FAQs about our dock ladders

Ready to learn more about Aqua-Stairs? Read our FAQ about marine ladders for answers to many of your questions.



  • At any age, it is significantly easier to get on these stair-step-designed ladders with wide/deep footing compared to vertical, small-rung ladders.
  • Unlike the straight-up and down ladders, the easy angle of the Aqua-Stairs ladders allows many people who cannot climb a ladder but can negotiate stairs to access the water again. We have many elderly people (reported to be as young as 93) to small children using these ladders since their staircase design makes it easy to get in and out of the water.
  • Given its staircase design, Aqua-Stairs have also made it possible for many people with varying disabilities to enjoy the water again. Many people affectionately have called it a geriatric ladder and informed us that we should do more in advertising it as a ladder for the elderly or senior citizens. Others have claimed it to be an excellent ladder for handicapped people.
  • Most dogs love them, too, from Chihuahuas to St. Bernards!
  • You only need one ladder for both people and pets.
  • You can sit on Aqua-Stairs in the water or even stand on them hands-free, resting instead of treading water.
  • It makes it easier to board kayaks, canoes, jet skis, paddle boards, etc.
  • For me, peace of mind when I have people on the dock with unknown swimming abilities.
  • Larger than other ladders, the steps are much more comfortable on your feet.
  • These ladders don't swing under your dock like some conventional ladders do, making it more difficult to climb out.
  • These are retractable dock ladders, making it easy to keep them algae/scum/barnacle free.


A) Not at all! Although the original reason for creating Aqua-Stairs ladders was to accommodate the needs of people with handicaps, disabilities, or limited physical abilities, we find that everyone finds it significantly easier to use a staircase-style ladder as opposed to the standard vertical ladders.



  • The advantages are several: Aqua-Stairs are made with schedule 40, marine grade aluminum pipe, and can easily support 500lbs. Other ladders are made with thin-walled tubing, which flexes; Aqua-Stairs do not flex.
  • To avoid flexing with the thin-walled tube, other ladders make the descent angle steeper, making it more of a climb out instead of walking out.
  • Aqua-Stairs steps / treadplates are 8" deep compared to others, 3-6" depth. This makes for much more comfortable footing.
  • Combined with the gentle angle, these deeper steps allow people to sit on them where it is not possible with the steeper angle, short steps. It is nice to simply relax on the steps.
  • The body of the ladder is fully welded and solid. Others have bolt-on steps that can loosen.
  • Best warranty – most do not offer a warranty.

Q) How Far down is the Last Step on These Aqua-Stairs Dock and Pier Ladders?

A) Since there is 12" between steps:

  • When standing on the last step of a 3-step ladder, you are 3 feet below the mounting surface.
  • When standing on the last step of a 4-step ladder, you are 4 feet below the mounting surface.
  • When standing on the last step of a 5-step ladder, you are 5 feet below the mounting surface.
  • When standing on the last step of a 6-step ladder, you are 6 feet below the mounting surface.
  • When standing on the last step of the special 7-step ladder, you are 5 feet below the mounting surface since the steps on this special are set at 8-1/2" apart instead of 12".
  • When standing on the last step of the special 8-step ladder, you are 6 feet below the mounting surface since the steps on this special are set at 9" apart instead of 12" apart.

Q) What is the correct length of dock ladder to order?

A) Obviously, the more steps you have underwater, the easier it is to step out. You need the last step of these swim ladders to be at least 2 feet below the water to comfortably get out of the water. Therefore, a 4-step ladder works until the distance from the mounting surface to the water surface is no more than 24", a 5-step ladder works until the distance from the mounting surface to the water surface is no more than 36", and so on. Click HERE for a discussion on sizing your dock or dog ladder.

With that stated, as you approach these limits, most customers prefer to go the next size up to make it easier to step onto these ladders. For example, the 4-step ladder will work for most people on a dock that is 22" above the water, but the 5-step ladder makes it easier to use, especially for older, heavier, taller, or people with some physical issues such as knee, hip, or back problems. The only drawback is that the longer the ladder is, the heavier it is to retract from the water for storage.

Q) How much space does the ladder take up on the top of the dock? What are the dimensions?

A) Here is a diagram of the ladder footprint for the 3/4/5/6/7/8 step ladders.

Q) How much weight can the 3/4/5/6/7 step dock ladders handle?

A) When mounted securely and properly to the dock/pier structure, the ladder will easily hold 500 lbs.

Q) How much weight can the pontoon ladders handle?

A) When mounted securely and properly to the dock/pier structure, the pontoon boat ladders will easily hold 250 lbs.

Q) Don't These Swim Ladders Need a Handrail?

A) No. These sloped ladders are at the perfect angle where your hands naturally fit the front rail of the ladders, and the front rails are sized so that even small hands can easily hold on. A separate handrail would also stick out in the water as a potential obstruction to boaters, which may not be authorized by some lake authorities for use on docks or piers.

Q) Are They in Stock? How Quickly Do They Ship?

A) Orders received by 1:00 p.m. EST typically ship out the same day.

Q) How Large Are the Steps or Rungs on the Dock Ladders?

A) Each step is approximately 16" wide and 8" deep. This is much more like a normal set of stairs and completely different than the normal, vertical dock ladder, which is unusually 2-3" deep. This makes it much more comfortable on your feet.

Q) What Angle Do the Dock Steps Have?

A) The boat dock ladders have approximately a 35-degree angle. This allows people and pets to actually stand or sit on these stairs.

Q) Is it Hard to Install?

A) No, it requires only 4 bolts, washers, and locknuts to attach it. Any handy person can install these swimming ladders with the use of common tools and a drill.

Q) The Holes on the Flip-out Brackets Look Too Small – Should I Enlarge Them & Use Larger Bolts?

A) No, the ¼" hole and bolt size is more than sufficient to mount the ladder. Enlarging the holes will weaken the bracket and void the warranty.

Q) What Size Bolts Do You Recommend?

A) A ¼ - 20 (1/4" diameter with a 20-thread count) 7/16" bolts in the necessary length for your mounting structure is all that is needed. These should be either stainless steel or galvanized bolts to resist corrosion. We always bolt the installation of the flip-out brackets with washers and lock nuts to prevent the brackets from coming loose. Lag bolts are not recommended since they can back out.

Q) Is It Heavy?

A) No, at less than 36 lbs. for the 4-step ladder (45 lbs. 6-step), making it considerably lighter than steel and wooden ladders.

Q) Does the Bottom Step Have to Rest on the Bottom of the Lake? For Support?

A) No. There is no need for it to rest on the bottom when properly mounted – it typically is in the open water. You can allow it to rest on the bottom if desired.

Q) Can It Be Permanently Mounted?

A) Yes. You can install it without the rotating brackets, which are included with all dock ladders.

Q) Does It Come with the Flip-out Mounting Brackets?

A) Yes, these brackets allow it to be rotated out of the water for storage. Most customers like to retract the ladder from the water to keep it free from the growth of algae, barnacles, slime, etc., when not in use.

Q) Can It Be Removed?

A) Yes. Some people remove the top two pivot bolts using 7/16" wrenches and store the ladder during winter, leaving the mounting brackets on the dock and taking the ladder itself off the dock.

Q) Can It Be Taken out of the Water for Storage?

A) Yes. Simply rotate it out of the water when not in use. Or, as many people do, remove the pivot bolts and store the ladder offsite for the winter and leave the mounting brackets on the dock.

Q) Should I Leave It in the Water When Not in Use?

A) No, it is recommended to remove it from the water when not in use to prevent algae, barnacles, etc., from growing on it. This type of build-up can make any step slippery, so take it out to keep it clean.

Q) Does It Rust?

A) All metals oxidize; however, unlike other metals, aluminum performs extremely well in water. When used in saltwater applications, it is highly recommended to remove from water when not in use since saltwater corrodes metals more quickly.

Q) What Can It Be Mounted on?

A) Fixed docks, floating docks, swim platforms, piers, seawalls, bulkheads, some houseboats, some boats, or any platform with a 90° angle.

Q) How Do I Get One?

A) Use the Add to Cart button on the Shop Our Products page. Call (770) 993-1460 between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST. Email help@aquastairs.com for more information.

Q) Are Other Options Available?

A) Email help@aquastairs.com or call (770) 993-1460

Q) Is There a Guarantee?

A) Aqua-Stairs carries a limited lifetime warranty.

Q) What is the Return Policy?

A) Items may be returned in original, unused condition, less a 5% inspection/repacking fee. This fee will be waived if the ladder is in a new, resalable condition. Shipping is non-refundable.

Contact us to speak with our team about your order. We proudly offer top products to customers nationwide.