Dock Piling

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Dock Piling Overview

What are Dock Pilings?

Pilings are essentially long, vertical foundations. Dock pilings are simply pilings used for docks to hold them in place. Since the bottom of a river or a lake isn’t the most stable ground you can find to build something on, you want something like a piling to provide as much stability to your dock as possible.

What Problems It Solves:

When you build a dock, it’s anchored in place. Otherwise, it’s just a floating platform with no real way to keep it where you want it. So we use dock pilings which we drive deep down into the mud and silt at the bottom of the lake or river.

The deeper you set the pilings, the more solid they will be. And if there’s any current or tidal movement in the water where your dock sits, anchoring that dock is of the utmost importance.

Images of Dock Piling

Advantages & Disadvantages of Dock Piling


Dock pilings are necessary to keep your dock level, in place, and in good working order. If built correctly, dock pilings will last throughout your lifetime.

  • Provide stability against lateral movement of the dock caused by current
  • Supports the dock’s weight, preventing it from sinking to and into the water
  • Lends structural integrity to the dock, especially necessary with longer docks


However, dock pilings also may lead to some disadvantages, such as:

  • They can be costly.
  • They are permanent; if you move to another property, you can’t take your dock with you.

Dock Piling Process


The best way to get started is to contact a professional because the installation of dock pilings is not a weekend hobbyist’s project. The best thing to do would be to visit Marine Matcher’s Get Started page. Doing so will help Marine Matcher find the best contractors for your project, and you’ll rest assured that your recommended contractors are qualified.

You’ll need to determine several things with your contractor before you begin the installation process:

  • How big will the dock be?
  • What materials will you use for the dock?
  • What materials will constitute the pilings?
  • How will the bottom of the water affect the driving in of the pilings?

If you have no clue what any of these answers are, that’s okay. That’s what the qualified contractor is for. They know how to install dock pilings, and they’ll be able to help you determine the best solutions to all these queries.


A great many docks use treated lumber, although there are fiberglass pilings out there. The fiberglass won’t rot, and insects won’t get at it, but it is an expensive option. Unless the weather is a real issue where you live, treated lumber with dock piling sleeves should serve you well, and as mentioned above, a properly treated, protected, and installed dock piling will last for the rest of your life.

You may also make your decisions based on the cost to install dock pilings, as you’ll be paying for labor and materials. Let’s face it, fiberglass is more expensive than treated lumber, and there are few of us for whom money is no object.

Permitting Process

Some homeowners’ associations may require a permit for a new dock. Also, the town or city where your dock sits may have some permitting requirements for construction.

An excellent place to start would be your homeowners’ association. You’ll be able to learn from them if they have any requirements, and they will also be well acquainted with any municipal regulations.

And no matter what answer you get from them, do your own research at city hall. Your contractor will also be very familiar with permitting guidelines.

Questions To Ask Contractors

Just because a contractor got recommended to you doesn’t mean you should jump in with both feet. Be sure and get some answers upfront, so you know you’ve got a qualified builder. You’ll also have some peace of mind.

  • How much experience do you have?
  • What kind of dock do you suggest for this particular project?
  • What materials do you recommend?
  • How long will the project take?
  • Do you provide a warranty for the dock?
  • How long will my dock last?
  • What impact will the building of the dock have on my property?

Different Types of Dock Piling

We’ve already touched on the two most common choices for materials– wood and fiberglass. But there are other options.

Wood Pilings

These can be made from treated lumber or hardwood. Both types will resist the elements and pests, but piling sleeves is a good idea and an extra layer of protection. Sleeves are plastic or polymer sleeves wrapped around the wood before construction, and they help seal the organic material against rot, weather, and insects.

Dock piling caps are also an excellent choice for added protection as they sit on top of each piling, preventing water from seeping down into the wood and shielding the wood from sun damage.

Fiberglass Pilings

An option that’s a little more expensive, fiberglass dock pilings will never rust, rot, crumble, or house a family of carpenter bees. You won’t need dock piling caps or sleeves, either, because these pilings are adequately protected from the elements because of the material that constitutes them.

Concrete Pilings

Impervious to just about anything, concrete dock pilings might not be as pretty as wood, and they might interrupt your communing-with-nature vibe, but they’ll never rot. And provided they’re correctly installed with metal reinforcement rods inside, they’ll be standing long after the lake they’re sunk into has dried up.

Alternative Solutions to Dock Piling

If you research your options before deciding on dock pilings, you may find a solution that’s a better fit for you. Then again, maybe not. Here, then, we have some information on a few of those other possibilities.

Service vs ServiceAdvantagesDisadvantages
Dock Piling vs. Floating Dock

Dock piling, compared to floating docks:

  • Last an average of 15 years longer
  • Are much more stable, especially in high-traffic areas

Dock piling, compared to floating docks:

  • Are more expensive
  • Are not movable if you relocate
Dock Piling vs. Boat Lift

Dock piling, compared to boat lifts:

  • Are not mechanical, so there’s nothing that can malfunction
  • Lets you leave the boat in the water, so wrapping up a day on the lake is much simpler
  • Serves all kinds of engines, while boat lifts best serve boats with outboard motors.

Dock piling, compared to boat lifts:

  • Allows you to leave the boat in the water, which can be a problem in severe weather
  • Requires a much more complicated installation process.
Dock Piling vs. Pipe Docks

Dock piling, compared to pipe docks:

  • Is much more solid
  • Suffers less in inclement weather
  • Need much less regular maintenance.

Dock piling, compared to pipe docks:

  • Costs more
  • Are less suited for water less than eight feet deep.
Dock Piling vs. Suspension Docks

Dock piling, compared to suspension docks:

  • Are anchored in the water bottom
  • Bring a traditional look to your lake- or riverfront property
  • Will weather storms better
  • Are less expensive.

Dock piling, compared to suspension docks:

  • Have a more significant detrimental effect on the environment
  • May provide a more rustic look than a modernist-leaning homeowner prefers

Costs of Dock Piling

You’ll want to consider many things when you begin budgeting for such a project, including:

  • Dock size
  • Cost of materials
  • The hourly cost of labor
  • Cost of equipment rental

Since all of these will vary widely from project to project, it is impossible to answer, “How much do dock pilings cost?” with any accuracy. Spending time with your contractor (or multiple contractors as you take bids) will help you get a better idea of the budget you’re facing.

Bid & Buying Solicitation

By starting with a reputable service like Marine Matcher, you’ll find several contractors in your area who are qualified to build your project and who will be happy to discuss your wants and needs when it comes to your dock pilings and stationary dock.

You’ll solicit bids from these contractors by discussing your project with them. They’ll ask questions regarding materials, location, and project size and will give you a quote.

Getting started with your project begins with Marine Matcher’s Get Started page, where you’ll soon find yourself in contact with qualified, experienced contractors to guide you through your decisions and build your project.

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