Pontoon Flooring Debate: Carpet or Vinyl?

When it comes to pontoon flooring, I’ve seen a lot of disagreements.

You have fishers who like the convenience of vinyl because it is easy to maintain, and entertainers who wouldn’t dream of anything except plush carpet beneath their bare feet.

Though it would be difficult to persuade them otherwise, I believe some boaters’ justifications for carpet are antiquated. With today’s technological advancements, I believe that the benefits of vinyl greatly surpass those of carpet.

But, before I can make my argument for vinyl’s advancements, I need to describe the apparent benefits and drawbacks of both materials.

Carpeted Pontoon Flooring

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For those on a budget, a carpet is a fantastic choice. If you go this route, make sure to use a marine carpet. Marine carpeting is made to endure the weather and is far more durable than ordinary carpet.

Marine carpets, such as this marine-grade pontoon boat carpeting in 8-foot by 20-foot rolls (see cost on Amazon), are readily available and come in a variety of colors.

Advantages of Carpeted Flooring

Acoustical Properties

Some people tend to like the acoustical features that carpet appears to offer. It’s a gentler stride that muffles the sound of feet stamping the deck, which is especially useful while you’re waiting for a catch.


Carpeting does, in fact, provide traction! Even if your feet are moist, you won’t slip about on the carpet.

There was a time when, aside from carpeting, the only other option for boat flooring was slick, slippery vinyl, similar to the pressed linoleum used on kitchen floors. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. In the vinyl portion, I’ll go into greater depth.

Softer Feel

As I previously stated, some ‘tooners like entertaining and wish that their deck had the softer, at-home feel of a living room.

This is something I can’t disagree with. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? However, if this is the sole reason you’re considering carpeting, consider the practical side of things.

After all, it’s a boat. It will be always damp, unlike your living room floor.

Disadvantages of Carpeted Flooring

Scalding Metal Rivets

Metal rivets and snaps on earlier boat models may fully burn a bare foot if you tread on them on a hot day if you’re not careful.

Sand, Stains and Fishy Smells

The propensity of carpet to absorb is one of its worst characteristics. And when I say absorb, I mean it. You name it: dirt, sand, and fish guts.

The number of particles that will sink through, whether you dock near a sandy beach or a lake with earthy shores, will amaze you. Crumbs fall and spills happen even when you’re eating. It’s unavoidable!

If you’re a fisherman, carpet will absorb any nasty, slimy things you don’t catch in a cooler beforehand.

In addition, carpeting has a propensity to grow matted over time.

Underdeck Rotting

Carpet collects water and never fully dries, causing mildew and decay on the boards beneath it.

In fact, isn’t that why you’ve come here? Perhaps your deck is creaking and softening, and you’re thinking it’s time for a re-decking work, so you might as well replace the floor covering as well.

That is most likely what has happened if there is currently carpeting on top. The carpet will deteriorate the decking materials over time, resulting in a less-than-sturdy floorboard.

Vinyl Pontoon Flooring

I used to believe that vinyl floor covering for boats was the same as vinyl floor covering for residences. Linoleum rolls bolted together to make your boat’s floor seem like your kitchen floor. But believe me when I say that vinyl has gone a long way since then!

It is not only more durable, but it is also more aesthetically beautiful.

Advantages of Vinyl Flooring


Vinyl, unlike carpet, is significantly easier to clean. Did your line snap after a huge catch, causing the fish to flop all over the deck? Have your kids spilled sweet soft drinks all over the place and you’re worried it’ll get sticky? It’s as good as new with only a moderate wash.

Mold won’t develop and spread undercover or in storage, especially if you live in a humid area.

Easy Maintenance

Vinyl is also a lot easier to keep clean. Before or after winterization, all you have to do is give it a nice hose down, even with a power washer. Allow time for it to dry before putting it on the lid and snapping it shut.

If you want to use a little of solution, I recommend the StarBrite Cleaner (check pricing on Amazon) and a long brush (check out one choice on Amazon) so your knees and back aren’t affected.

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I’ve seen that many folks choose carpet because of its noise-reducing properties. But I believe this is one of the old wives’ tales I discussed earlier.

Some forms of vinyl can now be as silent as wood. Soft-carpet entertainers would enjoy this! Padding may be put beneath for an acoustical sound barrier, and —adding a little additional padding to your step.

UV Resistance

If you’re replacing old boat carpets, pay attention to the color difference between the two. The color is significantly more vibrant in regions where the sun never reached it, such as a fold or tuck.

That’s because the sun’s UV rays eventually revealed and faded the carpet’s colors. Because most current vinyl flooring is UV stabilized, this will never happen.

Better Warranty

Remember how I mentioned the carpet may damage the deck if there was a lot of moisture on it? Manufacturers are now giving a longer warranty if you add vinyl since they’ve realized the damage it causes.

Companies and dealers are so confident in the durability of vinyl that they believe it will help their decks survive longer than if it were covered with carpet.

Furthermore, because vinyl is often attached so firmly to the flooring, it provides a watertight seal on its own.

Ease of Installation

Of course, vinyl tiles are easier to install. Others are put together by snapping the edges in line. Some come in pre-glued sheets with an adhesive backing that you simply peel and press, while others are cobbled together by snapping the edges in line.

Vinyl planks, which are narrow strips approximately two feet long and a few inches broad, are another alternative. They may be glued or snapped together as well.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Flooring

How to Avoid Slips (Debunked!)

Parents are concerned about their children’s safety while on board. A youngster taking a bad fall or maybe falling overboard is one of the scariest things that can happen.

As a result, parents are concerned about their children slipping as they get out of the water and stand in a puddle. And this is why many boaters prefer carpet’s inherent traction.

However, there is a happy middle. Allow me to introduce you to…

Textured Woven Vinyl

Textured vinyl provides just enough grip underfoot to keep youngsters (or anybody else) from slipping. It’s still breathable and mold-resistant, just like any other vinyl, but it provides just enough friction underfoot to produce a non-skid surface.

Textured vinyl is no longer limited to tiles and planks. Instead, textured woven vinyl flooring comes in a number of widths, most of which are approximately 8 feet wide, and lengths ranging from 10 to 30 feet.

It’s also more aesthetically pleasant, with a range of textures and colors to choose from. There are also lovely designs that seem like actual wood (see price on Amazon) and imitation tessellation masonry.

The Seagrass line from Infinity Fabrics comes in a range of hues of quality woven vinyl (see pricing on Amazon).

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The installation of vinyl flooring on your pontoon is a popular modification. It will cost you an additional $300 to $1200 depending on the quality and ounce weight. As a result, the cost is something that everyone must consider in their own budget.

However, I believe that the benefits of vinyl greatly surpass those of carpet. Textured vinyl flooring is a great addition to a pontoon for a variety of reasons, including simplicity of maintenance and reduced risk of underdeck rot.

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