No waterfront home is truly complete without a personal watercraft and dock to go along with it. Docks make a valuable addition to any property near a lake, river, or ocean, as it offers residents easier access to their boats or personal watercraft and a picturesque space for lounging and water recreation activities, such as fishing and swimming.
The only problem is that having a dock built by professional experts can be incredibly expensive, depending on your requirements. As a result, many homeowners opt for DIY floating docks, which are platforms built to float on top of the waterâ€™s surface with the support of buoyant and air-tight pontoons. Today, floating docks come in different shapes, layouts, and sizes and are far more affordable than their stationary counterparts.
So, if youâ€™ve decided to summon your inner DIY enthusiast and take on this incredible challenge, youâ€™re at the right place, as weâ€™ve put together this brief guide on how to build a floating dock for your waterfront.
Factors to Consider Before Building a Floating Dock
As versatile and functional as floating docks are, theyâ€™re not ideal for every waterfront type or owner. The following are three factors to consider before building a floating dock:
The Difference Between Floating and Stationary Docks
Before floating docks, stationary docks were the only option waterfront residents could opt for. These are strong, permanent structures built on wood, concrete, or metal piles that are sunk into a waterbodyâ€™s bed. In contrast, as their name suggests, floating docks are semi-permanent solutions that raise and fall with the water level, which can raise issues due to fluctuations. Choosing between these two options often falls to the cost, personal preferences, and water conditions.
Floating docks are suitable for ponds or lakes with a depth exceeding 8 feet and minimum fluctuations in water levels. Opting for a stationary dock, in this case, will cost more time and a lot more money. Youâ€™ll also have to take into account the weather conditions and any factors that could cause any strain or damage to the legs holding the structure in place.
Your DIY Experience and Skills
Building a DIY floating dock is a big project and not something for the faint of heart. It requires DIY experience and different handyman skills, so before getting started, you need to ensure youâ€™ve undertaken successful construction projects before and that you possess the proper skills and tools to get the job done properly and safely. If youâ€™re not sure you can do it alone, reach out to those interested in helping you out before starting.
How to Build a DIY Floating Dock for Your Waterfront
Now that you understand the main factors to consider before building a floating dock letâ€™s get to the fun part. Hereâ€™s everything you need to build a DIY floating dock, along with the main steps:
- A nail gun or hammer (for experienced handymen)
- Pencil or pen
- Tape measure
- Impact wrench
- Safety equipment (goggles, boots, gloves, mask, life jacket, etc.)
- 9 Polyflanged foam filled dock floats
- 6 angles
- Nails (5-10 lbs)
- 110 â€“ SS 5/16 x 1 Â½â€ lag bolt sets (bolt and washer)
- Heavy-duty inside corners
- 20 decking boards (2â€x8â€x10â€™ or2x6x10â€™)
- 2 side and cross stringers (2â€x6â€x12â€™)
- 2 end stingers (2â€x6â€x10â€™)
- 7 float supports (2â€x6â€x10â€™)
Assemble Everything You Need
The first step in building a DIY floating deck is to assemble all the necessary tools, equipment, and materials for your project. Most of the things you need can be procured from a local hardware or dock store. If you canâ€™t find dock floats, you can order them from Amazon or popular dock manufacturers.
Build the Lumber Frame
Once you have everything you need, use a saw to cut all lumber to the required lengths for a 10×12â€™ floating dock. Using the 2â€x6â€x 10â€™ end stringers, construct the frame and then place the 2â€x6â€x 12â€™ cross stringers 2 feet on the center for optimal frame support. Next, use a tape measure to square the frame and secure all parts with a nail and hammer or nail gun. Please ensure you cut the stringers at least 3â€ so they can accurately fit the frame at each end. Otherwise, you wonâ€™t be able to add additional hardware or floats. Once youâ€™re done, insert insider corners in each corner of the dock frame and secure them with 5/16â€ x 1 Â½â€ lag bolt sets using an impact wrench or socket ratchet.
Place Dock Floats On Frame
At this point, you should be ready to place the dock floats on the upside-down frame. Carefully position the (2â€x6â€x 10â€™) support boards on top of the frame to ensure the dock floats have a right/left edge and center mounting support. More importantly, you need to make sure that the boards are perpendicular to the stringers in a way that there are three evenly spaced boards between both ends. From there, all thatâ€™s left to do is secure the support boards with nails using a hammer or a nail gun and attach the dock floats with 5/16â€ x 1 Â½â€ lag bolt sets using an impact wrench or socket ratchet.
Decking and Inside Dock Hardware
Once your frame is ready, and the floats are secured, you need to flip your floating dock over. For this, you might need another hand, so donâ€™t be shy to call your waterfront neighbor, boating buddy, or family member to help. Once your dock is ready, the next step is to position the angles and secure them with 5/16â€ x 1 Â½â€ lag bolt sets using an impact wrench or socket ratchet. Once the construction is complete, all thatâ€™s left to do is push your dock into the water and secure it with connecting hardware to ensure your hard work doesnâ€™t float away into the night. At this point, you can also include other docking accessories, such as lights, rub rails, bumpers, and accents, to add another layer of protection for your watercraft.
Learning how to build a floating dock for your waterfront can be challenging but equally rewarding. However, this project isnâ€™t for everyone as it requires a certain amount of skill and DIY experience since youâ€™ll be working with multiple materials and equipment, especially if youâ€™re making one from scratch. To make it easier, you can opt for a floating dock kit that contains all the necessary parts and instructions. Now that you have an idea of everything you need, you can get started on assembling the materials and equipment and upgrading your waterfront with a DIY floating dock.