The pontoon deck is where the magic happens. From parties, to playing, to simply kicking your feet up and taking a breather, that space is home to most of the recreational activities that pontoon boats are known and loved for. Now, because of the pivotal role that your deck plays in the entire pontoon enjoyment experience, wouldn’t it be a smart move to invest in your deck flooring?
Stable, sturdy floors that are easy to maintain can significantly improve the way you enjoy your boat. So if your deck is in need of flooring replacement, or if you’re simply looking to spruce things up, these boat flooring options might be just what you’re looking for.
Different Kinds of Boat Flooring
Pontoon boat cabin flooring isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. There are lots of different kinds of flooring materials that cater to unique needs, preferences, and standards. With that, it helps to know that not all flooring options will meet your specific requirements. So before you settle on a purchase, make sure you know what you’re getting into by reading up on what each unique material brings to the table.
1. Vinyl Boards
With a look and feel that mimics real wood, vinyl plank flooring has become pretty popular in recent years. This mid-priced material costs around three to four dollars per foot and it’s typically strong, sturdy, waterproof, and skid-resistant. This lets you enjoy a relatively safe deck space that minimizes the risk of accidents.
Other than that, vinyl floor boards are impressively easy to install, ideal for boat owners hoping to replace their flooring by themselves for the first time. They’re typically sold in packs of 10 pieces, so it helps to measure out your floors versus the size of each board to make sure you’re getting enough to cover your floor area.
We recommend the Achim Home Vinyl Floor Plans in Medium Oak.
Lots of pontoon boats use aluminum flooring, and for good reasons. This material is significantly lighter than other types of flooring, and they’re easy to clean. Stain and rust resistant, aluminum material is especially durable even without the need for any sort of covering.
On the downside, aluminum floors are rarely found as a pre-made option, so you’re going to have to get them custom fit to your boat. This makes the flooring more expensive than others, and that also means there’s no way to estimate the total cost either.
3. Treated Plywood
When considering various types of boat flooring, plywood is probably the last thing that comes to mind because of its lightweight and porous characteristics. But CCA-treated plywood makes an ideal choice for pontoon floors for its waterproof design that’s intended to resist mold, mildew, rot, and water damage, among other things.
Treated plywood can be particularly rugged, minimizing the need for any sort of cover material. But then again, you can’t just toss it out when you want to replace it, and you can’t burn it either. Laws change depending on what state you’re in, but treated plywood almost always requires careful discarding, or you could face steep fines.
4. Composite Board
Composite Board - As the most expensive option, composite board provides the most durable performance among any flooring choice for pontoon boats. Combining wood and plastic, composite board is heavy, sturdy, impressively easy to maintain, reducing the need for tedious care and covers.
On the other hand, composite board requires sturdy foundations especially because the material tends to be significantly heavier than most. Factor in the eye popping price tag at up to $10 per per foot, it’s easy to see that composite board isn’t for everyone.
We like the UltraShield Naturale Voyager Series.
5. Marine-Grade Plywood
Marine-Grade Plywood - As the most common material used for pontoon flooring, marine-grade plywood isn’t exactly waterproof. It’s only made waterproof by adding a waterproof glue to its surface. The thick coating of adhesive makes it capable of resisting moisture damage, rot, mold, and mildew.
While it can be lightweight and cost-effective, marine-grade plywood isn’t water resistant on its own. That means you’re going to have to treat the material after installation to ensure problem free sailing. That said, it’s also worth noting that failing to completely coat the material in glue means you risk water damage over time.
Check out the Half Inch Marine Grade Plywood.
Choosing the Right Flooring Material for Your Boat
Not all boat owners have the same standards or expectations when it comes to what their flooring material can do. With that, it’s important to consider a few factors to make sure you’re buying material that’s really right for your needs.
To some extent, every kind of flooring material you’ll find is designed to resist moisture. But slight differences in the qualities of each flooring option may impact how well it can survive against water exposure.
If your boat is almost always wet even on the inside - which is typically the case with owners who use their pontoon for activities like fishing - then aluminum or treated plywood might be best. These materials are designed to last years without giving in to rot, mold, and mildew.
But if you typically take your boat out to visit other docks and marinas, and you don’t usually get everything wet, then a lightweight material like marine-grade plywood or vinyl should be good enough. On the other hand, if you decide to buy lightweight material and want to give it just a little extra protection, you can buy cover for it like the EVA Faux Teak Decking Sheet or marine carpet.
You can’t really talk about pontoon flooring without considering aesthetics. Lots of the flooring options on the market today tout wood-like appearance that makes them especially appealing for those who want a warm, cozy look for their boat.
Vinyl boards, treated plywood, and composite all mimic the look of wood, making your deck look far more inviting and aesthetically appealing. On that note, it goes without saying that choices like aluminum and marine-grade plywood - although they both look neat and sleek - lean slightly more on the utilitarian end of the spectrum.
Constant foot traffic, heavy bags and gear, and the onslaught of time, wear, and tear can all contribute to the degradation of flooring material. No doubt, there’s no such thing as decking that lasts a lifetime, but if you choose something a little more durable, then you should be able to enjoy several decades of problem free use.
Composite - despite its cost - is especially durable and rugged, capable of surviving some of the roughest conditions. The same goes for aluminum which offers significant resistance to all sorts of damage, including rot, mold, mildew, and UV.
Another consideration worth thinking about is safety. Smoother material increases the risk of slip injuries which can be pretty common on pontoon boats. So if you’re constantly bringing children and elderly guests on board, then you might want to consider an option that offers more traction underfoot.
Almost all of the available deck flooring choices come in textured options that help to improve grip. In general however, composite board seems to take the cake in terms of being able to prevent slips and falls because of its naturally skid-resistant properties.
DIY installation can be easy, even with minimal experience, as long as you’re choosing the right flooring material. Vinyl boards for example are pretty intuitive, letting you get the job done in a matter of hours without the need for extra hands. The same goes for marine-grade plywood which usually sells in pre-cut boards.
Aluminum and composite are often the hardest to install, especially if you don’t have any experience. In fact, these materials are best installed by professional services since the sheets themselves have to be measured and cut specifically to fit your boat.
How much time and effort are you willing to put into the maintenance process? While most boat flooring materials try hard to minimize the work you have to put into keeping everything clean and rot-free, there are limitations.
For instance, vinyl boards require specific cleaning solutions to ensure a proper clean and to prevent damage to the material.
Others like treated plywood and marine-grade plywood aren’t quite as durable, so they need to be used with care and caution. Moreover, marine-grade plywood can be prone to rot, mold, and mildew if it isn’t properly and completely covered in waterproof glue. So the extent of maintenance relies mainly on how well the material is installed.
Just keep in mind there will always be additional costs to keep your flooring looking clean. Factor in buying the right cleaning solutions and a good marine grade vacuum cleaner.
Over to You
Interior boat flooring options provide safety, stability for your furniture, and space for all of those fun activities you’re hoping to have on your boat. But if remember - not all boat flooring options are made equal. With varying prices, aesthetics, and durability among other things, different types of flooring material cater to distinct tastes. And figuring out which one’s right for you depends on how well you know your choices and your needs.
So if you were in the middle of a boat renovation, or if you simply need to replace your old, damaged floors, then consider these choices to upgrade your boat and streamline all the fun boating activities you’re planning to have.