How to Customize Your Boat Dock

How to Customize Your Boat Dock

Entertaining is one of the great perks of owning a waterfront property. Some of the best memories are made by the water — cruising on the boat, lounging under the sun, laughing with family and friends long into the night. While your boat or water vehicles are an important part of a great day, your dock is the unsung hero of hosting by the water. 

Creating a home base for swimming, boarding, docking and dining can set your dock apart from a bare-bones necessity to the essential part of the perfect day. If you’re ready to maximize the moments you spend waterside, here are some tips for customizing your dock for entertaining.   

What to Consider Before You Purchase a Dock

Purchasing a dock is a thrilling investment in your leisure time. Fantasies of spending weekends and week-long vacations at your waterfront oasis are about to become a reality! Getting the most out of your property will include building, updating or purchasing a docking setup. Before you settle for just any old boat dock or purchase a new one, here are some considerations to make. 

1. Usage

The most fundamental consideration before purchasing or upgrading your dock is how you plan to use it. Some questions you can ask yourself to determine your dock usage include: What does your ideal day by the water include? What water vehicles does it need to accommodate? Does the dock need to be kid-friendly? How many people do you hope to host? The answers to these questions will dictate the sort of materials, size and configurations ideal for meeting your goals for your property.   

The right dock must accommodate your boats, personal watercraft and accessories. It should have enough ports to dock all your water vessels and be longer than the boats to make docking as easy as possible. You should also consider its other uses, including entertaining and fishing to ensure the option you choose can accommodate these.

Typically, residential dock owners can go with either small or large docks, depending on their needs, while commercialgovernmental and industrial dock owners must follow the dock regulations stipulated by local governments. The authorities normally dictate the best dock model, size and length to ensure the safety of people, wildlife and shorelines.

Plan for the Future

Don’t just limit yourself to the present tense, either. If you plan to add on more vehicles, upgrade your current ones or host a waterside soirée someday, you will also want to consider how you’ll accommodate your dreams for the future. 

If you’re looking for a dock perfect for docking your boats and entertaining now and in the future, you should consider EZ Dock floating docks. These are versatile, highly adaptable and suitable for a variety of applications, including:

  • Residential: EZ Dock residential docks are fully custom boat docks for permanent and holiday homes to ensure you maximize your fun on the water. 
  • Commercial: Our commercial floating docks can withstand heavy commercial usage in waterfront resorts, marinas, restaurants or housing developments 
  • Governmental: EZ Dock supplies ADA-accessible floating docks for federal, local and state government agencies to use in parks and recreation centers. Our floating docks are also ideal for law enforcement agencies and emergency management.
  • Industrial: Do you have an industry on the waterfront? EZ Dock polyethylene floating docks are sturdy and heavy-duty enough to be used as stable floating work platforms or equipment and material barges.

2. Budget 

Acquiring a waterfront property requires a significant investment. So, it’s prudent to be budget-conscious when considering installations or updates, including your dock. Skimping out on your boat dock, however, could cause bigger financial troubles in the future while waiting until you can afford the most luxe system available will prevent you from enjoying what you worked so hard to afford yourself. 

Create a budget that helps you get a quality setup that can accommodate most, if not all, of your waterside needs. Generally, the larger your dock, the bigger the budget you’ll need. Additionally, while every property owner dreams of customizing your dock to accommodate all your unique needs, please note it will cost you more. 

Dock Budget

A low-quality dock may sound cost-friendly initially, but it will cost you more to maintain in the long term as it may need frequent repairs and replacements. The size and materials used to make your dock also determine how much time and money you spend on maintenance. Synthetic materials like polyethylene are more cost-effective in the long term because they are low maintenance compared to natural materials like wood.

The good news is, if you select the right materials and configuration up front, you can build onto your setup if you hope to expand someday. Investing in a dock with a warranty, such as EZ Dock’s floating docks, also saves you tons because the warranty covers care, repair and replacements for your docks for a limited period. Our docks come with ten-year warranties, while our accessories have one-year warranties. 

3. Location

Your shoreline and the environmental conditions of your building site are huge determinants of the best type of dock for you. They dictate the best material and configurations to use for designing your dock. Your location also determines the types of dock features and accessories you need. 

The most critical location factor is the type of water you’ll place your dock on. Different water bodies have differing requirements and pose different challenges. Here are the considerations for three main types of water bodies you may be working with:

  • Lakes and ponds: The best docks for the calm waters on a pond or a lake are safe and stable for your family and guests to enjoy relaxing, sunbathing and socializing on the water.
  • Rivers: If you are setting up your dock on a riverside property, you must get an option that moves with the water as it rises and falls. This will improve usability because you can comfortably access your vessels despite the water level.
  • Oceans: You need a dock that can withstand the ocean’s salinity as well as the high traffic of water vessels while being minimally invasive to the natural ecosystem of the water body.

Be sure to investigate any local ordinances or regulations that may influence the type of dock, materials and size you are permitted to have on your property. Local government agencies often have strict building codes for docks in governmental, industrial and commercial properties. Homeowners associations may also dictate certain rules, regulations and fees for building docks on a residential property. 

4. Dock Materials

Choosing dock materials is among the most important decisions you’ll make when customizing your boat dock. You need to go with a durable and safe material without sacrificing aesthetics to make it the most inviting dock for entertaining and the most functional one, too. 

While use, budget, location and permanency may influence the material you choose, each material offers unique characteristics. To make the best choice, you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the various docking materials. Below are three of the most common dock materials.

Dock Material Options


Wood is an affordable, accessible and versatile material, which is why it’s so commonly used for building docks. It’s actually considered the traditional choice for docks. Whether treated lumber or composite wood, it requires specific maintenance and upkeep to prevent splintering, deterioration and warping. 

In addition, wooden docks require preventive maintenance, such as refinishing, sanding, staining, sealing and repainting every so often to prevent degrading and deterioration and to keep it in pristine condition. While wood is an environmentally friendly material that’s 100% renewable, treated wood is neither eco-friendly nor safe for use in marine settings. That’s because the chemicals used for wood treatment have the potential to contaminate fresh and salty water.

Additionally, even when treated, wood is still prone to splinters, warping, rotting and insect damage. So, you’ll need to spend lots of time and resources maintaining and repairing your wood dock.

Other reasons you should steer clear of wooden docks include: 

  • Wood has the shortest lifespan when compared to the other dock materials.
  • Rotten wood is a safety hazard when it deteriorates, losing its structural integrity and dislodging nails.
  • Wooden docks are permanent and not easy to remove when it’s time to upgrade


Metal docks are usually made of either aluminum or steel and require less upkeep than wood, though they tend to cost more upfront. While metal won’t rot, it’s prone to corrosion. Aluminum tends to be more corrosion-resistant than steel and is lighter, making it easier to install. Steel docks, however, are incredibly sturdy in comparison and can withstand the wear and tear from harsh water conditions, such as strong winds and high tides.

Aluminum is more suitable for constructing the frame and combined with another docking material such as wood or plastic. However, it can still be used for the entire dock because it’s not prone to rust, dents or rotting. 

On the flip side, without proper maintenance, aluminum will corrode and accumulate hard water stains, lime scale, grime and algae. To prevent salt and mineral corrosion, you’ll need to spray or pressure wash your aluminum dock with fresh water every so often. Generally, aluminum docks require less maintenance than wooden docks. As for environmental friendliness, aluminum may require a lot of energy to extract, but it can be recycled indefinitely. 


Polyethylene is a highly versatile and durable plastic ideal for constructing floating docks. Unlike wood, it doesn’t splinter, require chemical treatments or fade in the sun. Polyethylene is more affordable than other docking materials and easier to maintain on fresh and saltwater bodies. It’s ideal if you’re looking for convenience, durability and longevity. 

At EZ Dock, we manufacture our floating docks from high-quality polyethylene. We fill our high-density polyethylene docks with air chambers for optimal buoyancy and stability on moving water. This material is also easily customized since polyethylene docks can be purchased in modular pieces and adapted to fit varying environmental features. 

Our floating docks are highly versatile as they can easily fall and rise with the changing tide and water levels. Polyethylene is more durable than other docking materials because it can withstand various weather conditions without warping, rotting, corroding or being dented. 

They’re also easy and affordable to maintain, as you only need to give them a quick wash every so often to remove dirt and debris. In case a section is damaged, you can replace that specific section without incurring the cost of disassembling the entire dock. 

While polyethylene is not a renewable material like wood, it is more environmentally friendly because we manufacture it without harmful chemicals and it is recyclable. For example, we use 90% pre- and post-consumer waste recycled rubber to make our connection rubber couplers, and we don’t use any foam filling that can degrade and enter the waterways.

5. Dock Structure 

Dock structure is an important decision in the design process. Dock structure falls into either permanent or removable categories, with varying styles comprising each category. Here is a breakdown of both types and the pros and cons for each. 

Dock Structure Types

Permanent Docks

Permanent docks are meant to be immovable once installed. This is their advantage and disadvantage. On the one hand, once a permanent dock is installed, you don’t have to worry about removing it in the fall or reinstalling it in the spring, as you do with removable docks. On the other hand, the permanency of a dock isn’t always compatible with nature’s impermanence. 

Permanent docks are labor intensive and require heavy equipment because they’re installed on the floor of the water body, whether a river, lake, pond or ocean. Their integrity could be compromised if there is any significant shift in the lakebed during the off-season, so they’re best for shallow and consistent water.

Two popular dock structures that fall under this category are:

  • A crib dock: It uses cage-like structures called cribs that are filled with large rocks to anchor posts to the waterbed. The cage-like structures are placed at the bottom of the water body and covered with wooden or aluminum decking. These sturdy structures extend from the shore into the water and can withstand high winds, strong tides and wave action. However, crib docks are expensive to install, can disrupt natural ecosystems, and are often subject to local regulations and permits. 
  • Piling docks: These comprise sturdy wooden beams, called pilings, driven deep into the waterbed with a pile driver. A dock is then attached to this framework to create a sturdy structure that’s not easily washed away. Piling docks are ideal for large boats or as a fishing pier. Unfortunately, they can’t rise and fall with the water, require professional installation and are expensive to maintain.  
  • Fixed docks: These resemble gazebos constructed from wood or concrete attached to the waterbed. They make stable platforms, especially on choppy water. They’re ideal for stable and consistent water levels because they can submerged when water levels are too high and make accessing the water difficult when water levels are too low.
  • Suspension docks: These hang over the water via anchorage or cables. They’re aesthetically appealing but are expensive and time-consuming to construct. 

Removable Docks

Removable docks are impermanent structures that can be added to and removed from the water. Since they aren’t left out in the elements during winter, they aren’t at risk for ice damage or other winter-related factors. They can also be adjusted to accommodate the water levels throughout the seasons. Unfortunately, removal can be laborious and requires you to determine a definitive start and end date for your season.

Floating docks are a popular choice for removable docking systems. They are made out of polyethylene for optimal durability and buoyancy. Despite not being fixed like permanent docks, floating docks can still be anchored for a permanent-type system that can be relocated, altered or extended at your discretion. Some popular anchoring solutions include dead weights, galvanized poles or a combination of these options.    

The system must also be connected to the shore through pilings or a gangway. EZ Dock floating docks are easy to install and even easier to remove in the off-season or before extreme weather and water conditions. Floating docks withstand weather and water fluctuations better than permanent ones, as they rise and fall with water levels and can be installed on shorelines with uneven, rocky or underwater surfaces.

If you’re looking to add a removable dock to your waterfront propertyEZ Dock floating docks are a great option. They are highly customizable, match many configurations and can be expanded with modular additions. You can also purchase dock wheels to make it easier to uninstall and move custom boat docks during the off-season.

Our removable docks also accommodate the characteristics of varying waterfronts, whether it be the saltwater and currents of the ocean, the rising and falling waters of the river or the delicate ecosystems of a lake or pond. With this low-maintenance dock system and the dedicated customer support team at EZ Dock, you’ll not regret investing in our floating docks for your waterfront property. 

How to Customize an Existing Dock

You don’t have to start from scratch to create a great dock for entertaining. If you already have an established dock at your waterside property, you only need a few accessories to make the most of your space for your family and guests to enjoy. 


Dock Lighting Customization

Dockside fun doesn’t have to end with the setting sun. Warm evenings when the stars are bright are an ideal backdrop for cookouts, late-night laughter and thoughtful conversation. Night fishing or staying late on the water are also great reasons to install adequate lighting options on your dock to enjoy full use of your space all day and into the night.

Customizing your dock with lighting is also essential for bumping up safety and security because they improve visibility. Installing lights along the edge of the deck alerts boaters of its presence, preventing accidents and making the docks more accessible, especially in the early morning or evening. 

There are tons of accent lighting options you can use to boost the ambiance of your dock and give your guests the perfect waterside evening experience. Here are some top options:

  • LED rope lighting: Place these along the edge of your dock to add a warm and low-lit look all around your dock. You can also add extra light around railings for a unique aesthetic.
  • Underwater lights: These are installed below the waterline to add a touch of elegance to your dock. The best part is that they are four times as durable as other lighting solutions.
  • Motion-sensor lights: These illuminate your dock automatically to secure the area when movement is detected.

Solar lighting is a popular on-deck lighting solution that’s easy to install, long-lasting and low maintenance. Solar lighting is affordable because it doesn’t rely on electricity and charges automatically when the sun shines during the day. They’re desirable because they give off an ambient soft glow and are water resistant.


A great slide will be an absolute hit with kids and the young-at-heart. It’s important to choose the right slide if you want to get the most use and enjoyment out of it. Cheap slides only last for one or two seasons before they become brittle or uncomfortable for users. Inflatable slides are a popular alternative, though these can be tedious to inflate and susceptible to punctures and tears. 

The EZ Dock dock slide is the best option because of its rugged, durable polyethylene construction. It allows a smooth ride for the ultimate fun times and can be installed seamlessly on any EZ Dock installed on water over 5 feet deep.


Docks are the perfect home base from which swimmers can enjoy the water, turning a ladder into a must-have accessory! Ladders make it easier for all to get into and out of the water for a swim or access boats and watercraft. One trick for buying a great ladder is to choose one made from low-maintenance and corrosion-resistant materials. 

Aluminum or wooden ladders can become corroded or coated in marine materials like algae and barnacles, which can be slip or abrasion hazards. Metal ladders can also be extremely hot to touch during the peak hours of the day. Opt for a heat and slip-resistant ladder, such as the EZ Dock swim ladder, to ensure swimmers stay safe when exiting or entering the water! Our ladders are also easy to install and remove, even with changing water levels.

Seating and Shade

Docks aren’t just for launching boats. They are also a great spot for relaxing and enjoying scenic views of the water. Whether you want to supervise swimming children, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or eat a picnic lunch by the water, adequate seating and shade can help you step up your entertaining game. 

Dock Seating

Appropriate seating and shade on your waterfront dock make it an entertaining haven. Invest in high-quality dock furniture, like boat dock benches, chairs and tables made from high-quality materials like polyethylene. This material is UV- and heat-resistant, which ensures it can be used without getting too hot. It’s also durable and easy to clean. 

At EZ Dock, we offer two great polyethylene benches for boat docks that attach easily to your EZ Dock floating dock — a bench with armrests and cupholders and another bench sans armrests

Ramps and Gangways 

Sometimes, the shoreline of your waterfront property is incompatible with a docking system that connects directly to the shore. This can make it difficult for guests to confidently or safely access your dock and all the fun that’s to be had on the water. That’s why you need ramps and gangways to bridge the gap between land and water with a stable, sturdy surface. 

Ramps and gangways often come in aluminum or polyethylene material and serve unique purposes. Let’s look at their functions and differences.

  • Ramps: These are great for covering short distances and accommodating steep drop-offs. Ramps can connect the shoreline to the dock, if the distance isn’t substantial, or to a gangway. They aren’t equipped with railings and aren’t ideal for all water types, such as fluctuating water levels and rough water conditions.
  • Gangways: Longer and more stable floating platforms that work well in all water conditions and include handrails. They create an accessible single path to connect the ramp to land, making boats and the water more accessible. Gangways are ideal for shallow waters and reach longer distances. However, they aren’t designed for steep terrain, may require a connecting ramp and can be limited in width due to handrails. EZ Dock offers aluminum and polyethylene gangways for its floating docks or your existing dock.


Handrails are a great safety feature to install on your dock for you and your guests. They provided added assurance that there is something to grab onto in case of emergency, such as a rough wave, high winds or encountering a tripping hazard. EZ Dock modular railings adhere to ADA guidelines, offering a firm place to hold on to regardless of a person’s abilities.

Storage Solutions 

Storage solutions like dock storage benches are a practical addition to your dock. They keep your items secure and protected from the elements while not in use. Besides, they afford guests a place to store items while enjoying their time on the dock. They also provide quick and easy access to waterside accessories, as opposed to carrying them to and from a house or onshore storage building. Never worry about running back for life jackets or sunscreen again! 

An excellent storage solution is a weather-proof and locking dock box for ultimate security. EZ Dock offers two great storage solutions, including a permanently mounted storage box and a spacious corner storage box, which optimizes space and doesn’t interfere with foot traffic.

Hobby Accessories for Your Dock

Making the most of your waterfront means engaging in fun hobbies like swimming, boating, fishing and kayaking. The dock is often a home base for these activities and calls for additional accessories that enhance your waterside experience. Here are some water hobbies and accessories you could include on your dock. 


Fishing Opportunities

If fishing is your go-to activity, why not equip your dock with the right gear to turn it into your favorite spot? Establish a platform for fishing straight off the dock or equip it to dry-dock your boat when you’re not on the water. Including a fish cleaning station keeps everything by the water so you can enjoy a full day of fishing before heading indoors to feast on your catch!


There are all kinds of accessories for your dock that can enhance your boating experience, such as:

  • Tie-up cleats: Sturdy cleats help you secure your watercraft or boat. These typically come in various styles, sizes and materials, including plastic, metal and wood. The best ones for you depend on the boat’s size and length.
  • Boat lifts: Boat lifts are necessary to lift your boat off the water when not in use to secure your vessel and prevent damage, corrosion, scuffs and algae buildup.
  • Dock bumpers: You need floating dock bumpers to soften the impact of your boat bumping against the dock as the water levels fluctuate. 
  • Drive-on boat ports: A suitable alternative to boat lifts are drive-on boat ports, which hold boats up to 7,000 pounds above the water to keep them dry in storage.
  • A powered air pump: Keeping a powered air pump handy allows you to blow up rafts and tubes with ease.


Launching and docking a kayak or canoe can be challenging for kayakers since docks are designed for larger watercraft. Incorporating a kayak docking system can make it easier for you and your guests to get in and out of kayaks and spend time on the water. 

Two great options from EZ Dock are the EZ Launch and EZ Launch for Kayaks. Whether you need something ADA accessible, like the EZ Launch or built-in launch-assist paddle notches, these one-piece launches connect seamlessly with EZ Dock floating docks. 

Personal Watercraft

Personal watercraft (PWCs), such as jet skis and wave runners, are exciting crowd pleasers. With the right features, you can make it easier to launch and dock your PWCs, giving your guests an even more seamless experience and protecting your watercraft when not in use. 

Personal Watercraft

EZ Dock created a revolutionary design for launching and docking PWCs with the EZ Port collection. These innovative solutions are versatile, can store multiple PWCs, keep your equipment high and dry and work well with any EZ Dock floating dock system! You can rest assured you get value for your money with our patented EZ Port design with adaptable rollers for easy craft docking, an exceptional self-centering split and a modular inline system suitable for a variety of watercraft models.

Redesign Your Dock for Entertaining

Sometimes, it’s best to start at the foundation. Planning a redesign of your dock to provide a better space for entertaining can be a great investment in your waterfront properties and years worth of memories. 

Whether you start from scratch or take it back down to the bones, a restart may be just what you need to make your dreams a reality. With EZ Dock’s floating docks, you can easily reconfigure or redesign your docks by either rearranging your existing sections or purchasing new sections. Choose from L-shaped, I-shaped and T-shaped configurations or plan something customized to turn your dock into precisely what you need.  

Maximize Waterside Entertaining With EZ Dock

Maximize Waterside Entertaining

At EZ Dock, our main objective is outfitting you with a boat dock your friends and families won’t stop talking about. No matter how you plan to host, your hobbies or watercraft, we offer solutions that will help you spend more time doing what you love most and less time maintaining your dock. 

Our products are made of durable, weather- and rust-resistant materials that keep your docks looking great and impressing your guests with minimal effort. EZ Dock products can be found in commercial, military and residential settings, demonstrating that we are a top choice for customers with varying needs. We are here to help you, too. 

Start customizing your dock for entertaining, and contact your local distributor today!