How to build a floating boat dock

Written by shannon johnson
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How to build a floating boat dock
Boat dock with canoe on top (boat on a dock image by Mat Hayward from

Floating boat docks are common on the edges of ponds and lakes. A sturdy dock allows safe access to boats. Many individuals choose to build their own floating boat dock to save money. They are not hard to construct but the materials and design must be strong to ensure safe function. Swimmers can also use floating boat docks as platforms to enter the water.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Heavy duty plastic barrels
  • Screws
  • Bolts and washers
  • Pressure treated wood beams
  • Deck stain

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  1. 1

    Determine the size of floating boat dock you need to build and cut the pressure-treated wood accordingly. Build the outside frame of the dock by using bolts and washers to securely connect all the beams. The frame of the dock will consist of the beams that make up the outside edges as well as equally spaced support beams in the middle of the frame.

  2. 2

    Measure the barrels that will be used as the flotation devices. Before the construction of the deck begins, build extra supports at all four ends on the underside of the dock. Measure these supports precisely to hold the barrels in place.

  3. 3

    Check the seals on the barrels before you place them in the water. The Cary Company website shows the kinds of barrels that are normally used for floating boat docks. The common selection is a 55-gallon plastic barrel with a tight head.

  4. 4

    Start building the deck by placing the beams on top of the dock frame. The beams should be screwed into place tightly to ensure that the deck surface is stable.

  5. 5

    Place the floating boat dock in the water. Many individuals choose to stain the floating boat dock to protect it against the elements and lengthen the longevity of the wood.

Tips and warnings

  • Safety on the dock and around the water is very important. If a floating boat dock is large enough, mounting a ladder on the side to gain an additional way of exiting the water is advisable.
  • Store life vests and life preservers on or near the floating boat dock as an additional safety measure.
  • The Dock Builders Supply website shows diagrams of partially built docks that clearly illustrate the various stages of construction.

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