Frequently asked questions

Dock Building Floats, Hardware & Components

How much flotation do I need?

There are a number of factors to ask before you figure flotation requirements. If it is a homeowners dock with a couple of people, we use about 30 lbs per square foot to calculate flotation. A marina with more people needs about 35lbs per square foot. It isn’t easy to get this exact number but you can come close. The lower the dock is to the water, the more stable it will be. Also, the more footprint in the water (the amount of surface water covered by floats) the more stable it will be. Next, you should figure the height of the float. We have 12”, 16”, 20” and 24” high floats in most models. The lower the float, generally the more stable the dock will be. The example is a homeowners dock 6’ wide and 20’ long. The amount of square feet of dock is first determined by multiplying 6’X20’ = 120 square feet. We then use 30 pounds per square feet and multiplying 30 X 120 = 3600 pounds of flotation needed. Next figure out what size float you would like to use. We will show two examples: 1. A large float (F-4612) 4’X6’x12” floats 1390lbs each. Divide 3600lbs by 1390lbs = 2.58 floats – 3 would be needed. 2. A small float (F-2412) 2’X4’X12” would be a good choice it floats 450lbs each. Divide 3600lbs by 450lbs = 8 floats. For a commercial application, do the same calculation except use 35lbs per square foot. Keep in mind, that these are rough calculations. The dock weight, material, decking, and etc. will affect the actual amount of flotation you need. Underground tanks can be buried completely with up to 2’ of dirt cover unless otherwise noted. (Refer to burying instructions available on select products that apply.), underground tanks are heavily ribbed or are ball shaped to resist ground pressure.

What type of float do you offer and do they have to be foam filled?

We use exclusively Ace floats and offer 43 different sizes. They carry a 12-year warranty. They meet some tests that other floats don’t, such as the Hunt Absorption Test, the Hunt Falling Dart Test and the Corps of Engineers Reg. #36 CFR Part 327. The wall thickness is a minimum of .150 and they are made from 100% virgin grade polyethylene. Other manufacturers claim a lot of these physical characteristics but aren’t tested like Ace floats. You can probably buy a cheaper float, but you will hate it when the floats fail and you have to buy new. Additionally, many of the floats claim what they will support. Ace floats are tested to the exact amount of weight it takes to submerge a float.

What size lumber should I use to build my dock?

We would normally recommend 2” X 8” for side stringers as a minimum. Our hardware is 5” tall. If you are building a wood dock, it is best to build as long and wide of sections as you can. Generally if you look, you can find 20’ long 2” X 8” or 2” X 10” for side stringers. The wider you build the dock the more stable it will be. The real drawback to this is that these docks weigh 10# per square foot or more. An 8’ X 20’ equals 160 square foot X 10lbs per square foot is 1600 lbs. Concerning wood size, if you look around your area you can see what people have used in the past and use that as a guide. Some areas we sell to have really rough conditions have used double 2” X 12”s for side stringers. Decking generally is still 2” X 6” – some people use pressure treated 2” X 8” but they will cup if not fastened down tight.

Do I have to take my dock out of the water in the winter?

Many floating docks are left in the winter even if the lake freezes. If the lake freezes and the ice moves around it is better to take your dock out. If you leave the dock in freezing conditions, it is wise to take small pipes out. Tie the dock in a cove if possible or tie so it can float freely. If the ice moves at all, and the pipes move, they can tear up the dock quickly.

What size hoop pile holders do I need to buy?

If you are in a fairly protected area, 2” pipe will work fine, (generally if you have to take dock in and out). If you have a pile driver on your body of water, it some times pays to have piling driven permanently. Generally, the more piles you have in a dock the better off you’ll be when that high wind hits. You should have 1”-2” play between the piling and the hoop pile holder. Keep in mind, that the hoop (ex: HP-H14) measure 14” inside.

Which hardware do I buy - Standard or Heavy Duty?

We manufacture homeowners wood dock hardware which uses 1 ½” thick lumber and should be used with small boats (16’ to 18’) and areas that are protected. It is made with 3/16” thick steel. This hardware uses 3/8” carriage bolts. The heavy-duty hardware is made with ¼” thick steel and wood as thick as 3” can be used. Wood docks that are in rough areas and have larger boats should use this hardware. This hardware uses ½” carriage bolts are used in this hardware. Both types of hardware use the same connecting tabs and ¾” bolts or pins to fasten the dock together end to end or attach fingers. All of this hardware like the rest of our hardware is hot dipped galvanized to ASTM standards.