How To Keep Pontoon Boats Looking New (9 Ways)

Pontoon boats have a wide range of uses for boaters. They can be used for comfortable day trips, personal or family leisure, sports, or fishing. No matter how you use it, it’s important to keep your pontoon boat well maintained so it’s always sparkling and preserves the look of when you first bought it.

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Here are some tips on how to keep pontoon boats looking new:

  1. Protect your pontoon boat from sunlight exposure.
  2. Conduct a regular check-up of your entire pontoon boat.
  3. Inspect the engine of your pontoon boat regularly.
  4. Protect your boat from pest infestation and fungi growth.
  5. Carefully clean the fiberglass and aluminum components.
  6. Care for your boat, especially after saltwater trips.
  7. Cover your pontoon boat whenever it’s not in use.
  8. Take care of damages to your hull.
  9. Prepare your pontoon boat for the winter.

In this article, I’ll explain the necessary and proper ways to keep your pontoon boat looking new, and help with some ways you can make an older pontoon look new agan. Keep reading to find out how to maintain your pontoon boat so it looks as good as the day you bought it.

how to keep pontoons looking new

1. Protect Your Pontoon Boat From Sunlight Exposure

Watching a boat with an attractive body ride the waves is an immense pleasure. It’s no wonder you want your pontoon boat to be just like that. However, exposure to sunlight damages the look of the exterior of your boat.

A boat has a layer of resin known as its gel coat. The gel coat is regarded as its outer skin, and it protects the layers of fiberglass under it from any moisture. The numerous boat colors are obtained from the pigmentation of their gel coat.

However, exposure to sunlight can damage your boat’s gel coat. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also break down the pigmentation of a boat’s gel coat, causing it to lose its bright color and fade, leaving your boat with only a muted version of its former color.

Sunlight exposure does not affect only the exterior of your boat, though. Its interior can be damaged, too—primarily through discoloration of your boat’s upholstery. 

Sunlight produces chemical reactions in vinyl and fabric colors, causing them to fade. The fading rate will vary depending on the fabric chosen for your upholstery, vinyl, leather, or suede. Still, all will ultimately lose their vibrancy with continuous exposure to the sun. 

If you are using vinyl or leather upholstery, you have to be extra careful because the sun’s heat and UV rays can dry the material, causing it to harden and fracture. Nothing is more depressing than witnessing your once vivid upholstery become faded, damaged, or drab.

2. Conduct a Regular Check-Up of Your Entire Pontoon Boat

The appearance of your pontoon boat tells the story of how well you have been maintaining it. You have to regularly check the interior and exterior of your pontoon boat to keep it looking new. Here are a few tips for doing this:

Check Your Pontoon Boat Exterior

The exterior of your boat is the most visible, so you should give it the special attention it deserves. At the start of each sailing season, inspect the exterior of your pontoon boat for any damage while it has not been in use. 

Also, at the end of each day out on the water, you should inspect the exterior of your boat, especially if you accidentally hit a rock or dock while cruising. You should check for cracks, holes, or leaks that could damage the appearance of your pontoon boat and make your boat begin to take on water, increasing fuel consumption and straining the engine.

Check Your Pontoon Boat Interior

You should conduct a thorough check-up of the interior of your pontoon boat to maintain it, especially at the beginning of the boating season. Carefully inspect the furniture and floors and make repairs where necessary.

Wash the furniture and floors at least twice a year. Also, clean the upholstery with soap and water, remove stains from other furniture and vacuum the floor. 

After each outing, you should also dry out your furniture with a towel. After that, leave it to dry before covering it up.

3. Inspect the Engine of Your Pontoon Boat Regularly

Ensure you conduct a thorough check-up of your pontoon boat at the start of every boating season. However, good maintenance of your pontoon boat needs to go beyond that.

Always check the status of your boat’s engine and body before every trip out on the water. You should also check the oil and fuel levels and top them up if necessary. Remember to change your fuel filter at the start of each sailing season.

Check on your boat’s spark plug regularly. Many experts recommend that you inspect your boats’ spark plug every 100 hours and change it every 300 hours.

Your battery is also essential, and ensure you check up your battery at the start of each sailing season to maintain it and extend its life span. An average pontoon boat battery can use 20 hours when fully charged, so you be ready to charge your boat’s battery as soon as it is low. Alternatively, you can buy a simple battery tester to ensure your boat’s charge level.

how to make pontoons look new

4. Protect Your Boat From Pest Infestation and Fungi Growth

The end of a sailing season is often met with sighs by boaters who wish they could continue with their boating trips. However, this period signifies the start of a new and comfortable habitat for onboard pests.

Therefore, you should prepare to stop pests from turning your pontoon boat into their winter accommodation at the end of each boating season. You may even need to apply pesticides to some parts of your boat.

I’d also advise you to inspect your boat for pests at the beginning of each sailing season. Ensure you check the furniture for signs of pest damage and make repairs where necessary.

Fungi such as mold and mildew grow quickly and can also damage the appearance of your boat. This growth looks and smells terrible, is unhealthy for you and other passengers in your boat, and reduces the value of your boat.

Fortunately, the solution to this is simple. According to experts, fungi need moisture to survive. Therefore, I recommend leaving your pontoon boat to dry thoroughly after every trip on the water.

5. Clean the Pontoon’s Fiberglass and Aluminum Components

You have to clean your pontoon boat regularly to maintain its appearance, and washing your boat at the beginning of every boating season will do wonders for its hull. I’d also advise you to wash or spray off your boat after every outing.

However, this might not be practicable. Nevertheless, you should wash it at least once every two to four weeks, depending on how often it is used.

The body of a boat is created with either of two materials—fiberglass or aluminum. These materials have different requirements, and you need to clean them differently.

Fiberglass Pontoon Boats

Fiberglass boats are easy to wash, and soap and water are usually sufficient to wash them thoroughly. However, you cannot clean some stains using ordinary soap. These stains include organic taints such as bird droppings or fungi growth and mineral stains such as rust.

These stains require special cleaning agents to wash them off thoroughly.

Aluminum Pontoon Boats

Aluminum boats are very different and cannot be washed with only soap and water. Washing aluminum boats with only soap and water will eliminate the dirt and debris on the boat’s surface but will not do anything to maintain its sheen. Over time, the aluminum body will begin to lose its luster and eventually become dull and weathered.

To prevent this, you should get a dedicated aluminum cleaning agent. This can brighten and polish the aluminum surface and protect its shine. Star Brite Aluminum Cleaner & Restorer (available on Amazon.com) is a wonderful choice for this. It’s a special formula created specifically with pontoon boats in mind and will restore the sheen to most dull aluminum surfaces.

For better illustration, check out this video showing how to polish and brighten an aluminum pontoon boat:

6. Care for Your Pontoon Boat, Especially After Saltwater Trips

The difference between freshwater and saltwater goes further than the salt content for boaters. The main difference is that freshwater poses little risk to your boat, and saltwater can damage it. A saltwater trip will leave salt crystals on the body of your boat, causing abrasions on it.

Saltwater also causes and speeds up rusting, especially in aluminum pontoon boats. Ensure you clean your pontoon boat after every saltwater trip with fresh water to avoid this problem. Experts also recommend that you flush your boat’s engine with fresh water.

Freshwater flushes are extremely important if you want to maintain the integrity of your engine. As bad as saltwater is for your boat’s exterior, it’s even worse for its engines. The dissolved ions in saltwater can wreak havoc in the engines, leaching zinc through oxidation reactions and reacting with the brass and copper present.

Make sure you clean the interior of your boat, as saltwater can easily damage your furniture. Remember to also clean off all salt residue deposits from the bottom of your boat.

7. Cover Your Pontoon Boat Whenever It’s Not in Use

Your pontoon boat is as susceptible to damage as any other boat. Leaving your ship uncovered will cause your boat to fade and dull your pontoon boat’s sharp color and texture. Therefore, you should keep it covered or sheltered to prevent damage.

Leaving your boat open exposes it to debris and pests and damages your boat’s furniture. You should leave your boat to dry after each trip and be sure to cover it up promptly.

Ideally, your boat should be sheltered in a cool, dry place ahead of the next outing. It’s also best to cover your boat at the end of the sailing season to keep it in good condition for the next sailing season.

8. Take Care of Damage to Your Pontoon’s Hull

Your boat’s hull is the outermost part of your boat. Therefore, its appearance will determine how new your pontoon boat looks. Hull damages are unavoidable and are usually due to water pressure, accidents, or other causes.

Inspect your hull after every sailing trip, and apply sealants and adhesives if necessary. Keep in mind, however, that these sealants will give your boat a patched-up and aged appearance over time. If this is something you’d like to avoid, I’d advise you to get a sealant and adhesive remover to remove them altogether and give your pontoon boat a newer look.

After that, you’ll need to go to a qualified repair facility for repairs that don’t detract from the look of your boat.

9. Prepare Your Pontoon Boat for the Winter Season

The sailing season is an excellent period for boaters, but winter ends it. You must prepare your boat for the winter adequately.

Here are some tips for you to winterize your pontoon boat:

  • Take your boat out of the water. You could lift it well above the water level or get a boat trailer to pull it out.
  • Flush the engine of your boat. Make sure after flushing your engine you blow it out and dry it well, as any water left will freeze during winter and damage the engine.
  • Wash the interior and exterior of the boat carefully. Inspect the hull and deck as well, and make repairs where necessary.
  • Use anti-freeze during particularly cold winters. This helps to protect your boat from corrosion and scale build-up. While it isn’t always explicitly necessary to use anti-freeze, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The weather can be unpredictable sometimes, and if the temperature drops low enough, your engines could pay the price. 

How To Keep Pontoon Boats Looking New – Summary

Know you know how to keep pontoons looking new, and if your pontoon is looking its age, then you’ve also learned a bit about how to make pontoons look new again.

Pontoon boats have become the choice of many boaters due to their multipurpose nature. They serve as good family, fishing, and sports boats. Pontoon boats are also easy to maintain and have a long life span –especially when well-maintained– so it would behoove you to take good care of its appearance. 

However, these boats still require enough work that it has to be a conscious effort. Thankfully, most of the steps in this guide will at least point you in the right direction to keep your boat looking as new as possible.

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