08th December, 2020

Considerations for Floating Boat Dock Design

Many times, we think of the ability to float as a characteristic reserved solely for moving vessels in the water or small objects. But you can also design dock structures that float on top of the water’s surface instead of setting them firmly into the ground. This style of dock can be advantageous because it can adapt to changing water levels and wave movements. You may also appreciate that their position is not fixed. At the same time, a floating dock is strong enough to support boats that you may want to stop next to it. Make these considerations for floating boat dock design to build a structure that fits your vision while maintaining optimum functionality.

Taking the Surroundings Into Account

Prior to moving your sights to the details of the dock itself, you should survey the site that you plan to place it. Determine the composition of the soil in the area and refer to your area’s regulations to figure out what anchoring or piling components it can handle. When working with contractors, you may also be able to defer to their expertise in the matter. Another aspect of the ground that you need to consider is whether there are utility lines that run where you want to create the dock. Whether the lines are subterranean or hanging overhead, you don’t want your construction work to interfere with or damage them.

For the aqueous part of the surroundings, you should take into account the water’s depth and the changes that it will undergo based on the seasons. Although the dock will float, any boats that you bring to rest there will have a portion of their hulls that sit underwater to some degree. Thus, the water should be sufficiently deep so that the boat draft (the portion that sits underwater) does not scrape against the bottom. This should hold true even when the water level diminishes at certain points in the year.

Deciding on the Frame Shape

Floating docks aren’t limited to only a straight frame shape. You can also create shapes that resemble the letters T, L, U, and H, with different portions connecting at 90-degree angles. If you want to expand the usability of the dock, such expansions may be quite valuable. However, you do need to make sure that as you add length to your dock, so each section has the necessary structural reinforcements to remain stable. You may need to increase the width of each part, attach additional frame pieces, and incorporate more anchor points. Additionally, the frame shape should fit tightly over the floats that you use. With this, you will be able to take out singular floats for repair or replacement without making the whole dock so unsteady that you can’t work on it.

Making the Deck in Segments

Related to deciding on the frame shape, you should also think about how you will segment the dock. Since it floats, you have the freedom to modify the structure and make it more fluid than a completely immobile structure. When you break your design into several smaller parts, it’s able to bend according to the movements of the water. You can also move around the parts to create different configurations whenever you want or perform maintenance work on individual sections when necessary. Furthermore, you can remove and safely stow a floating boat deck during the winter when you aren’t using it and when the weather and temperatures could damage it. Use your float’s shapes to determine where you will create the breaks in your dock design.

Selecting the Frame and Deck Materials

The materials that you use for the frame and deck will decide its hardiness, appearance, surface texture, and upkeep requirements. Stationary docks may include concrete in their frames because of its strength, but it isn’t ideal for floating docks because the amount they shift in the water can lead it to crack prematurely. Instead, metals such as aluminum or steel are good candidates for the floating dock frame. These are both durable and won’t break under tension. You need to make sure you obtain varieties that won’t rust easily, though.

Wood is another choice that is more affordable. However, it is prone to rotting or deteriorating due to the physical force of the water. You must treat the wood to make it more suitable for use in water. Recycled plastic lumber may be the most preferable frame material because water doesn’t negatively affect it in any way, and it is also sturdy enough to last a long time.

For decking, people also usually pick between metal, wood, or plastic. The metal that you should choose it comes to the deck is aluminum because it is lightweight. A wood deck presents an attractive look but has all the aforementioned weaknesses of a wood frame. With plastic, you may choose between PVC or plastic lumber (HDPE). PVC is also light and doesn’t need much maintenance, but it isn’t as tough as other materials and will shrink and expand in varying temperatures. This is why you should only reserve it for the deck.

Plastic lumber from a trustworthy recycled plastic board supplier like Tangent will provide a beautiful appearance for the deck. This material can even possess graining textures like wood and can come in many colors. Plastic lumber also provides the longevity and robustness that PVC may lack.

Creating a Working Flotation Arrangement

Creating a working flotation arrangement naturally stands as a core consideration for floating boat dock design. The most common and available material for floats is polystyrene, which is also known as Styrofoam. However, since polystyrene breaks easily when exposed to water, sunlight, physical force, and pests, most local laws prohibit you from using it without an outer covering. For the outer case, you can select polyethylene or, in some cases, concrete. The characteristics of your floats should lead them to be both lightweight and tough, with a great level of buoyancy.

Having effective floats is only half the battle, however. You also need to include enough floats to support the weight of the dock and the people and objects that will sit on top of it. The number of floats will depend on the buoyancy of each individual float and the weight that you need them to hold up. Don’t forget to spread floats out evenly, so the edges and corners of the dock don’t sink beneath the water’s surface when a person stands near them or when an object sits by them.

Considerations for Floating Boat Dock Design