FAQs about our dock ladders

Are you interested in learning more about Aqua-Stairs? Many of your inquiries about maritime ladders will be answered in our FAQ.



  • When compared to vertical, short rung ladders, getting on these stair step built ladders with wide/deep footing is substantially easier at any age.
  • Unlike straight up and down ladders, the easy angle of the Aqua-Stairs ladders allows many people who can't climb a ladder but can manage stairs to get back into the water. These ladders are used by a wide range of people, from the elderly (as young as 93) to tiny toddlers, because their staircase design makes it simple to enter and exit the water.
  • Aqua-Stairs' staircase design has also allowed many persons with various disabilities to enjoy the water once more. Many people have fondly dubbed it an geriatic ladder and have suggested that we promote it more as a ladder for the elderly or senior persons. Others have claimed it to be an outstanding ladder for handicapped people.
  • From Chihuahuas to St. Bernards, most dogs adore them!
  • You only need one ladder for both people and pets.
  • You can sit or stand on the Aqua-Stairs in the water, hands-free, instead of treading water.
  • It helps boarding kayaks, canoes, jet skis, paddleboards, and other watercraft easier.
  • It gives me peace of mind when I have people on the dock who don't know how to swim.
  • The steps are substantially larger than comparable ladders and are much comfier on your feet.
  • Because these ladders do not swing beneath your dock like some traditional ladders, Aqua-Stairs ladders are rigid and stay securely in place allowing people to easily get out of the water.
  • Aqua-Stairs also have a gentle slope to the water than competitor’s ladders. Their steep descent makes climbing out more challenging.
  • These are retractable dock ladders, making it simple to keep them clean of algae, scum, and barnacles.



  • The benefits are numerous: Aqua-Stairs are composed of schedule 40 marine-grade aluminum pipe and can easily hold 500 pounds. Other ladders have thin-walled tubing or C channel that flexes, but Aqua-Stairs do not.
  • Aqua-Stairs steps are fully welded in. Some other ladders use steps that are bolted on which can come loose over time and can make their ladder flex under loads.
  • Compared to Aqua-Stairs’ heavy duty parallel pipes, other ladders use thin walled tubing or channel which flexes and is incapable of supporting a gentle slope; therefore, their angle of descent is steeper making it more of a climb out as opposed to walking out.
  • The Aqua-Stairs stairs/treadplates are 8" deep, while others are only 3-6" deep. This provides considerably more secure footing. Combined with the soft slope, these more profound steps allow individuals to sit on them, which is not permitted with the steeper angle, small stairs. It's lovely to sit on the steps and rest.
  • 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 ladder's body is strong and completely welded. Others have steps that are bolted on and 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 the steps are 12" apart:

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

Q) What is the correct length 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.

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 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 500lbs.

Q) How much weight can the pontoon ladders handle?

A) Pontoon boat ladders can easily support 250 pounds when mounted securely to the boat.

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

A) No. These sloped ladders are at the perfect angle where your hands naturally fit to 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 only takes four bolts, washers, and locknuts to secure it. Any handy person with essential tools and a drill can install these swimming ladders.

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 are 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) We recommend ¼ - 20 (1/4" diameter with a 20-thread count) bolts in the length needed for your mounting structure. To resist corrosion, these bolts should be made of stainless steel or galvanized bolts. To keep the flip-out brackets from coming loose, we always bolt them down with washers and locknuts. Lag bolts should not be used because they can back out.  See the installation document (pdf file) at the bottom of each product page for more information.

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 with 7/16" wrenches and store the ladder over the winter, leaving the mounting brackets on the dock but removing the ladder itself.  Some people replace the ¼” pivot bolts with quick disconnect pins from their local hardware store to make removal even easier.

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) On the Shop Our Products page, click the Add to Cart button. Call (770) 993-1460 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST. For more information, don't hesitate to get in touch with help@aquastairs.com.

Q) Are Other Options Available?

A) Call (770) 993-1460 or send an email to help@aquastairs.com.

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 their original, unused condition for a 5% inspection/repacking fee. This fee will be waived if the ladder is in a new, resalable condition. Shipping costs are non-refundable.

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