How to Customize Your Boat Dock for Entertaining
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.
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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 own 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, here are some considerations to make before you purchase a dock.
The most fundamental consideration that needs to be made before you purchase or upgrade your dock is how you plan to use it. What’s 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.
Don’t just limit yourself to the present-tense either. If you know that 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 be able to accommodate your dreams for the future, as well as your present needs.
Most likely, you’ve already made a substantial investment acquiring the property where you’re hoping to install or update your dock. It’s prudent to give yourself parameters for how you’re going to put more money into it. Skimping out on your boat dock 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.
So, create a budget that helps you to get a quality setup that can accommodate at least some, if not all, of your waterside needs. Remember, that the larger your dock, the bigger the budget you’ll need. Size will also correlate to the cost of upkeep and maintenance over time. The good news is, if you select the right materials and configuration up front, you’ll be able to build onto your setup in the future if you hope to expand someday.
The environmental conditions of your building site will impact the materials and configuration you’ll be able to use when designing dock. Your setup will need to be able to withstand or accommodate several elemental factors, such as:
- Water depth, drop-off and depletion
- Wind and tide factors
- Lake bed composition
- Shoreline zone and conditions
- Marine ecosystems
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.
Docks are typically made of one of three materials — wood, aluminum or polyethylene. While use, budget, location and permanency may influence the material you choose, each one offers its own unique characteristics that can factor into your consideration as well.
Wood is an affordable, accessible and versatile material, which is why it’s so commonly used for building docks. Whether it’s treated lumber or composite wood, wood requires specific maintenance and upkeep to prevent splintering, deterioration and warping. To keep wood in good condition and looking pristine, it will also need to be stained and sealed regularly. Between the two, composite wood requires less maintenance but is more expensive. Special attention also needs to be taken to ensure that any treated lumber is eco-friendly and safe for use in marine settings.
Metal docks are usually made of either aluminum or steel and require less upkeep than wood, though they tend to be more costly. Metal won’t rot, though it can be 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.
Polyethylene is a highly versatile and durable plastic that can be ideal for floating docks. It doesn’t splinter, withstands heat and prevents slipping. Maintenance is minimal since it won’t fade in the sun, doesn’t require any chemical treatments and can be cleaned by a good rainstorm. This is material of choice for EZ Dock floating docks. 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.
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 are pros and cons for each.
Permanent docks are meant to be immovable once they are installed and fixed in place, which is both 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. Harsh winters can cause structural damage due to ice build-up and freezing. The integrity of the structure could be compromised if there is any significant shift in the lakebed during the off-season.
Two popular dock structures that fall under this category are crib docks and piling docks. A crib dock uses a cage-like structure filled with rocks to anchor posts to the waterbed. They extend from the shore out into the water and typically support wooden or aluminum docks. They are sturdy structures that can withstand high winds, strong tides and wave action. They are, however, expensive to install and can cause disruption to natural ecosystems. They are often subject to local regulations and permits.
Piling docks, on the other hand, are comprised of sturdy wooden beams, called pilings, that are driven into the waterbed with a pile driver. A dock is then attached to this framework to create a very sturdy structure that’s not easily washed away. These can also be good for large boats or as a fishing pier. A piling dock can’t rise and fall with the water, however, require professional installation and are expensive to maintain.
As their name suggests, 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 the winter months, 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 work and requires you to determine a definitive start and end date to your season.
Floating docks are a popular choice for a removable docking systems and for good reason. Floating docks 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 still be relocated, altered or extended at your discretion. Regardless, the system needs to be connected to the shore through pilings or a gangway. Other anchoring solutions include dead weights, galvanized poles or a combination of the aforementioned options.
If you’re looking to add a removable dock to your waterfront property, EZ Dock floating docks are a great option. They are highly customizable, match many configurations and can be expanded with modular additions. They are extremely versatile and can 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 self-maintaining dock system and the dedicated customer support team at EZ Dock, you’ll be making a great investment in your waterfront property.
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 and you just need a few helpful hints to make the most of your space for guests to enjoy, then consider some of these tips for customizing your dock.
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 long. A popular on-deck solution for lighting is solar lights. These are usually easy to install, long-lasting and low maintenance, as well as a great security feature to ensure everyone’s safety. Keep in mind that since they rely sunlight for their power, their performance may be impacted by cloudy weather. Water-resistance is also an essential feature.
Installing a slide can be the perfect addition for entertaining. 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. A high-quality slide, such as the EZ Dock dock slide, should be durable, smooth and coated in quality materials like polyethylene.
Docks are the perfect home base from which swimmers can enjoy the water, turning a ladder into a must-have accessory! Even if you’re not looking to swim, a ladder can be a great feature in case of an accidental slip into the water or if someone mistakenly begins floating away and needs to be retrieved. 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 that swimmers stay safe when exiting the water!
Seating and shade
Docks aren’t just for launching boats. They are also a great spot for relaxing and enjoy 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. Not everyone is content, or able, to sit directly on the dock so benches or lounge chairs are a great option. EZ Dock offers two great polyethylene options that attach easily to your EZ Dock floating dock — a bench with arm rests and cupholders and another bench sans arm rests.
Docks also receive a lot of sun exposure, limiting the amount of time you or your guests can spend without shade. Including umbrellas or a pop-up canopy will give you and your guests a much needed barrier from the sun and extend your dock’s usability during peak sunlight hours too!
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 where ramps and gangways come in. These apparatuses bridge the gap between land and dock with a flat, sturdy surface. They often come in aluminum or polyethylene material and serve unique purposes. Let’s look at their functions.
A ramp is great for covering short distances and accommodating steep drop-offs. They can connect straight 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, however. A gangway, on the other hand, is longer, more stable, works well in all water conditions and includes handrails. Their drawback is that they aren’t designed for steep terrain, may require a connecting ramp and can be limited in width due to handrails. Assess your dock setup to see whether you need a ramp, gangway or both. EZ Dock offers both aluminum and polyethylene gangways for its floating docks or your own existing dock.
Handrails are a great safety feature to install for you and your guests. Rails 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.
Most likely if you have a dock, you’re involved with any number of water hobbies that you want to share with family, friends and guests. The dock is oftentimes 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.
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!
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 (PWCs), such as jet skis and wave runners, are exciting crowdpleasers. With the right features you can make it easier to launch and dock your PWCs, which can give your guests an even more seamless experience, not to mention protect your watercraft when not in use. 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!
There are all kinds of accessories for your dock that can enhance your boating experience, such as:
Another great accessory for boating enthusiasts to include on their dock is a powered air-pump. Keeping one handy allows you to blow up rafts and tubes with ease.
Storage solutions are a practical addition to your dock. They are able to keep your items secure and protected from the elements while not in use, as well as afford guests a place to store items while enjoying their time on the dock. It also provides a quick and easy access to waterside accessories, as opposed to having to carry them to and from a house or onshore storage building. Never worry about running back for life jackets or sunscreen again!
A good dockside storage solution will be weather-proof and lockable for ultimate security. EZ Dock offers two great storage solutions to choose from, including a permanently mounted storage box and a spacious corner storage box which optimizes space and doesn’t interfere with foot traffic.
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 exactly what you need.
Maximize waterside entertaining with EZ Dock
At EZ Dock, our main objective is to outfit you with a dock your friends and families won’t stop talking about. No matter how you plan to host or 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!