put you on the right path to success or put you in touch with pros who can get it done.

Bottom line? Don’t let a floating dock be your first DIY project. 

DIY Floating Dock Build

If you’re confident in your woodworking abilities and want to take a shot at building a floating dock, we’ve got you covered. Check out our easy-to-follow guide for steps on how to build your very own floating dock.

To build your floating dock, you’ll need the following materials:

  • A nail gun (a hammer works, but it will be tedious and inefficient) 
  • Tape measure
  • Socket ratchet 
  • Writing utensil 
  • Square 
  • Saw 
  • Drill 

The hardware you’ll need includes: 

  • 6 angles
  • 4 inside corners 
  • 9 dock floats 
  • 110 SS 3/8 x ½ lag bolts with washers 
  • 5-10 lbs of your choice of nails 

For the wood, you’ll need the following pressure-treated lumber: 

  • 2 side stringers 2x8x12” 
  • 2 end stringers 2x6x10’ 
  • 4 cross stringers 2x6x12’ 
  • 7 float supports 2x6x10’ 
  • 20 decking boards 2x8x10’ OR 27 decking boards 2X6X10’ 

Check out our wide selection of hardware—we’ve got everything you’ll need for building your floating dock. We also carry a variety of synthetic lumber to help you make something that’s as beautiful as it is durable.

How To Build a Floating Dock

Step 1: Cut the Lumber and Make the Frame

Begin by cutting all the lumber into the appropriate length for a 10×12’ dock. (You can adjust measurements as necessary if you want a different sized dock, but make sure to do that math before you start cutting). You’ll be building the deck upside down so that you can place the floats in the next step. 

Make the frame by using the side and end stringers. You’ll need to place the cross stringers 2 feet from the center to act as support beams to the frame. Use the nail gun to secure the frame. 

Place the inside corners in each corner and center them vertically. Use a socket wrench to secure the lag bolts and wrench into the inside corner. You’ll need 8 per corner. We use an outside corner and carriage bolts. 

Step 2: Place the Dock Floats 

The support boards will be perpendicular to the stringers and spaced so that there are three evenly spaced support boards. 

Use the nail gun to secure all the boards. Place the floats with the flat side down, so the flange is against the frame. Then, use the socket ratchet to attach the floats to the support boards with the lag bolt sets. Each float will require 4 lags each.

Step 3: Decking and Inside Dock Hardware 

Secure the angles into position with the lag bolt sets and socket wrench. You’ll need 4 lag bolt sets per angle. Now, you can screw the deck boards into the frame. 

At this point, you may need to trim any uneven edges with a saw. 

The final step is to secure the floating dock to whatever sturdy structure you have at your disposal on the water. Do not skip this step or skimp on the tethers! You don’t need your dock floating away in the middle of the night.

Want to learn more?

Building a floating dock can be a challenging but rewarding DIY project for homeowners. Always be sure to have the right safety equipment (a life jacket and life preserver) on hand before going out onto your floating dock—and don’t let kids play on it without supervision.

If you have any questions about how to build a floating dock, the Decks & Docks team is here to help! Contact us today and we’ll help you get the right materials or recommend a contractor to help you finish the job.