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Deck Boat vs Pontoon Boat

Deck boat versus pontoon boat

Pontoon Boats have been growing in popularity for the last couple of decades. Now a new type of boat has started to replace sales of pontoon boats. These new boats are referred to as Deck Boats.

Our guide to a Deck Boat vs Pontoon Boat covers everything you need to know about these two vessels. See if a Deck Boat is the right choice for you, or if you’re better sticking with the tried and tested Pontoon Boats.

What is a Deck Boat?

These boats have a similar layout to pontoon boats, offering a lot of space. You’ll have plenty of places to lounge about in the sun and platforms to cast a line from.

However, deck boats are similar to speed boats in that they have a V-hull that supports a speedy journey on the water. They are fast and aerodynamic and give the impression that the boat is rising out of the water when cruising.

Deck Boat
Starcraft Marine Deck Boat

Deck boats combine the spacious layout of a pontoon boat with the ‘Hull’ design of a runabout such as a Bowrider. They’re made from aluminum or fiberglass and range in size from 18 to 25 feet long.

It has the speed advantages of a speedboat but can accommodate more people, making it a fantastic leisure boat. Most deck boats can comfortably fit around eight to ten people.

Pontoon Boats

These types of boats are very popular and the most common type of leisure boat. Like the deck boats, they have a large deck and tons of space which is a big reason why they’re so popular.

Unlike deck boats, they have no V-shaped hull and are flat. This means they are slower. Pontoon boats work with two tubes on either side of the boat.

Pontoon Boat with Canopy on Lake
Pontoon Boat with Mid-size Outboard Motor

Typically, pontoons are powered by an outboard motor and the size ranges from around 16 to 25 feet.

They are designed as the ultimate leisure boat with a variety of seating and lounging options, accommodating up to twenty people.

Deck Boat vs Pontoon Boat: Comparing the Specifics

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the difference between pontoons and deck boats. While they’re very similar in a lot of aspects, there are some key differences that will impact your decision on which type of boat to buy.

Space and Layout

If you’re here to choose between pontoons or deck boats then there’s a good chance that you’re looking for a boat with a ton of space.

Both pontoons and deck boats offer more space than most other boats and are good for groups.

However, pontoons are quite literally floating living rooms. There is space to sit, walk around, and lounge – usually for between ten and twenty people. A day out on a boat like this never feels cramped and you can easily spend a whole day with a large group on the water.

Deck boats are spacious too, but the use of space is not as functional. It’s more about fitting people on board than people being comfortable on board. There’s not too much space to move and walk around and the maximum capacity of deck boats is usually around 12 people.


The V-shaped hull is the most impactful distinguishing difference between the pontoon boats and deck boats. This greatly affects the speed and performance of the boat.

The fiberglass V-style hull allows the deck boat to cut through the water at rapid speed, creating a wake as it goes. Deck boats are also powered by an outboard engine or I/O which helps to push up the speed, too.

Pontoon boats lack the V-hull and are therefore much slower. If you’re looking for a boat to spend the day lounging on the water, going nowhere slowly, and entertaining then pontoon boats are for you.

In recent years, the performance of pontoons has become a big focus point, though. You don’t need to worry about purchasing a ‘toon that potters around at 20 mph.

These days, if you’re willing to shell out the cash, you can get a vessel with an engine with 115 to 200 horsepower reaching speeds of up to 60 mph.

If you’re after something with a lot more speed – especially if you’d like to do watersports – deck boats are the better option.

Performance and Handling

When it comes to performance on the water, it comes as no surprise that deck boats take the lead. The aerodynamic design and V-shaped hull lend the boat fantastic maneuverability.

The vessel is capable of tight turns, sharp stops, and sharp angles, even at high speeds. Deck boats can power through the water with little to no bow rise. Driving deck boats feels luxurious and smooth.

That being said, pontoon boats take the cake when it comes to stability and they are easier to handle. For novice boat owners, buying a pontoon boat as your first boat ensures that you’ll feel comfortable driving your boat.

These boats are solid on the water and are highly unlikely to capsize. However, they will plane easily due to less horsepower and while the hydraulic steering system helps with sharp turns, pontoons still need a wider turning path.


The important question you need to ask yourself is what you plan on using your boat for? Are you looking for a specific function or an all-rounder?

Both deck boats and pontoons are fantastic choices for a versatile boat that you can use for a whole lot of fun on the water. However, there are some activities for which each of the boats is better suited.

As an entertainment and leisure boat, the pontoon is the ultimate option. All the extra space allows you to add cool features such as fire pits and attachable grills.

It’s also an excellent fishing boat. The boat has a lot of space for fishing gear and can move slowly through the water. It also has a shallow draft and stable platforms that are easy to fish from.

Deck boats, on the other hand, are less suitable for entertaining. While there’s space to sit, there’s not space for much else. It’s also not as good for fishing as it lacks the stable platforms and shallow water access that pontoons offer. However, fishing is still absolutely possible and enjoyable on a deck boat.

Where deck boats shine is with watersports. The speed and power of the boat mean that it can easily pull water skiers, wakeboarders, and tubers. The most a pontoon can do is pull tubers.


The price tag may be an influencing factor in your decision about what boat to buy. It’s important to remember that the cost of boat ownership doesn’t end when you walk away from the dealer with your new shiny boat.

Typically, a decent pontoon is more affordable than a deck boat. Keep in mind that it’s dependent on the type of engine, which can account for up to half of the total cost of the boat.

The general starting price for a deck boat is around $30, 000 and can go as high as $80,000.

On the other hand, you can pick up a pontoon for $13,000 which is a much friendlier price tag. If you’re looking for something bigger and more luxurious you can expect to pay $25,000 which is still cheaper than lower-end deck boats. Of course, the fastest, biggest, most luxurious pontoons still carry a hefty price tag up to $60K.

After the initial sales price, you’ll have recurring costs that depend on the boat. For example, boat insurance typically costs more for deck boats as their value is higher. You’ll save on gas prices with the slow-going pontoon which uses as little as 5 gallons per hour.

The great thing about both of these boats is that they’re DIY friendly. A lot of the maintenance and repairs you can do yourself if you’re knowledgeable or willing to learn. Aluminum pontoons are especially low-maintenance and easy to repair.

Which is the Best Boat for You?

Now that you know the ‘hull’ truth about a deck boat vs pontoon boat, you need to think about which is most suitable for your needs and wants.

If you’re looking for a stylish, speedy boat that is good for watersports while still offering leisure space, you should consider a deck boat. While they come with a heftier price tag, you won’t be disappointed by the versatility and performance of these awesome boats.

If you want something that you can spend the entire day on the water, entertaining and casting a line then pontoon boats are for you. They may not have the speed, but they have luxurious space for plenty of passengers, fun features, and fishing gear.

Boating Scout has all the information you need about buying, owning, maintaining, and enjoying your boat. Check out this post if you’re considering a second-hand pontoon or deck boat.

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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