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What Are the Different Types of Pontoon Decking?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Pontoon decking is the material that is used to span the pontoons on a pontoon boat. The passengers and pilot of a pontoon boat ride upon the pontoon decking, which can be manufactured from many different types of material. From wood and alloys to composite materials, the pontoon decking is often covered with a simulated grass carpet as well as a variety of other carpet materials. The decking of a pontoon not only provides a place to affix the various seats and controls, it also provides structural rigidity to the vessel and is an intricate component of the vessel's makeup.

The pontoon boat provides a platform for many water-goers to travel and spend leisure time on. Consisting of two long aluminum or composite pontoons sitting on either side of the craft, the decking attached to the floor above the pontoons must be strong and durable. Many pontoons use an aluminum sub-frame covered with a marine grade plywood as the decking. It is very typical for a type of faux-grass carpeting, similar to the type used on sporting fields, to cover the plywood. Other types and styles of indoor/outdoor carpeting are also used to cover the pontoon decking.

Some high-end pontoons use aluminum decking on the boat. Whether it be aluminum sheeting or planking, this type of pontoon decking is very durable and strong. Due to the slick nature of the aluminum decking, it is often covered with a non-slip tape or spray-on covering to aid passengers in their mobility while not promoting slipping. The reflective nature of the aluminum finish can also promote suntanning from the reflection of the sun off of the decking. For this reason, most aluminum decking is also covered with a carpet that will absorb the sunlight while not attracting it, thus keeping passengers cool.

Some composite boats also use composite or a wood and composite mixture as decking materials. The composite decking is a strong alternative to solid wood decking and is also much lighter. A disadvantage in a composite deck is that it can become weakened over time, requiring a complete refurbishing of the decking. It is important that only a marine-grade plywood be used when refurbishing a soft deck due to its ability to survive in the damp and wet conditions that pontoon decking is subjected to. Stainless steel screws and fasteners should also be used in any replacement or repair to avoid failure due to rusting.

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Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On Dec 02, 2011

My sister is addicted to tanning. She and her husband actually bought a pontoon boat with aluminum decking because it would help them tan.

The reflective material hurts my eyes. I always remember to bring shades when I go out on her boat, and I cover myself in sunscreen.

The decking also heats up to extreme temperatures in the summer sun. I learned the hard way to always leave my flip-flops on my feet while on her pontoon boat.

By Oceana — On Dec 02, 2011

@OeKc05 – My uncle's pontoon boat is covered in a rough light turquoise carpet, and it stays a comfortable temperature, even in the hot sun. It is just one of many shades he had to pick from when he was having his boat custom made.

He still had some swatches tucked away on the boat. I remember seeing a cream color, so you are in luck.

Just know that you don't have to be stuck with a neutral color. Pastel colors are much more attractive, and they stay nice and cool.

By OeKc05 — On Dec 02, 2011

I have been considering buying a used pontoon and having the deck rebuilt. One thing I am concerned about is the carpet to cover it with.

The only pontoon boat decks I have ever seen have had a deep green carpet. I will be using my boat in very hot summer conditions, and I don't want a dark color, because it will absorb heat and burn the passengers feet.

Are pontoon boat decking carpets available in any lighter colors, or are we boat owners stuck with sporty green? I think a beige would be ideal, because it wouldn't be as easily stained as white, but it would be light enough to stay cool.

By cloudel — On Dec 01, 2011

I had no idea that marine-grade plywood even existed! I naturally assumed that a pontoon would not be made from any sort of wood because of its tendency to rot.

If I were having a pontoon boat made, I would go for the aluminum decking. I just don't think I could get past my fear of wet wood rotting and causing the deck to collapse.

I definitely would not go for the composite decking. If I paid a hefty price for a boat, I would not want to be shelling out more money to have the deck remodeled several times.

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