Floating Dock or Stationary Dock: It’s Your Choice!

February 19, 2023

Which is the better choice – a floating dock or a stationary dock? Carolina Waterworks believes that only YOU have the answer, based on your individual boating needs and environment. To find that answer, and to make a smart buying decision, it is helpful to consider the features of each dock style and see how they align with your priorities. Carolina Waterworks is here to help!

Floating Dock or Stationary Dock: An Introduction

Boat docks, made of various materials such as aluminum, wood, or composites, are placed along banks or shores to help boaters and swimmers make the transition from water to land, and vice versa.

Docks are constructed in two modes: floating and stationary. Stationary docks rest on vertical pilings driven into the lake, river, or ocean floor. Floating docks are buoyed by airtight cubes or drums below the decking, called dock floats. Floating docks are held in place by lines or cables that connect the dock to the shore or the floor or bed of the body of water.

Boaters must choose between constructing a floating dock or a stationary dock on their property. Boating professionals, enthusiasts, and your neighbors along the lake will all offer their opinions, but the decision should be based on your real-world considerations, such as the following.

Consider Your Location: Depth and Traffic

Is your body of water shallow or deep? Or does it fluctuate between the two? A stationary dock can be installed to meet shallow or deep conditions. Water that is too deep can present a problem, however, in that the pilings required begin to get pricey in terms of materials and labor. Water of fluctuating depth can also bring challenges for a stationary dock. When the water level drops, a stationary dock can necessitate a longer climb for boaters and swimmers. When the water rises your dock may be submerged, which results in muddy cleanup and potential damage to any electrical components.

High, low, or in between, a floating dock will adjust with the changing water level. This offers convenient and consistent ingress and egress for the boater and swimmer. However, if the water level drops low enough, the weight of your floating dock could cause stress on your floats if they contact the lake or riverbed. Water that rises too high may cause excess tension on the lines securing your floating dock in place.

Finally, consider the boating traffic. How busy is your waterway? More boats mean more wake, even if they obey the speed limit. The floating dock may pitch and rock, while the stationary dock will barely feel the effect. The same caution also applies in the case of storms and other bad weather.

In short, you may find that a stationary deck is better suited to shallower and more consistent water levels and is less affected by boating traffic. A floating deck may be better for deeper or fluctuating water levels with lighter traffic.

Installation, Maintenance, and Cost

In deeper water, a floating dock could be the less costly option because you will forgo the expense of installing pilings in favor of buoyant dock floats. However, dock floats carry their own costs. Deck size (square footage), materials used, and your expected load will determine the size and number of floats you must purchase for optimum safety.

A stationary dock requires the installation of pilings. These can be costly (especially the deeper you go), typically require professional installation, and sometimes entail environmental red tape due to their more permanent nature.

Another advantage of a floating dock is that installation and maintenance can be much more DIY-friendly than the stationary dock. On the other hand, a stationary dock can last longer with fewer maintenance issues. In fact, some estimates place the lifespan of a floating dock at around 20-30 years, while a stationary dock may last 25-35 years.

Floating Dock or Stationary Dock: Lifestyle Considerations

Finally, think about the ways you and your family interact with the water. Are you a retired couple mainly interested in fishing or an easy circuit around the lake? Or will your dock be full of kids and grandkids, swimming and riding jet skis? Will your boat be in the water all season, or will you haul it out from time to time?

Some less experienced boaters, or people with balance issues, can find it difficult to ingress and egress from a bobbing boat to a bobbing floating dock, and vice versa. As noted previously, a low water level can make your stationary dock harder to reach for younger and older swimmers. As for putting in and hauling out boats and toys, many boaters prefer to drive their craft up onto a boat lift. Most stationary docks can accommodate the addition of a boat lift, while some floating docks cannot.

Are you considering adding a dock to your property, but aren’t sure if a floating dock or stationary dock is the way to go? Begin by making an honest assessment of your location, your budget, and your boating lifestyle. Figure out how a dock will fit your family, not the other way around. Then take your questions and concerns to a qualified dock professional.

Dock Dilemma? Call Carolina Waterworks!

Carolina Waterworks is a quality manufacturer of dock floats, commercial and residential gangways, floating docks, buoys, and Safe Haven drive-on boat and jet ski lifts. We have over 30 years of experience in the marine industry and our docks have been the answer to countless questions raised by boaters looking to enhance their boating experience. We can do the same for you, so contact us today!


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Who We Are

Carolina Waterworks is a quality manufacturer of dock floats, commercial/residential gangways, floating docks, buoys, and Safe Haven drive-on boat and jet ski lifts.

We are a privately owned company with over 30 years of experience in the marine industry.

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