Building a Pipe Dock

How to build a Pipe Dock that will stand the Test of Time and Water conditions

By Mark J. Donovan

For the past 10 years I have used a 32’x4’ pipe dock on a large lake. I tie up to the pipe dock a 20’ ski boat, a 3 seat Jet Ski, and a 12’ aluminum hull boat. The pipe dock is in about 3.5 feet of water at the end of the dock. The dock is exposed to some fairly choppy water. To date, I have never had an incident with the pipe dock breaking, tipping, or sagging. I chalk up my success with a pipe dock to two main reasons; it is ruggedly built, and I drive the pipes into the lake floor bed approximately 1 to 1.5 feet.

Building a Pipe Dock

My pipe dock is constructed out of pressure treated lumber. I built 4 sections, each 4’x8’ in width/length. For each section, I used 2x6s for the exterior frame, and a single 2×4 down the middle of the frame.

I also put stubby 2×4 braces in each of the 4 corners to prevent any racking. I used standard pressure treated decking planks for the surface. All pieces of the pipe dock were screwed together. I used 2.5” screws for the frame, and 1.5” decking screws for the decking boards.

For the pipe, I used 1.5” galvanized steel that varied in length from 5’ to 7’. I use the shorter pipe lengths closer to shore, and the longer ones further out.

I also used special dock support side brackets that slide over the pipes and fasten to the pipes via a large screw. However, I bolt the dock support side brackets onto the ends of the dock sections, so that half is connected to each adjacent section of dock. This aids in installing the pipe dock into the lake.

 Here is a pipe dock I built on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

To install the side brackets, I use 3-4” threaded bolts, with washers and a nut. I pre-drill the holes first and make sure the bolts slide through easily. Again, I only fasten the side brackets on the far end of each section of dock, so that half is left open to receive the adjacent dock section. On the final section of dock, however, I mount the side plates so that they do not extend beyond the end of the far-end of the dock.

Finally, I stained the pipe dock sections prior to installing them. Note I estimate each section of pipe dock to weigh around 100 lbs, so plan on having a second pair of strong hands to help in the installation process of your pipe dock.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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