How to determine the appropriate dock for your needs....
Floating Dock Features
Floating docks are used in
lakeshore situations where sectional and roll-in systems are not
practical. It should be mentioned at this point, however, that a
floating dock will work in any area where a roll in or sectional
will. Examples of areas where a floating docks features are
sought after are:
or muddy bottoms. When there is two feet or more of muck, the
tires on roll in docks will not provide the needed flotation to
ride up onto the soft material. If pulled hard enough, there may
be enough resistance to damage or bend the uprights, and
possibly, the frame. On sectional docks, the legs and pads can
settle so far down into the muck that they cannot be removed
without being pulled out by jacks or jet action.
docks are used in areas with major water depth fluctuation. For
our area, the definition of water depth change is anything over
2 ft. in the course of one season. The reason for using the
floating in these areas is to eliminate the need to readjust the
dock height for getting in and out of a boat or pontoon. A 2’
depth change can make for a large step down, if the dock was
previously set at a typical height of 18” off the water surface.
water is another area suited for the floating. When water depth
measures over ten feet, roll-in docks and sectional docks can
become difficult or very impractical to work with. A floating
dock is then the most appropriate option, as water depth is
really not an issue. We vary the anchoring systems used to hold
it into place.
Application change. There are situations where the dock design
may need to be changed, or reconfigured. Our primary floating
dock is EZ Dock. It has modular design features, thus allowing
for easy reconfiguration. In marinas or home owner
associations, many different styles of boats may come and go as
the years go by. The EZ Dock allows for these changes by
changing slip width or length with no structural changes.
Dock and Lift sells 3 styles of floating dock. As mentioned, EZ
Dock is the largest seller for us. It is modular in design with
40”,60”, and 80” width choices. All sections are 10’ long. They
have several anchoring choices and a strong 8 year manufacturing
warranty. Primary construction is of linear lo density
polyethylene. The unique rubber coupler system offers a strong
yet flexible design to withstand the many punishments the marine
environment can dish out. The EZ Dock system was designed to be
a commercial grade product. It has found wide spread acceptance
from marinas, home owners associations, resorts, and also from
the general public. As the general public searches for products
that offer no maintenance characteristics, the EZ Dock has seen
it’s popularity grow in the private sector market.
Shoremaster offers a similar floating design to the EZ Dock. It
is also made of polyethylene, with the indented pylon design on
the bottom side. The top is an attractive brick pattern, the
sections are then foam filled. The coupler system is of a more
ridgid design. The ridgid design offers a firm feel when walking
on the dock. This sacrifices the flexibility that may be needed
in very rough or storm situations. One section size is offered,
48” x 10’.
third system used is by starting with a sectional or roll in
style frame and decking, and then adapting the frame to accept
floats under it. The disadvantage to this is that it can be
labor intensive to set up, and can be more costly than using a
dedicated style of floating. Flotation needs may also change
the cost. A similar dock layout could use 6 floats in one
application, or 9 in another. A floating dock of this style is
generally a solidly bolted system, and would be used in areas
where the wave and wind action is minimal.
to purchase this style is when there is a need for taller
freeboard, or the desire for a certain type of decking or
looks. As we can use different frames and decking choices,
there is greater option for aesthetic preference. With taller
or shorter float heights available, we can vary the distance
from top of dock to top of water. The floats used are built
with a poly exterior and then foam filled. The top edges have
indentations and bolt hole mounting bosses that allows
flexibility in set up. The foam is a closed cell style that
starts as small beads and expands when steam is applied. This
fills all inside cavities and corners of the float and adds
rigidity to the float. The foam also acts as secondary
flotation in case the exterior poly shell should become damaged.
about commercial floating. Shoremaster produces a commercially
rated product that is a concrete floating system. The way the
dock is set up is by taking foam blocks and applying concrete to
it’s outsides. These blocks are as tall as 6’. The sections
can run as long as 40 to 50’. They are used as breakwaters
also. The system is held in place by heavy cable tensioned
through the upper portion of the sections. Rubber blocks are
used between the sections to keep water out and away from the
cable, and to allow slight flex between the sections. It can
seem unusual to mix concrete with floating docks, but the
system works well.
Anchoring a floating dock into place is accomplished by several
methods. The use of pipes or poles to keep the dock from
floating away is a effective and common method. Pipe size is
varied depending on the conditions where it is to be used.
2-1/2” pipe will serve the purpose well in up to twelve feet of
water. After that, larger diameter pipe or pilings need to be
used. Pilings up to 2 feet in diameter can be used in very deep
water or in areas where major wave action is frequent. Another
method employs chain and dead weights. Chain is typical on
floating docks where water depth runs 30 to 50 feet. Large
cement or cast iron weights are attached to the chain; this
keeps the dock from floating away. Weights are sometimes added
in the middle of the chain to act as an “adjustment” system to
accommodate water fluctuation, so that the chain does not have
to be pulled in or let out so frequently. For some deep water
docks located on river banks, the docks are set up parallel to
shore and within 20’of it’s edge. In this case, “stiff-arm”
brackets are employed. Pipe is attached to a bracket on the
dock and to a bracket on the shore. The dock is then held
securely in place by attachments to the shore rather than to the
lake or river bottom. Boats or pontoons can be tied up to the
dock with their bow facing upstream, allowing debris carried by
the current to pass by with little resistance.
FLOATING DOCKS AND STABILITY
Customers have come to us with concern about a floating docks
stability. Floaters are designed to move up and down with the
water’s fluctuation. So no matter the system, someplace in the
design is the ability of the floater to move. Stability
varies greatly. If one would speak of the commercial
Shoremaster concrete system, the feel would be the same as if
walking on your sidewalk at home. The width and size and mass
make it extremely stable.
system is built with floats under a sectional or roll in frame,
and the freeboard is high, there can be considerable movement,
or a feeling of the dock being top heavy, and wanting to roll.
This feeling can be unsettling.
popular EZ Dock system drafts 2” of water. Rather than floats
spaced every so often, the entire section is sitting in the
water. As the freeboard is approx. 12” from the top of water,
the dock feels stable. The other advantage is the
indentations built into the bottom of the section.
indentations create a bell jar effect. An upside down glass in
the water. There is suction that helps hold the sections in
place. The other advantage is the coupler system. Being that
the sections are locked together, what happens with section 1
is transferred to section 2.
way I have been able to describe the feeling, is to mention a
large pontoon boat. If one is comfortable walking on a large
pontoon boat, you would be comfortable on the Floating EZ Dock,
or the Shoremaster residential poly dock. The motion is
gradual, and not a shimmy or a shake. It can be a slow,
slightly rocking feel, not uncomfortable to the general
discomfort felt is with the older floating docks on barrels or
sparsely spaced floats. These systems had taller freeboard, and
would rock back and forth so easily because the floats were
rounded and designed solely for displacement. Think about it.
The floats had no indentations on the bottom and are made to
push the load of the dock upwards. with the rounded sides,
there is no suction or draw to hold them down into place.
Therefore the rocking or side to side movement.
set up, a floating dock can be the dock of choice and provide
many positive advantages when used in the right environment. Be
sure to plan for the intended usage, and set up the sections for