How To Make a Boat Dock

A boat dock has more than one way to serve a purpose. As the name implies, a boat dock is for parking boats but it can be used as a lounge for partying or fishing. You can build your own boat dock but you should still hire a professional civil engineer to help you secure it. Building a boat dock requires piling and carpentry so make sure you are properly equipped with both.

  • What you will need are:
        • Wood pilings (circular or square)
        • 4” x 8” wood pile caps or beams
        • Wood stringers
        • Galvanized bolts and screws
        • Drill
        • Measuring tape
        • 16-D galvanized nails

  • Make a blueprint of the boat dock. Before you can actually build the boat dock, you should make a blueprint of the extent of the deck coverage. Be sure you don’t encroach too far into the lake and that one side of the dock is resting on land. A good sized boat dock should be 3’ x 24’. This should be enough for any activity that you can do on the dock.
  • Drive your pilings into the ground. After measuring where your pilings should be, drive them into the ground to serve as the foundation of the boat dock. You may use circular piles or square piles. Circular piles are stronger because there are no sides that can expose hardwood. Make sure your piles are treated properly. If you are building over fresh water, treat the piles with 0.60 pcf and 2.50 pcf treatment for salt water because salt water has more extreme environment.

    Lay at least 6 piles in equal distances to hold up your 3’ x 24’ platform. Pile them into the ground one at a time. Enlist the help of professional engineers to drive the pile for you to ensure that they are exactly pinned into the ground firmly. Take note that the soil near water may be unstable and may erode. So it’s important that you have a professional working with you on these areas.

  • Attach the pile caps or beams. Use 4” x 8” treated wood pile caps or beams to reinforce the pilings. There should be two pieces of beams sandwiching the pile in the middle. If you have 6 piles, 2 piles in one row, provide 6 beams as well with two beams holding two piles. Nail them together and drill holes to add bolts. Bolts are preferred to hold them together.

    Don’t locate your beams all the way on the topmost part of the pile. You need some space to put your stringers. Leave at least 4” from the top (the width of the stringer).

  • Attach the stringers. The stringers will be laid perpendicularly on the beams. Use 4” x 8” treated wood. Put two stringers on two sides of a pile on top of the two beams and bolt them. You can have a distance of 16” on center to locate stringers all the way across the beams.
  • Build the platform. Build the decking in a way that it is running perpendicularly along the stringers. Use 2” x 6” treated flat boards for the decking. You can leave an inch space in between flat boards or you can nail them closely together. Continue nailing the flat boards until you have covered the stringers or in this case, the wood framing.

An important thing to remember is to keep all electrical power cords off the water while you are working on the dock. Ensure your safety – always have the finished dock inspected by an engineer. It’s dangerous if your dock isn’t sturdy enough to hold live or dead loads.


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