Your pontoon boat hardware is important. It’s the life of your pontoon and supports the safety of your passengers. That’s why your pontoon hardware needs attention, and care, to stay in top condition.
If pontoon hardware and other major pontoon parts are rusted or broken, a replacement could be the best option.
This guide will help familiarize (or re-familiarize) you with essential pontoon hardware and what each piece does. Hopefully, this will help you monitor your hardware and replace it when necessary. (Translation: After you read this, there’s no excuse not to keep your pontoon hardware in tip-top shape!)
Safety Hardware: Passenger Protection
Your pontoon’s equipped with a variety of hardware, designed for the protection of your passengers. It’s essential that your pontoon hardware is installed properly, inspected regularly, and repaired or replaced as needed.
Ignoring even one of these steps could result in passenger injury. So familiarize yourself with all the hardware listed and regularly check it. It can keep your passengers safe. (And eager for more ‘toon outings and activities!)
Pontoon Gate Hardware
Gate Pinch Guards
Although tiny, this part protects the fingers of your smallest passengers. (Even adult fingers, too!)
By filling in space where your pontoon fence and gate meet, pontoon pinch guards help prevent finger pinching or catching. Another plus: These pinch guards keep objects (like fender lines and clothing) from snagging or catching between the gap.
Most come in a kit of 3 or more and include stainless screws for easy installation. While most are white, you can find them in gray to camouflage with your pontoon railing.
These really are awesome, if you don’t have one installed already; nothing is worse than a pinched finger!
Pontoon gate latches are a great safety option. It prevents the door from accidentally swinging open, which protects your passengers and pets.
This T. H. Marine GL-2-DP Pontoon Gate Latch (check price on Amazon) comes in gray to match and camouflage with metal railing. It’s molded nylon also prevents rusting. And this one fits rounded doors, made of square tubing, as well as both right-handed and left-handed gates.
FYI: My mom had one of these installed on her pontoon when my twins were small. It gave me peace of mind, so we could enjoy her ‘toon without worry. I can’t imagine anything scarier than a child (or even your pet) escaping through a gate and falling in the water. A sturdy gate latch really is a necessity for safety.
Gate Lift Hinges
Gate lift hinges are made of stainless steel and built for pontoon gates that lift up and out of a doorstop. These hinges lift and lock your gate into your doorstop to keep it stabilized.
Most come with steel self-tapping stainless-steel screws for easy installation.
Although these may not be a necessity, they’re also helpful to prevent gates from dragging the deck while opening and closing. (That’s so aggravating when your gate door drags.)
Gate Door Stops
Lift and lock door stops are made to stabilize and secure your pontoon gate. These work on the gates with lift and lock hinges (and latches) like described above.
Most are universal designs to work on any gate and made of sturdy plastic.
You’ll need to check the size of your railing, and gate, but most fit the universal 1 ¼-inch railings. Door stops should come with screws for installation and install easily. Tip: Make sure to order the correct swing direction:
NOTE: Strangely, each of these affordable options attaches with a single screw, but neither comes with the screw. You may want to grab some stainless steel screws, since they won’t rust.
Pontoon Railing and Fence Hardware
Pontoon Rail Braces
As the name implies, pontoon rail braces provide additional support for your pontoon railing.
Some passengers not only hold onto the railing, but your kids might lean, sit, or even jump on it. (Yikes!) That’s why pontoon rail braces are a good investment. (This was a top priority for us when our twins were small!)
Rail braces are made of high-grade stainless steel; they install easily and come with installation hardware. (But be sure to ask!) Most often, these are installed at each gate and are commonly 13″ high and 1″ wide.
If you don’t have your pontoon railing braced, please consider doing it; it’s high priority when it comes to pontoon safety. And here’s something else to think about: Always check the screws before each outing. (They may need tightening.)
Fence Bolting Kit
A fence bolting kit is used to secure your railing onto the deck. This is the foundation that keeps your railing safe and secure, so this hardware needs to be in tip-top condition always.
This JIF Marine Products Pontoon Fence Bolt Kit (check price on Amazon) is an excellent hardware kit. Hardware in these kits are stainless steel, which will never rust. The bolts are often ¼ inches in diameter with Phillips heads. It also includes 1-inch washers and flange nuts for complete and sturdy installation. (The screws included are 3 ½ inches long.)
Even if you don’t yet need to replace your fence bolting hardware, check it often. Make sure each bolt/screw is tight and secure. It will give you peace of mind, if nothing else.
Deck Table and Seat Hardware
Deck Table Floor Plates
Floor plates, or deck plates, come in different shapes and sizes for different needs. Keeping this hardware secure prevents injury from toppled tables—not to mention keeps those yummy snacks from spilling!
Most floor plates like this Sequoia Floor Plate (check price on Amazon) are five inches diameter and used to mount your table to your pontoon deck.
Seat Mount and Pedestal Floor Plates
Stainless steel floor plates attach to your seat pedestal. They include a four bolt mount and spring, so the seat can swivel. The pedestal is attached to the floor plate, and the seat is then mounted to the pedestal. Often, it has these features:
- Adjustable height (10.5 – 14 inches)
- Works with fishing seats or bucket seats
- 9-inch aluminum stamped base
- Locks in place
- Moves up/down in small increments
- 2+ inch diameter base
Pontoon Accessories Hardware
There are many pontoon accessories you could collect. But have you ever given a thought to how to enhance their safety? Or even their functionality?
Pontoon Ladder Hardware
Ladders need to be checked often for sturdiness and security. To withstand the weight of continued use, ladder hardware is a top priority when it comes to passenger safety. An unsecured ladder could cause a severe injury, and you definitely don’t want that!
Ladder hardware needs to be heavy duty stainless steel, and includes things like bolts, nuts, washers, and braces.
This SeaLux Stainless Steel Surface Mounting Sockets Hardware (Available on Amazon) is a good example of what you need for secure ladder stability.
Quick release hardware kits – If you want to mount ladders in multiple locations, you can buy stainless steel quick release hardware. This comes in handy if you need to attach, or release, your ladder quickly.
Bimini Top Hardware
Bimini top hardware keeps your bimini top secured in place, which is essential to passenger safety. Bimini tops are great for shade and protection, but keeping them secure is a big deal in a moving pontoon. Just sayin’. Here are some hardware pieces you may need:
MxEol Boat Bimini Top Deck Hinges (Check Price on Amazon) – This pair of hinges is flat mount and comes in black nylon for saltwater durability. They mount with two screws each (included).
MxEol Boat Bimini Fittings Top Cover Cap Eye Ends (Check Price on Amazon) – These cap eye ends also come in black nylon, and they’re for 7/8-inch tubing.
Awpeye Quick Release Pins (Check Price on Amazon) – You may even need to add (or replace) your bimini top pins with quick release pins for easy removal. This 4-pack of pins are 1/4 ” in diameter w/drop cam and spring.
Don’t forget your Eevelle Summerset Boat Bimini Frame Accessory Clips (Check Price on Amazon) to make your bimini top frame functional. Use it to attach accessories like clothes, flashlights, or towels. There are so many pontoon boat accessories you might carry on, you’ll need somewhere to put them all!
Essential Pontoon Hardware
Stainless Steel Deck Bolts and Screws
As with anything on your boat, using heavy-duty stainless steel deck bolts and screws prevents rust and corrosion. I recommend the JIF Marine Deck Screws (Available on Amazon).
Now, you have a good grasp on hardware that’s essential for passenger safety. This section switches gears to explain some of the basic hardware your pontoon needs for durability, security, and smooth sailing.
Fence Riser Kit
Nothing’s worse than water stains, mold and mildew; this is an easy, affordable solution for prevention. Fence risers like this JIF Marine Pontoon Fence Riser Kit (check price on Amazon) prevent water build-up by lifting the fence off the deck, which allows water to roll off and pass through as needed.
And some come in designs, so they can be installed without removing your fence.
Tip: Check your railing size before ordering and contact manufacturer with questions.
Boat and Anchor Cleats/Tie Downs
Boat cleats and tie downs keep your pontoon anchored securely while docked.
You can find them in heavy-duty plastic like this Digger Anchor Cleat (check price on Amazon), or you can find galvanized cleats like these Simplified Living Dock Cleats (check price on Amazon).
It’s no fun when a cleat pops off, and your pontoon floats away (even one end.) Yep. This comes from experience.
Corner caps protect your pontoon’s decking. Since they get bumped often, and easily, replacement may be necessary sometimes.
Most corner caps are cast aluminum and are offered in various shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples:
- Universal sizes – fits most older pontoon boat corners.
Corner caps protect the corners of your pontoon. And even the best drivers can’t always avoid a few hard bumps. (Yep. Experience again.)
Protecting Your Pontoon Hardware
Since pontoons are exposed to the elements, it’s a good idea to keep your hardware protected whenever possible. Replacing boat parts is part of pontoon ownership, but when you take care of your hardware, you don’t have to replace parts as often.
Your pontoon hardware can be damaged from rust, corrosion, sun, saltwater, and docking damage. Here are a few preventative measures you can take:
- Protect your pontoon with a properly fitted pontoon boat cover when not in use.
- Rinse your pontoon well after all outings (especially in saltwater) before covering or storing.
- Wash your pontoon regularly and consider using a UV protectant (check price on Amazon).
- Turn on your docking lights at dusk and night, and install bumper covers/protectors to prevent damage to your pontoon and dock.
- Install durable dock lines to prevent damage, like these Airhead Bungee Dock Lines (check price on Amazon).
By regularly checking your hardware, and taking these simple precautions, your pontoon hardware can last for years to come.
It will protect your boat and your passengers, and give you peace of mind. And who knows? It might even save you a little money in the long run, too!
Kelli Clevenger is a North Carolina freelance writer, blogger, and horse boarder. Since she was practically raised on the water, she enjoys writing about boats and water sports, and specializes in weight-loss and food writing. If you’d like, you can learn more about her on her blog.