Your Complete Guide to Redecking a Pontoon Boat

Pontoon boats provide a unique sort of experience on the water, especially when it comes to modern vessels. With all kinds of customization options, you can have a lounge ready to hit your favorite waterfront. But even the most well-maintained vessels will need repairs at some point, and the deck of your pontoon boat is one area you don't want to ignore.

Whether it's your carpet that's looking a bit grungy or you've started to notice stability issues, redecking your pontoon may be the best bet to extending a personal watercraft's lifespan. Naturally, you can hire a professional to handle the work for you, or you can roll up your sleeves and take it on as a DIY project. Either way, we'll discuss what you need, overall costs, and other factors to consider along the way!

What You'll Need

If you're going to take the plunge and do the redecking work for your pontoon or outboard motor vessel on your own, then you're going to need several tools on hand to get the job done. Here are some of the essential pieces of equipment for a DIY redecking project:

  • Circular saw
  • Electrical tape
  • Hammer, screwdrivers, and other hand tools
  • Multitool
  • Paint roller
  • Power drill
  • Pry bar
  • River gun
  • Socket set
  • Voltmeter
  • Wire strippers
  • Wrenches

Aside from having the tools you'll need on hand, you're also going to need new decking to replace the old one. We cover some of your top pontoon deck material choices further down, along with their pros and cons. You'll want to ensure that you are choosing a new deck that's suitable for pontoon use and can overall stand up to being on the water. The same applies to your carpet of choice as well.

With everything assembled, it's time to get to work on the redecking process. The significant steps will include:

  • Moving your pontoon boat onto dry land
  • Removing the seating, top, and rails
  • Disconnecting the console and label the electric wires
  • Removing the steering cable
  • Removing old flooring (carpeting first, if applicable)
  • Rewiring the boat
  • Putting in the new deck
  • Laying out new carpet (if putting one down)
  • Reinstalling all extra parts, including seating, rails, etc.
  • Determining Materials

When redecking your pontoon, you're going to have to consider the materials you want to use. Sticking with what you boat had before is okay, but maybe you need to work around your budget, or you want an upgrade. Here are the details on the most common pontoon decking choices:

Aluminum

Aluminum materials are lightweight and easy to install. They also don't require a lot of maintenance to stay in top shape, and they're also rust and stain-resistant. However, aluminum can also be costly as a deck choice, as you may need to custom order one.

Composite boards

Made from blends of plastic, wood, and other materials, composite boards are easy to work with, lightweight, don't need a lot of maintenance, and won't warp over time. On the downside, though, you will need to rig up more underneath support, there's a chance of mold or peeling, and it runs rather expensive

Marine-grade plywood

Made from high quality plywood and kept together with waterproof glue, this material can stand up to higher levels of humidity without deteriorating. It's also strong while remaining lightweight. You will need to apply a sealer for it to become water-resistant, though, which can add some expenses to your redecking project.

Treated plywood

Less costly than marine-grade plywood, this option has gone through treatment to prevent water damage, making it resistant to rot, algae, insects, and other issues. All that has made it a popular option for years, and you won't have any durability issues. However, the chemicals used to treat it require protective equipment when in use, and you must follow state and federal regulations when disposing of it, which can be a hassle.

Vinyl boards

Looking like wood without actually being wood, vinyl planks are waterproof, durable, and skid-resistant, which gives you an aesthetic look without worrying about the maintenance hassle. This convenience does come at a cost, though, so expect to pay more for this material.

There is no one perfect option when it comes to picking out which material to use for redecking; you need to pick what works best for your boat's use and budget. If you plan to resell, this choice can also impact your boat's value. These listed options are all popular and in everyday use, so you should have little issue finding what you want once you've decided.

Pontoon Carpeting

If you're interested in adding a little extra bit of comfort to your pontoon, carpeting can make for an excellent addition on top of your deck material. The key is to understand what types of carpet are suitable for use on a boat. No matter what, you'll need to select a product that is marine-grade and has UV protection. Regular house carpet won't be able to handle the weather and exposure to water.

Thankfully, there's no shortage of potential options when it comes to finding marine-grade carpeting. You'll have to operate within the common factors of shopping: the design; how it connects to your pontoon deck; the area you need to cover; and how much you have to spend on it.

Most marine carpet retailers will also provide sample swatches, allowing you to see if the color and design is what you expected and if it matches with the rest of your pontoon décor. These resources are invaluable, especially when shopping online!

Price

The cost of redecking a pontoon boat will depend on several factors:

  • The materials you use
  • The size of your boat
  • If you also install carpet
  • Any other repairs you may need or parts you want to replace

Smaller pontoons with cheaper floor materials can take around five-hundred dollars to replace, though your cost will likely be closer to one-thousand. For decks with more area and more expensive materials, you can quickly head into higher territory. You can get a rough idea of your redecking costs by measuring out your space and calculating materials costs.

While potentially pricey, you'll save on labor by doing the work yourself, and it can be less expensive than purchasing a new power boat.

Tips, Tricks, and Safety Concerns

Your safety is essential when redecking your pontoon. Consider the following:

Labeling Wiring

It's inevitable; once you start taking apart your deck, you're going to encounter the wires that are stored down below, especially if your pontoon has various electronic accommodations on board. To save yourself the trouble of not knowing what goes where, take pictures as you go to see what connects to what, and consider keeping a roll of masking tape around to label cords as you go along.

Naturally, the more electronics you have, the more wires you'll see, so keep close track of everything as you go along. You don't want to wire something incorrectly and have to tear up all your hard work!

Handling Wiring Safely

Additionally, when handling wiring, you want first to disconnect the battery. Though you'll be working on taking apart your boat, the power source won't know the difference, and you don't want to shock yourself accidentally. Always pay attention to the power, and wear protective gear for extra safety.

Carpet Installation Tips

We've talked about some of your marine carpeting options, but equally crucial to picking out material that will last is in your carpet glue. For the best results and durability, you'll need marine-grade glue. This product is specially made for connecting pontoon carpets to the deck, so it will adequately adhere to the rubber on the back of the rug, which uses weather-resistant materials.

Aside from making sure you have a product that's appropriate for your needs, you want to apply it liberally and quickly. Without enough glue, some parts of your carpet will be less secure than others, and waiting too long to lay down your materials risks the same thing. With a carpet roller, you can also help keep everything neat and even as you layout the carpet.