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How to Install a Dock Cleat in Less than 30 Minutes

Installing a cleat on the dock is something you can do by yourself. It is not difficult but there are a few things to consider. The size of a cleat must correspond with the size of the boat. It should be made of a durable material that can withstand years of weathering. Finally, it should be fastened in a way that it can withstand stress and strains of tied up boat.

Tools needed:

  • Drill with wood and metal drill bits
  • Socket set with varies bolt sizes
  • Adjustable wrench or plyers to hold nut if needed


Tip: It is a good idea to pre engineer the tools before doing the work over water. Select the proper bits and wrench sizes on dry land. Many tools have been lost in water doing dock work!

When you decide which Dock Cleat you require to secure your boat and its time to install here are some simple and easy instructions you might need:

1) Dock Material

Determine if you are securing your Dock Cleat to wood or metal.

2) Wood Dock Considerations

If your dock is wood then a lag bolt is recommended. The length of the lag bolt will be determined by thickness of wood below deck. It is preferred to lag into the Dock frame vs. relying on the decking only. Furthermore, you may want to consider cutting away the deck material in the selected area and adding a wood mounting block that fastens directly to the frame. Your boat will be secured to the cleat(s) so heavy winds or water fluctuations can put a lot of stress on boat cleats. Make sure the cleat is fully secured to dock.

3) Metal Dock Considerations

If your dock is metal then a carriage bolt is recommended. The diameter of the bolt will be determined by cleat holes. Try to make sure there is little play between diameter of cleat hole and bolt diameter. Again, try to run the bolt to the metal frame if possible to get the best results. Also use proper washers and lock washers to make sure that nut will not become loose over time.

4) Secure Fastening that Will Last

It is recommended to use Stainless or Galvanized Nuts and Bolts to secure cleat(s) to dock. Not only will these better match the cleat, but also stand the elements better over the long haul.

The number of cleat(s) required on your dock is determined by your boat size and cleat locations. Try to put cleats that can reach the boat cleats without too much of a stretch. Length of ropes on your boat and dock can make up for distance between the cleat locations if you can not put dock cleats close to boat cleats.

To view all types of dock cleats on Down at the Dock, click here.