Pontoon boat Bimini tops are one of those accessories that you will need to change every few years. If you can manage to get 5 to 6 years out of yours, then you’re doing pretty good, as over time they will get mildew stains, tear, or the frames can buckle.
But, here’s the thing. Go to your local dealer to buy a pontoon boat Bimini top replacement and you are going to get a shock. It’s not unheard of for the prices to be in the four-figure range.
Don’t give them that money, it’s not worth it, unless you’re looking to buy an electric powered Bimini (and I recommend one of those lower down the page).
Given the short-life of these things I would always recommend that you look for a deal, and buy a low-cost cover with the boot, hardware, and frame. They honestly don’t take long to install, and you will make a huge saving.
So, what are the best pontoon boat Biminis?
I’ve purchased two before, any my buddy has recently purchased a double. You can see my reviews below for the ones I have used, plus a couple of recommendations from my pontooning buddies.
Handy Hint: As I have no idea on what size you want or how many bows the recommendations below are a selection of sizes. You will have to go through to the manufacturer I link to and select the right size and color for you.
Best replacement pontoon boat Bimini top (frame & canvas)
Below you can see the two canvas tops, cover, and frame kits that I have owned over the last few years. Both come recommended, but have different price points.
Summerset 4 Bow Canvas Top & Frame
MY BEST RECOMMENDATION
With marine-grade canvas, it’s not weathered yet, has no frays or tears, and is very, very strong. It took me 60 minutes to install, and I was able to hook it up to my existing brackets easily – see the latest prices on Amazon.
- Solution Dyed Fabric Provides 99.9% UV Protection.
- Waterproof / Breathable Material Prevents Fading.
- Heavy duty 1″ Super-Trude Square aluminum frames. 40 MPH Speed Rating.
- Quick and Easy Installation. Handmade / Premium Quality.
- Includes Matching Storage Boot & Rear Support Poles.
Leader Accessories Cover & Frame
MY BUDGET RECOMMENDATION
Before the Summerset Bimini top, I used a Leader Accessories Bimini top. It gave me a couple of years use before I shanked the frame when trailering my pontoon. I managed to fix the frame buckles up, but had a few minor tears so decided to do a full replacement.
But, prior to that it worked just fine for me with no complaints, so I don’t hesitate to recommend it at all. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon to see how well regarded this top, cover, and frame kit is.
- Made of marine-grade 600D polyester fabric. Double-overlapped stitching and UV resistant.
- All stainless-steel mounting hardware, color co-ordinated zippered storage boot and assemble instructions included.
- 1” diameter aluminum frame with double-walled main bow legs for maximum strength and free quick release mounts.4 adjustable nylon straps for the front and the rear.
- 12 optional fabric colors
- 7 different sizes are available
Leader Accessories 3 Bow Cover & Frame
MY 3 BOW RECOMMENDATION
The previous two reviews were of 4 bow cover tops. But, if you need 3 bows, look no further than the Leader Accessories Bimini. It’s cheap, easy to install, and comes in loads of different colors so you “should” be able to find one that suits your preference.
Plus, it has some of the best reviews on Amazon I have ever seen in this industry. Want to see for yourself? Go look for yourself and read what people are saying about it on Amazon.
The specifications are virtually the same as the 4 bow version I highlighted previously.
Best double Bimini top for pontoon boat
But what double Bimini tops? They are a great choice if you need extended coverage from the sun over your deck and console. I am considering one myself given I take the kids out so much and want to keep them protected from the UV.
I don’t own one yet but am seriously considering it. Here’s a couple of selections that my buddies own and love.
NorthStar Pontoon Boat Double Bimini Top 18′ Long Sunbrella
MY BIGGEST RECOMMENDATION
This is HUGE. It’s 18 foot in length but does come with a price to match. However, it comes with a 10 YEAR WARRANTY which is almost unheard of with Biminis. Read the full specification and color options on Amazon.
So, what makes the manufacturer so confident in this double top, cover, and frame? It’s the anodized aluminum frame, stable fittings, and 9.25oz marine grade sunbrella, coupled with the poly thread UV which offers such great protection and quality.
- 18′ long double Bimini made with sunbrella material
- 2 – independent 8′ long tops with removable zippered connector
- 1″ square satin anodized tubing with metal fittings and deck mounts
- Storage boots included
- Cut-out for Stern Light in rear Bimini
NorthStar Double Bimini Top Pontoon Boat 15′ Long Sunbrella
MY BUDGET(ISH) RECOMMENDATION
I say budget, but it’s still a lot of money, but that’s what you need to pay for double-coverage. It’s a NorthStar again (these guys are the KING of the DOUBLE) so has the same spec as before, it’s just shorter at 15 feet in length.
What I love about NorthStar is that once you have ordered from them via Amazon, they let you email them and then adjust the width of the Bimini frame and canvas if it’s not quite the right dimensions for your pontoon boat.
To see evidence of their great customer service, read the reviews and questions, plus the prices on Amazon.
Best power Bimini tops
For an electric-powered pontoon Bimini top, there’s only one name in the market; PWR ARM.
PWR ARM Power Pontoon Boat Bimini Top
MY ONLY RECOMMENDATION
There’s a trend in the pontoon boat community at the moment to complete install PWR ARM tops to replace their existing Biminis. I’ve not done this but have seen them in action loads over the last summer.
You can check the latest prices on Amazon as well as a few reviews on the PWR ARM.
Here are some comments I found online with feedback on this electric powered top.
“Ours is great. We have a covered boat lift, so it’s nice to be able to bring the top down by myself at the end of the day with just the press of a button while everyone else is unloading coolers and gear. And then to also put it up with just a quick unzip and press of a button while we’re loading up and getting ready to head out.”
“I bought and installed mine last spring and love it. It is easy to install with very clear instructions. Only hard spot is getting wire from one side to the other. I ran the wires through the aluminum frame of the top though, and it works fine.”
“We bought two about a month ago to have 20 foot of top on our 21-foot boat and have begun installation. Both tops are assembled and clamped in place and have tested. Really like them so far, sure I’ll like them much better when permanently installed!”
“I really like my PWR ARMs. One bit of caution would be if you like to go really fast. I think the max recommended speed is maybe 25 miles per hour or so, assuming no wind. I’m thinking if you go 15 mph into a 10-mph wind, you’d have the same issue. As with all Biminis, you’re basically creating a huge sail, but these don’t have a back brace to handle all of that wind force.”
“Great customer service. I had a malfunctioning motor just on the edge of the warranty period. Sent the bad part in and it was returned to me the same day that it was received plus transit time.”
“Mine’s been great, just had a motor fail though but was pleased with their customer service. I sent mine in for a rebuild and they only charged 100 bucks and gave a 24 hour turn around once they received it! Great customer service.”
Here’s what you get:
- Fits both 8′ and 8-12” wide Pontoon Boats
- Never wrestle with lowering your pontoon canopy top and framework again
- Durable 100% Solution Dyed Polyester Canvas
- 8’X10′ 3 Bow Frame 1-1/4″ Bright Dipped Anodized Square Tubing
And here’s a video of the PWR ARM in action.
#1: What you need to know before ordering a pontoon boat Bimini top replacement
If you are looking to replace your Bimini top and not the frame and are ordering from a dealer there are certain things you need to know. This includes:
- BIN number: this is usually at the back and will include 15 numbers and letters. It gives the dealer everything that they need to order it. Some dealers need it, some don’t.
- Width of boat: if ordering an aftermarket replacement you will also need to know the width of your pontoon boat.
- Length of fabric: you should also measure the length of the current Bimini fabric. The dealer might also ask if it’s a 3 bow or 4 bow frame.
Some canvas shops use better quality materials that manufacturers of boats for cheaper prices. You could bring your pontoon boat to them though for best fit.
#2: How to remove or replace Bimini from your pontoon boat
I’ve not done this before but have found an excellent video on YouTube which shows a step by step process you can follow if you want to install a pontoon boat Bimini top replacement.
#3: How to secure a pontoon boat Bimini top for travel
When you lower down your Bimini you can’t always lower it down completely, so it lays completely flat against the boat. You might be concerned about the wind picking it up when trailering and towing.
However, don’t be too concerned as you place the top down into what’s called the radar position. When the tops are placed like this, it will prevent billowing in the wind when trailering.
Also make sure that the fasteners are tightened up and secure.
#4: Should a Bimini be up or down in a storm?
You might be concerned about lightening striking the metal frame and poles. It’s a valid concern, but data I’ve looked at from national statistics say that it’s very rare for this to lead to accidents.
To read more about this research and what I recommend, take a look at this article.
#5: What’s the best way to clean and repair dirty Bimini mildew stains?
If you want to rejuvenate your canvas, there are a few things you can try, but bear in mind that they are a consumable item that will wear out with sun and water damage over time, so always budget for a replacement.
If you do want to clean it, then 303 protectants make for great cleaners as well as bleach-based cleaners.
Biminis don’t last forever, when mine gets mildew on it I will remove the entire frame with the top, open it in the yard, spray down with marine spray nine and get what I can off with that.
If there are still bad mildew stains that won’t move, I then use Clorox Clean-Up spray and a soft brush, rinsing 5 times more than you think you need to.
Then I completely spray down with Star Brite Waterproof liquid. Will it damage the thread? Yes, maybe in 3 to 5 years, but the choice is simple; have it look terrible or clean it or buy a complete replacement canvas.
Another tip I’ve picked up from other pontoon boat owners is to take it to a laundromat for a full wash. Apparently, it will come out much cleaner, but will still have some light stains.
#6: Can you replace a 3 bow Bimini canvas on a Sun Tracker with an aftermarket canvas?
Sun Tracker Bimini tops aren’t the same size the aftermarket ones.
You can still order them from eBay or Amazon, and it should fit very well, but it might not have the hole in the back for the small light pole so you will have to remount it.
#7: What are the best lights to use underneath a Bimini?
There are a few ways as there are so many LED lights on the market. I’ve seen some pontooners use rope style LEDs and run the wire with the mooring light wires.
Make sure that you choose waterproof LEDs, and something that changes color or is in red to attract less bugs.
Another option can be to not mess with your night vision and instead place solar powered LED lighting around the bases of all the furniture. It allows enough ambient light to walk around, identify the people you are speaking with and still be able to see other marine traffic.
You could also place lights into the floor speakers. They are original from factory, but you can replace your speakers with light up ones. And cup holders too (see which cup holders I recommend).
What I personally did was use camping tent LED lights and there are many inexpensive hanging options. I got these LED road flare lights, they put off a lot of light:
#8: Are power Biminis worth the money?
You might consider buying an electric-powered one. They are great for older people or just for convenience sake but can be expensive at between $700 and $800 dollars.
They certainly can make life a lot easier, but from what I’ve seen on other pontoon boats they aren’t that great at high speeds despite being rated for 30 or 40 miles per hour.
Running the wires will be the hardest part but the assembly of the top itself tends to be pretty straightforward.
My buddy has had a power Bimini for years, and he loves it. He frequently goes boating alone and has low bridges to go under. With this top, he doesn’t have to get out of his seat to put the top up or down.
He has had to replace one actuator, and PWR-Arm did it at no charge, even though it was out of warranty.
#9: What’s the best way to mount and attach a flag to a Bimini top?
Many pontoon boat owners will attach a flag pole and flag to theirs. I’ve put together a guide to flags with some great deals – view all flags on sale here.
I’ve also put a guide together which shows you the best way to mount a flag on a pontoon boat – that gives you some additional options for mounting positions.
In terms of Bimini frame mounting though, you can use zip ties or small rail fender clamps from a brand like Taylor Made. See which mounts and clamps I recommend.
Handy Hint: Airhead have just released a Bimini Flag Pole Holder. Read my review here.
#10: What are the pros and cons to fitting a second Bimini top at the front?
If you have loungers in front of your pontoon boat that get a lot of sun exposure you might want to consider installing a second Bimini top at the front.
You can get double Biminis with zips that also provide full enclosure if it gets cold, or if you’re out overnight. You just click and zip if it gets too hot or rains.
They don’t have to connect though. You can always just add a second 8-foot Bimini in front and it will work great as either one could be open or closed without hindering the other. A slight difference in height allows for an overlap of several inches and provides a good rain run-off.
We have young kids and want to protect them from the sun as much as possible, so it’s been an essential addition and I would really recommend it.
However, if there are any cons it will be wind resistance. And not just when you’re driving, but also when anchored down.
When anchored, I had to purchase another anchor, one for front and back. After adding the second top, my current anchor wasn’t heavy enough to keep boat anchored in even a slight wind. You will catch serious wind if your drive the boat with both tops folded out.
#11: What’s the best way to install a second forward Bimini?
My buddy went through this decision just a few weeks ago. He I installed two powered Biminis and went with both facing forward.
When in down position the front Bimini rests right at the console and can be raised in radar position letting him drive just fine. When they are both raised, they slightly overlap to provide seamless shade.
#12: Can you waterproof a pontoon boat Bimini top?
Yes, you can, and I recommend a 303 protectant. There’s no such thing as a perfect solution but I use this every 4 to 6 weeks and it works for me. But remember, the zippers are not waterproof!
With a 303 protectant, I’ve never experienced any discoloring or flaking after years of use in the summer sun.
You can also buy Bimini tops made by Sunbrella that are waterproof and don’t need any treatment, very similar to have expensive custom boat covers. They have a rubberized backing that doesn’t let the water through.
I have a friend who uses Camp Dry on tents before. He swears that this product designed for tents can work on Bimini tops very well.
#13: How do you measure a replacement Bimini top for pontoon boat?
It’s not always clear whether you should measure from the inside rail to rail or outside rail to rail.
This is how to measure a pontoon boat for a Bimini top: I advise that you measure across the playpen frame on the outside as you want to know the maximum width. Most all pontoons are 8.5-foot-wide and it’s only the 18 foot and under boats that are 8 foot wide.
Bimini frames are able to flex in and out by several inches.
#14: What’s the best screen room of mesh for a Bimini top to stop bugs and humidity?
If you are boating in a place like Florida, then bugs and heat is going to be a massive problem. I recently went on vacation down in Destin and booked a pontoon rental.
On our rented Bennington we have conical and square mosquito nets hanging from the Bimini struts, it worked perfectly.
#15: Can you straighten bent Bimini frames without breaking them?
You can, and I’ve got personal experience of this. I was backing our trailer back into the garage and buckled and bent the frame by about 4 inches.
I bent mine back and straightened it out. Just block and a bend a little at a time.
#16: Is it better to buy a new frame and canvas or just the canvas fabric?
If you want the best fit, I would order both together and preferably get square tube frame.
But you can also check around with your local upholstery shops, as they might be able to make a canvas cover up for you cheaply.
#17: When towing your pontoon should you lay the Bimini down or up?
I don’t take any risks, and mine is down all of the time while traveling back and forth to and from the boat ramp.
If you leave it in the up position, it increases the chances of hitting a tree and cutting the canvas or bending the frame. It only takes a minute to stand it up after you get to the water.
And I speak from experience, as a couple of years ago I left it up and hit a low hanging branch. Thankfully I was going slow and saw it touch, so just backed away and lowered the Bimini. I won’t do that again.
Some Bimini tops will have a speed rating on them. Mine says it’s 35 miles per hour, but even with that I don’t want to take any chances.
Speaking of which, I was driving on the highway recently and was behind someone trailering their pontoon with the top up.
The stress was wrenching the Bimini frame back and forth. That puts a lot of stress on the fittings, and eventually they will be making some avoidable repairs. Never mind the reduction in gas mileage.
#18: How can you keep seagulls off your Bimini top?
I hate seagulls! They can leave so much mess!
I’ve put a guide together with a load of hacks and products that will stop seagulls from pooping on your boat, canopy, and covers.
There’s also an article that is dedicated to stopping seagulls from sitting on your pontoon boat, using humane anti-pest gadgets and deterrents – you can read that here.
#19: Why do some boat owners keep their top up even when the mooring cover is on?
Have you seen this in your local marina? I have, and the main reason is just laziness. Yes, sometimes wasps can build nests inside the folds of the Bimini when it’s in the boot, but I can’t see any other reason not to pack it down.
I have two buddies that don’t bother taking theirs down when parked in the slips for a few days and asked them why. This is what they said:
“We keep our double Bimini open because it’s easy and we’re lazy. We have a covered slip and our dealer said it was fine to keep it open. I do use the mooring cover to keep bugs and bird crap off the seats.”
OK, so that’s fine, but I would be careful about storms blowing through at high speed.
My other buddy said this:
“When I am coming back in the slip it is much easier to leave it up during the summer than to take it down every single time. I fight with the mooring cover enough as it is. If bad weather is predicted I will store it in the down position and in the boot. The mooring cover goes on every time except for when I’m going to be back up there the next day. I’m very meticulous with keeping my boat as clean as possible.”
Fair enough! And here’s one last comment from another pontoon boat owner:
“We moor in a covered slip if we plan on being back within a couple days. The Bimini stays open and no cover used, just some light weight table cloths to cover the seats. When I’m storing for work the Bimini is folded and booted as my mooring cover is not designed to fit it when open.”
#20: What are the pros and cons of a hardtop vs Bimini top?
I know that hardtops can be collapsed down, but I still don’t think they would trailer too well. With hardtops, the main con would be the weight and trailer drag.
A pro would be that a hardtop is longer lasting and offers mounting points for accessories.
Hardtops can be neat especially if strong enough for a lounging deck. But I would not want to give up performance due to weight and drag. I like to pull tubers and knee boards and would be concerned about making quick turns being that top heavy also.
They will also be harder to hold anchor on a windy day and you can’t take it down or wrap it up. Everyone wants to sit in the sun on the front of your boat making it nose heavy.
But if it is strictly a party barge, I think hardtop would be perfect.
In conclusion, I like both but would choose a Bimini. This time of the year and in the fall, mornings are cool. So, if leave the top down to allow the sun to warm me up and then open the top when it gets hot later in the day.
A buddy of mine went from hard top and enclosure to double Bimini tops and couldn’t be happier. It trailers way better and can fold out the way a lot faster. His hardtop was a major pain to lay down. He left his up and used ratchet straps to brace it from rocking side to side when traveling.
#21: Are there shade attachments for a Bimini when the sun is to the side rather than the top?
You could use towels hanging from the Bimini but that doesn’t look great. Ideally you want something breathable, so it won’t cut off all the air movement.
You could buy some 75% shade tarps and use big plastic clamps from Home Depot. Then clamp it to the top and side rails and it should work really well. You can buy the tarps cheaply online.
Alternatively, you could go to a local upholstery shop to make some hanging nylon webbing. It could be hung by zippers sowed to the Bimini top sides.
#22: How to install a Bimini top on a pontoon boat
If you do decide to buy a replacement, it should come with instructions on how to install it (unless of course your dealer does it for you).
Here’s a great video on YouTube which shows you how to install a replacement Bimini top for pontoon boat (with a 3-bow frame).
#23: How to make a Bimini top for a pontoon boat
Alternatively, you could buy the parts, frame, canvas, and cover tops yourself and make your own. Here’s a great video explainer which shows how you can buy a kit and then get the whole thing set-up by yourself.
#24: What does a 3 bow Bimini mean?
On pontoon boats you will typically have either a 3 bow or 4 bow Bimini. It’s unlikely you would have a 2-bow top, as those are mostly found on small fishing boats.
But what does a 3 bow Bimini actually mean?
It’s quite simple; it means that there are 3 bows running inside the top of the fabric/canvas.
4 bows are the most common on pontoon boats and tend to be supported by round or square frame tubing.
#25: Why is it called a Bimini top?
Bimini is a place in the Bahamas, and guess what? Yes, it gets pretty hot there.
Bimini tops are named after this chain of islands that are east from the coast of Miami, and if you are in boating there you will need all the shade that you can get!
The last word…
So, there you have it, my list of the best replacement Bimini tops for pontoon boat.
If you are worried about fitting and installing yours, please don’t be. It’s actually really simple, with loads of tutorials on YouTube – that’s how I replaced and installed mine, and I believe you could too!