Pros and Cons of 5 Different Types of Lake Docks

What are the different kinds of docks and what can you do on them

Lake docks can be amazingly useful. We don't usually give much thought to this unsung hero, but there are plenty of different types of lake docks and each of them has their own uses. What are the various lake dock pros and cons? Well, that's what we're here to explore today! So let's have a great time out on the water all courtesy of our good friend the lake dock.

Uses of Lake Docks

Before we jump into the types, let's run through a few of the uses for a lake dock.


Boating enthusiasts will generally see any dock as simply a place to moor their vessel, but the uses go far beyond this extremely basic one. Tying off on a dock is all well and good, but what if you went the whole nine and constructed a boathouse on that dock to protect your boat from the dangers of the weather!

We have products that can assist with that as well, our marine leather conditioner and UV protectant wipes spring immediately to mind. You can extend the life of your vessel by housing it safely under a roof. It's also amazing to escape the elements. Have you ever dipped your toes in the water while it's raining outside? Luxury!

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Swimming for instance is made a lot easier when you don't need to go trudging through the mud to reach the 'good part' of the lake. When it's time to get out of the water? A simple dock ladder can make it an absolute breeze! No more stepping gingerly on a plethora of pointy rocks and broken shells to avoid.

You can't really appreciate the difference until you've experienced it for yourself. Once you have the opportunity to partake in swimming off of a lake dock, you'll never want to go back to wading in.


Dock fishing is shockingly effective! Fish love to make their homes underneath and around the dock. With the right bait, you can lure them right out of their hiding spots and into your stomach. This is a fantastic addition to any lake, particularly if you have kids who can't yet pilot a boat but still want to do some fishing. This is convenience at its finest!


A lake party without a lake dock is no party at all. People love to get out on the water, even if they won't necessarily be going into the water... At least not a planned trip into the water. Once the drinks start flowing? Who knows what might happen. You can have a rager on as many acres as you please, but partying on the dock will always be the place to be.

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Types of Lake Docks

Now that you know what you might be using your dock for, let's look at the different types of lake docks and their pros and cons.

Pipe Dock

One of the lake docks with the least environmental impact is unsurprisingly also one of the least permanent. There are some stipulations to check that you have fulfilled before deciding on a pipe-style lake dock. Firstly, the dock itself needs to be wider than the depth of the water. Pipe docks work best in shallow water with a firm and even lake bottom featuring only minor water-level fluctuations. While a pipe dock will hold your dinghy in place, it definitely isn't sturdy enough to moor a large boat.

Piling Dock

One of the most permanent docks that you can construct is the piling dock. That seems like a great thing, especially considering the minimal maintenance that it will undergo over the course of its lifetime but it does have a fair amount of environmental impact. Piling docks are made from burying piles (or poles) deep into the seabed. These piles hold up a framework that is then covered in wood, concrete, or composite. The piles themselves can be wood, steel, or concrete which leads to a large degree of customization. If you want a lake dock that isn't going anywhere for a long time, the piling dock is a great bet.

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Floating Dock

These are exactly what they sound like: Docks that float. This means the environmental impact is nearly nothing and they are easy to remove or change the placement of. Obviously, they also follow the rise/fall of the water. You can purchase a floating modular dock, or you can fairly easily build one yourself with just some empty drums or barrels. On the downside, a floating dock isn't going to hold up to even slightly choppy water. If your lake isn't as smooth as glass I'd be wary when stepping onto a floating dock.

Crib Dock

Crib docks take their name from the cribs that the dock sits upon. Those cribs are then filled with rocks and space a few feet apart. The environmental impact and the cost of installation is gigantic and you won't be removing a crib dock without a major effort but it might be worth the investment if your lake has rough waters. The cribs will act as a breaker and keep your boat sitting pretty with minimal rocking and rolling. You'll probably still want some sort of protection regardless, so check out our articles on different types of dock bumpers and fenders.

Articulating Dock

This dock is generally constructed of steel piping and attached to a winch. This allows the dock to be lifted out of the water. If you have local ordinances (always check your local ordinances and make sure you're in compliance) against docks left in the water over the winter months or just experience particularly harsh winters then you might opt for a lift-up or drawbridge-style articulating dock. It's unfortunate how much of an eyesore the dock can be when lifted into the air, but I've seen people conceal it pretty gracefully in the trees and get the best of both worlds. No ticket or shattered dock, and no visible eyesore on their property. Win/win!