What is a Dock Ladder and How to Add Them

A dock ladder is simply a ladder attached to a dock and used to step down into the water and get out of it. Dock ladders are available in many sizes and styles. They fall into the category of important safety accessories for boats. The goal of this post is to provide a comprehensive answer to this frequently asked question: what is a dock ladder and how to add them?

Dock Ladder Basics

Docks are used for multiple purposes. They are not just for securing boats. And you have to choose the ladder depending on the type of dock. Ladders are necessary for people who enjoy playing in the water or take a swim often. During summer, ladders make it more enjoyable to spend lazy hours by the water.  

Dock ladders are, in general, made out of aluminum. Galvanized steel is also used in some cases. In freshwater situations, both of these materials work well. In saltwater situations, stainless steel is the best option.

Another important variable to know is the length of the dock ladder. In general, two steps are submerged in the water.

There are several different types of dock ladders. Among them, stairs and fixed ladders are the two most popular types.

Stairs are more suitable for those who use the ladder more frequently. People with limited physical mobility find stairs more convenient. A rope ladder can make even a physically sound person feel exhausted.

If you own a dog, choose stairs because your furry friend will be able to use them. Stairs are also safer because they are coated with a slip-resistant material.

Fixed ladders are designed to withstand outdoor elements. In general, they have more durable joints and are sturdier. As you use the ladder, you do not have to lower it. A fixed ladder requires very little or no maintenance.

Understandably, you want to learn more: what is a dock ladder and how to add them? Before we discuss how you can add a dock ladder, let’s see how you can choose the right ladder that meets your needs.

Choosing the Right Dock Ladder

As previously mentioned, your choice should be determined by the design aspect of the dock. So, it is important to assess the design aspects of the dock before you choose a ladder.

If it is a floating dock, at least two steps of the ladder should be below the water. To some extent, the length of the ladder should be determined by the height of the dock.

How do you figure out how many steps there should be? Well, for that, you can divide the distance between the water and the top of the dock by the step height of the ladder.

If it is a stationary dock, the ladder should be taller. First, measure the distance between the bed of the water body and the top of the dock. After that, divide the distance by the step height of the ladder.

Obviously, it is easier to step out if there are more steps underwater. Ideally, the last step should be a couple of feet below the water. Depending on the distance between the water and the mounting surface, you may need a 4, 5, or 6-step ladder.

A 5-step ladder is suitable for heavier, taller, and older people, and those with physical issues like back or hip problems.

Where to Install a Dock Ladder

What is a dock ladder and how to add them? This is the primary question. But it is also important to determine on which part of the dock you have to install the ladder. Just find out which part of the dock is the most convenient for coming on the dock and leaving it. 

This is the side you use when you moor your boat. The bottom line is, the dock ladder must be positioned on a convenient part of the dock.

For most dock owners, a folding or fixed ladder will do. You may consider choosing a finger pier style ladder if you have a finger pier.

When determining a position, you also have to consider the structural issues of the dock. The dock is the most stable at the structural supports, and that is why a ladder should be installed close to the supports. Avoid areas that are prone to general damage. Above all, to choose a position, use your common sense.

How to Install a Dock Ladder

To mount your dock ladder, you will need 4 to 8 bolts, depending on the length of the ladder. 2 or 4 bolts are used to mount each side. If it is a saltwater environment, use galvanized steel bolts, because they come with corrosion resilient properties. 

When you purchase the ladder, you will be provided with sturdy, suitable bolts with the ladder. Use mounting plates to increase the stability of the ladder. As you fasten the bolts to more materials, the ladder will be more secure. 

The mounting plates may not be included in the factory-supplied materials. So, you may have to buy them separately. What is a dock ladder and how to add them? Well, you already know that. But when should you install one? Let’s see.

When to Install a Dock Ladder

A dock ladder with a quick-release mounting system can be used any time and removed after use. Damage and corrosion can happen during the winter. So, when the ladder is not being used, you can uninstall and store it in a safe and dry place. However, the decision may depend on your location. In some places, dock ladders are used throughout the year.

What Is a Dock Ladder and How to Add Them? – Final Thoughts

So, what is a dock ladder, and how to add them? Now you know the answer. Choosing the right dock ladder is as important as installing it properly. And finding the right spot on the dock is equally important. 

The good news is, the task does not require technical skills. You can do it just by following the user manual. 

Last Updated on August 30, 2021