How to Select A Ladder for Your Dock

Brey-Krause Stainless Steel Ladder

Learning how to select a ladder for your dock is essential for ensuring optimal safety and efficiency at this important access point on your dock. There are many ladder types and the best option for you depends upon your specific situation. The following are several of the top factors to consider when purchasing these products.

Intuitive Designs
Boat dock ladders and the safety features they include should be both intuitive and easy to use. Walk through ladders offer a simple and uncomplicated solution for people who dock their boats in areas that are exposed to all weather types. The handles provide added stability and handling giving you a safer ladder. There are many types of ladders available. You have your standard fixed or stationary style ladder which offers a basic ladder at a more affordable cost. You also have lifting or retractable style ladders which are very useful for areas of high marine growth or barnacles. Being able to retract that ladder out of the water helps reduce growth build up. A third type of ladder style is the swing or fold up style ladder. This type of ladder is nice if you want to swing the entire ladder 180 degrees out of the water bringing it to rest on top of your dock. The choice you make should be dictated by your docking situation, who will use it (age group) and how much space you have on your dock.

Understanding The Dock Design
One of the most important parts of learning how to select a ladder for your dock is determining the dock design. The nature of the environment in which these products will be used is just as important as the way in which they will be used. The type of the water, the depth of the water and whether or not the dock is fixed or floating are all essential factors to review. Buyers should also consider the types of materials used in the dock construction as this will assist you in the installation process.

Water Depth and Type
Freshwater and salt water will affect ladder materials in different ways. Some units are designed specifically for use in salty or freshwater, while others can be safely used in both. Choosing a ladder that is rated to the type of water in which your dock is installed will help you get the most value from your purchase by limiting corrosion and other forms of wear. In terms of water depth, the ladder length is dependent upon water depth and the general “rule of thumb” of minimum 2-3 steps in the water. The more steps in the water the easier it is to climb out.

Ladder Construction
Buyers should look for heavier duty marine grade aluminum, stainless steel or galvanized steel. Ladders built from 6063T-5 or anodized 6005 aluminum are your most affordable and best bang for the buck. For most situations this type of ladder will suit any dock owners need whether in fresh or salt water. Next would be galvanized steel . This is also a good option for a ladder that has strength and some added corrosion protection with an affordable price tag. The best option and most expensive is your stainless steel ladders. Generally two to three times more expensive, these ladders do give you more value over the long term. Stainless ladders are as strong or stronger than aluminum ladders, they don’t discolor like aluminum does over time and they’re lightweight compared to galvanized steel.

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