How High Should A Dock Be Above The Water? (Exactly!)

As a general rule, the dock should be 10 to 20 inches above the water line. This will allow for water level changes and make getting on and off your boat much more accessible.

If the water levels around your dock go up and down drastically, consider that when selecting your ideal height.

Now that you know how high your dock landing should be from the water line, let’s look at some other common questions boaters have.

Types Of Boat Docks – Explained

If you are a new waterfront homeowner, you may already have a dock. Let’s see what type of dock you have.

1. Piling Dock

The piling dock consists of large wooden posts that are set in the ground below the water. The actual dock platform is connected to the wooden pilings in a way that allows them to rise and fall with the water level. This makes them a great option for areas with rough water or drastically changing water levels. This is one of the most common style docks around saltwater marinas.

2. Floating Dock

Floating docks are very common for lakefront homes. They are affordable and easy to remove if needed. The dock is attached on land somewhere making it easy to adjust when the water levels rise and sink. This is a great option for different levels of water as long as it doesn’t get too rough out there.

When winter comes, a lot of docks need to be removed from the water to prevent damage.

3. Pipe Docks

Pipe docks are a lot like piling docks. They have poles that go into the ground below the water line and the dock walkways get attached to the pipes, just like in piling docks. The big differences are price and stability. The aluminum pipes will not hold as much weight as large wooden pilings. However, aluminum pipes are a lot more affordable. These pipe docks can be built with steel pipes as well.

4. Fixed Docks

Fixed docks are attached to the bottom of the walkways. This means you won’t see the poles or pilings unless you swim under the dock. They are great options for resorts and parks. They are not removable and do not adjust with the water line, so make you put them at the perfect height. They are very nice looking and can usually be found on resort ponds.

These are the main types of docks you will find when looking at local watering holes. If you just bought a lakefront house and it has a dock, it should be one of the ones in the list above.

Now that you know what type of dock you have, let’s look at some other common questions from dock owners!

Does My Dock Have To Come Out For The Winter?

As a general rule, yes, your dock should be removed in the winter. If your dock is subject to frozen water in the area and it is not a fixed dock, consider removing it.

Docks surrounded by ice in the winter can be severely damaged or destroyed.

Most people never think about removing a whole dock just because the temperature drops, but the fact is you probably should.

If the water your dock sits in freezes, then more than likely you should remove it. Ice can be catastrophic to docks. You may think your dock is made of steel and can’t be harmed, but it can. Ice is extremely powerful and can even lift docks off the ground and carry them out to open waters.

Aluminum pipe docks are very weak against frozen water. It is highly recommended to remove them if your lake will be frozen during the winter months.

If you still aren’t sure if your dock should be removed, check with your neighbors in the area. If they have the same style dock and have been there for years, then they will definitely know what to do. Most of the boating world is very friendly when it comes to helping out their fellow boaters.

Do I Need To Anchor My Dock To The Ground? It Depends

You do not have to anchor your dock to the ground unless the type of dock you have requires it, or the water around your dock has large waves.

There are different types of docks and certain ones are anchored to the ground and others are not. It just depends on what type of dock you have.

A floating dock is attached to the shoreline and never the ground. They float and if you anchor them, they wouldn’t stay on top of the water line. If you have a piling dock, then there is a good chance that will be attached to the ground in some way. The pilings are usually driven into the ground to secure them and prevent them from coming detached. This is an example of anchoring the dock to the ground.

The pipe docks are not necessarily anchored to the ground. A lot of pipe docks just sit on top of the ground and are not attached in any way. This makes it easy to remove them for the winter.

If you do not attach your dock to the ground, make sure you keep the bottom of the dock high above the water line. When the water gets rough from a storm and the waves get larger, if they reach the bottom of your dock, they can easily lift it off the ground and carry it away.

It is highly recommended to put your dock at a height that will keep the waves from reaching it. Especially in a storm that will have extra large waves.

Waves can destroy a dock very quickly. You want your dock high enough to allow water current to move freely under the dock. This way there will be no force on the dock itself other than its legs.

Remember, water is a very powerful force and cities have been destroyed by it. Make sure your dock is built correctly.

Final Thoughts On Boat Docks

When building or purchasing an existing dock, make sure it is built correctly. The first thing to do is identify the type of dock you have or want and go from there. You will want to consider water level changes throughout the year and winter conditions in your area. These are going to be very important in the lifespan of your dock. Remember to ask your neighbors or local marina about their docks. There is a ton of information in the boater’s world and communicating it to each other is the best way to spread the knowledge. Which is why I built this website! Cheers!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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