Building A Floating Dock: How & What To Consider

A floating dock is a practical way to upgrade your current dock. Docks allocate an additional area in the water. Several remarkable things about dock floats are that you can loosen it and float out into the pond or lake for a swimming platform, go fishing, access your boat, or merely make it a relaxing spot to hang out. Floating docks can also be purchased pre-built. But, they are easy to construct on your own.

Things To Consider Before Building Your Own Floating Dock


A winter strategy for your own dock is vital if the body of water freezes. Many floats can quickly be pulled in in the fall and put back in spring. A more helpful way is to leave the floating dock in and use bubblers and de-icers to lessen ice formations on your dock.

Water Deepness

Dock floats function sufficiently in bodies of water with a definitive minimum depth. They adapt to falling and rising water levels. When water levels drop extremely low, your floating dock can scrape the lake bottom and suffer damage.

Building Materials

Fundamentally, many docks are constructed from pressure-treated wood, composite, and aluminum. While it’s not yet as familiar as these more conventional materials, modified wood is an excellent alternative for dock decking.

If you don’t know what material to use, you can ask professionals. They can help you choose the best decking materials for your necessities based on the water conditions and weather in your location.


Floating docks or floats are utilized for many water purposes. These floating docks will make a perfect path on the water that you can dock your boat or canoe on. Therefore, consider the boat specifications or dock’s application while planning and match them with the barrels you choose.

Building Process Of Your DIY Floating Dock System

Prepare all needed materials and tools for this project. Below are the materials you’re going to need:
A floating dock made of wood.
Here is a list of tools needed:

Step 1: Build Frame For Floating Dock

First, you’ll have to construct the square frame that will act as the framework of your dock floats. Position your 2×8 timbers in a square and screw them together. Use the inside instead of outside corners, making an 8×8’4″ square and make sure to gauge and saw your beam appropriately.
To provide your dock frame with some added stability, place a 4×4 corner post at every structure corner and screw them into the corners. Now you have the outer frame that will provide your deck with its primary set-up.

Next, you will use your 2x4s to build reinforcement for the inner frame to keep the barrels in place, brace the dock, and offer a section to nail your decking boards. First, measure to the actual midpoint of your frame, place your first support lumber there and secure it with screws. You’ll have to make a platform for every barrel to make it firm and keep it from moving.

Lay down another set of two 2×4 bracings on each side of the lumber. Put a plastic barrel between the beams to make sure they’re well-placed between the supports without scraping the ground and snug around the curve in the barrel. Remove the barrels before securing the platform to the frame with screws.

Then, you’ll install two planks on top of the others, running perpendicular. To get the correct spot for the supports, measure where the barrels end on the cradles and set the cross beams down to hold the barrels tightly in place.

To fasten the structure, use L brackets at every support intersection. This will ensure that everything remains where it should and stays secured.

Step 2: Prep Your Plastic Barrel

Your 55-gallon plastic barrels give your dock fundamental buoyancy so you’ll have to ensure that they’re all set for use before placing them in your floating dock. Tighten the stoppers on your plastic barrels, then add silicone caulking for a watertight seal.

Step 3: Place The Floats

Screw-in hook-eye bolts to your structure to keep the ropes in place to hold your barrels. Drill holes for the bolts, two on every side of where every barrel will sit, then manually screw the eye bolts.

Put the barrels in the cradles, then bind your polypropylene rope through the eye bolts to restrain the barrels and hold them durably. Tie a knot around one eye bolt closest to the structure, run the rope across the barrel, then diagonally, then across again, and tie another knot around the last bolt.

A floating dock leading to a body of water.

Step 4: Flip Your Dock Over

Once your dock is complete, flip the dock over (you may need to ask for some help for this step) and double-check that everything is stable before constructing the deck on the other side. Transfer your dock just near the pond or lake before initiating the next process.

Step 5: Attach Deck Boards

It’s time to add the decking boards to your dock. Grab your 1×4 lumbers and screw them into the support boards to construct a deck. Check to leave some spacing between each decking board (about ⅛”) to enable the boards to contract, expand, and prevent misshaping when they get wet. After you’ve secured some boards, you can use them as a substructure to kneel on while you finish the rest.

Step 6: Attach Your Hinge & Secure The Floating Dock

You can decide to execute this before attaching the deck boards. The hinge will guarantee that your floating dock can glide a little. The hinge will absorb some shiftings when the water is somewhat rough rather than steering it towards your structure.

Once the dock is in position, you’ll need to prevent it from floating away; this is where you’ll want to use a couple of pilings. Add another eye hook, move the floating dock into the water, and connect to the right pilings or poles using leftover polypropylene rope.


Building your own dock floats can be arduous but fulfilling for many individuals. Don’t forget to have the proper safety equipment ready before stepping onto your floating dock and never allow children to play on it without adult supervision.

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