Dock ladders are a really helpful and useful accessory for any boat owner. They help you easily and safely board and leave your boat and they also provide protection from the weather and other elements that you might be exposed to while on the water.
What’s more, dock ladders come in all sorts of different colours, sizes, and styles so that no matter what your taste is, there is a dock ladder out there for you! If you’re looking to install a dock ladder for your boat, then you’re in the right place. This article will show you how to install your own dock ladder, step-by-step.
How to install dock ladder?
If the dock ladder is to be connected to the dock, it is usually necessary to use 2-4 anti-corrosion bolts on each side to connect the ladder frame to the dock joists. However, if the docking station is made of various materials, the backrest should be used, such as a 2×4 plank. Otherwise, the bolts may loosen and your ladder will be in the water.
But if you do not want to permanently connect the ladder to the dock, you must use the quick release kit. The kit consists of 2 stainless steel or galvanized aluminum rods.
You can place the railing on the base and then fix the ladder to the top until you or your partner connect them with detachable pins. This is very useful when the temperature often drops to almost freezing point.
Guide to buy dock ladder:
You may desperately need a floating dock ladder. But before you go to the store to find one, you need to know exactly what to look for in the dock ladder. Otherwise, you may end up buying the wrong product, which will become a real headache for replacement or even return. This is why we are discussing the key things to consider before buying floating dock ladders for ourselves or others. The following are things to consider before making a final decision:
Ladder Design- No matter which type of floating dock ladder you choose to buy, it should be easy to use. The ladder should be designed in such a way that you can use it almost intuitively without having to spend a few minutes figuring out how to step on it safely. For example, a good dock ladder may have handles to increase safety and stability. This way you can leave the water or leave the boat without worrying about slipping.
You can even purchase a sliding pier ladder that you can slide into the body of water when needed so that it does not interfere with normal marine activities. Regardless of the type, you should always consider the demographics of the people who use it.
For example, if the elderly use a spring ladder, then it should have a handle to provide additional protection so they can easily use it. In addition, you must also consider the available space of the docking station. Because if your dock is relatively shallow, you don’t need to use a long dock ladder.
Understand Your Dock’s Design- If you don’t understand the dock layout, you won’t be able to buy the perfect floating ladder for you. The type of ladder you will use depends largely on the design of your dock.
The type and depth of the water, whether there is enough space on the dock or its size, all of these are important things to consider when purchasing a dock ladder. So before you start shopping, check your dock design.
Ladder Material- Choosing the material for your dock ladder is equally important to choosing the right ladder design. It won’t be of any good if the ladder is not able to withstand and get easily damaged by the water and its effects.
So, it is very important to choose such a material for the ladder which is not affected due to rust. These materials include stainless steel and marine-grade aluminium. Those dock ladders which are made with these materials are durable, can withstand the effects of water without getting rusted easily, and lasts longer than the other available options which require frequent change.
Water Depth and Type- If you want to make your ladder durable and provide you with unparalleled service, you need to consider the depth and type of water. Different types of water, such as fresh water and salt water, will have different effects on your ladder. Some ladder materials are only suitable for freshwater, while others work best in salt water.
Some ladders can even handle two types of water. In addition, you need to consider the water depth to get the perfect length of the dock ladder. So you can choose the perfect ladder for you.
Weight Capacity- Of the many different factors, this may be the most important. No matter what your purpose is to get a dock ladder, whether it is boarding a boat or climbing after a swim, you need to find a ladder compatible with your needs. The maximum carrying capacity of these ladders is usually 400 pounds. If you think this is sufficient, then you should choose one of them.
However, if you think this is not enough for you, you should choose the last option in the review section; it can hold up to 500 pounds. A ladder like this can be used by people of all weights. If you don’t get a specific purpose for the ladder, you can choose a ladder with an average capacity.
Steps- The number of steps is as important as the weight, or even more. There are many specifications to find. For example, you need to check the number of steps, the anti-slip function, and their angle and width. The dock ladder has a different number of steps, usually 3 to 5.
You can decide which one you need according to your needs. Also, for safety and angle, you should look for strength characteristics to make climbing easier. Finally, you need to check whether the height of the ladder is adjustable; this way, you can more easily configure it according to your own situation.
Types Of Dock Ladders- There are several types of dock ladders, such as rope ladders, fixed ladders, and telescopic dock ladders. You must choose between them according to your needs.
Foldability- Now this is another thing to look for, especially if you want to remove the ladder from the dock for storage. If you have folding ladders, you can easily lift and store them. And they take up very little space! You cannot get it from a ladder without this feature. Now if you don’t plan to remove it from the docking station, you don’t have to worry about this.
Construction Quality- Despite its load-bearing capacity, if your ladder is not strong, it will most likely not last long. Therefore, to avoid dangerous situations, the construction of dock ladders is very important. In addition, it is also important to ensure that the ladder is prone to corrosion and rust.
Ladders like this are made of the highest quality stainless steel or anodized aluminum, they are also very strong and can be used for a long time. In addition, you can also check other factors such as stability, versatility, and installation method.
By taking all of this into account when deciding on a ladder, you can find the ladder that best suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
- What should be the correct length dock ladder?
Obviously, the more steps you take underwater, the easier it will be to get out. You must place the last step of these swim ladders at least 2 feet underwater in order to get out of the water comfortably. Therefore, the distance from the installation surface to the water surface of the 4-tier ladder does not exceed 24 inches, the distance from the installation surface to the water surface of the 5-tier ladder does not exceed 36 inches, and so on.
With that being said, when you are approaching these limits, most customers prefer to choose a larger size for easier passage on these stairs. For example, a 4-step ladder is suitable for most people on a 22-inch dock above the water’s surface, but a 5-step ladder makes it easier to use, especially for older, heavier people, taller or have some physical problems (such as knees, hips, etc.) or back problems. The only disadvantage is that the longer the ladder, the heavier it will be when it is retrieved from the water for storage.
- How much weight can the 3,4,5,6,7 step dock ladder handle?
When installed firmly and correctly on the dock / dock structure, the ladder will easily support a weight of 500 pounds.
- Do the swim ladders need a handrail?
No. These slanted ladders are at a perfect angle, your hands can naturally fit on the front railing and the size of the front railing makes it easy to hold even with small hands. Separate handrails will also stick out of the water, as a potential obstacle for rowers; some lake management departments may not be allowed to use them on the dock.
- How large are the steps on the dock ladders?
Each step is approximately 16″ wide and 8″ deep. This is more like a set of ordinary ladders, completely different from ordinary vertical dock ladders, which have an unusual depth of 2-3 inches. This makes your feet more comfortable.
- Is the dock ladder hard to install?
No, it only requires 4 bolts, washers and locknuts to connect. Whatever is convenient, you can use common tools and drills to install these ladders.
- Is the ladder heavy?
No, less than 36 pounds. For the 4 step ladder (45 lbs. 6 steps), make it much lighter than steel and wood ladders.
- Does the bottom step have to rest on the bottom of water for support?
No. It does not need to rest on the bottom for proper installation; it is usually in open water. If you want, you can let it stop at the bottom.
- Can the ladder be taken out for storage? Or should it be left in water when not in use?
Yes. Just twist it out of the water when not in use. Or, like many people do, remove the pivot bolts and store the ladder off-site for the winter, leaving the mounting brackets on the dock.
No, it is recommended to remove it from the water when not in use to prevent algae, barnacles, etc. from growing on it. This type of buildup can make any steps slippery, so remove them to keep them clean.
- Do the dock ladders rust?
All metals rust; however, unlike other metals, aluminum performs very well in water. When used in salt water applications, it is strongly recommended to remove it from the water when not in use, as salt water will corrode metals more quickly.