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Tips for Restoring Pontoons

An old boater's joke is that a boat is a hole in the water to throw money into. In today's economic conditions, few have the money to throw away and many boaters are looking to make every dollar count. While new pontoon boats can run upwards of $20,000+, restoring an old pontoon boat can be a fraction of that price and cost as little as 10% percent of the new price. In most cases, not even the most discerning eye can tell the difference between an expertly restored pontoon boat compared to a new one, and most folks are pleased to put $15,000 or more back in their pocketbooks.

For all the fun times they offer, pontoon boats have relatively simple designs and nearly anyone can restore a used pontoon boat to pristine condition. Most components of a pontoon boat can be replaced by amateur restorers with tools that are commonly found in household tool boxes. If you have some carpentry skills, a complete restoration might only require a weekend or two. Unless doing some special customizations, you'll probably only need a socket set, electric drill, carpet scraper and a screwdriver or two. The materials used in pontoon boats can be acquired on our website . Specialty pontoon boat accessories, such as pontoon seats, accessories, Bimini tops, ladders, carpet, tables and the like can be conveniently ordered from our online store and delivered to your doorstep. You can easily install these pontoon boat accessories on your own, again, using simple household tools.

Conduct a careful survey of what might need to be repaired or replaced on your pontoon boat. You may need to only make minor modifications, but you may, depending on the condition of the pontoon boat in question, have to tear it down to its pontoons and start from scratch. Below is a brief summary of possible steps in pontoon boat restoration:

•  Pontoons . Inspect each of the pontoons for holes or signs of wear. Pay special attention to any spots of rust and be aware that unscrupulous former owners might try to hide imperfections in the pontoons with paint. If you spot a problem with your pontoons, they will need to be welded.

•  Deck . The deck is the foundation of a pontoon boat and must be in excellent condition if you hope to have a long lifespan for your pontoon boat. Walk around the deck and check for sponginess that could be a sign of rot. Get under the pontoon boat with a flashlight and hunt for any indication that the wood foundation is weak. Even if you don't see any visual signs of rot, you may want to pull up the carpet to confirm or invalidate the presence of rot. If so, you'll have to tear down the pontoon boat in its entirety. To do so, you'll need to tear off aluminum fascia and unscrew or cut off the bolts that hold the deck to the aluminum cross channels. If the deck is questionable, tear it out and replace it with CCA-treated plywood . This material is a chemically-treated wood that excels in weathering harsh marine conditions and has an incredibly long lifespan.

•  Carpeting . To remove the old carpeting, use a sharp knife and cut the carpet in strips at the deck joints and pull the strips up by hand. There's a good chance that some bits of carpet backing or other residue will be left over and you don't want lumps in your new carpet, so use a sharp instrument and scrape off as much of this stuff as possible. Some bits might stubbornly refuse to come off with a knife, so you may want to use a heat gun and a scraper to remove the residue. In extreme cases, you might have to sand off the residue with sandpaper or even a belt sander. New pontoon carpeting should be cut to size and put down with a liberal amount of marine glue. An efficient way to install the carpeting is to lay the carpet down all at once, fold one half of the carpet back, and apply the glue while paying special attention to coat the edges. Then, lay the glued half down and use a roller to smooth out any air bubbles. Repeat this process on the second half of the carpet. The glue should dry in an hour or so.

•  Furniture . If the seats or other pontoon furniture is framed with wood, check (especially along the bottom edges of the furniture) to make sure that the material is in good condition and rot-free. If you discover any hint of rot, dispose of them and purchase replacements. You'll also want to inspect the pontoon seats for wear, fading, rips, or holes. If you find damage, you'll have to decide if you want to reupholster, repair, or replace the pontoon seats or furniture. In many cases, it is actually more economical to replace the seats rather than reupholster them. If you replace your pontoon seats, be sure to accurately measure your pontoon boat using the measurement guidelines provided on this website. You might think of changing your pontoon furniture the same as you would to rearrange a living room in order to achieve maximum comfort. Get creative! Imagine different configurations of seats and browse through the product lines available on our comprehensive website.

•  Console . Like other pontoon furniture, rot and moisture can weaken the base of the console. If this occurs, it will need to be replaced by unscrewing the console bolts from the deck, unhooking any electrical wires and steering cables, and adding a new (we recommend plastic) replacement console.

•  The Little Things . Details matter in pontoon boat restoration. Pay attention to the finer aspects of your pontoon boat's construction, such as possible corrosion on nuts, bolts, and other fasteners. Any hardware or accessories that use zinc alloys are likely to have some unsightly signs of corrosion. These deteriorating metals should be replaced with stainless steel accessories and hardware available on our online store, which are durable, long-lasting, and resistant to corrosion.

•  Customization . Spend some time as you consider what extra accessories you might want to add to customize your pontoon boat to suit your unique tastes. Consider adding a Bimini top, more table space, ladders, or a host of other specialty accessories featured in our online store to tailor your pontoon boat to your personal boating lifestyle.