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How to Install a Dock ladder for Safe Summer, Water Fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate this site earns from qualifying purchases.

With summer approaching it will soon be times for lazy days by the water. There’s very little more enjoyable than jumping in and out of the water from a dock, boat or pontoon when the heat really sets in.

To help keep the fun safe for everyone involved a sturdy dock ladder does wonders. And while we recently reviewed 5 of the best ladders on the market here, our buyer’s guide did not cover any tips on how and where to appropriately install your new ladder.

This article will attempt to cover that now.

So, if you have already bought your new dock ladder and need a little guidance on what to do next, let’s jump to it.

Where to install your dock ladder

sitting on a dock

The first issue to tackle is exactly where to install the ladder on your dock.

For this you should consider the flow of users on and off the dock. Where do your boat passengers board? If you moor your boat against the dock, which side do you use most?

You will want to position the dock ladder in a way that it serves its purpose best, without getting in the way of other uses for the dock.

If you own a finger pier, you will have hopefully bought a finger pier style ladder as this will most adequately meet your needs.

However, for the majority of dock owners a standard fixed or folding ladder will be the order of the day.

There’s also the dock’s structural issues to consider when choosing a position for your ladder. Close to structural supports is recommended as this is where the dock will be most stable.

Conversely, areas where the wood is constantly wet and prone to rot or general damage should be avoided.

Essentially common sense is the best approach here. Consider your dock’s uses in line with the points above and choose a position accordingly.

How to install your new dock ladder

The majority of dock ladders available today mount using between 4 and 8 bolts. The position is universal in that there will be 2 or 4 bolts used on each side of the ladder.

As mentioned in our dock ladder review and buyer’s guide, stainless steel ladders work best in a salt water environment due to the corrosion resilient properties of the metal.

Ideally, the bolts you use will be just as hardy. Galvanized steel is also okay. In most instances, (even where an aluminium ladder is purchased), suitable, sturdy bolts of the correct length for the unit will be supplied.

One little tip to increase stability is to use mounting plates or blocking the dock up from underneath with a 2×4. This gives the bolts more material to fasten into, which of course will make the ladder more secure.

For this you may have to source your own bolts however, as the factory supplied components might not be long enough. 

When to install your dock ladder

dock ladder dusk

There a good number of versatile dock ladders available that mean you can install them at any time.

They work using a quick release mounting system that allows you to remove the ladder after use and store it someplace safe and dry.

This is especially beneficial at the end of the warm season when you might not require the ladder until the following year.

Rather than have it endure the challenging winter weather, where damage and corrosion can occur, you can pack up your ladder and store it in the garage at home.

For fixed dock ladders the decision on whether to uninstall during the winter months is dependent on your location (i.e the type of weather you experience at this time) and whether you will actually be using the ladder year around.

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