How to find the best ladder for your dock
Docks have many more uses than simply being somewhere to secure boats and other watercraft. With the right accessories, a dock can quickly become a focal point of entertainment and recreational use.
For those who enjoy taking a swim now and then, or simply enjoy playing in the water, ladders are a must-have accessory for any boat dock. Ladders also make entering and exiting boats much easier.
But there are many ladder options and varieties for dock owners to consider. Before choosing which one to install, let’s walk through some of the details and the style differences to help determine which dock ladder could be the best fit.
Boat dock ladder basics
Dock ladders need to hold up against the elements. Since they will be in the water often, the material from which they are made needs to be resistant to rust.
That’s why many dock ladders are made out of aluminum. In some cases, galvanized steel will work, too. Both materials will do well in fresh water situations. You can opt to go with stainless steel, which is used more often in salt and brackish water environments, but it’s not necessary for freshwater. It will hold up for a very long time, though.
The other variable to know about up front is the dock ladder length that you will need. For the most part, you will want two steps to be in the water. Just be aware that, in general, the more steps there are, the easier it will be for people using the ladder to get out of the water.
Choose the right ladder for your dock design
Certain design aspects of your dock will help you figure out what type of ladder will work best and how long that ladder should be.
If you have a floating dock, most suppliers will advise you to always have at least two or three ladder steps below the water. This is how you will determine how long of a ladder you need.
Take the distance from the top of the dock to the water and divide that by the ladder’s step height. This will help you find how many steps you will need if you’re looking to stay within that two- to three-steps below the water recommendation.
With stationary docks, measure the distance from the top of your dock to the bottom of the waterbody. Divide that total by the ladder’s step height.
Types of dock ladders available
There are many different types of ladders that could be suitable to your dock. But to be sure which one is the best fit, let’s take a closer look at the differences between these options.
Straight dock ladders
These ladders are the simplest and least expensive of the several types of dock ladders. That’s because the design is very standard. It comes with an attachment for connecting to the dock, a safety handrail and steps that range in number, usually three to seven.
Straight dock ladders are good for stationary docks, especially when water levels fluctuate.
Once useful benefit of a straight dock ladder is that, in most cases, they can be outfitted with extra-wide steps for easier use. This could increase the price tag, though.
If you will have people getting in and out of the water often, then you may want to install these extra-wide steps, also known as stairs. Both people and pets will appreciate the much larger space to stand on and climb up.
Stairs also increase the ease of entering and exiting the water for anyone with mobility issues.
Lift dock ladders
Lift dock ladders are another great option if you have a stationary dock. The difference in this style is in the name - they can be lifted up out of the water while staying attached to the dock.
Floatstep dock ladders
These are basically step ladders - except with one very cool feature. Floatstep ladders have a device at the bottom that brings the ladder up to the surface when it is not being used.
Finger pier dock ladders
These are compact and stay out of the way - perfect for finger piers that do not have a lot of room for ladders. There aren’t any handlebars on finger pier dock ladders and they are designed to maximize dock space while still having the safety and convenience of a ladder.
Where to install the ladder
Where do people get in and out of boats or the water from your dock? That is probably the most important question to ask when deciding where to install a ladder on your boat dock.
You want the ladder to be easily accessible, but out of the way enough that it is not an obstruction for dock users or takes away too much space. It also needs to be on your side of the dock if it is a shared space.
Customize your boat dock with accessories
Adding a ladder is just one way you can customize and add some flair to your boat dock, but there are many other accessories you can considering installing. From benches, to boat cushions, to dock railings, VW Docks has the various accessories you need to make your dock perfect for how you and your family intend to utilize it.
Though we specialize in designing and building custom docks, the accessories that we offer are additional ways to make your dock stand out as an enjoyable, even valuable, feature of your property.
Get a free quote
VW Docks has been in the dock-building business since 1959. Our company has been designing, building and installing high-quality docks that entire time. At VW Docks, our goal has remained the same all those years: We strive to make your ideal dock, period!
Looking to install your ideal boat dock or add custom accessories? Contact VW Docks to request a quote. Our quotes are always free and you can be sure we will take your request, add our expertise and offer a custom solution to all your docking needs.
Share This Post
Read Our Other Blog Posts.