Best Pontoon Enclosure Types In 2019

pontoon boat enclosure

What is a pontoon enclosure top you wonder?

A pontoon boat enclosure is an upgrade that boaters can purchase for their boat. It adds an extra level of protection from weather elements and it can also help protect your privacy if you don’t want the rest of the world to be in your business.

A pontoon enclosure top was one of the first upgrades I purchased for my boat. I did not want to worry about whether it will rain or snow when we are on the water. I wanted my wife and daughter to be safe and dry in case of sudden weather change that New England area is known for.

But there are so many different options when it comes to pontoon enclosure so how do you decide on which you should buy for your boat?

To help guide you in the right direction I have created this pontoon enclosure review guide. I hope that after reading this guide you will have a clearer understanding of which enclosures are better for the situations that you are likely to encounter where you are boating.

Benefits of Pontoon Enclosure

Great Sun Protection

While being in the middle of a wide open lake on a pontoon boat is exciting, it’s important to take protective measures, especially for your skin. On the water, especially during the summer, the sun’s rays can do some real damage to your skin quickly. Just using the sunscreen will not be enough, so make sure you have a place where you can hide from the sun from time to time.

These upgrades offer shade not only for your party but also for important digital devices, which can also get damaged from the sun. Additionally, an enclosure can help prolong the life of your entire boat due to preventing direct sunlight on the vinyl or polymers in the protectant.

Rain Protection

One great benefit of purchasing a pontoon boat enclosure top is that it can protect the interior of your pontoon and your party from getting wet during a storm.

Now that I have my enclosure, I can take my pontoon on the river or lake and not fret if a small rain cloud comes overhead. With my enclosure, we can stay dry and wait until the rain storm passes.

Protects From The Wind

Sometimes the best days to go on the water happen to be windy. You should anticipate wind, especially if you are near the ocean. Now, for me, I thought weighing down some valuable upgrades and items would be good enough. However, that’s not the case.

A pontoon enclosure can make a significant difference in protecting your pontoon during a windy day. Trust me, you will be grateful knowing you have an enclosure where you can store some items and not worry about them flying off into the ocean.

Keeps The Heat In

pontoon enclosure

If you are trying to hold on to that little bit of summer/fall days that are left, you might consider a pontoon enclosure to help you extend those days a little longer. The enclosure will definitely do that for you.

What I would also suggest, if you are looking for a few extra days, go buy yourself a nice pontoon fire pit. You would be amazed how well they can heat up the inside of your enclosure.

Amazon does not have much of the inventory for pontoon fire pits but something like this fire pit would work well in my opinion. Or you can just go to the local reputable store and purchase one.

Protects From Bugs

Have you ever dreamed of staying on the water all night long, gazing at the stars? Well, what many people have done with their pontoon boats is create an at-water campsite. All you need is an enclosure that is equipped to handle the night time and bugs – and there are plenty of bugs out there.

Types of Pontoon Enclosures Tops

Bimini Tops

Bimini pontoon top

Pontoon Bimini Tops are types of enclosure that are the most commonly sought enclosures by boat owners.

In my experience, bimini tops are the easiest to work with, and sometimes the cheapest. However, these upgrades can be heavy and you may sacrifice the speed of your boat. At the same time, they are not sturdy. Remember what I said about things flying off the deck?

I have personally purchased MSC 4 Bow Bimini Boat Top Cover and I am very happy with it, good quality for the price.

Rain Shields

Have you ever been on your boat singing rain, rain, go away, come again another day? I have and I don’t like it, although I like seeing my daughter sing

If you do not have a regular enclosure, rain shield is a must have for any boat in my opinion. However rain shield alone will not do much for you, you have to connect it to bimini top. This creates an effective combination and near full-scale enclosure for those on board.

PlayPen Tops

When I am on the boat with my family, I try to find a location that I can put down the anchor. This way, we can all relax and hang out together. The best enclosure for this type of boating experience is a PlayPen Shade.

What I like about PlayPen shades is that they are lightweight but do a really good job of keeping the sun out. In fact, many companies have created a UV-Resistant material.

I do have one word of caution for this type of enclosure. Given the style, it makes it hard to drive the pontoon boat safely. I would only use PlayPen shade when I am sitting still and the boat is anchored.


gazebo pontoon enclosure

If you are looking for a product that provides the shade like a PlayPen but allows the line of sight to drive around the lake, a Gazebo may be your best bet. I recently saw one of these products out on the lake and it looked interesting.

A Gazebo Shade Top is exactly what you think it may be – a gazebo on the water. Now, the only thing with these types of enclosures is that they are not sturdy at all. In other words, one gust of wind and you can kiss this goodbye, unless you weight it down.

Half Enclosures

At the top of the enclosure market, there is something called half enclosures. These are upscale enclosures that act like a bimini top, but with an added layer of protection and privacy. These are typically more expensive as many of these enclosures are made custom for a pontoon.

In my opinion, these are really great upgrades if you have the budget for them. They add an essence of luxury to a pontoon boat that is otherwise not found in other types of enclosures.

Full Enclosures

full pontoon enclosure

The last type of pontoon boat enclosure that you can purchase is a full enclosure. As you might think, this is when the entire pontoon boat is protected. For my family, when we decide to have a night out on the boat, this is what we use.

I think a full enclosure is one of the most unique upgrades. It provides a full-level of protection from mosquitos and other bugs, and even dew in the middle of the night. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson!

These products are relatively less expensive than you might imagine. However, because each pontoon boat is slightly different, you need to order these types of enclosures from a local maker. Depending on your needs and desires, it could get pricier.

Taking Care of Your Enclosures

In many of my articles, I always talk about how important it is to take care of your pontoon boat and its accessories. If you are planning on purchasing an enclosure, please take care of it.

I learned very quickly how important it is. You will find yourself spending more money than you ever imagined if you don’t.

My advice is to start off by figuring out what material your enclosure is and then go from there. You are going to want to clean each part of the entire enclosure after each major use, just like your pontoon.

Purchase different cleaners, mold preventatives and protectants, and any other material cleaners for your enclosure. It may prove effective to read the manufacturer labels as well.

Enjoying Your Pontoon, Worry-Free

Adding an enclosure to your pontoon boat is an upgrade that can make a big difference. The moment I purchased my first enclosure it eliminated dozens of different worries that I had. It was probably one of the best decisions I have made for my pontoon boat.

My belief is that everyone who owns the boat should own some type of enclosure, especially if you are bringing kids on board. Don’t hesitate to purchase pontoon enclosure, it will pay off immediately and you will love it.

What I can tell you is that once you get an enclosure, you can start enjoying your pontoon boat for all its worth without any worries.

I hope you have enjoyed this short intro on different pontoon boat enclosures. I will be writing in-depth articles about each of these enclosures so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime read about some other accessories and must have necessities for your boat.

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