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Dock Cost

Dock Cost

National average
$5,400
(6 x 30-foot stationary straight wood dock with a cedar deck)
Low: $3,600

(floating dock with a cedar deck)

High: $9,000

(suspension dock with a composite deck)

Cost to build a dock varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from local contractors in your city.

The average cost of building a dock is $5,400.

In this guide

Pros and cons
Types
Materials
Configuration
Installation
Labor
Maintenance
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to build a dock?

If you live on a lake, river, or other body of water, you may want to consider building your own dock 1. A dock gives you better access to the water, makes launching a boat easier, and in many cases can seem like a deck on the water.

Docks come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and configurations. Most homeowners building a personal, stationary dock spend around $5,400 for a wooden dock measuring 6 x 30 feet.

Pros and cons

Docks 1 are not for everyone. Not only do you need to have direct access to a body of water, but you also need to make use of that access for a dock to be truly needed. If you swim regularly, entertain, or have a boat you want moored for easy access, a dock can be very beneficial. Having a dock allows you to fish, barbecue, swim, and boat with ease.

However, even if you regularly use a dock, it requires a lot of maintenance to stay in good condition. If your dock is stationary, you need to check it for wood rot, even below the water level. You also need to periodically replace the decking and stain and scrape it regularly.

Docks can sometimes become a liability. If you have people who enter your yard and use your deck without permission, you may be held liable for accidents unless you gate the entrance. Docks may also attract nuisance birds and wildlife such as ducks, loons, and herons that may soil the decking.

Moveable docks must be put in and taken out of the water each year as well as cleaned and inspected. This amounts to a lot of work, even if you do not use the dock frequently.

Types

Many different types of docks are available. Some remain in the water year-around, while others are only put in at the start of the season and taken out later. Some docks use a combination of stationary and temporary portions that let you increase the size of the dock as needed:

  • Floating docks : these are meant to be temporary, whether used alone or in conjunction with a stationary dock. They float on barrels or special containers that keep the dock on the surface of the water.
  • Piling docks: these are what most people are familiar with. They are made by driving wooden pilings deep into the sand beneath the water and building the dock on top.
  • Pipe docks: these are a newer form of piling. They use a PVC pipe filled with concrete to sink the wooden pilings, which makes for a faster install.
  • Crib docks: these are made of a very large container filled with rocks or concrete that the dock is then built on top of. They are very stable and secure and last for years.
  • Suspension docks: these are designed to hang over the water, rather than go in it or on it. They can be raised or lowered depending on the water level and your needs.
TypeProsCons

Floating

($20-$35/sq.ft.)

May be taken out if water freezes 

Less likely to rot

Least expensive option

Moves with water level

Needs to be put in and taken out each year

May come loose if not secured properly

Moves when you stand on it

Piling

($20-$40/sq.ft.)

Stationary

Does not move

Many configurations available

Many decking options

High-maintenance

Requires special equipment to install

Pipe

($20-$40/sq.ft.)

Stationary

Does not move

Many configurations available

Many decking options

Easier to install

High-maintenance

Difficult to install

Crib

($30-$50/sq.ft.)

Very stable

Long-lasting

Stationary

Does not move

High-maintenance

Difficult to install

Expensive

Disrupts water flow

Suspension

($50-$100/sq.ft.)

Lightweight

Easy to move with water level

Good for sensitive ecosystems

Very expensive

Very high-maintenance

 

Materials

Many different materials go into building a dock. And, the materials you choose vary depending on what type of dock and what type of water you have.

Most stationary docks use at least some form of pressure-treated wood for the pilings or beams. There are some preferred lumbers, such as western red cedar 2, redwood 3, Cypress, and eastern white cedar, while crib docks typically need Douglas fir, tamarack, or hemlock. But the important thing is to choose a hardwood that has been pressure-treated to a minimum of 0.60 pcf because anything softer will not hold up to the use. If the water is not fresh, then you need lumber that has been treated to a minimum of 2.5 pcf. This is true regardless of what lumber you use.

This may not be the only component of the dock, however. If you use pipe pilings, you also need PVC pipes at least 12 inches in diameter as well as concrete. Crib docks and floating docks also use concrete in their construction. Floating docks need plastic barrels or drums as well.

Suspension docks usually use aluminum, and modular or movable docks use aluminum for the framework. Some docks may also use it for the decking because it is very low-maintenance. Unfortunately, aluminum becomes hot very quickly in the sun, making this a poor choice for hot climates.

For the decking material, pressure-treated lumber, composites, and modified wood are all options. Plastic-based composites tend to break down quickly in the sun, while some older composites may swell with water. Newer composites hold up well in most docking situations and do not heat up in the sun, which is why most dock kits use composite decking.

MaterialUseAverage cost
Cedar, Cypress, Redwood 3

Decking

Piling

Framework

$4/foot
Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Tamarack

Piling

Framework

$8-$9/foot
CompositesDecking$8-$30/foot
Aluminum

Decking

Framework

$10-$14/foot
PVC PipesPipe footings 4 for piling$30-$40/each
Concrete

For securing footings in PVC

Building a crib dock

$100/cubic yard
Barrels/DrumsHolding floating docks$100-$200/each

 

Configuration

The most common configuration for docks is to have the main portion extending straight out over the water, but this is not the only option. In some cases, a narrow walkway can widen out into a larger dock, only to narrow again at the boat slip.

In other cases, if you have multiple boats, it may be beneficial to configure the dock in an F, I, L, T, or H shape so that you can attach boat slips at various spaces. Other configurations may include a patio at one end or a Harbor-style dock that has a walkway running parallel to the water and extending the arms outward.

The key to determining the dock configuration is to figure out how you intend to use it. Fishing, sunbathing, and entertaining may need a wider section, while a dock meant solely for accessing a single boat can be a narrow walkway.

Installation

The installation of a dock varies tremendously depending on the type of dock. A typical piling dock begins with a CAD drawing to determine the size, shape, and load. Next, the water and waterbed are inspected to make sure it can handle the type of dock being considered. The area where the pilings will go is marked, and they are driven deep into the sand beneath the water. This is done with a large machine that pounds the wood until it reaches the correct depth.

Once the pilings are sunk, the rest of the installation is a lot like a deck. A frame is built over the pilings, and the decking material laid on top. This can take several days to complete from start to finish depending on the size of the deck, the materials, and how deep the pilings must be sunk.

Labor

Labor is a large portion of the dock building costs. Many DIY kits and small, modular docks are available for $300 to $1,000, for example, while a custom-built dock costs more than $5,000.

In most cases, the labor portion runs around $20 per square foot, making a 6 x 30-foot dock cost approximately $3,600. This can vary, however, depending on the type of dock and materials used.

Maintenance

The maintenance that your dock needs varies tremendously based on things like the climate, type of water, type of docking material, and how much use it gets.

At a minimum, you should inspect the dock at the end of each season. Keep it clean, and make any necessary repairs to worn, cracked, or broken areas. If your dock is moveable, removing it from the water at the end of each season helps extend its life.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Boathouse

Many boat docks have additional structures nearby including boathouses. To dig a foundation for these structures, factor in an additional $6 per square foot. Also, if you choose to build a boathouse in addition to your dock, this will add between $10,000 and $20,000 to the cost.

Covered dock

Some docks that are used year-around may benefit from having a covered section to keep the sun and rain off the boat. Typically, covered docks can be built of the same materials as the rest of the dock, although aluminum docks will usually have a stretched canvas top. Expect to add $10,000 to the project for a wooden covered dock.

Boat lift

A boat lift can help you make more use out of your boat and may even replace a traditional dock. They cost around $6,000.

Lighting

You may want to add lighting to your dock. Expect to pay an electrician $65 to $85 per hour for at least 3 to 4 hours of work.

Additional considerations and costs

  • You need a permit to build a dock. Most docks have regulations they must follow, particularly in sensitive areas, regarding the size, shape, and material of the dock. You need to submit plans before proceeding.
  • If you need to run electrical wiring to the dock for mooring or lifting, this will cost $6 to $8 perf linear foot, with most electricians charging a minimum of $200.
  • In areas where the water freezes during the winter, some docks may be damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle. This includes some plastics and pipe docks. Include a winter plan to ensure that your deck winters well.
  • If you have a very deep body of water, you may need to use a piling or suspension dock instead of a crib dock. It will be difficult to pile up the rock and concrete high enough to support the dock, making this prohibitively expensive and potentially harming the water flow.
  • If the bottom of the body of water is rocky and has variation in depth from the shoreline to the end of the dock, a suspension or floating dock may be your best bet to avoid extensive drilling for pilings.
  • Crib docks are best left to the experts who know the water area. If you want to DIY this job, consider a floating dock or a dock kit.
  • If you choose a wooden dock, check local regulations before proceeding. Some chemicals used in pressure-treated wood cannot be introduced to fresh water.
  • If you have a house on the water, a dock can increase the value of the property because it provides greater access to the water. The amount varies from state to state and by the type of dock.

FAQ

  • What is the best wood to use for a dock?

If you are using the dock in fresh water, pressure-treated wood to .60 pcf is necessary. Cypress, cedar, and Douglas fir are good choices.

  • How long does it take to build a dock?

The time depends on the type and size of the dock. Some docks can be built in a day while others may require a week or more.

  • How much does a covered dock cost?

Expect to pay a minimum of $15,000 for a covered dock.

  • How much does it cost to repair a dock?

Dock repairs vary tremendously depending on what the material is and where the repair is needed. Expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $40 per square foot for repairs.

  • What is the difference between a deck and a dock?

​A deck is a structure used on land, and a dock is a similar structure meant for use on water. ​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Docking Station 1 Dock: A device to which a portable device, such as a cordless phone, laptop, or mobile phone can be connected to charge its battery
glossary term picture Western Red Cedar 2 Western red cedar: A very large tree native to the pacific northwest, whose wood is used primarily for outdoor applications such as roofing shakes and shingles, decks, posts, and siding
3 Redwood: Tree with reddish colored timber
glossary term picture Footing 4 Footings: A support for the foundation of a house that also helps prevent settling. It is typically made of concrete reinforced with rebar, but can also be made of masonry or brick. It is usually built under a heavier part of the house like a wall or column, to distribute the weight of the house over a larger area.

Cost to build a dock varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Wooden dock with chairs on calm fall lake

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Jamaica, VA
-9%
Palm Coast, FL
-32%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources