You need a new floating dock or want to add to an existing one, but money is tight. Building your own dock can easily save you 50% of the cost of a new one. The cost of a finished dock includes the following:
• The cost of manufacturing the spring parts.
• The cost of transporting the dock parts to the final location.
• The cost of assembling the parts on a finished dock.
Looking at the costs of building your own dock, it’s easy to assume that the assembly cost is $ 0, because that’s just your time. However, three days after a spring assembly went wrong, you may wish you had selected your spring parts a little more carefully. This article will describe the assembly process for the different floating dock construction options and hopefully save you some time and stress in building your own floating dock.
Welded steel or aluminum welded frames with custom floats
If you’re assembling a dock kit with a galvanized steel frame and custom floats, it’s likely all shipped from the same manufacturer. The frames can weigh up to 300 pounds and even the floats can weigh up to 110 pounds, so unless you have a forklift, you need to make sure all your friends are waiting when the cargo truck arrives. Move the parts as close to the water as possible, because the final assembly will weigh the sum total of all the parts you screw and screw. Once assembled, you will drag / load the dock down the beach into the water.
It is important to remember that the steel in your dock frame is protected by a zinc coating that is applied after all the holes are drilled and the dock is fully welded. This layer is normally applied in a process known as “hot dip galvanizing”. Any new holes drilled in your galvanized frame will not be protected and will rust. Typically the deck is secured by first screwing in the pressure treated boards that the deck can be bolted to.
Pressure-treated wood frames with custom floats
If you are assembling a dock kit that is framed with pressure-treated lumber, the dock kit company will usually provide a hardware kit and custom floats. The hardware kit includes galvanized steel brackets and all the necessary bolts and screws to screw the wooden frame and floats together. They will also provide you with a lumber list and it will be up to you to order the lumber. When building a 20×8 ‘floating dock, a typical lumber list would include the following:
• 2×8 x 20 ‘Main Lumber, Qty = 5
• 2×8 x 8 ‘spring ends, quantity = 2
• 2×6 x 8 ‘dock deck, quantity = 42
Major timbers are likely not in stock and will need to be specially ordered from a local lumber yard. In fact, you may find that your best price is to special order all the lumber and have it delivered to the same truck.
The 20×8 ‘spring described here will weigh even more than a spring with a welded steel frame, and worse yet, you’ll want to assemble the frame in as flat an area as possible. The finished pier may end up being much further from the lake than the steel or aluminum frame pier, so launching your pier will involve circling it with all your friends and neighbors and walking down the beach to the water.
Aluminum “bolt-on” frames and 55 gallon polyethylene drums
Aluminum spring kits will not require an army to unload them on delivery because aluminum is lightweight and because parts can be divided into several smaller packages. Some aluminum spring kits use stainless steel fasteners. There is an electrolysis effect between stainless steel and aluminum that will cause the aluminum to corrode into a white powder. This is significant in the presence of any salt. Even the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest has enough salts to see significant corrosion between stainless steel and aluminum after just one season in the water. The best aluminum frame spring kits will use 2024 aluminum bolts that have been anodized to improve their corrosion resistance. Using aluminum bolts will allow your dock to last in all environments, including the ocean.
The most common aluminum frame spring kits use 55 gallon polyethylene plastic drums for flotation. Refurbished drums are much cheaper than custom spring floats and are generally available locally, thus saving on shipping costs. The polyethylene drums are installed after the frame is assembled, but before the deck is attached. In most kits, the drums can be installed from above.
Because aluminum frames are significantly lighter than steel and wood frames, the finished dock will be much lighter and therefore easier to carry to shore. Wheels cannot be added to steel or wood frame spring kits. However, some aluminum frame dock kits allow you to add polyethylene wheels that will allow you and a couple of friends to easily roll your dock down the beach and into the water. Some aluminum frame dock kits even allow you to add a road-safe axle that turns your dock into a floating trailer. These docks can be assembled miles from the lake and then towed behind a truck or SUV to the boat launch ramp.
Hope you enjoyed this article and are better prepared to build your own floating dock.