Choosing the Best Dock: Floating Docks vs. Stationary Docks for Your Lakefront Property

floating docks

Owning a lakeside property is a dream come true for many. But, it comes with its own set of decisions — especially when it comes to choosing the right dock. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie who thrives on water sports or someone who enjoys the tranquil escape of lakeside serenity, selecting the right type of dock can significantly enhance your lakeside experience. We’ll navigate through the functionalities and benefits of both floating docks and stationary docks, helping you decide which is best suited for your lifestyle and waterfront property.

Understanding Floating Docks and Stationary Docks

Docks are more than just a place to tie up a boat; they are an important extension of your home into the water. A launching pad for morning adventures or a peaceful retreat at sunset. Here’s a closer look at the two main types of docks:

Floating Docks

Characterized by their adaptability, floating docks consist of platforms supported by encapsulated floats that allow them to float on the water’s surface. This construction allows the dock to rise and fall with changing water levels, maintaining a constant height relative to the water’s surface. This adaptability makes floating docks particularly suitable for waters that experience significant fluctuations due to seasonal changes or varying rainfall.

Stationary Docks

These docks are built on a fixed structure (piles) anchored deeply into the lakebed. The reinforced construction provides unmatched stability and makes them a permanent fixture along the waterline. Their rigidity makes stationary docks ideal for bodies of water that experience high water activity as they provide more stable lounging and walkway areas during the busy season.

Adaptability to Water Levels

Choosing a dock that can adapt to the water levels in your lake is crucial for safety and convenience:

Floating Docks

The primary advantage of floating docks is their resilience to changing water levels. No matter if the lake rises after heavy rains or drops during a dry spell, your access to your boat remains consistent. This dynamic nature ensures that floating docks provide reliable service without the need for adjustment.

You can actually stay on top of the lake levels over on Alabama Power Shorelines website!

Stationary Docks

While offering excellent stability, stationary docks do have their limitations under fluctuating water conditions. In times of significantly lowered water levels, the dock may be too high above the water surface, making it difficult to access boats without a potentially hazardous jump or climb. Conversely, during high water, parts of the dock can become submerged, leading to safety concerns and potential damage to the structure.

Understanding the challenges with a stationary dock, boat lifts are a great way to have the stability of a stationary dock no matter the water levels. Check out our recent blog on more information for boat lifts here!

Installation Costs and Process

The cost of building a floating dock versus a stationary dock can vary based on several factors. Including location, materials, design, and the specific requirements of the project.

Floating Docks

Generally, floating docks are more expensive to install. The encapsulated dock floats, which are essential for floating docks, are comparable in cost to round pilings. But do require more floats to endure the structure floats evenly.

On top of it, floating docks require more internal hardware to maintain structural integrity due to constant movement from waves. They also require some type of anchoring system, such as pipe anchors or cable-to-shore anchoring. Which only adds to the overall expense.

Stationary Docks

Stationary docks require more specialized equipment for installation but can generally be less expensive to install than floating docks. In cases where the water is extremely deep or the lakebed is rocky and requires drilling, a floating dock might be the more cost-effective option. Compared to the expenses of drilling or upgrading to a class 1 round piling for the water depth.

However, in typical water depths, for example Lake Martin, a stationary dock is usually a much more affordable option than a floating dock.

FACT: Experts estimate that a dock can increase the value of the property by around $14,000 to $20,000 or more depending on the type of dock and the quality.

EZ Docks

Durability and Maintenance Needs

Floating Docks

These docks generally require more maintenance. Because the structure is always in motion, you will need to routinely check attachments, anchoring systems, and the overall structure to ensure stability and safety. When selecting a floating dock, it is advisable to use an aluminum frame, as provided by companies like ML Docks, or a modular plastic system from EZ Dock. These products are more durable and long-lasting compared to wood-built floating structures, making them the best option when a floating dock is necessary.

Stationary Docks

Stationary docks are known for their longevity and generally require less maintenance than floating docks. To ensure durability, it is crucial to use .80 CCA-treated round pilings for support when building a stationary dock. While regular maintenance is still important, stationary docks tend to withstand storms and heavy wave action better and generally require fewer repairs than floating docks.

Pros and Cons

Floating Docks

  • Pros: Adaptive to water levels; can be a higher initial installation cost; flexibility in harsh weather.
  • Cons: Less stability in severe weather; potential vulnerability to fluctuating water force.

Stationary Docks

  • Pros: High stability; increased durability; adds significant value to property. Lower initial installation cost
  • Cons: not adaptable to changing water levels

Shop for what YOU need

The choice between a floating dock and a stationary dock depends heavily on your specific needs, the nature of your waterfront, and your lifestyle preferences. By considering the key aspects mentioned above, you can make a well-informed decision that enhances both the functionality and enjoyment of your lakefront property.

If you have been looking to upgrade your lakefront property, contact our team today for a personalized consultation. Let our experts help you determine the perfect dock to complement your dynamic lifestyle and upscale lakeside living. Elevate your lakeside experience with the right choice—because every moment at the lake is precious.

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