Recently a buddy of mine employed a company to completely re-deck his pontoon boat. They asked him whether he wanted carpet or vinyl flooring. He actually didn’t really know, and we spent a little time discussing the matter with other pontooners on the subject of pontoon carpet vs vinyl.

Below you can see a graphic of how many pontoon boat owners preferred vinyl versus carpet. As you can see the vinyl came out well on top… with a small percentage of boat owners not actually knowing – that’s how I want to help you today.

Should you choose vinyl or carpet flooring in a pontoon boat`

We asked 33 pontoon boat owners what’s best in February of 2018.

So that’s what all the boat owners told us, but as you can see, it’s not a complete clear-cut answer.

It’s a big decision isn’t it?

What follows is a combination of all of our research into the carpet versus vinyl flooring debate, and at the end of it, we’re going to tell you what’s best and what you should choose.

Pontoon Flooring Vinyl vs Carpet: What Should You Choose?

So first-up, I guess a lot of will depend on how you use your pontoon boat.

For example, most fishing pontooners I know love vinyl. It’s simple to clean, and the mess that can be generated from fishing is lot more manageable on vinyl, rather than carpet. Below is what a typical vinyl flooring will look like.

Traditional Vinyl

This is what people typically think of when we talk about pontoon vinyl floors (image credit unknown)

But then I also know pontoon boat owners who simply use their boats for entertaining and love the more luxurious feel that carpet will give them under their bare feet.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros, cons, advantages, and disadvantages of both flooring materials before we make the final decision.

The Advantages to Using Vinyl Flooring

I am going to start off by discussing vinyl before moving onto carpet. Vinyl is my preferred choice, I can’t lie. Here’s the reasons why you should choose it, including my own views and that of the 33 boat owners we canvassed.

  • It’s easy to clean
  • You don’t need to worry about mildew and mold
  • It probably won’t stain when you spill onto it
  • It’s low maintenance
  • Sand and dirt can simply brush or blow away
  • There are no scalding hot metal rivets and snaps in the sun
  • It won’t smell bad; think fishy smells
  • It won’t rot underneath like wet carpet can
  • It can be UV stabilized; you won’t get different shades of sun-bleaching
  • Manufacturers tend to offer longer warranties
  • It’s easier to install and fit

The Advantages to Using Carpet Flooring

And now for the advantages that my carpet-loving friends, many of which I am going to attempt to de-bunk further down the page!

  • It won’t bubble up and spot
  • It will be cooler on the feet when dry and in direct sunlight
  • It feels a lot nicer and softer under your feet
  • It will be quieter when you walk around on it
  • It won’t be slippery and dangerous

De-Bunking the Pontoon Carpet vs Vinyl Argument

There you have advantages to both listed above, with it being clear that vinyl has more to it than if you to use carpet. For me, carpet on the deck can look really nasty over time if not looked after – see this example below we saw shared on Facebook (image credit unknown) recently.

Dirty carpet

This is what your pontoon floor carpet could end up looking like over time.

But what about the people who still swear by carpet, and don’t want to use vinyl flooring due to the disadvantages?

Let’s take a closer look at some of those points, which I can then counter against.

“Vinyl is slippery and deadly. When wet me and my kids are going to fall over, that’s why I think carpet is best!”

OK, so there’s new vinyl flooring that’s been on the market for quite a few years now which actually blows this argument out of the water (quite literally!).

It’s called SeaGrass Marine vinyl.

It’s a woven vinyl which gives a similar grip to what you would expect with carpet. In fact, it possibly grips even better to stop people slipping over. You can see an example of how it looks including the grooves in the photo below.

Vinyl weave flooring

This vinyl uses a non-skid weave to reduce the chances of you slipping over in the wet.

You might think that being woven will mean that it will hold dirt, scum, and other debris like carpet does, but actually it doesn’t. The manufacturers use a process called stamping which means it looks like a weave, but isn’t truly woven. It’s hard to explain properly, so you need to see it in real-life to understand properly what I mean.

“I would like to use vinyl, but I have kid’s and I don’t want them to burn their feet when they get out of the water.”

I admit, old vinyl flooring on a pontoon boat can get very hot in the sun and burn your kid’s feet, or anyone’s feet for that matter.

Marine SeaGrass is different though. It’s light in color so it doesn’t get hot, providing you choose the lighter option of course.

“I love the feel of a comfortable carpet floor under my feet. It just feels more luxurious and I don’t think I could switch to vinyl because of that.” 

This new vinyl closely replicates the feel of a carpet has a thin padding to it, so it feels like carpet under your feet.

“I would swap to a vinyl floor on my pontoon, but I’ve been quoted quite high prices, and think it’s actually cheaper to go with a carpet option on my boat.”

You’ve got me here.

Vinyl can be more expensive, and in fact I had a quote when I was looking at a new pontoon boat recently which was something like $400-dollar difference depending on whether I chose vinyl or carpet. Another pontoon owner I spoke to during this research  paid $780 for vinyl flooring and did it himself. That was versus the $350 he had paid for the original carpet he had down previously. It’s not hard to fit, just time consuming.

But, if you already have your pontoon and are thinking about making the change, you can do it yourself, with the Marine SeaGrass available to buy on Amazon. Click here to take a look at the entire SeaGrass Luxury Marine Vinyl flooring collection by Infinity.

You can also take a look at the Marine Flooring website (based in the UK) which has some great photos of the vinyl being placed on a boat deck. Click here to visit their website.

What are the Alternatives to Vinyl or Carpet?

Great question, and there is actually another solution that one of my pontooning buddies has put down on the floor in his boat.

He used two coats of Olympic Rescue It resurfacer, primer, and sealant on his wooden and weathered deck floor. It only cost him $36 to do the whole job – you can see what it looks like in the photo below (photos shared on Facebook – credit unknown).

Painted floor

This pontoon boat has a painted floor instead of carpet.

He says that it makes for a very durable floor. Quick disclaimer though, he does paint for a living, and he uses this all the time on decks, steps, and docks so knows what he is doing. The coat needs to be re-applied every couple of years due to wear and tear.

Olympic Rescue It is also mildew and algae resistant, and provides a slip-resistant finish with a barefoot-friendly surface. Find out more on the Olympic website.

Personally, I don’t think it looks great, but if you have an older pontoon that perhaps is just a functional boat used for fishing, it might be a good and cheap solution to consider.

On a similar tip, there’s also Tuff Coat rubberized deck coating. This stuff lets recover, recoat, or finish your boat’s deck. Like the Olympic product, it provides a non-slip and non-skid surface and is also UV resistant.

One gallon of this stuff will cover approximately 50 square foot of deck flooring. Amazon have the one gallon tins on their website – click here.

To see what it looks like when applied to the floor of a pontoon deck, check out the photo below (photo shared on Facebook, credit unknown.)

Rubber flooring

This is what the rubberized Tuff Coat product will look on the floor of a pontoon boat deck.

Pontoon Flooring Vinyl vs Carpet:The Last Word

For me, it’s vinyl flooring all the way in the pontoon carpet vs vinyl argument.

You will find old timers who will tell you otherwise, and who will extol the virtues of a carpet floor all day long, but I honestly feel that those arguments are out of date now given the advances in how vinyl can look and feel underfoot.

The advantage and benefits far outweigh the use of carpet in your pontoon boat, no matter what you use your boat most for.

Handy Hint: If you have decided to choose carpet over vinyl, read this guide on how to replace the carpet yourself with a step by step DIY process including photos and the tools you will need.