A Floating Dock is any dock system which has some form of floating device underneath it. They can range in size and layouts. Floating docks are used where the water variation is usually more than 24” during the boating season or in depths that are over 8 feet. In order for a floating dock to be enjoyable it must be stable.
Stability is a combination of many factors such as length, width, height, low centre of gravity, weight, and a stiff structurally rigid frame. Extremely heavy docks that are made of wood and float on long polyethylene plastic or steel tubes, can be stable, but do not give you ease of removal for the winter season. DockinaBox® has designed removable decking to make floating docks more physically manageable.
The ramp for floating docks needs to be long enough for a safe down angle that can adjust safely as water levels change. For example if there is a 2.5 foot drop from shore to the water a ramp of 10 feet would be safe and comfortable.
Here are the top 5 most frequently asked questions by cottagers:
How long should I make my dock?
As a rule the dock should go out far enough so that in the fall when the water levels drop you still have a minimum depth of 3 feet at the end of the dock. You also want your dock to go far enough for your boat to safely park beside the dock or drive onto a boat lift. If you’re going to be diving off the end of your dock then about 8 feet of water depth or more would be recommended. When diving from a dock you always want to ensure the area underwater has nothing that could injure the persons diving.
How much floatation do I need for a floating dock?
Sometimes people ask how many floats are under the dock. The better question should be what is the required buoyancy per square foot of a floating dock? A 6×14 foot dock could have the same buoyancy with 2, 4, or 6 floats. It is all a matter of volume. That being said a really tall float could have lots of volume, but it is better to have a wider float area than taller float area. For example; 12 inch high floats vs 16 inch floats. When heavy wood frames are used more floatation will be required. Generally 30 lbs per square foot buoyancy is used in lighter residential floating docks and 40 lbs per square foot buoyancy is used in heavier commercial floating docks.
What do I do with my dock in the winter?
Really it all depends on the type of dock you own. If it is a temporary style pipe dock it is recommended to be removed for the winter. If it is left in for the winter a few things can happen. The water in the tubes can crack the pipes when it freezes and expands. The Spring ice break up can shift or tear apart the dock. If a floating dock type is used and you’re not in an area where ice shift happens, then the standard protocol is to remove your ramp section for the winter and loosen the chains. If the floating dock can be made light enough (removing the decking) then moving the complete system out of the water and placing it in a safe area, away from where the ice can cause damage to the dock is a good idea. Another option would be to float the dock to a quiet bay.
Why are so many manufacturers moving away from wood decking?
Although wood decking has been a staple in docks for a long time the lower density and quality of new growth wood has led to the shift way from wood as a desirable decking choice. These new alternative decking solutions provide greater safety and generally have a longer life expectancy than wood product. They are lighter and easier to manage, more durable than wood and most of all require almost no maintenance.
What is the difference between Truss docks and Smooth Side Extrusion docks?
Truss docks are an older design of dock that has a good strength to weight ratio. In order to have an adequate structural torsional rigidity it does require a high frame height and excessive diagonal bracing. To hide the truss look, many manufacturers attach a clad wood or composite to the frame making it more attractive but also considerably heavier and therefore less manageable. Modern hollow or multi-chambered smooth sided extrusion docks are much lighter (manageable) and have a cosmetically attractive appearance while having an excellent torsional rigidity in some cases without the use of cross bracing. Although the truss design is less desirable now, it has been produced for a very long time and manufacturers of these docks continue production for existing customers who are looking for replacement sections. This why some manufacturers have multiple design styles of pipe docks to choose from.