I understand that pontoon boat flooring isn’t an exciting subject to talk about, but we should talk about it because it is important for the longevity and value of your boat. And it’s important to know which flooring will best fit the way you use your boat. For instance, if you like fishing, carpet flooring won’t be the best option.
On the other hand, if you like comfort on your boat, you might want to avoid aluminum flooring and go with something softer on your feet.
Thankfully, there are many different pontoon flooring options available on the market, and today we are going to understand some of the major differences between boat flooring. These differences include price per square foot, the flooring’s look, flooring durability, and more.
With this, let’s bring some insight into which type of boat flooring is best for you. We will compare them side by side and discuss the pros and cons of each flooring individually!
To start let’s look at the most common flooring options. The most common pontoon boat flooring options are:
- Marine Carpet Flooring
- Aluminum Flooring
- Rubber Flooring
- Vinyl Flooring
- PVC Flooring
- Paint Flooring
Let’s look at these flooring options in detail.
1. Marine Carpet Flooring
Carpet for a pontoon has been used for several decades now and has been known to have the same similarities as household carpets. However, advances in technology have created new styles and forms of pontoon carpet materials. Marine carpeting is created for withstanding the elements. It’s more durable and more water-resistant than regular carpet.
This type of material is synthetic and is more resistant to wear and tear as well as water. Due to the evolution of pontoon carpet materials over time, a carpet is still a popular option. There are numerous styles, colors, and textures for marine carpets that create a nice aesthetic on your pontoon.
- All weather backing.
- Edges are unbound.
- 100% Hi UV stabilized polypropylene fiber.
Pros of Marine Carpet Flooring
- The Price – If you are looking for cheap boat flooring, look no further than carpet flooring. This is the most affordable way to make your boat look brand new.
- The Sound – Carpet is the preferred method for fishermen because it has a softer and dampening sound. This is incredibly important when out on the boat for hours trying to catch a fish. Overall, the carpet also is softer, and for guests, it feels more comfortable and is cozier.
- The Traction – The marine carpet offers plenty of traction. You will feel safe on the boat even when your feet are wet. It’s a great choice if you have kids for sure.
- The Comfort – Carpet makes guests feel more at home! With soft flooring, guests never worry about their feet hurting. And, if your pets are on your pontoon, they can lie on the carpet and relax, and you can feel good about your pet’s safety.
Cons of Marine Carpet Flooring
- Hot Metal Rivets – In older boat models, there are metal snaps and rivets that can get incredibly hot. On a barefoot, even with carpet, if you step on it on a scorching day, you might feel it.
- Rotting – Carpet absorbs water, and if not dried for an extended period, it will cause problems. It can lead to mold that rots the plywood underneath, which will be costly to repair. Make sure you dry your carpet properly so your wood does not get damaged.
- Bad Smells and Stains – Can you imagine bringing your guests onto your bad smelling pontoon? One of the worst things about carpet is that it absorbs every liquid and scent that it encounters. So, keep in mind that maintenance on a carpet is the highest than any other flooring material.
I have written a guide about cleaning pontoon carpet, make sure you check it out.
2. Aluminum Marine Boat Flooring
The most common pontoon boat flooring is marine carpet with plywood underneath it. As noted, though, if you do not take care of the marine carpet, it will damage the wood and cost you big bucks.
This is where aluminum flooring comes into place. You do not have to worry about water, mold, and mildew damaging your plywood with aluminum flooring.
Also, aluminum flooring is very light and durable, thus lowering your fuel bill and strengthening the core of your boat. It might even increase your boat speed.
Pros of Aluminum Flooring
- Maintenance and Durability – Aluminum flooring is one of the best durable flooring materials. It will easily outlast just about any other boating surface. Also, maintenance is a joke. There is literally no maintenance required.
- Cost of Aluminum – Although it is not as cheap as the carpet, aluminum is still a relatively inexpensive flooring material. You can rest assured that you will have enough money left over to buy yourself some cool pontoon boat accessories.
- Traction – Although aluminum is not as good as marine carpet or rubber flooring, it offers good traction. You can be confident that you will not slip and fall on it, although that can change. If you keep your boat in the water over the winter, ice may form on top.
Cons of Aluminum Flooring
- The Noise – One of the major issues that I have with aluminum is the noise. I wouldn’t say I like all the heavy sounding footsteps when I walk on top of it. Walking barefoot or wearing flip-flops may solve that problem, though.
- The Appearance – Personally, I’m not too fond of the look of it. In fact, I think it isn’t pleasant. I know some manufacturers try to make it look like wood, but it just doesn’t work for me.
3. Rubber Boat Flooring
Rubber flooring is known as the least attractive pontoon flooring option. However, rubber pontoon flooring easily stands the test of time and can practically stand any abuse.
Rubber flooring is simple to install. It’s a solid sheet of flooring that is rolled on to your pontoon. With that said, this may be the best flooring option for fishermen or people that plan to use their pontoon boat for more industrial work.
- Great aesthetic appeal with its modern and sleek surface and now available in earth tone colors
- Protect floors and create a water-proof floor with the combined resilience of SBR and PVC rubber
- This coin-floor surface textures makes for a non-slip floor and ideal for use in any slippery environment
Pros of Rubber Flooring
- Slip Resistant – Most people are concerned with falling when they get on the boat. They are thinking of their wet feet and boat rocking with the waves. However, rubber flooring is extremely slip-resistant. You can feel comfortable knowing that you are not going to fall if your feet are wet.
- Cost of Rubber Flooring – Rubber flooring is not going to break your bank. Compared to some other flooring types, you might even call it cheap.
- The Comfort – When it comes to comfort, rubber is right up there with the best. Rubber contains natural anti-fatigue properties, so it only makes sense to be used as a surface to walk on.
Cons of Rubber Flooring
- Not UV Resistant – Unlike some other materials, rubber flooring is not UV resistant. You can bet your house that after a few years of use, the flooring color will fade away. The best way to fight this is to get yourself UV resistant boat cover.
- Rubber Gets Hot – I’m sure it’s common knowledge that rubber attracts heat. Unless you have a long bimini top or a boat umbrella, make sure you wear your shoes.
4. Vinyl Boat Flooring
Vinyl flooring is known as one of the most common pontoon flooring options. There is a common misconception that pontoon vinyl flooring is the same as household vinyl flooring.
Vinyl has come a long way since the old days! Vinyl flooring now offers easier maintenance than ever before, non-slip flooring options, and is more durable.
It not only looks nice, but marine vinyl flooring materials are slip-resistant and can withstand weather elements.
- The MariDeck product is the attractive, durable, time-tested vinyl alternative to traditional high maintenance marine carpet.
- MariDeck vinyl is embossed with a slip resistant textured surface.
- It can be installed on wood, aluminum or fiberglass surfaces.
Pros of Vinyl Flooring
- Maintenance and Durability – Vinyl flooring is easy to clean, maintain, and can practically be used in every area of your pontoon boat. It performs well regardless of the foot traffic and weather conditions. Since vinyl is glued heavily to the boat’s frame, it’s known to create a waterproof seal for safer cleaning. All you have to do is use a bit of Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner and water to make it squeaky clean. You can even use a pressure washer. However, if you use a pressure washer before boat winterization, make sure you let it dry completely. Otherwise, you risk the floor warping or becoming moldy.
- The Sound – Even though it might not look soft, vinyl can be tranquil. All you have to do is add padding under the vinyl to create a sound barrier between the pontoon’s frame and the vinyl. You can also reduce the sound by wearing the right shoes, and I’ve written about the best shoes for boating if you want to know more about it.
- UV Resistant – Most vinyl floors are now UV stabilized, unlike marine carpet or rubber flooring. If you have carpet, take notice of the different color areas, which will appear more saturated. After a while, the carpet areas that are more exposed begin to fade. With vinyl flooring, you do not have to worry about this effect.
- Warranty – Vinyl companies are becoming more secure with the longevity of their products. Unlike carpet, which can become damaged after long periods of moisture, vinyl is known to last much longer. That confidence is reflected in companies offering longer warranties for vinyl flooring to attract customers.
Cons of Vinyl Flooring
- The Price – Vinyl flooring is the preferred option if you want an appealing pontoon boat and can spend the money to enhance the flooring. Vinyl flooring is one of the more expensive options due to the many different styles, the price per square foot, and the amount you need.
- Vinyl Gets Hot – Well, that’s partially true. If we are talking about old vinyl, then yes, it will get hot, and you will need shoes to walk on it. But there is a solution. It’s called Marine SeaGrass.
Marine SeaGrass is different because it’s light in color, and it will not get hot if you chose the right option. The drawback is the price, of course, so choose wisely.
5. PVC Flooring
PVC pontoon boat flooring or Polyvinyl Chloride floor tiles are not typically what you see on the boats; it’s more used in garages and storage areas. But you can use them on the boat since they are very durable and user-friendly. As you will see, they offer some options that no other flooring on the list does.
Pros of PVC Flooring
- Maintenance and Durability – PVC flooring is a great option if you are looking for easy maintenance and longevity. Since they are built for garages, you know they are tough enough to take a beating. They are also waterproof, so if you glue them well to your deck, you won’t experience any desk problems down the line. Also, you can clean it in any way you want.
- Usability and Installation – What separates PVC flooring from other flooring options is how you can use them. PVC flooring is tiles that can be joined together, just like a puzzle. So, you don’t really need to glue them down to the deck. If you do not glue them, you can take them off and install them somewhere else.
- Color Options – Typically, boat flooring comes in a limited amount of color options. That is not the case with PVC flooring. You can get almost any color your heart desires and design your deck any way you want.
Cons of PVC Flooring
- The Price – Like many other flooring options, PVC flooring can get pricey. But if you have a smaller size boat, it might not be as bad.
- Not UV Resistant – Just like rubber flooring, PVC is not UV resistant. Long Sun exposure is sure to make PVC flooring fade out and look old and ugly. If you are not planning to use boat cover, make sure you pick different flooring options.
6. Marine Paint Flooring
The last boating option I will mention is paint flooring. Paint flooring has been used for a very long time, and it will be used for years to come. It is very cheap, and all that is required is some paint, a brush, and wood to paint on.
- Rubberized non-skid
- UV/chemical resistant/USA made
- Water based-non hazardous
Pros of Paint Flooring
- The Price – The cheapest option of all in paint flooring. You can buy a gallon of paint, paint your entire deck, and still have enough paint to do it a few more times. And all this is doing to cost you under $100, depending on the quality.
- Maintenance and Durability – This is a marine-grade paint, so it is waterproof. It will last you a long time, and when it wears off, you grab a roller and pain it again.
Cons of Paint Flooring
- The Appearance – Depending on what your deck looks like, this can be both good and bad. I will add it to the cons section because I think other flooring materials look better.
- Installation – As you know, paint does not stick well to the surface if the surface is not prepared correctly. What this means is that you have to sand down the deck completely. Once you do that, you have to remove all the dust created by sanding. Only then can you start to paint.
Which Boat Flooring Options are Best
If you can cash out a bit more for vinyl flooring, it’s the recommended option. Especially considering the maintenance cost of boat carpet, you might be saving more money in the long run.
However, if you see yourself taking care of your pontoon as fanatically as I do, marine carpet is a great option too. Depending on the type of carpet, style, and color, it can be as equally pricey as vinyl flooring.
If you do not really know what you want right now, go with PVC flooring. Once you figure out what you want, you can easily take PVC off and replace it with something else.
Investing in quality pontoon boat flooring is important. You want to ensure your boat is well protected and well maintained against water exposure and potentially harsh weather conditions.
Taking the cheapest routes when it comes to your boat’s flooring material can jeopardize the quality of your boat as well as the safety of you and your passengers. Therefore, I suggest considering all flooring materials and looking at which fits your needs best.
And don’t forget to add additional protection to your boat by using quality boat covers when you do not use your pontoon.