How to Remove Carpet from a Pontoon Boat (+ Glue Too)

how to remove carpet from a pontoon boat

A pontoon’s deck can use one of two materials - aluminum or wood. But since neither of these choices offer reliable traction nor comfort, lots of boat owners turn to carpet. Carpeting can provide a more comfortable foot feel while reducing the risk of slip and fall accidents on board. But since it’s highly absorbent, it’s not going to look pretty for long.

Soon enough, those carpets are going to look like a stained, unsanitary mess. And because they can harbor all sorts of bacteria and contaminants, they can also smell pretty bad, too. So if you’re ready for a replacement and you were wondering how to remove carpet from a pontoon boat, this guide should steer you in the right direction.

What You’ll Need

Hey, carpet removal is no simple feat. And while you might be able to get the job done without the help of a professional, there’s no way you could do it without a few necessary tools and materials. Before you start removing the tired carpet, make sure you have these essentials at the ready.

Work Gloves

utility work gloves

Carpet can be tough to remove, and you’re going to use quite a lot of force. A set of durable work gloves should help protect your hands from blisters. The G&F Double Latex Coated Work Gloves provide great value, but if you usually find yourself working similar DIY jobs, then Ironclad’s General Utility Work Gloves might be a better investment.

Adhesive Glue Remover

adhesive remover

Strong glue keeps those carpets in place. And because you might not be able to just pull them out with pure force, adhesive glue remover can make the job just that much easier.

We recommend the Goo Gone Original Liquid Sticker Lifter.


utility knife for carpet replacement on pontoon boat

It’s easier to pull out carpet when they’re cut up into strips or sections. A craft knife or stanley knife can deliver ultra-sharp performance that lets you cut through carpet like butter.

Check out Internet's Best Premium Utility Knife Set.

Oscillating Multi-Tool

oscillating multi-tool for carpet replacement on pontoon boat

Sure, you might be able to just pull those strips out, but an oscillating multi-tool makes the job easier. Stick one of these babies under the carpet’s edge, and it should separate the carpet from the deck with as little residue as possible.

We highly recommend the Dewalt Oscillating Multi-Tool with Variable Speed.

Scraper Tool

scraper tool

You’re going to be working with a lot of stubborn carpet and glue. Instead of tackling the job of peeling and removing with your bare hands, a scraper tool lets you get rid of those tough areas that just won’t budge.

Check out the Titan Offset Stainless Steel Scraper.

Random Orbit Sander

random orbit sander polisher

Once that carpet is pulled out, you’re going to be left with a bumpy, sticky, messy deck. No worries though, that’s definitely fixable with a random orbit sander. It provides versatile performance that’s great for more than just boat repairs.

We recommend the Bosch Random Orbit Sander/Polisher.

Heat Gun

heat gun kit

Ideal for use on boats with aluminum decks, this optional tool softens up hardened adhesive, allowing you to peel away that carpet with less stress and effort.

Aside from that, you’re going to want to wear something that you won’t feel sorry about soiling. Raggedy clothes that you don’t mind tossing out after the job is done should make the perfect outfit for your little carpet removal project.

We like the SEEKONE Heat Gun Kit.

How to Remove Pontoon Boat Carpets

Now, let’s get into the carpet removal part. In theory, it might not seem too hard to get rid of pontoon boat carpet. But in practice, it’s the perfect test for frustration tolerance. So to ease the process and save up on time, you might want to follow these surefire steps.

1. Cut the Carpet

Even the smallest pontoon boat decks will have carpet coverage that you can’t remove in just one piece. Attempting to pull away that carpet material without first cutting it up into pieces can create a massive mess, leaving behind loads of adhesive and fibers. So instead of doing it all in one go, it helps to cut up your carpet into smaller pieces.

Cut your carpet lengthwise into pieces that are a foot in width. For bigger pontoons, it might also help to cut each long strip in crosswise so you don’t have to work with such long pieces. Of course for this part of the process, you’re going to want to use your craft or stanley knife.

Just dig your knife into the carpet and slice through. You don’t really need to apply too much pressure since the cut itself should work as a guideline, making it easier to pull away the carpet in sections. If you do happen to cut a little too deep and scuff up the deck underneath, then you can always cover up the marks with a fresh carpet layer.

2. Pull Away the Carpet Pieces

Once you’ve got your cuts all done, you can start peeling back that tired carpet. By now, you’re going to want to wear your work gloves if you weren’t already. Work from the right or left most piece and work your way to the opposite side. Older carpets might already be lifted at the edges, making it easier to just pinch the end with your fingers, lift, and pull.

If your carpet is really stuck on there though, now would be the perfect opportunity to take out that scraping tool. Its thin edge should make it easier for you to get under the carpet and lift up the ends so you have something to hold on to.

You can keep pushing under with your scraper tool if you’re working on a smaller boat. But if you want to save up on time, an oscillating multi-tool should help you work away that carpet material much faster.

If your boat’s deck is made from aluminum, then you should be able to speed up the process by using a heat gun. The heat from the device softens up the adhesive underneath, melting it back into its liquid state. Once that happens, you can pull off the carpet with greater ease.

As much as possible, you’re going to want to keep each section of the carpet intact. So pull with care, ensuring that every piece comes out as a whole. This doesn’t only minimize the amount of fiber and carpet material left behind, but also gives you a better chance to measure out how much replacement carpet you’ll need.

How to Remove the Glue

removing the glue after taking carpet away

Now that your carpet has been stripped off, you’re going to be left with glue - and a lot of it. That unsightly stuff comes with a whole bunch of contaminants like carpet fibers, dirt, and debris.

This doesn’t only make it look like a hot mess, but also creates a rough surface that could affect any flooring or carpets you might decide to install later on. So before you place that fresh flooring, make sure you get rid of the adhesive with these steps.

1. Pull Out the Sander Tool

A random orbit sander works to smoothen out any kinks on the surface of your deck. This removes any adhesive residue that you might have left behind when you were busy peeling that carpet away. As a general rule, boat owners recommend that you do what you can with a sander first before you turn to the next step.

Some more experienced boat owners with powerful sanders go straight at the carpet without the whole cutting and peeling process. That entails using a grittier texture first, working away the top layers of the carpet, and then using a finer sander to smooth down the deck.

Of course, do expect this method to produce far more debris and dust than peeling the carpet off. But then again, if you’re running low on time and patience and you just want to get the job done, it might not be a bad idea.

2. Use Adhesive Glue Remover

Adhesive glue remover can be especially effective, dissolving any glue in its path. But a word to the wise - if you’ve got a wooden deck, you might want to take it easy on the glue remover. This stuff can soak into wood, making it impossible for any adhesive to stick to the surface.

If you’re planning to replace the carpets with a brand new flooring material, then you might struggle to get it to stay in place. That doesn’t mean you can’t use adhesive glue remover on wooden floors, though. In moderation and with proper drying, it should work out just fine.

After removing the glue, make sure you rinse your deck and dry it in the sun until it’s completely free of moisture. If you’re not confident that the glue remover has been entirely dried out, you can try giving your deck a second wash.

One tip from the pro’s is that they avoid using glue remover and applying fresh glue and flooring in the same day. Give it 24 to 48 hours to completely get rid of the residual remover so you don’t end up sabotaging your own efforts.

Tips for Removing Pontoon Boat Carpet

Removing a boat carpet is a lot simpler than most boat owners think. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to run into any hiccups during the process. To pave the way for a truly problem free carpet removal experience, make sure you keep these tips in mind:

Secure Your Boat

There’s going to be a whole lot of shaking, so it’s best that you don’t rock the boat. Sander tools and oscillating multi-tools can produce tons of movement, which means that you might end up with a shaky pontoon. Too much movement could lead to accidents and damage. So make sure you secure your boat, unload anything that could spill or fall, and while you’re at it, disconnect your battery.

Take Pictures

Yup, you read that right. Your carpet is probably settled underneath a few fixtures around your deck. So to really get everything out, you’re going to have to remove some hardware. If you’re not entirely familiar how everything goes back, then you might find yourself with a handful of hardware that you can’t restore.

Use Labeled Bags

It’s one thing to know how everything looked before you got started, and another to know where each screw, nut, and bolt goes. Heck, even the exact same screws might not fit perfectly in each other’s designated holes. Which is why you might want to keep all the hardware in labeled bags so you know exactly where each one fits.

Inspect Your Deck

Now would be the perfect time to look at your bare deck and see if there are any potential problems that could require repair or replacement. Are there signs of mold or mildew? Any holes or cracks that could need restoration? You might want to make a note of these damages and repair them before you get to laying down a fresh carpet.

Mark Your Removed Carpets

Sounds pretty pointless, but this could come in handy when you’re buying replacement carpets. If you manage to peel off every section of carpet without destroying or altering its size and shape, then you could come up with a more accurate measure of the replacement carpet you need. You can simply label the backs with numbers or arrows that point to a specific part of the boat to help you piece them together later on.

Out With the Old

Removing a pontoon boat’s old, tired carpets might seem like an absolute chore, and it could be - if you don’t know what you’re doing. Since a lot of boat owners don’t really how to remove carpet from a pontoon boat, they end up getting someone else to do it, paying way more than it would cost if you had done it yourself.

All of that said, pontoon boat carpet removal should be a piece of cake as long as you’ve got the right tools and materials for the job. So free up your weekend and prime that elbow grease - your boat is waiting for that well-deserved carpet replacement.

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