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What You Need to Know About Commercial Dock Building

Commercial docks require a high level of maintenance to maintain safety and functionality. In addition to cleaning and maintenance, they also need proper lighting and electrical outlets. Loading docks should be located to provide easy access to freight elevators and be separate from passenger elevator lobbies and public spaces. Each truck bay should have a dock seal or shelter for weather protection.

Dock Building

Before the construction of a commercial dock begins, it is necessary to choose a suitable location. This is a large part of the process, as there are many factors to consider, such as the weather conditions in the area, wind action and tidal flow. Additionally, any zoning and permit requirements must be met to ensure the build is completed legally. Top-Notch Dock Building can help you navigate this process and complete the required applications for a nominal fee.

Choosing the decking for your dock is also an important aspect of this project. Using a material that can withstand the day-to-day traffic and provide a safe surface for those using it is a good idea. For example, if you plan to have many people walk on the dock, there must be an anti-skid surface.

Another factor to consider when selecting the decking is its ability to withstand various environmental conditions. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, your dock will likely be exposed to freezing temperatures for extended periods. A durable, freeze/thaw resistant material will ensure that your dock can withstand these conditions.

In addition to selecting the appropriate decking, deciding on a layout for your dock is necessary. There are a few different options available to you, including L-shaped and U-shaped docks. Each option has its own benefits, and it is a good idea to discuss them with your contractor to determine which one is right for your business. It is also a good idea to select the right dimensions for the fingers and gangways, as this will affect the amount of space you have for your vehicles.


Commercial docks provide access to the water for boats, marine vessels, jet skis and personal watercrafts. Our team can design and build a custom dock to meet your requirements. Docks can be constructed from wood, aluminum grate or composite decking. We can also help with gangway and launch ramp construction. We can handle everything from permitting to construction to regular maintenance and repairs. We can handle projects of all sizes. Our clientele includes youth camps, boat slips at marinas, fuel docks, seaplane pads, catwalks and more.

Loading Dock Space Type: This space type consists of a shipping and receiving dock for trucks and vans and a staging area, and may include at least one dock manager’s room or booth. It does not typically include office spaces or light industrial or warehouse spaces, although these spaces can be related programmatically to the loading docks.

Accident Prevention: With the high amount of activity, material and equipment concentrated on the dock area, it is a good idea to have a plan for maintaining the safety of users. This plan should address accident prevention issues such as spills and leaks (and their cleanup); damage to flooring and dock plates; forklift and pedestrian routes that must be differentiated and marked; and trash containers, packaging materials and tools that must be kept out of circulation paths.

Other safety issues that can arise at the loading dock include trailer creep (also known as “dock walk”). Trailer creep occurs when lateral and vertical forces exerted each time a forklift enters and exits a trailer cause it to slowly move away from the dock leveler, potentially separating from the apron. Factors that can affect trailer creep include the dock height, ground surface gradient and the condition of the forklift tire air pressures. A solution to this problem is to have a truck restraint system mounted to the dock. This device hooks to the frame or bumper of a trailer and prevents it from rolling away during loading operations, and can be operated via manual, hydraulic or electrical systems.


When working with electricity in a dock, there are a number of important safety precautions that need to be taken. Water and electricity do not mix well and this is especially true for boat docks where electrical wiring is often exposed to the harsh marine environment. This is why it is very important to have all electrical components of your dock wired properly by a certified electrician familiar with marine electrical standards.

One of the most important elements of any dock that requires electrical wiring is the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). The National Electrical Code requires this device to be present on every dock. It acts as a fast-acting circuit breaker that shuts off current if it senses that there is an abnormal amount of current flowing through the system. This is an extremely vital safety feature that helps prevent serious injury or even death.

Another safety measure that needs to be taken into account is the use of bonding jumpers. These connect all metal parts of the dock together so that if a frayed wire comes in contact with any of them during a malfunction, it will not be able to deliver a deadly shock.

Other important considerations that need to be addressed are the location and configuration of the dock. Ideally, it should be located so that it does not interfere with trucks or powered material handling equipment that must maneuver in and out of the loading dock. Also, it should be positioned to allow for emergency egress from the dock building. Finally, the dock should be properly lit for safety purposes. This includes lighting for a staging area and also lighting to provide visibility for truck drivers.


Docks are located in a water-surrounded area and have different plumbing needs than indoor spaces. They must deal with the presence of saltwater, which requires pipes of a heavier gauge and thickness than freshwater systems. Additionally, the location of a dock may require the use of special materials that can resist the corrosion caused by exposure to saline salt.

The design of a commercial dock building must take into account its proximity to freight elevators and service entrances within the facility. The building should be designed to ensure that these areas remain unobstructed and easy to reach by service vehicles. It is also a good idea to locate the loading docks away from passenger elevator lobbies and public corridors, which can interfere with loading and unloading operations.

When designing a new dock, the structural engineer must be sure to consider the load bearing capacity of the foundation, including the ability to withstand dead and live loads, wind and current forces and vibrations. He must also be sure that the structure is capable of supporting the expected water level range, including the base flood elevation.

Finally, the structural engineer must be certain that the dock design is compatible with the tidal wetlands on which it will be constructed. This will include an archaeological impact assessment and a hydrotechnical engineering analysis of the sit conditions.

The Department of Natural Resources will review all applications for commercial docks on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the impact the proposed development may have on sensitive environmental resources. Typically, a commercial dock is not permitted in a body of water listed on the most recent 303(d) list as an Impaired Water.


Whether your dock is built from wood, concrete or a mixture of both, it needs to be properly finished to prevent future damage. This is especially important for areas exposed to the elements, such as a loading dock. Finishing in a commercial dock building includes everything from paint to flooring, and it’s important to choose a material that can resist moisture. The best option is usually a synthetic material, such as composite or vinyl decking. However, if the budget allows, cedar is also an excellent choice. Cedar is rot-resistant and has natural oils that help to repel moisture. It also holds up well to saltwater and UV rays.

Dock finishing also includes the selection of a topcoat. Many options are available, including polyurethanes and polyaspartic, but a high-quality oil-based semi-gloss or gloss is the most durable. Selecting a coating that provides good slip resistance is important, especially if the dock will be used by trucks or other vehicles. This can be achieved by adding a slip-inhibiting grit to the topcoat.

Another aspect of finishing is the selection of dock fasteners. Depending on the type of dock, these might include framing nails, deck screws or lag bolts. In order to minimize wall damage, it is recommended that the dock foundation/dock bumper extend 4” beyond the dock walls.

Before starting construction, securing all required permits for the project is crucial. This can be a difficult task if you’re unfamiliar with the process, so it’s a good idea to contact a professional who can take care of this step. For a nominal fee, they can handle all the required applications for you and ensure that all the necessary information is included in your application. This will save you time and hassle, and it will also help to ensure that your build is a success.