How to Build a Dock

Building a dock is a daunting project. However, with the appropriate tools and at least intermediate skills in carpentry, it can be done in a few simple steps. Docks are convenient structures to add to any waterfront property.


  • Screws
  • Treated lumber
  • Deck bumper
  • Fasteners
  • Dock stronger


  • Ladder
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw


  1. Determine the depth of the water in the surrounding; this will aid you in buying the appropriate lumber. Also, obtain as much information as possible about the weather in the area.
  2. Design and draw a plan for the structure of your dock, including relevant dimensions. If you are not good at drawing, hire the assistance of a professional architect to draw the design. Use drawing to aid you in buying and cutting the correct lumber. As you build the dock use the drawing as a reference.
  3. Try to enlist the assistance of one or two other persons. Building a dock is not a job that is easily completed alone.
  4. Put the support columns into place not more than 8 feet apart. If available use a boat for transporting and setting them in place. If the water is not too deep, a ladder should work as a suitable alternative.
  5. Screw the dock stringers in place, arranging them so they can handle any water fluctuation that may occur during a hurricane or flood.
  6. Continue building the dock structure by affixing the decking to the stringers. Ensure a ¼” gap is left so rain may go through. Use a saw to cut pieces of board for the support posts.
  7. Attach the bumpers to the dock edge to act as a shield for the boats that will be set against the dock.
  8. If a railing is included in the design, install it ensuring that it is thick and sturdy enough to support someone holding onto it. Use as many screws and bolts necessary to fit the railing in place.
  9. Add a bench, dock box, or dock chair if this is to your liking.

Tips and warnings

  • Docks have many uses besides boating. A dock is a great place to entertain guests, lounge, and enjoy the view of seascapes. If you will be using it for the latter, add chairs and tables around it to create a suitable and comfortable ambiance for relaxation.
  • Materials besides wood can also be used when constructing the dock. Wood is most popularly used, but aluminum or metal can also be utilized.
  • If the dock is being built for boating purposes, the water depth is even more crucial; a row boat will do fine in shallow seas however, a 20-footer requires more depth.
  • Lumber size depends on the scale of the project. Usually, 2×6 pieces of board are sufficient for an average-sized project.
  • If you’re building a floating dock, Styrofoam will have to be used between the surfaces of the boards.
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