How Much Does a Dock Cost? Part II: Design

October 25, 2019

How Much Does a Dock Cost? Part II: Design

Our most often asked question is "What is the cost of a dock system?" While there’s no simple answer, we’ve broken it down into three main components: decking, design and size of your dock. In a recent blog we discussed decking, and if you missed part one, you can read about it here. Let’s move on to dock design.

Outside of decking, the dock design categories include floatation, fenders, bumpers, utilities, lighting, railing and launches. Whether you choose the most economical design option or upgrade, yourdock will be built with Marine Grade aluminum to provide strength and corrosion for its long service life. Even better, your new aluminum structure will be fabricated by an expert team of welders. About half our build-staff has worked at Gator for almost two decades.

Dock Design Options


Decking and floatation options are going to be the design options that have the most impact on dock cost. When considering what option is best for your project, you should think about the balance between cost, length of life and stability. If you are more of a visual learner, check out our floatation video series: Floating Dock Overview, Pontoon Float and Full Float.

The most economic choice is poly-tub floatation. We source the best poly-floats in the marine business to incorporate into our floating docks. Poly-floats are made of a plastic shell (polyethylene to be exact) with polystyrene foam core (poly-‘sty’-rene as in ‘sty’-rafoam). Because plastic cracks and polystyrene can be easily compromised, these floats typically have to be replaced many times during a GatorDock’s long service life.

The next two float options offer a quality increase in both the shell and the core of the float. The Pontoon Float and the Full Float, designed and built at Gator, feature an all-aluminum shell that provides a rugged armor for harsh marine environments. The core is expertly-injected polyurethane foam, much more dense and durable than polystyrene and can stand up to chemicals often found in marine environments including boat fuel. The Pontoon Float system combines several Pontoon capped-culverts along the base of the dock, whereas the Full Float is one large foundation for a dock section. Because the Full Float cohesively covers the majority of a dock deck, it provides even more stability than our durable Pontoon Float. The aluminum shell and dependable core of these two float types are an increase to the bottom line, but also offer a longer, more stable, service life and much lower maintenance requirements.

Fenders & Bumpers

Dock 101: Fenders protect the dock and bumpers protect the boats. We’ve got several options to choose from to protect your dock and boats. Select pine, Ipe hardwood or composite wood for your fenders, or combine the purpose of a dock and fender into one by choosing a UHMW fender. This durable fender is an increase in cost but a great addition to high traffic boat ramps that need extra protection. Our bumpers come in two size/shape combinations – the ‘P’ bumper and ‘D’ bumper. The ‘P’ bumper, shaped like its name, is our smaller bumper that attaches to the fender’s side. The larger ‘D’ bumper covers more area and extends further for additional impact protection. This bumper attaches in two places, the top and side, of the fender.

Utilities & Lighting

The E-channel frame and deck construction found on both GatorDock piers and floating docks can accommodate utilities up to 2” in diameter. Our design engineers can create custom utility bays for clients with larger needs in that area. All we need to accommodate that request is a utility map and project specifications. These incorporated utility paths allow for water, electricity and other needs to enhance the design of your marina or dock system.


Many of our marine access systems (that is a fancy term for docks and piers) do not incorporate railing. Although, one of our favorite designs does: The Gator Fishing Pier. There is nothing better than being on the water and fishing on a beautiful day. The Gator Fishing Rail is loved by fishermen of all sizes and ability. The bait shelf is a handy place to set a tackle box or a beer, while the angled top rail is a comfy place to lean against or rest a fishing pole. Check out a classic Gator fishing pier in the St. Marks case study.  


For those of you looking for simple support rather than a fishing-specific rail, we offer several different railing types including the economical two-line rail as well as the three-line, mesh railing and picket rail. All of these can be seen on our Pier page.


We say that our most asked question is ‘how much does a dock cost,’ but our second most asked question is ‘do you have kayak launches’. Well, of course we do! Check out our launch video to learn all about the different style launches Gator offers. These launches can be designed within other dock systems such as marinas, boat ramps or floating docks.


More on Dock Cost, Pricing, and Budgeting

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