6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dock Ladder

The right dock ladder makes your dock more accessible and attractive. It also makes it easier to take a refreshing dip on a hot day. Finding that ladder is simple when you shop at Haven Dock & Marine. All of our ladders feature the legendary quality customers have come to expect from our brand, including:

  • Premium construction
  • Attractive designs
  • Marine-grade materials for years of use

When choosing from our selection of popular dock ladders, it helps to keep the following things in mind.

1. Type of Dock

All docks share some similarities, but each one also has its own unique features. The ladder you choose must accommodate those. For example, what might be the perfect solution for water access off a floating swimming platform might not be suitable in a stationary shallow water dock.


Like other types of docks, manufacturers make stationary models from various materials. Wood is a popular and common choice, but composite lumber and metal are also options.

A stationary dock mounts at a single, precise height. This means that while the seafloor will always be a fixed distance away, in tidal areas, the water level may be at different depths in relation to the dock surface. The ladder you choose must reach the surface, regardless of the water height.

If you are shopping for a dock ladder to use on a stationary dock, consider adding a straight ladder or a standard lift ladder. These both mount easily to the dock surface, provide stable handholds for increased safety when entering and exiting the water, and look great in almost any situation. Plus, you can choose a length that reaches below the lowest tide level, knowing that it will never get snagged on the bottom.


Floating docks sit on the water's surface, rising and lowering with the tide. They are typically anchored to a fixed mooring or another stationary dock. These make it easy to get on and off moored boats, since each one will always remain at the same relative height. However, a fixed ladder can easily become damaged from hitting the bottom at low tide.

Any ladder mounted to a floating dock must accommodate the changing tide to avoid this problem. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a lift ladder designed to add safe access to floating docks. Another option that specifically addresses the challenges of floating docks is our award-winning FloatStep® Dock Ladder. This mounts securely to the dock surface and uses a unique adjustable float mechanism that adjusts to changing tides and rough water.

2. People Using the Ladder

You also must consider who will be using the ladder. This affects what type will be best for your situation. For example, if you know children will be using it, you want to ensure it's equipped with non-skid treads and railing that they can reach. If individuals with mobility challenges are the primary users, then adaptive features, such as angled steps, might be more important. It's also crucial to consider the weight capacity of a dock ladder before you invest in one.

3. Construction Materials

Construction materials determine how well your dock ladder will hold up to extreme marine environments. Depending on where your dock is and the type of ladder you want, this can mean different things.

For example, salt water is more corrosive than fresh water. Ladders do not need to be underwater to feel the effects, either. Therefore, if you plan to mount a dock ladder in a saltwater environment, you must choose one made from the highest-quality materials for durability. Freshwater ladders must still contain non-corrosive materials.

You also want to consider how the ladder moves. Stationary dock ladders remain in the water at all times, so they experience more wear and tear. On the other hand, retractable ladders are only exposed to water when deployed.

We manufacture all Haven Dock & Marine dock ladders from premium, marine-grade aluminum. Each one can withstand the harshest marine environments, so you can expect years of safe, reliable use. Additionally, our ladders have a weight capacity of 500 pounds, so they can safely accommodate all your guests.

4. Mounting Type

Your dock configuration and available space can play a large role in determining the best dock ladder. For example, if you have a small dock, adding an oversized ladder will take up valuable space you might otherwise use for storage. A finger pier dock ladder might be a better choice for tight spaces.

Be sure to consider the following aspects of your dock and how you use it before choosing a ladder:

  • The amount of space available for mounting
  • Surface material for mounting
  • Permanent vs. seasonal installation

5. Height to Water

This affects the number of steps required to safely get in and out of the water. It may also play a role in whether you decide on a fixed or retractable ladder. For example, if you have a stationary dock that is close to the seafloor, you may decide that a fixed ladder offers the most affordable and practical solution. However, if the water height changes dramatically or you have a floating dock, a retractable ladder may be a better choice to avoid damage.

6. Access and Visibility

A dock ladder increases access to the water. Incorporating railings and other features can help make docks and dock ladders safer. Accessories, such as hose holders or a storage box, remove clutter from around the ladder and reduce tripping hazards.

Additionally, certain accessories can help increase visibility around a dock ladder. For example, deck lighting and step lights help provide light in areas that may be out of reach of your marina’s main lighting. Combined, these accessories help ensure safe use, no matter what type of dock ladder you choose.

Haven Dock & Marine offers premium marina products to help you enjoy your boat safely and comfortably. We have a full selection of dock ladders and accessories, and we are happy to accommodate custom product requests. Shop our dock ladders to find the perfect addition to your dock.