Step-by-Step Guide to Choose the Perfect Dock for Your Waterfront

Step-by-Step Guide to Choose the Perfect Dock for Your Waterfront

A new dock is an investment in your home or property.

It's an extension of your home, a place where friends and family can gather and enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and making memories. Choosing the right dock is an important decision.

The ways you'll use your dock, the look and style you want, your budget, and various other factors are all important to consider. The right dock can last decades, so it's wise to spend some time researching your options.

Here's a guide to help you choose the perfect lake dock for your home.

An Overview of Dock Types

There are essentially four main types of docks: roll-in, post, floating, and piling/permanent. All four types have their pros and cons.

  • Roll-in docks are commonly used in areas where the water will freeze in the winter, as they are easier to take in and out.
  • Post docks are also common and can be removable or permanent, depending on location.
  • Floating docks are a good option for fluctuating water levels and bodies of water with very uneven lake beds.
  • Piling or permanent docks are convenient because they stay in the water year-round; however, they are not always a viable option as they may not be suited for harsher climates.

Now, let's take a step-by-step look at factors that can help you determine the best dock option for your needs.

1. Study Your Local Rules and Regulations

Like most home or property upgrades, there are rules and regulations surrounding the installation of a dock. Before you get too far into the planning stage, you'll need to learn what particular regulations are in place in your area.

Start by contacting your local government or DNR, who can assist you in learning more about what options you may (or may not) have. There may be restrictions on length and dimension. Some locales have regulations in place to protect marine life and shorelines. Chances are, you'll need a permit, too.

Don't start your new dock project without first doing your due diligence, or you could find yourself with a hefty fine and an order to remove the dock.

2. Consider Your Dock's Main Uses

Once you have you've studied up on the types and sizes of docks that your particular jurisdiction allows, it's time to decide the type of dock you want.

The best option for your needs will vary depending on your intended use.

Do you have a boat -- or several boats? Your dock should be longer than your boat to allow for easier docking. Will you require a boat lift? Would you like a slip to allow for easier docking and getting in and out?

Will you use the dock to entertain? Will you fish from it? Will kids be swimming or playing in the water near it? How close to the water's surface would you like it to be?

Weigh all of these factors before you choose because they can affect the optimal length, width, shape, and material options for your new dock.

3. What Type of Water Body is the Dock Going Into?

You'll need to consider the body of water in which you're putting the dock. Are you on a lake or a river? What's the lake bed like? How high will the waves reach? Do the water levels fluctuate greatly?

A dock that would be fine on a small, calm lake may not be suitable for a river with a strong current or a large, windy lake.

Think about the lake bed, too. You'll need to know the depth of the water and whether the bed is steep, muddy, rocky, or uneven.

4. How Much Maintenence and Work Are You Willing to Do?

The amount and type of care your dock will need will depend on the material and variety.

For instance, plan to occasionally restain and seal wood docks. Aluminum and vinyl docks need occasional power washing, but not much else.

Some docks need to be taken out of the water each fall and put back in the spring. Some docks are heavy and will require a crew -- others are lightweight and fairly easy to maneuver.

Think about your lifestyle and limitations when choosing a type of dock and the material.

5. What's Your Budget?

Due to the number of variables and options, the cost to install a new dock can vary wildly.

Simple, prefabricated, straight docks might cost as little as $1,500, while a large, complex, permanent dock with built-in accessories and lighting could run upwards of $50,000. There's definitely a dock for every budget!

Know what you can afford to spend before you pick a dock, but remember that -- like with most things in life -- you get what you pay for. Paying more upfront for quality can pay off in the long run if the dock lasts for decades!

6. What Accessories Will Your Dock Need?

Like the pricing that we mentioned above, there are many variables here. You may find you need very little by way of accessories.

However, you might want boat bumpers, a ladder for swimmers, steps, built-in benches or furniture, railings, or a kayak rack.

You can opt for as many -- or as few -- accessories as your needs and budget allow. Have fun with this part of the planning process!

Need More Information About Picking the Right Lake Dock?

As you can see, there are many moving parts when it comes to picking the right lake dock. Luckily, there are experts that can help!

For more helpful articles like this, check out our blog. You'll find information about protecting your dock from the elements, in-depth material comparisons, and more.

If you're in the Spirit Lake, Iowa area and thinking about installing or replacing your dock, we'd love to hear from you! Our experts can discuss your options in detail so that you know you're making the right choice.

After all, your dock is an investment in your home -- and your family. Get in touch, and get one step closer to making memories on your new dock!

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