What every cottager should know before buying a dock

Whether you are new to cottage life or have been on the water for years, its good to know what types of docks are available and what features they offer. Important points to consider are: type of shoreline, water conditions and what you are using your dock for; boating, fishing, or lounging in the sun or a combination of. Choosing the right dock should be an enjoyable, long term decision and making the right choice is well worth investing the time to research your options. The purpose or use of the dock will largely determine its size, shape and the materials it will be made of.The next step will be to verify if permits are needed. Check with the local conservation authority, municipality and/or the Ministry of Natural Resources to determine if a permit is required before installing a new dock. Depending on the type and size of dock you are planning the process for approval times can be in excess of three months. Typically non-permanent or removable structures that take up no more than 20% of your properties width do not require a permit partially because of their low environmental impact. The last step is determining if you are going to install it yourself or have it installed for you. Although many systems can be installed on your own, professional installation may be required depending on your specific situation.

What types of docks are available?

There are three types of docks on the market. Permanent docks, pipe docks and floating docks. Each type of dock has it’s pros and cons and their use is determined by a number of factors such as the type of shoreline, water depth and size of lake you are on. Permanent Docks are affixed to the lake bed and require the use of heavy equipment to install. They are considerably more expensive exceeding 5 times the price of removable docks because of the material, permits required and the labour intensive installation.

Permanent Docks Applications:

  • Commercial Use
  • Wavy Conditions
  • Firm Lake Bed
  • Not Very Deep
  • Consistent Water Levels

Pipe docks are a removable dock system that work well in water no more than eight feet deep and need to be removed in the fall to prevent damage from ice buildups and ice flow. Since the surface of a pipe dock doesn’t make significant contact with the land or water, it is one of the least environmentally impacting docking options.

Pipe Dock Applications:

  • Residential and Light Commercial Use
  • Firm Lake Bed
  • Wavy Conditions
  • Water Depth of 8 ft. or less
  • Small to Medium Water Variation

Floating docks are versatile and rise or fall with the water level, helping them adapt to variable water conditions. They work well in deep water conditions that do not experience heavy waves. In certain conditions they can be hauled to a safe storage location and remain in the water during the winter. Floating Dock Applications:

  • Large Water Variation
  • Soft Lake Bed
  • Waves Under 3 ft.
  • Water depths over 8 feet
  • High Water Variation

Read more about Pipe Docks and Floating Docks.