If you've bought land that includes a portion of the shore of a body of water, you may be thinking about building a boat dock and a boat. Because the dock rests on or in the water, you have to be sure you build the right type for the region you live in. Generally speaking, docks are available in floating and fixed forms, and which type you choose can make or break your boating experience. Here's a glance at what to consider when choosing between the two.

Tidal Changes

If your dock will be at the seaside, or if the body of water you're near sees a lot of water level changes due to tides, freezes, or other phenomena, a floating dock is best for you. If you have a fixed dock in these circumstances, you'll have to deal with climbing down to your boat during low tides or low-level periods, something that can be difficult if you're trying to load things onto the boat. While you can add a boat lift to the dock, that's yet one more thing that can break.

Hurricanes and Waves

If the body of water you're on is subject to hurricanes, storm surges, and strong waves, fixed will be better. Floating docks can be destroyed by strong waves and surges, or at the very least moved far inland or turned over. Unless you keep a constant eye on the weather and actually remove the floating deck from the water before each storm, you're taking an awful risk with a floating deck.

Fast Anchoring

If you often find you have to anchor and release your boat quickly when you approach the dock, a fixed dock could be a good thing because you could temporarily tie a rope around one of the pilings. This is more of an issue for people who find themselves making fast trips back to the shore because they forgot something or need to check on something before going back out on the boat.


Because floating docks don't require that pilings be installed in the ground under the water, be it the seafloor or river bottom, getting permits to install floating docks may be easier. You'll likely have less to do in terms of getting environmental impact reports and engineering surveys with a floating dock.

If you have other questions about building and choosing a dock, talk to custom dock installation companies to see what they can suggest. You'll find that there are options for almost any situation.