Floating docks are flexible, highly configurable, and lightweight. Compared to fixed docks, they are often less expensive and easier to construct, with fewer red tape hassles.

However, that convenience often comes with an important “But…” Floating docks are less stable than their fixed cousins. Floating docks can drift from their desired location and can be washed away in a storm. Even when they stay put, waves can toss them around, stressing and weakening the dock’s structure.

Adding stability becomes critically important to your dock’s safe use and longevity. Today, Carolina Waterworks presents six common ways to stabilize your floating dock.

1. Stabilize your Floating Dock with Weights

Introducing extra weight to your floating dock will enhance its stability. Attach weights – typically concrete or metal – along the length of your dock platform with chains or cables and lower them into the water. Determining the amount of weight required – often hundreds of pounds – and ensuring even weight distribution is key to optimal stability. Too little weight will be ineffective, too much weight could drag your dock below the surface, and uneven distribution could cause your dock to tilt or lean.

In other words, there’s some math involved. Suspending weights safely and effectively may be beyond the skill level of the typical DIYer. Not to worry – your Carolina Waterworks consultant is here to help!            

2. Stabilize your Floating Dock with Pilings

Another common dock stabilizing method is the use of pilings. Pilings are metal or wooden anchoring posts that are forced deep into the lake, river, or seabed.

Pilings then attach loosely to the floating dock platform. One popular attachment method employs horizontal hoops that slip over the piling posts and then bolt to the dock. The loose fit allows the dock to rise and fall with the water level while allowing very little side-to-side movement.

To reiterate, stabilizing your floating dock with pilings may be the best bet when your water levels rise and fall considerably.

3. Stabilize your Floating Dock by Attaching it to the Shore

Anchoring your floating dock to the shore is another reliable method of preventing your dock from drifting out of position or washing away. Two common materials used in this application are metal pillars and wooden posts.

To prevent rot, wooden piling posts, often made of southern yellow pine, must be treated for use in your local water conditions, whether your floating dock is in fresh, brackish, or salt water.

Similarly, metal poles and pillars should be constructed of heavy-duty, non-rusting metal to prevent corrosion. Zinc-coated galvanized steel has been determined best for freshwater docks, while saltwater docks perform best with stainless steel. Keep these requirements in mind for all your metal dock accessories such as fasteners, hinges, and cleats.

Follow these guidelines, and you can enjoy your floating dock for many seasons of safety, ease of use, and reliability!

4. Stabilize your Floating Dock by Adding a Gangway

There are times that your floating dock must be situated at a certain distance from the shore, to meet various depth requirements. In these instances, a gangway can help stabilize your floating dock.

A gangway is a type of ramp that extends from the shore to the dock. Gangways, typically constructed of sturdy metal or wood, often include handrails to provide extra balance and safety for you and your guests. A gangway brings additional benefits, including a reliable attachment to the shore and extra weight to help stabilize your floating dock.

5. Add a Roof for Extra Weight

Another method of introducing extra weight for added stability is to erect a roof over your floating dock. This may be particularly useful if your water is too deep for suspended weights to be effective.

Floating docks typically employ two styles of roof: the Gable roof and the Hip roof. Very basically, the Gable roof features two angled side planes that meet at a peak, with open ends. The Hip roof features four angled planes – two sides and two ends – with no opening. Generally, Gable roofs are less expensive, but Hip roofs offer a more refined look, better protection from the elements, and more of the stabilizing weight you are seeking.

Adding a roof to your dock is typically more expensive compared to suspended weights and other options. However, a well-constructed, attractive roof can add appeal and value to your deck and your property. Consider it an investment!  

6. Simplify with a Floating Dock Stabilizer Kit

At this point, you may be overwhelmed by your floating dock stabilization options. You may be wishing for an all-inclusive kit to simplify the process. Carolina Waterworks is happy to oblige! Our floating dock stabilizer contains all the components and accessories you will need to successfully complete this very DIY-friendly process, including:

  • An auger that twists into the sea, lake, or riverbed and acts at the feet of your metal pilings.
  • Brackets attach the floating dock platform to the metal piling.
  • Connectors join two lengths or sections of the floating dock.
  • Fasteners are the various nuts, bolts, pins, and washers you will need.
  • Metal pilings, typically non-corrosive steel

Of course, there are several stabilizer kit options based on your specific floating dock, as well as other considerations such as:

  • Climate and Typical Weather: from winter wind chill to hurricane season
  • Dock size, weight, and configuration
  • Local Codes and Regulations: the time to deal with red tape is BEFORE you begin construction!
  • Users: just you and your spouse? Or the whole clan with boats and jet skis?
  • Water Depth: you may have more options available when water is shallower.
  • Water Fluctuation: know your extremes and choose a method that accounts for both.
  • Currents and Wave Strength: Stronger waves require sturdier anchorage.

These components and accessories, along with our expert dock installation advice, are all you will need to successfully complete what is often a very DIY-friendly process.

Stabilize your Floating Dock with Carolina Waterworks!

Stabilizing your floating dock is a key step that will help keep your dock safe and useful for many years to come. Whether you choose to stabilize your floating dock with pilings or gangways, by adding weight or attaching a roof, or by tethering it to the shore, you are sure to have questions. How much stabilization is enough? What do my local conditions demand? How much will it cost, and how much of it can I do by myself? To answer these and other floating dock stabilization questions, look to your reliable resource: Carolina Waterworks. Contact us today!

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!

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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