How to Polish Pontoon Boat – Bring The Shine Out in 2021

After learning that a pontoon boat should be cleaned after each use and how important it was to clean it, I wanted to learn how to do it right. I also did not want to spend the $450 that professionals are charging. So, I learned how to polish pontoons on my own.

Today, I am going to share my routine and how to polish a pontoon boat. Not only will this help save you money, but your pontoon boat will look spiffier and feel newer each time you clean it.

If you are looking for other cleaning tips and tricks, make sure you check out my pontoon carpet cleaning guide.

How to Polish Pontoon Boat

It should go without question – cleaning is an essential responsibility of owning a pontoon boat. Like any other boat, cleaning is imperative if you plan to keep your boat for many years.

If you do not take care of your boat, you risk the build-up of bacteria, barnacles, and other debris that can erode and deteriorate the material of the ship. This can result in holes, leakages, and even preventing the boat from operating.

So, this guide will show you how to polish a pontoon boat.

Materials And Checklist

Before I went into how to polish a pontoon boat, I thought I would share some of the tools I use to clean my boat. After a couple of years of polishing and cleaning, these are my favorite products.


If you are looking for a cheap and affordable cleanser, Star Brite 87764 Ultimate Aluminum Cleaner with Foaming Sprayer will do the trick!

I was a little hesitant at first; however, after reading some reviews, I gave it a shot. Now, this product is my go-to when cleaning my pontoon boat. I will say you might need a bit of elbow grease to get the job done.

STAR BRITE Ultimate Aluminum Cleaner & Restorer - Safely Clean Pontoon Boats, Jon Boats & Canoes -...
  • Formulated to clean and restore stained or dull aluminum pontoon boats, Jon boats and canoes
  • Use Ultimate Aluminum Polish as step 2 when removing stains and restoring older boats
  • Convenient 64 fl. oz. size with sprayer for easy application

Now, if you are serious about learning how to polish a pontoon boat, purchase the Shark Hide Aluminum Cleaning Kit. I am not saying this to sell anything – I am saying this because Shark Hide is that good.

This kit is a complete package that includes all essential products, aside from the buffer tool. Personally, I use the Star Brite Cleaner because I use the Shark Hide Polishers and Protectants.

Sharkhide Aluminum Cleaner (1)
  • SAFETY FIRST - Sharkhide's aluminum boat cleaner is a safe alternative to bringing your metal a new shine! Our product's easy application and removal make boat restoration a breeze, no need to worry once you give your metal a good rinse! We do...
  • SEE YA LATER SCRUBBING! - Our aluminum cleaner comes highly concentrated to make sure you get the job done right. Given its strength, all you need to do is spray and rinse away, it's that simple! Apply to the desired area as needed and watch years of...
  • STAIN BEGONE - With each application, stains don't stand a single chance! Oxidation, dirt, waterline stains, it doesn't matter, our aluminum cleaner sees the job through till the very end! Each Sharkhide aluminum cleaner comes highly concentrated so...

Variable Speed Buffers

When I first looked at variable speed buffers and polishers, I was shocked at how much these tools can go for. All I wanted was a simple, powerful polisher that would help enhance the shine of my boat. I tried the Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher and never looked back. Plus, can you go wrong with Porter-Cable?

PORTER-CABLE Variable Speed Polisher, 6-Inch (7424XP) , gray
  • The Car Polisher Is 4.5 Amp, Ac Only
  • The Variable Speed Polisher Features Electronic Variable-Speed Dial 2,500-6,800 Opm
  • Random Orbit, Swirl-Free Sanding/Polishing Action


Any expert in polishing pontoon boats can agree that Shark Hide Polisher is probably the single most significant invention. These products, while slightly more expensive, really work.

Sharkhide Metal Polish 2lb
  • 2lb Polish - Bigger Container to polish both sides of your pontoon tubes
  • Amazing Aluminum Polish
  • Used for any Aluminum Application


If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I am a huge fan of the Shark Hide Brand. If you want to protect your boat Shark Hide Metal Protectant can help. It helps keep your pontoon boat safe from oxidation, acid rain, and many other harmful chemicals, bacteria, or stains.

Sharkhide Metal Protectant (1)
  • Protects boat from streaks, stains, water lines and oxidation
  • Protects in fresh, brackish, and saltwater
  • Easy to Apply

Step One: Pontoon Polish Preparation

Before you can focus on polishing the boat, you must clean it first.

What I recommend is, before applying any solutions or cleaning agents, start by removing any build-up of bacteria on your pontoon boat.

If there is no build-up, start by merely washing the exterior of the boat with water. However, the secret to getting your boat spiffy clean is to clean small areas at a time.

In other words, unless you have a pressure washer, hose down a small area of the boat and quickly wipe it down.

This is like spot cleaning. However, this ensures that there are no harmful or eroding bacteria on the boat itself. This also helps the polishing and polymers adhere to the boat.

Step Two: Application Of Cleaner

After you are done preparing the pontoon boat’s exterior, you can now begin to utilize a professional cleaner. Now, many people are using many different products to clean their boats.

However, if you want my advice, I suggest purchasing professional cleaning products. I don’t think you should use home products on a pontoon boat.

Many boaters make the mistake of putting dish soap and other home soaps on their boat. This erodes the polymers, which is what you don’t want.

There are ample boat cleaners that you can find online or at your local store, all of which are relatively cheap. Additionally, you do not want to lather up your boat entirely. This is to clean the exterior for proper polishing merely.

Step Three: Buff & Clean (Optional)

If you are not planning on buffing your pontoon boat, you may skip this step.

Now that the pontoon boat is clean and all harmful bacteria has been removed, there is one last step before applying the polish. This is an extra measure that I take to ensure my pontoon boat is shiny.

You need to buff the exterior part of the pontoon boat with the buffer you purchased on Amazon or the one collecting dust in your garage.

You can do this by hand but in my experience, purchasing a polisher is the best choice. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending hours upon hours buffing your pontoon boat.

Once you have buffed the entire boat, repeat step two.

Step Four: Application Of Polisher

Your pontoon boat should have been washed, cleaned, buffed, and then cleaned again at this point in the process. Now, your pontoon boat is officially ready to be polished.

Now, you must purchase a high-quality polisher for the job. Many different polishers on the market can help restore the shine or enhance the shine on your boat.

My favorite product is the Shark Hide Aluminum Pontoon Boat Polish. In fact, this product is probably a favorite of all pontoon boaters; it’s that good. Not only this, it’s effortless to use.

The Shark Hide brand has many different products to help maintain a pontoon boat. If I need anything with my ship, I try to see what this brand has first.

Depending on the pontoon boat polisher that you purchase, you may alter the instructions for polishing your boat. It’s recommended that to apply polish, you should use a variable speed polisher. You can also use your hands with a polishing pad if you would like.

From there, you will want to take the polisher and mix it with water. In my experience, three parts water for 1 part polisher is a safe bet and the experts’ recommended amount. Be sure to check the polishing company’s instructions first.

Step Five: Final Rinse

The last step is to rinse your boat. What you will need is something known as a lacquer thinner.

This product is known to help remove any deposits left behind from buffing and applying a polisher. This process will not take long and will make the boat that much shinier.

If you are planning on treating your boat and ensuring that it lasts longer, it’s highly recommended to add a protectant. I use it every time to be sure.

It does not take a lot of time, and it makes a huge difference! All you will need is a protectant and a handy rag or towel. From there, pour a little protectant and rub it onto the aluminum tubes. Typically, most protectants require an additional coat within 24 hours. Be sure to read the instructions for optimal results.


Like I said at the beginning of the article, I look at my pontoon boat as a child – I want it to last forever. So, I do what I can before and after each use to make sure it continues.

I hope you found some value in this article in learning How to Polish Pontoon Boat. Once you get the right products, the polishing process will not take too long. And, I can tell you from experience, the reward is unbelievable.

Recent Posts