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Buying a Pontoon Boat: Everything You Need to Know

Buying a Pontoon Boat

Whether you’re looking to go tubing, fishing, or just want to take the family out on the lake, pontoon boats are extremely fun and versatile ways of doing it. While the history of pontoon-style boats can be traced back thousands of years, it wasn’t until 1951 when the first modern pontoon came into being.

Originally, pontoon boats were almost exclusively owned by the rich and famous. Today, however, pontoon boats come in various sizes and at all different price points. So there’s a pontoon boat that can fit just about anyone’s needs.

Are you interested in buying a pontoon boat? If so, continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

1. What Size and Type of Pontoon Boat Do I Need?

For pontoon boats, size usually correlates with passenger capacity. Let’s look at some specifics:

  • A boat that can hold between 2-6 people will be between 18 and 20 ft
  • A boat that can hold between 6-10 people will be between 22 and 24 ft
  • A boat that can hold 11 or more people will be at least 24 ft long

When deciding on what size boat you’ll need, you will also have to consider what body of water you’re going to be in. Some considerations include:

  • For water that tends to be rough, you’ll want a boat that’s around 25 ft long
  • For bodies of water that tend to be small and calm, you’ll want a boat that’s around 18 ft long
  • For rivers and lakes that don’t have big waves, you’ll want a boat that’s around 21 ft long

Now, let’s go over the different types of Pontoon boats.

Types of Pontoon Boats

The type of pontoon boat you purchase will depend mainly on what you intend to use the boat for. Knowing what activities you plan to do out on the water will help you narrow down your search.


If you’re planning on using the majority of your time on your pontoon boat for fishing, then you should definitely think about getting a boat that’s specially designed for that activity.

There are special fishing models that you can find at many boat dealerships. You can also get a cruising model if you plan to split your time between fishing and cruising.


If you’re planning on pulling things like tubes, wakeboards, skies, or other watersports gear, then you’ll want to get a pontoon that has at least 90 horsepower. If it’s any weaker, you won’t have enough power to effectively pull those objects.

Swimming and Sunbathing

If you mainly just want to use your boat for sunbathing and swimming, you can get large swim decks or sun loungers for your pontoon. You can even get added options such as improved ladders and slides for swimmers.

Additional Recreation

Some additional things you might want on your pontoon boat include bathrooms, sinks, changing rooms, grills, or seats that can be converted into beds. Adding these options will help you expand the recreational activities that you can do with your boat.

2. Pontoon Boat Warning Signs

When it comes to buying a pontoon boat, there is really no one brand that’s a lot better than another. It’s mainly going to come down to personal taste. And any pontoon boat that was built after the year 2000 should be considered to have been manufactured according to modern safety regulations and standards.

Some things you should look out for when buying a pontoon are:

  • the condition of the engine
  • check the welding and brackets for signs of patching or damage
  • if the decks and rails were bolted through or screwed in (bolting means they will last longer)

You can also look for a brand that matches your budget and needs. Some brands offer more luxurious boats and are more expensive. However, most brands provide boats in a variety of price ranges that will still provide plenty of fun for the whole family.

3. Tips for Getting a Good Deal on a Pontoon Boat

If you go shopping for a new car, you’ll probably look for any good deals out there. Well, pontoon boats are no different when it comes to finding a good deal.

The most important thing to know when looking for a deal is that timing is everything. If you live in an area that has an off-season and an on-season, which means that you have cold winters, then you’ll likely find better deals in the off-season.

Boat dealerships will usually try to sell their old models in the fall so that they can have room for the new ones. If you’re intending to buy a boat through a dealership, then buying in the fall or winter can be an ideal time to purchase.

If you live in an area that has boating all year, then you might just want to be constantly on the lookout for new deals. In fact, tax season might be the best time for you to buy. Dealers tend to put up deals during tax season under the assumption that people who get tax refunds will choose to buy things they normally wouldn’t purchase.

Private Sellers

If you’re buying from a private seller, then you will probably want to buy in the middle of winter. Private sellers are more likely to sell their pontoons in the winter because they’re not using them then. And their pontoons are just taking up space.

Private sellers might also still be making payments, which they will want to stop doing if they’re not getting any use out of the boat. And even if a private seller wants to sell their pontoon, they might wait until winter so they can use it in the summer.

Another good tip is to check with your local financial institution. They may be offering deals on boats during the early spring or winter in order to increase their loan numbers.

4. Consider Boat Shows

You can also find great deals for buying pontoons at boat shows. These shows generally take place in the spring in places with colder climates. And they usually happen in winter in areas with hotter climates.

Not only will you find big discounts but you can also gain new insight into the variety of boats out there. When you go to a boat show, you’ll be able to compare different models and companies.

5. Know the Advantages of Buying a Pontoon Boat Instead of Renting One

The biggest advantage of buying a boat over renting one is the sense of ownership. Owning a boat gives you much more freedom when you’re deciding where you want to sail to and what you want to do with it. You’ll have pride in your ship and be able to modify it how you see fit.

6. Finance Through a Marine Lender

Marine lenders tend to know more about financing sea vessels than commercial banks do. Marine lenders can finance your boat, and many times they will offer you a better deal. You’ll also be able to deduct the interest when you file your taxes.

Make sure that you pay special attention to loan fees and interest rates when looking at financing.

7. What to Look for When Buying a Pontoon Boat New

When you purchase a new boat, as opposed to a used one, you’ll have more say in what your boat will look and feel like. You can add features, packages, and have control over the seating arrangement and layout.

When buying a new boat, you should consider:

  • Seating configuration: you can choose a configuration that maximizes seating or you can pick one that gives you extra lounging space
  • Number of tubes: most pontoons have two tubes but some come with three – more tubes means more stability
  • Motor size: pick a motor size that’s appropriate for what you intend to use the boat for

Because new boats are more expensive than used ones, you want to make sure that everything is just right before you buy.

8. What to Look for When Buying a Pontoon Boat Used

When buying a used boat, you first want to check out the hull. Look out for any chips, patches, or cracks. These issues can get worse over time if they’re not quickly repaired.

You also want to check on the condition of the furniture and floor of the interior.

The Importance of Knowing About Buying a Pontoon

Buying a pontoon boat can be a lot of fun. But before you make a purchase, it’s important that you take all of the above information into consideration so you can make a more informed purchase.

Interested in getting more helpful information about buying boats? Check out the rest of our site today for more!

Chris Blackwell Boating
About Chris Blackwell

Chris is an avid angler and boating enthusiast. Raised on a small lake he spent most of his youth fishing in Jon Boats and water skiing behind Fiberglass boats. Chris enjoys taking his family out on the water so they can relive the fun he has always had.

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