How to select the best dock for your lake house

How to select the best dock for your lake house

A lakefront property is immediately upgraded with dock access or a dock directly on the property. Docks become a place to store boats and other watercraft and can give you somewhere to gather for other activities.

But how do you go about choosing what type of dock is right for your lake home? Should you go with a floating dock or a stationary dock? Should the dock have wood decking or aluminum decking? And how will having a dock increase the property value?

You simply have to do your homework, but the first step is knowing what makes a dock the best choice for your property.

Here is a quick rundown how to figure out what dock is best for your waterfront residence.

Choose a floating dock or stationary dock

The first decision you'll probably need to make when you're thinking about installing a dock on your property is whether you want to go with a floating dock or a stationary dock.

Both types of docks have their own pros and cons, and some properties are better suited for one and not always the other type.

You have to ask yourself some questions. How will this dock be used? What are the water conditions where you want to put the dock?

Let's take a quick look at how a floating dock or stationary dock could be the better fit for your waterfront home.

Floating docks are versatile

Floating docks can be used in a variety of settings. They're good fits in either high or low water and they're attachable to the shoreline, pilings or even a separate stationary dock.

Another great characteristic of floating docks is that you can often switch around and reposition sections if you want to change the dock configuration.

Floating docks are also a cheaper option if you're installing a dock in deep water.

As for cons, the first to highlight is that they have a shorter lifespan than stationary docks. Floating docks typically last 20 to 30 years, whereas their stationary counterparts can last 25 to 35 years.

Another con - which actually isn't a con for everyone, but certainly for some - is that floating docks move. You'll feel the sway of the water while on a floating dock. In areas of high traffic, this could really become more of an issue for some property owners as the dock will move even more.

Finally, although floating docks are good for various water levels, you have to take into account exactly how low the water may get where you are installing the dock. If water gets too low, then a floating dock could be damaged.

Stationary docks are durable

Since stationary docks are not moved around by the water, they tend to be more protected from the elements than floating docks. In most cases, they'll last longer, too, with most stationary docks lasting 25 to 35 years.

If there's lots of activity on the water near your home, then a stationary dock could be your best bet in terms of standing up when waters move a little more.

And, because stationary docks do not move, they make it easier to get in and out of boats, dock boats, fish from or gather with friends and family.

Stationary docks work best when water levels can get pretty shallow, too, as they don't rise and fall with the water.

One of the primary possible cons to consider is that stationary docks can cost a little more than floating docks - but remember they last longer. Deeper water requires longer pilings and these could face issues with bending and warping over the long run.

Another con you could encounter is that if the water gets too low, then you may have to adjust how you get in and out of your boat. The same goes for higher water levels.

Decide between wood decking or aluminum decking

With decking, you essentially have two options: wood or aluminum.

Like broader dock type, there are also pros and cons between these two decking types.

Wood dock decking is affordable

With wood decking, your initial costs are likely going to be cheaper than with aluminum decking. Overall, you can still get a long life out of wood decking, too.

The problems that could come into play are aging wood, which can rot, crack, splinter and warp. Insects could also damage wood.

You can overcome those issues with regular maintenance, though. Treat wood with a protective coating, power wash regularly and make sure all metal parts holding the dock together stay in good condition to help wood decking last longer.

Aluminum dock decking can be lower maintenance

Since it's a more durable material than wood, and doesn't rust like some other metals when used outdoors, aluminum decking is sturdy and reliable. Over time, there will be less maintenance required, too.

If you're looking at a roll-in dock, then aluminum decking is probably best for your needs. Aluminum decking is lighter than would, so it's easier to move.

Up-front costs are going to be higher with aluminum dock decking, though. You'll also will want to make sure the decking has been properly installed and the joints are strong. It's often best to make sure a professional installs the decking.

Consider how the type of dock could increase property value

In most cases, adding a dock to your property could increase the property's overall value. As many real estate agents note, though, how much the dock adds really comes down to the property itself - and the dock-type.

Though you should consider your own needs when installing a dock, it isn't a bad idea to think about the future and how the dock you choose could affect how well your home could sell.

There's no doubt a dock adds appeal to a home, especially if comparable homes in the area also have docks. But the real determining factors in how a dock affects a home sale come from the dock's appeal and condition.

Think of a dock as another type of investment in your home that could benefit you down the road.

Get a free quote from a professional

When it comes to determining what type of dock is best for your property, contacting a professional to get their insight can be invaluable. They've likely seen properties like yours and can point you in the right direction.

A professional can also help you find a dock that fits within your budget after they've talked you through your options and have a better idea of your needs and property.

Ask for a free quote to find a dock for your lake home that's within your budget.

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