For anybody that owns a marina or a parcel of lakefront property, the question when it comes to docks is deceptively simple: fixed or floating? Though it's only these two options that dominate the conversation, there are a huge variety of factors to consider when making the decision to choose one over the other. Read on below to discover four advantages that floating docks have over fixed docks, and whether the former is the best fit for your property.
High Tidal Variance
A floating dock is best in waters that have high tidal variance. Those areas that don't have high tidal variance are more likely to have a fixed dock, as boats will always float at approximately the same level. But building a fixed dock in areas where the tide can vary several feet means that a boat can sometimes float that same length beneath the dock, which in turn means that getting on and off the boat becomes a hazardous proposition.
In shallow waters, it makes sense to build a fixed dock, and costs are usually low. But trying to build a fixed dock in deep water is asking for trouble. The larger a fixed dock is, the more structural support it requires, and costs can add up more quickly than you expect. In some cases, supplanting conventional timber pilings with steel or concrete may be required. But a floating dock eliminates the need for costly expansion, and so is often the best option for those dealing with deep waters.
One of the biggest reasons for the continued popularity of fixed docks in many areas of the country is the wide availability (and thus inexpensiveness) of timber used to construct the docks. But in many other areas of the country, timber is not nearly so available, and the cost of large fixed docks is therefore driven up. If the cost of timber where you live is exorbitant, don't feel forced to scrimp and save for a fixed dock. In such circumstances, a floating dock is almost always the more cost effective option.
One of the apparent drawbacks of floating docks is their susceptibility to rough waters and the possibility of being overturned. But floating docks can be easily and permanently anchored to to the bottom substrate to avoid such issues, turning an otherwise flimsy dock into a model of sturdiness comparable to any fixed dock.