How to build a wooden dock walkway

Written by michael straessle
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How to build a wooden dock walkway
Make a statement with a wooden dock walkway on your waterfront property. (dock on bay image by John Hurford from

A good way to create a relaxing ambience to your waterfront property is to build a wooden dock walkway. Planning this project from start to finish before beginning saves time and money. Check your local building codes to be certain there are no restrictions concerning docks and waterfront property. Digging the holes for the posts of the walkway is the most challenging part of any dock or walkway on water because you have to deal with standing water.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 12-inch PVC pipe, 2
  • Circular saw
  • Water pump with hoses
  • Posthole diggers
  • Powered auger (optional)
  • Concrete mix
  • 4-by-4-inch pretreated posts
  • Heavy construction string
  • Line level
  • 1-by-8-inch pretreated lumber
  • Variable speed drill
  • 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Philips-head screw tip
  • 3-inch deck screws
  • 3 1/2-inch lag screws
  • Socket
  • Ratchet
  • 1-by-8 joist hangers
  • 1-inch deck screws
  • 5/4-by-6-inch pretreated decking
  • Reciprocating saw
  • 2-by-4-inch pretreated lumber

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  1. 1

    Cut two PVC pipes that are 12 inches in diameter 4 feet longer than the highest level of the water using a circular saw. These are the forms for setting the posts of the walkway. Push them 3 feet into the bed of the pond or lake. Posts should not be any farther apart than 6 feet for the length of the walkway and 4 feet for the width.

  2. 2

    Place the end of the hose connected to the water pump inside the pipe, and pump the water out. Dig postholes 3 feet deep with a powered auger or posthole diggers, and place the 4-by-4-inch pretreated posts in the holes. Pour concrete into the holes around the posts, and plumb the posts with a carpenter's level. Once the concrete is set, remove the PVC pipe and move on to the next location for the posts. Repeat this until all the posts are set.

  3. 3

    Tie a piece of construction string around the posts that are farthest from the shore. Be certain the string is higher than the highest water level of the pond or lake. Tie the other end of the string to the post on shore that is in line with this post. Place a line level on the string, and adjust the ends of the string as needed until it represents a level line between the two posts.

  4. 4

    Hold the wide side of pretreated 1-by-8-inch lumber against the posts so the top of the lumber is even with the string. Drive 3-inch deck screws through them and into the posts to hold them in place. Drill two 3/16-inch holes through the 1-by-8-inch lumber into the posts. Install 3 1/2-inch lag screws through the pilot holes with a socket and ratchet.

  5. 5

    Install 1-by-8-inch joist hangers every 24 inches on the 1-by-8s secured to the posts with the 1-inch deck screws. Place the 1-by-8-inch pretreated lumber cut for the width of the walkway in the joist hangers and secure them with 1-inch deck screws. Install 5/4-by-6-inch pretreated planks lengthwise down the walkway with 3-inch deck screws. Splice the planks on top of the width pieces.

  6. 6

    Cut the tops of the posts at 30 inches above the planks with a reciprocating saw. Next, cut two pieces of 2-by-4-inch pretreated lumber to fit between the posts. Secure 27-inch 2-by-4s between them with 3-inch deck screws. Secure one on each end and the others about 16 inches apart. These are the handrails. Secure them to the posts with 3-inch deck screws.

Tips and warnings

  • Posts longer than 7 feet need PVC pipes 18 inches in diameter.
  • Do not leave power tools within the reach of small children.

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