How Long Do Pontoon Boats Last?

How Long Do Pontoon Boats Last? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

October 31, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Pontoon boats have a shelf life of 10 - 20 years.
  • Pontoon boats can be left in salt water for a week
  • Pontoon boats can be left in fresh water for three-four weeks
  • Pontoon boats can hold their value if regular maintenance is performed

Any boat purchase is an investment that will hopefully pay off for years to come. But just how long do pontoon boats last?

A pontoon boat will typically last for 10 - 20 years if regular maintenance is performed to ensure all components are working correctly. Maintenance includes keeping the boat clean and free of debris and cleaning and repainting the aluminum tubes once a year as needed.

I live on a reservoir, and like any lake lover, I enjoy being on the water. A pontoon boat is one of the best watercraft for a family’s recreational activity. Families enjoy the versatility of these flat-decked boats, as they can accommodate larger groups, cruise more safely, and are more stable on the water during calm summer days. Many owners are investing in these boats and are curious about how long a pontoon boat will last.


Table of contents

How Long Does a Pontoon Boat Last?

A pontoon boat will last 10 - 20 years, assuming that all the needed regular maintenance is scheduled. Pontoon tubes should be cleaned at least once a year, and other maintenance, such as oil changes and the like, must happen more frequently. If a pontoon is stored out of the water in off seasons, this can stretch the life of the boat even longer.

How Long Does A Pontoon Last in the Water?

The answer to this question is whether or not we are talking about seawater or fresh water.


Most boat owners find it easier to leave a pontoon boat moored against a dock when not in use, but the most prolonged period to leave the boat in saltwater is about a week. The corrosive nature of saltwater will eat away at corroding the paint and metal of the tubes, from marine growth to damage to the engine parts.

Pontoon Boats are practical when traveling inlets, rivers, and bays but are not designed to traverse 20 - 30 miles from shore, like deep sea boats.

Fresh Water

There are fewer corrosive agents in freshwater than in harsh sea conditions. The pontoon boat can't be parked year-round in the water. If the boat sits in water, the pontoon tubes never have a chance to dry, allowing algae and slime to grow. The bottom of the pontoon must be cleaned extensively. In addition, exposure to water will allow moisture to get inside the gel coats and blister paint.

Do Pontoon Boats Hold Their Value?

Generally, pontoon boats tend to decrease in value faster than other boats. A pontoon boat will lose about 25 - 30% after a few years, then steadily decline until around year ten. After that, the value tends to level out.

What Can Be Done to Increase the Longevity of a Pontoon Boat?

Several things should be done to keep a boat functioning as long as possible.

Regular Motor Maintenance

Pontoon boats are easy to maintain if they are serviced regularly. A typical pontoon requires engine service every 100 hours or at least once a year. This service should include an oil change and filter, fuel filter replacement, battery inspection (both batteries), condition of belts, change of spark plug, water pump inspection, and lubrication of the propeller shaft. Having a certified marine technician perform the service is always a good idea. The expense of routine maintenance is better than being stranded on the water and having to be towed to the marina.

Battery Charging

A healthy battery can be the very heartbeat of a well-running boat. Check the owner’s manual to find the location of the battery (and backup unit, if there is one). Many pontoon owners find that the battery needs charging after being stored for the winter. Do not assume that the battery is fully functional because it was working a few months before. Most dead batteries happen because the battery completely discharges. A certified technician can check the battery's life and determine if a charge or replacement is needed.

Proper Preparation for Winter Storage

Many pontoon owners store their boats in dry docks or in self-storage areas every winter while they are not in use. Proper preparation tasks should include cleaning inside and out, draining the fuel tank (gasoline that sits for months will break down and foul up the spark plug or fuel filter), disconnection of the batteries, and drainage of any water in the reservoirs to prevent freezing. An adequate covering to protect the boat from rain and snow or storing the boat under a covering (barn or carport) will go a long way toward increasing the life of a pontoon boat.

Yearly Equipment Check

As best practice is to make a list of items that need to be done to get the boat ready to go on the water (after the maintenance has been performed). The boat should be cleaned thoroughly in preparation for people to ride. (It is incredible how much dust a pontoon boat collects even when stored in the best conditions). An inspection of life jackets, ropes, floatation devices, and life preservers and be sure that there is an adequate working fire extinguisher. Nothing is more frightening than a boat catching fire on the water and having nothing to fight the fire with.

Repair Any Damage Immediately

Like any kind of moving craft or vehicle, a pontoon boat is as prone to damage as any car or truck might be. Owners carelessness with docking procedures can create a whole host of problems, like dents or cracks in the tubes. Repairs should never be ignored but always repaired before they become worse.

Each side of a pontoon boat is buoyed by a series of air-tight containers inside the tube, so the ship will stay afloat even if one of the tanks is ruptured. Even though a pontoon boat has a reputation for being unsinkable and will stay afloat if one tank gets ruptured, this does not mean that the ruptured tank and its seals shouldn’t be repaired.

One of the best ways to keep your pontoon boat in good shape is to avoid shallow areas or areas with submerged obstructions, such as rocks or trees. While pontons are great cruising vehicles, they do not do well as bass boats. If you avoid keeping your craft in deeper waters, the tubes will never scrape on anything, and you will not have to see your beloved boat in a dry dock having the underside repaired.

Upgrade The Pontoon Boat with Accessories

Even though after-market add-ons rarely increase the value of the boat, they might appeal to a new owner should the boat ever need to be sold. Don’t be afraid to upgrade the accessories on the boat (if the seating looks worn, consider replacing it, for example). It is always best to have a certified technician or dealership install the accessory to ensure that the operation is performed correctly and doesn’t diminish the boat's value. Many pontoon owners have tried to install accessories on their own, only to find that they damaged some components of the boat during the installation.

How Long Do Pontoon Boats Last?
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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