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By: Pontoon Graphics

Taking a spin on your pontoon boat is a great way to stay cool and have fun. However, if you want your pontoon boat to last for more than one summer, you have to take care of it. But how? What do you need to do? Starting a maintenance routine isn’t difficult, and the information below will help you decide what to tackle.

Check the Fluids

Always check the oil before you venture off into the water. Is the oil dark in color? Have you reached a service interval for your engine? Change the oil. Some people avoid doing this out of fear of causing damage to their boat, but it’s an important task that every owner needs to learn how to perform. Changing the oil for a boat is easier than changing the oil for a car and takes under an hour to complete.

Clean, Clean, Clean

When you bring a group of friends out on your pontoon boat, you’re going to end up with a mess after the party concludes. Empty cups and other debris could litter the table and floor, and you can’t let them sit there for too long. This is a safety hazard – if something is blocking an exit point, escaping during an emergency will be difficult. Taking a few minutes out of your day to clean can make a big difference.

Lubricate the Steering

The intense temperatures present during the summer can jam or rust the steering parts on your pontoon boat. You need to do what you can to keep this from happening. Lubricate the steering linkage as thoroughly as possible. If you’re worried you may forget to do this, set a date for the task and note it on your calendar.

Pontoon boats bring entertainment, but they also need care in order to is the nation’s largest provider of high quality vinyl pontoon boat graphics and decals. We pride ourselves in producing top of the line 3M vinyl graphics. Our 3M vinyl is nationally recognized as the best in the industry – why settle for anything less? Click here to get started or give us a call at 1-(888) 934-6578 and we’d be happy to help you! is one of the nations highest qualiy distributors of vinyl flooring for pontoon boats. We also carry any, and all, pontoon boat accessories you could ever need. Feel free to click on any of our links on the other pages of this site for more information, and/or contact us through the contact "us" page. Happy Tooning! 

How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

How To Protect Pontoon Boat From The Summer Heat

By: The Ocean Sailing Guide

I am excited about the summer of 2018. This summer brings new memories, adventures, and time spent on the pontoon with family. Now, with the arrival of summer, comes the staunching summer heat, which if you didn’t know, can be dangerous to a pontoon boat. Therefore it is important to know how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

While owning a pontoon boat is incredibly rewarding and fun, it’s important that you take the time to care and protect your boat, especially in the summer heat. We can all agree that the last thing you want to happen this summer is to find out that some part of your pontoon boat was damaged by lack of protection.

Today, I want to share with you my ideas and thoughts on how to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat this year. As always, if you have any ideas to share with the crowd, feel free to add your comment below.

Shall we begin?

The Four Step Protection Plan To Help With Summer Heat

It’s important that, before the summer heat gets here, you develop a game plan for how you plan to protect your pontoon boat.

Once the snow has passed and the White Walkers went back home, I know that it’s time to begin getting my Pontoon Boat ready for the ocean blue.

I have developed what I like to call my pontoon protection plan. It’s an incredibly easy process that starts the moment the warm rays come out.

  1. Full-Scale Cleaning

pontoon seating in the sun

Like many other things in life, before you can apply any form of protector to a surface, it needs to be clean. So, what I like to do is take the boat out in the backyard and prepare it for a full-scale cleaning.

In the industry today, there are dozens upon dozens of different pontoon boat soaps, which can be found at your local boat stores, marinas, or even Amazon. The best products, in my opinion, are the ones that care for the gel coat and the surface of the material.

When it comes to the interior of your pontoon, treat and clean it based on the type of material on the inside. For me, I use a high-quality vinyl cleaner and polish from a local boating store. This helps protect the interior material from cracking or flaking.

  1. Apply A Protectant

Once the pontoon is spiffy clean, what I do is apply a protectant to help protect the gel coat and material of the boat from deteriorating or oxidizing, due to the Sun.

Again, there are so many different products on the market today that can do the job. I recommend purchasing a product that is heavy-duty. What you are looking for is something known as polymers.

This is the secret to protecting your pontoon boat, it’s your personal defense mechanism against the Sun. It’s the sunscreen for a pontoon boat.

Do keep in mind, the more you sail, the more you need to clean and reapply a protectant. Remember, this is your baby!

  1. Daily Maintenance

Now, I understand that this process can be time-consuming, and sometimes undesirable. To make it easier for myself, I take the extra step and perform daily maintenance on my pontoon.

So, what I typically do is use some daily maintenance products, also known as pontoon boat guards. These products act as the first line of defense to protect the boat and the original protectant.

My favorite part about using these cleaning products is that they have polymers in the formula. This helps reinforce the protectant, helping to clean the boat from harmful chemicals, and effectively protecting it from the Sun.

Since most of these products come in the form of a spray, it’s easy to use.

  1. Cover Your Pontoon When Not In Use

covered pontoon boatI have talked a lot about the importance of pontoon boat covers and the best ones out there. I can’t stress it enough. You do not want your pontoon boat exposed to constant heat. Otherwise, the sun’s powers and UV rays will expedite the oxidation process.

To protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat, purchase a quality cover that you can use year-round.

Try to get into the habit of covering your pontoon if you are not using it. Every time I come back from the water I take a few minutes to clean off the grime and bacteria, or salt if I was in the ocean. Once dry, I cover the entire pontoon until it’s next use or cleaning.

Most Common Mistakes Boaters Make

If you are want to avoid any damage or expensive repairs, avoid making any of these common mistakes that boaters make:

  • Dish Soap

Unless you intend to clean the dishes on your boat put the dish soap back where it belongs, the kitchen. Why would you use that product on your boat? Don’t be cheap, buy the right product!

  • Laundry Soap

Like that of dish soap, using laundry soap or detergent with water to clean a pontoon boat is a mistake. If you are seriously considering cleaning your boat, use the proper products.

  • Wrong Surface, Wrong Product

It’s important to know all of the materials in and on your pontoon boat. When it comes to cleaning, you need to know what types of materials you are dealing with.

You should also know the environment that your boat is around. For example, if you live close to the ocean, chances are, with the ocean and salt water, there’s salt in the area that can reach your boat.

Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist For 2018

With the anticipation of summer, I have prepared a little checklist for you all in case you need some help or are just looking for some helpful ideas. I’m going to call it Summer Pontoon Protection Checklist for 2018.

If you can follow the 4-Step process listed above and follow this checklist, your pontoon boat will be in great shape.

  • General Cleaning – Perform a general cleaning of the inside and outside of the pontoon boat.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets and batteries are functioning and working.
  • Inspect all gauges to ensure maximum operability.
  • Review oil and filters to make sure the pontoon is ready for maximum performance.
  • Check all essentials
    • Transmission Fluid, belts, cooling system, etc.
  • Make sure trailer is up-to-date on registration
  • Make sure pontoon is up-to-date on registration
  • Test all lights.
  • Inspect exterior and interior of pontoon for minor or major oxidation.
  • Reseal and add polymer protectant.
  • Purchase daily spray pontoon guard for each use.
  • Purchase quality boat cover designed to protect from UV damage.
  • Have fun!

Enjoy Your Pontoon This Season!

Overall, as a pontoon boat owners, it’s our responsibility to keep track and protect our baby. Your pontoon boat needs protection, like sunscreen, to play and function longer. If you don’t protect it, you risk things breaking down, resulting in a messy situation.

Trust me, this summer, that’s the last thing you want to deal with when you can be enjoying the summer rays on the ocean blue.

Overall, my hope is that with all the information and tips I shared with you in the article, you are properly prepared to protect your pontoon boat from the summer heat.

If you have any methods or ideas that I did not discuss above, feel free to drop a comment below and share with us! After all, we are a community of pontoon boaters!

Protecting Aluminum Boats From Salt Water Corrosion

Protecting Aluminum Boats From Salt Water Corrosion

By: Boating Magazine

In the last 5 years, boaters have bought over 300K boats.

Aluminum boats require special care to prevent salt water corrosion.

They’re light, economical, nearly maintenance-free, easy to repair and almost impervious to damage. The Coast Guard and Navy prefer them for small craft, and many commercial boats are aluminum, as are many recreational craft. Their high strength-to-weight ratio means they can be built lighter and therefore can run faster for a given amount of power, and are easier to trailer. If you’re looking for the ideal boat building material, aluminum could be it. The only problem is that it’s the wimp of the electrochemical schoolyard, being beaten up and corroded away by almost every other metal except for zinc and magnesium.

Want to be a saltwater metal head? Aluminum can seemingly dissolve away in salt water when in the presence of other metals. Builders do everything they can to prevent this, but once the boat is in your hands it’s up to you to keep it alive. Here’s how.

How It Happens

We’re talking about galvanic corrosion. Back in science class you’d say that this is where one metal in an electrically conductive solution (such as salt water) gives up atoms when connected to a dissimilar metal in that same solution. Losing atoms means that the metal is falling apart, or corroding. In the slip aboard your aluminum boat, you’d say that this is where your hull becomes pitted because of a bronze through-hull on a neighboring boat.

The rate of corrosion of a metal on its own is determined by how chemically active it becomes when put in salt water. The more active, the more susceptible it is to corrosion. The less active, the more resistant it is to corrosion. When not in contact with anything else, most marine metals such as aluminum, bronze and stainless steel will corrode away at a reasonably slow rate. No danger there. But connect different metals, one active (aluminum) and the other a lot less active (i.e., a copper penny), in water and atoms will start to flow. And the aluminum will start to fall apart.

The Good News

When not in contact with other metals, aluminum can do quite well in both fresh and salt water, needing only ­bottom paint to prevent fouling. However, to play it safe, the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) recommends that “aluminum vessels shall have a protective paint coating that provides a high [electrical] resistance barrier between the aluminum and the water.”

Above the waterline aluminum does even better. When continuously exposed to oxygen, it develops a film of aluminum oxide so dense and well bonded to the metal that it prevents further corrosion. That’s why many commercial and military craft leave aluminum bare from the waterline up: There’s no need for protective paints, cosmetics aside. As you can see, building an aluminum boat for salt water takes thought. The right alloys must be used, welding must be done just right, and parts must be carefully assembled.

Fiesta, a Florida pontoon builder that bills its boats as “built for use in salt water,” isolates hardware and stainless-steel bolts from the aluminum with nylon washers. Hull compartments have drains with silicone-sealed nylon plugs that can be opened to drain accumulated moisture. They also employ dedicated mounting brackets for sacrificial anodes, and their hulls and extrusions are made from thicker metal.

Better aluminum boat builders don’t allow crevices or joints that collect water, and avoid upturned brackets and channels that trap water. Moisture, including condensation, must drain away, with no sealed or dead air spaces. An emphatic spokesman for Premier Pontoons said, “We are constantly doing pre-emptive detective work to stop corrosion before it starts.”

Zinc or Swim

Engine manufacturers, as well as boatbuilders, attempt to save their aluminum products by attaching sacrificial anodes. As long as the anode is electrically connected to the part, either by direct contact or by wire, it stuffs the aluminum with excess electrons so it loses those rather than the aluminum giving up its own electrons. The zinc? It erodes — sacrificing itself for the benefit of the boat or motor.

Unfortunately, there is no formula to tell you how many anodes you will need and what size. In the beginning, it will be a matter of trial and error. A good place to start is the ABYC’s procedure. Inspect the anodes every month. Go with many small ones rather than a few large ones. If you have the right amount, your “zincs” should be about halfway gone by the end of the season, and replaced each spring. If they are not wearing away, they are either too large (rare) or not making good contact with the aluminum (common). Well-made anodes should have cast-in plates and fasteners to maintain good electrical connection throughout their lives, and they should meet military spec Mil-A-18001J (or higher last letter).

Don’t go nuts with zincs everywhere because aluminum won’t tolerate being overprotected. In mild cases, the zinc develops a crust and stops working. But if things get too far out of balance, you can generate an alkaline solution that will start eating away at the aluminum. An early sign of this is the softening or blistering of the bottom paint.

How Much Zinc?

Use too few anodes, and the fittings are not protected. Use too many, and the anodes erode quickly and may blister paint. A multimeter and a reference electrode help to nail down the right amount.

1. Place a silver/silver chloride electrode in the water near the item that is to be protected.

2. Touch the positive probe to the fitting. Note the meter’s reading in DC millivolts.

3. Connect a sacrificial zinc of the proposed size to the metal part to be protected. Put the zinc in the water and note the new meter reading.

4. Protection is adequate when the new voltage is 200 milli­volts (0.20 volts) more negative than the reading noted without the zinc.

The Trouble with Tanks

Even if you don’t have an aluminum boat, you probably have aluminum fuel tanks. While these can be perfectly safe, the U.S. Coast Guard noticed a recurring problem with leaking tanks. So it asked Underwriters Laboratory to see why. Not surprisingly, UL found that corrosion caused 92 percent of the failures. Most of it was caused by how the tanks were installed.

In general, aluminum tanks should be left bare. Paint can help. But if it’s not properly applied, it wears away, scratches or peels off, and moisture gets under the paint, concentrating and accelerating corrosion.

The most common fittings used in fuel systems are usually made from brass. Screw one of these directly into an aluminum tank and add some moisture, and you’ve got serious galvanic corrosion. Isolate these fittings from the tank by using 300-series stainless-steel washers or adapters.

The tank’s supports must not be moisture-absorbent, such as carpeting is. Suitable materials are stiff neoprene, Teflon or any high-density plastic. Water should drain from all tank surfaces when the boat is at rest; the bottom of the tank must be at least a quarter-inch above the hull to let air circulate and above the level normally reached by bilge water. The European standard says “no less than 25 mm [1 inch] above the top of the bilge pump inlet or the bilge pump automatic float switch.”

A fuel tank should be accessible for relatively easy inspection via a screwed-down, caulked hatch, but that is often not the case. Many builders install tanks so that a saw is needed for inspection or replacement. Too bad.

13 Ways to Prevent Galvanic Corrosion

1. Don’t mix metals, or at least use metals as close to each other as possible in the galvanic series.

2. Bolts should be less active than fittings; they’re small, so loss of metal is more serious.

3. Take all measures to electrically isolate fittings from each other, even on small craft.

4. Securely fasten anodes, and ensure there is firm contact with the metal to be protected.

5. Never paint an anode. Be sure the metal to which it is fastened is free of paint, scale and dirt.

6. Impressed current voltage should never exceed 1,300 millivolts when protecting aluminum.

7. Always repair paint chips and scratches that expose bare metal as soon as possible.

8. Avoid using any lubricant made with graphite aboard a boat made from aluminum.

9. Employ an isolation transformer whenever the boat’s connected to AC shore power.

10. Don’t use an automotive battery charger aboard a boat, especially an aluminum boat.

11. Paint only with primers and coatings specifically designed for aluminum.

12. Wash the aluminum boat down with fresh water after every use to remove built-up salts.

13. Keep hooks, sinkers, bottle caps and other metal debris out of the bilge lest they wreak havoc.

DIY the Right Way
Protecting your aluminum boat and equipment from the rigors of the marine environment.

Adding Hardware
Ideally, you’d use aluminum fittings and fasteners, minimizing the chance of galvanic corrosion, but these are hard to find. Instead use 300-series stainless steel. This works fine if you isolate the fitting with plastic washers or pads and keep the water out with a polysulfide or polyether bedding compound like Star brite polyether Boat Caulk.

Bottom Paint
Interlux and Pettit sell copper-free, aluminum-compatible paint systems backed by excellent application instructions and tech support. It takes lots of prep, plus attention to detail, to do this right. 

Ditch Your Carpet
To prevent hull pitting caused by trapped moisture, replace carpeted trailer bunks with vinyl with


Tiki Bar Inspires Couple to Go Afloat on a Pontoon Houseboat

Tiki Bar Inspires Couple to Go Afloat on a Pontoon Houseboat

By: BetterBoat

Sitting lakeside at your own private tiki bar, sharing drinks and steaks with your loved ones.

How can life get any better?

Jeff and Julia Kloeckner of Laingsburg, Michigan asked themselves that exact question one afternoon, and Jeff decided what the tiki bar needed was a houseboat.

I sat down one sunny afternoon recently to talk to the Kloeckners, my friends and neighbors. We sat on their back deck and enjoyed the view of the lake and their pontoon.

Jeff proudly talked about his pontoon and the story behind it, while Julia grabbed her photo album and displayed all the pictures documenting her husband’s boat creation.

The Pontoon Houseboat Journey

The 1987 Manitou Pontoon was built at the original Delta Township factory, not far from Kloeckner’s home. It was sold to a family who took it up north to Gaylord, and they enjoyed it for many years, until the Kloeckners bought it from them in 2009.

When the Kloeckners purchased their pontoon, the recession was affecting gas prices so much that they soon found they used the boat less and less.

Their 18-foot, ’87 Manitou Pontoon had been sitting idle at the dock throughout the summer. The more it sat, the more Jeff pondered over what he could do with it.

He wanted to be able to use his pontoon for fishing and floating. Better yet, to turn it into a houseboat to enjoy at their location on Round Lake and take it to other lakes too.

Round Lake is known as Al Capone’s hideaway spot. The current Lakeview Banquet Center on the lake used to be a dance hall with big bands and bootleg booze.

Today Lakeview is a busy reception hall for weddings and other gatherings. Locals on the lake boat out near the hall to watch wedding ceremonies, listen to the music and take in the occasional evening firework displays.

Fireworks, beautiful sunsets and star-filled nights are just a few more good reasons a houseboat would be fitting on Round Lake.

Not only that, but Michigan has over 11,000 lakes to explore. There are so many different things to do in and around Michigan lakes. You can check out the “Lake Effect” at Pure and discover the endless opportunities of fun things to do and enjoy.

If you’re looking to camp on your pontoon or conversion pontoon, check out this pontoon camping guide.

The Kloeckner’s have known firsthand what lake life is all about and were ready to discover new adventures with their houseboat on Round Lake and other lakes up north. Thus, they began their own DIY pontoon houseboat project.

How to DIY Your Own Pontoon Houseboat

Luckily, Jeff had the capability to configure his own houseboat design and structure.

His 30-plus years of construction experience and a jack-of-all-trades know-how gave him the confidence and skill to tackle this type of DIY project.
Less experienced DIY folks may want to use a kit to transform their pontoon. There are hundreds of ideas—some crazy!—that you can find online.

However, you really need to sit down and decide what you want for your houseboat, what will work for the size of your boat frame and the budget that you have to work with.

The possibilities can be endless!

What about adding a bathroom? Or a hot tub? Or even a second deck with a slide down into the water? The sky truly is the limit for just about anything you can imagine for your own houseboat.

Need some ideas? Go to Pinterest, type “conversion pontoons” in the search bar and you’ll discover an endless stream of pictures of the most amazing pontoon houseboats, and houseboats from around the world.

Once you choose your style, whether it’s simple or a floating Jimmy Buffet theme, build it with passion and keep safety in mind.

Some Takeaways: Consider Safety, Weight, Capacity and Insurance

Conversion projects like this bring up a number of questions on transforming a pontoon into a houseboat. One question for converting into a houseboat would be the framing structure and weight distribution.

The Manitou pontoon’s initial construction is ideal for strength and dependability. When you’re adding weight and height to the framework, you’ll just need some guidelines to keep it safe. The United States Coast Guard has a booklet to calculate your precise weight and capacity limits.

Manufacturers place a weight and capacity limit sticker on the boat at the factory. I called a Manitou dealer in Michigan and they recommended staying within the limitation that’s posted on the boat, for safety. Adding weight and height to a boat frame can make the boat unstable.

Another question would be insurance. Do you keep the same coverage for your boat as you would for a houseboat? I highly recommend contacting your own insurance agent to make sure you have the best coverage suited for your needs.

How to Expertly Use Recycled Material

Jeff created his houseboat using recycled material. Lansing’s Cooley Law Stadium, home of the minor league baseball team the Lugnuts, had just undergone major updates and Jeff was able to use the steel sides from the outfield storage unit.

The steel sheets were used as the sides of his 8′ x 10′ houseboat construction. He used steel studs for the framework to keep costs and weight down on the pontoon.

He also wanted the boat to be self sufficient, so he designed a way to use solar energy to power a Minn Kota Electric 55-lb thrust trolling motor. Jeff added a ceiling fan to the interior for cooling, installed sunglass material for the roof and placed house windows on the sides to also allow light and air flow.

A screen door in the front adds to the charm! And the inside has room for their queen-size air mattress (for when the fish aren’t biting) and storage for fishing equipment.

On the front of the boat, Jeff has two spots to insert fishing seats. He and his wife can comfortably sit, dangle their feet in the cool lake water and fish to their heart’s content!

What’s in a Name?

On the side of the boat Jeff added the boat’s name, Lily pad.

Fitting for floating on their small lake like… a lily pad! Jeff cut and designed lily pads from a steel metal sheet, painted the boat’s name on them and then attached them to the side of their houseboat.

When I asked them what they love best about the boat, they both replied that “it’s one of a kind!” Jeff loved working from his own ideas and how the solar unit helps keep their Lily pad self sufficient.

If you’re looking for recycled building material for your pontoon conversion, check out Habitat for Humanity. It’s a great place to look for recycled items for your project and help your community at the same time. Habitat stores are filled with building material, cabinets, furniture and so much more.

Think outside the box and find new treasures to go afloat!