Fend for Yourself: 9 Types of Pontoon Fenders to Know

During a poker run a few years back, our neighbor’s fenders—for whatever reason—weren’t entirely secure. They were riding up the hull’s side and rolling around, which was causing worry for boat owners on either side. Everyone was fretting their boat would get scuffed up or worse.

How can a situation like this be avoided?

Pontoon fenders are there when you need them. They add extra security and insurance for your boat, but often times they’re the accessories we overlook. We just pick up the most inexpensive shape we find and throw it overboard. But there’s a variety of fenders out there that all serve different purposes. It’s important to know what each one’s purpose is to ensure that your boat’s hull is protected.

Here’s a quick overview of the types of fenders that are available on the market, including fenders designed for those square railings that pontoon owners are all too familiar with.

Rules of Thumb for Pontoon Fender Size, Spacing and Quantity

For every five feet of boat length, you should have one inch of diameter on cylindrical fenders.

You’ll need a minimum of three fenders—one at widest beam, one at fore and one at aft—but a general rule is to have one fender per 10 feet of waterline.

The Must-have Accessories for Pontoon Fenders

Rail hangers and adjusters

Sale
Taylor Made Products 1139, Pontoon Boat Rail Fender Hanger /  Adjuster, Pack of...
379 Reviews
Taylor Made Products 1139, Pontoon Boat Rail Fender Hanger / Adjuster, Pack of...
  • The original pontoon rail fender clip
  • Designed to fit both 1.25" and 1" square tube rails on pontoon boats
  • Clamps securely to square tubing yet can be repositioned quickly and easily
  • Constructed from durable ABS plastic
  • Allows for simple height adjustment of fenders

This set of rail hangers and adjusters is a great accessory for quickly deploying a fender.

Even if you know your knots, it’s nice to have around as they can be easily repositioned at a moment’s notice.

Rail hangers can be purchased for round rails as well, but these are specifically constructed to clamp securely to a 1” square pontoon railing.

Racks

Sale
Taylor Made Product 2011, 2 Fender Rack, Stainless Steel, 9 inch to 11 inch Size
17 Reviews
Taylor Made Product 2011, 2 Fender Rack, Stainless Steel, 9 inch to 11 inch Size
  • Holds two fenders of any style, 9" to 11" in diameter, fenders not included
  • High gloss 316 stainless steel, mounts on any rail and stanchion system
  • Moveable "J" hooks mount on 7/8" rails and stanchion system.
  • Tightens to accommodate any angle, holds Taylor "Big B" and "Hull Gard" fenders effectively
  • Tightens to blend with any angle, cross-reinforced for extra strength

Fender racks are good for larger vessels and sailboats which have lifeline stanchions.

These make it easier to deploy while keeping two fenders nearby yet safely out of a skipper’s pathway.

Covers and cleaners

Sale
Star brite Mold Stain & Mildew Stain Remover + Cleaner - Lifts Dirt & Removes...
572 Reviews
Star brite Mold Stain & Mildew Stain Remover + Cleaner - Lifts Dirt & Removes...
  • Quickly removes stains caused by mold & mildew on contact without heavy scrubbing; EASY TO USE - spray, wait until the stain disappears, then rinse
  • STAIN REMOVER + CLEANER: High-alkaline, triple-action formula contains; BUFFERED-BLEACH to remove mold stains & mildew stains; CHELATING AGENTS to lift ground-in dirt; SURFACTANTS to cut grease & grime
  • BUFFERED-BLEACH TECHNOLOGY is better suited for marine/outdoor upholstery and outdoor acrylic fabrics including Sunbrella; Won't harm stitching or threads
  • More effective cleaning power than unbuffered "bleach-water" based products, or diluted supermarket brands
  • Works on; awnings, fiberglass, wood, concrete, drywall, siding, tile & grout, gutters, roofs, vinyl upholstery, most outdoor acrylic fabrics, and more *(test fabric for colorfastness before use)

Just like your vinyl upholstery, your fenders can become moldy and dirty. Covers might be a bit excessive for some boaters—they come in customized colors and embroidered logos—but you should at the very least keep them clean.

You can use this Starbrite Mildew Remover which is also recommended for canvas enclosures, fiberglass and marine upholstery.

Fend for Yourself: 9 Types of Pontoon Fenders to Know

Standard Fenders

1. Cylindrical fenders

Preview
Polyform G-4 Boat Fender White
Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
Taylor Made Products 950824 Super Gard Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender, 8.5 x 26...
Taylor Made Products 1032 Big B Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender with Center Rope...
Taylor Made Products 1192 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender 15 x 41 inch ,...
Item
Polyform G-4 Boat Fender White
Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
Taylor Made Products 950824 Super Gard Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender, 8.5 x 26...
Taylor Made Products 1032 Big B Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender with Center Rope...
Taylor Made Products 1192 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender 15 x 41 inch ,...
Preview
Polyform G-4 Boat Fender White
Item
Polyform G-4 Boat Fender White
Check Price
Preview
Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
Item
Shoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Products 950824 Super Gard Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender, 8.5 x 26...
Item
Taylor Made Products 950824 Super Gard Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender, 8.5 x 26...
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Products 1032 Big B Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender with Center Rope...
Item
Taylor Made Products 1032 Big B Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender with Center Rope...
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Products 1192 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender 15 x 41 inch ,...
Item
Taylor Made Products 1192 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender 15 x 41 inch ,...
Check Price

Cylindrical double-eye

Also called the cylindrical double-hole, these fenders are generally for smaller vessels and contain eyelets on each end of the fender.

The double-eye feature allows the fender to be hung horizontally by two lines. Also, most cylindrical fenders are molded with ribbed reinforcement, adding a certain stability and keeping the fender in the desired position.

Cylindrical center hole

These fenders are molded to slide a rope through the middle tube. You can even slide several together on the same rope for longer applications.

Hybrid cylindrical round

These fenders are very similar to the cylindrical double-eye fender but with a softer edge. They are smoother like a ball fender and don’t have ribbed reinforcement.

2. Round cylinders

Preview
Taylor Made Products 1143 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Buoy, White, 12 inch...
Salty Reef Marine Hardware - 12" All Purpose Marine Grade PVC Vinyl Round Buoy...
polyform A-1 Buoy Red 11 x 15 in.
Item
Taylor Made Products 1143 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Buoy, White, 12 inch...
Salty Reef Marine Hardware - 12" All Purpose Marine Grade PVC Vinyl Round Buoy...
polyform A-1 Buoy Red 11 x 15 in.
Preview
Taylor Made Products 1143 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Buoy, White, 12 inch...
Item
Taylor Made Products 1143 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Buoy, White, 12 inch...
Check Price
Preview
Salty Reef Marine Hardware - 12" All Purpose Marine Grade PVC Vinyl Round Buoy...
Item
Salty Reef Marine Hardware - 12" All Purpose Marine Grade PVC Vinyl Round Buoy...
Check Price
Preview
polyform A-1 Buoy Red 11 x 15 in.
Item
polyform A-1 Buoy Red 11 x 15 in.
Check Price

Round cylinders, also known as ball fenders, are made of plastic vinyl with a hollow interior. These round ball cylinder fenders only support one line attachment. I don’t think your average recreational boater would get much use out of these. They’re mostly used for powerboats and commercial fishing vessels. And—because they can get quite large—they can also be used as mooring buoys.

3. Transom fenders

Preview
Taylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender, 10 x 22 inch, White
Ocean Universal Bow, Stern and Dock Fender PVM1, one Size fits All, 24 x 7 x 10...
Ocean Fenders Ocean Universal Bow, Stern & Dock Fender Pvm1, One Size Fits All,...
Item
Taylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender, 10 x 22 inch, White
Ocean Universal Bow, Stern and Dock Fender PVM1, one Size fits All, 24 x 7 x 10...
Ocean Fenders Ocean Universal Bow, Stern & Dock Fender Pvm1, One Size Fits All,...
Preview
Taylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender, 10 x 22 inch, White
Item
Taylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender, 10 x 22 inch, White
Check Price
Preview
Ocean Universal Bow, Stern and Dock Fender PVM1, one Size fits All, 24 x 7 x 10...
Item
Ocean Universal Bow, Stern and Dock Fender PVM1, one Size fits All, 24 x 7 x 10...
Check Price
Preview
Ocean Fenders Ocean Universal Bow, Stern & Dock Fender Pvm1, One Size Fits All,...
Item
Ocean Fenders Ocean Universal Bow, Stern & Dock Fender Pvm1, One Size Fits All,...
Check Price

Transom fenders are a smart choice for boaters who just love to anchor or tie up around crowded poker runs or party islands. They attach by gripping the center of your transom or swim platform for extra protection. This particular model fits swim steps up to 4” thick and secures by passing a line through a ¾” diameter tube and tying off.

My biggest complaint with these is that they’re a bit large and you’ll need to consider where to store the fender when it’s not in use.

4. Flat fenders

Preview
MISSION Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender Bumper (Blue Lagoon)
HULL HUGR Contour Fender, Black
EVA FNDR, 24 X 12 X 3 IN. BL
Item
MISSION Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender Bumper (Blue Lagoon)
HULL HUGR Contour Fender, Black
EVA FNDR, 24 X 12 X 3 IN. BL
Preview
MISSION Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender Bumper (Blue Lagoon)
Item
MISSION Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender Bumper (Blue Lagoon)
Check Price
Preview
HULL HUGR Contour Fender, Black
Item
HULL HUGR Contour Fender, Black
Check Price
Preview
EVA FNDR, 24 X 12 X 3 IN. BL
Item
EVA FNDR, 24 X 12 X 3 IN. BL
Check Price

Rectangular-shaped flat fenders are designed so they won’t roll around the side of your boat. They are also very modular and can be fastened together to make an even larger fender. The flat shape makes them easy to slide into storage. Best yet, you can use them as extra guest seating.

Often times you might find them called contour fenders or tab fenders. This means the model has an added center crease which adds flexibility, allowing the fender to lend to your boat’s contoured shape.

Fenders Made Specifically for Pontoons

The difficulty with fenders on pontoons is that a pontoon has the same beam width from bow to stern, and also has a flat aluminum sidewalls only protected by the frame. This makes protecting your pontoon a little trickier. And it especially adds to the trickiness when the railings are square.

Some of the fenders are made to secure more permanently, making it less trouble to remember to throw over a fender. You don’t have to drill into railing because they fit snugly by themselves, but you may not be able to fit your pontoon cover once they’re attached. So plan to remove them before preparing your pontoon for winterization.

One thing about pontoon fenders: Some are made of solid plastic and though they are hollow—they won’t float! And also due to being plastic, there’s not really much in terms of shock absorption. So keep this in mind!

5. Side fenders

Preview
Taylor Made Products 31030 Pontoon Boat Fender (9" x 16", White)
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Silver 9" x 16" Taylor 31035 Fender Pontoon-Saver
AKUA Pontoon Boat Fender
Item
Taylor Made Products 31030 Pontoon Boat Fender (9" x 16", White)
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Silver 9" x 16" Taylor 31035 Fender Pontoon-Saver
AKUA Pontoon Boat Fender
Preview
Taylor Made Products 31030 Pontoon Boat Fender (9" x 16", White)
Item
Taylor Made Products 31030 Pontoon Boat Fender (9" x 16", White)
Check Price
Preview
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Silver 9" x 16" Taylor 31035 Fender Pontoon-Saver
Item
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Silver 9" x 16" Taylor 31035 Fender Pontoon-Saver
Check Price
Preview
AKUA Pontoon Boat Fender
Item
AKUA Pontoon Boat Fender
Check Price

 

Pontoon side fenders are made to fit their signature square railings and framework.

This side fender by Taylor Made Products (seen right) is designed with marine grade and UV resistant vinyl and is included with a valve for re-inflating.

6. Fence-saver fenders

Sale
Taylor Made Products 31032 Pontoon Boat Fence Fender Saver (9' x 36')
29 Reviews
Taylor Made Products 31032 Pontoon Boat Fence Fender Saver (9" x 36")
  • Secures to the fence or railing and is designed to prevent contact to the delicate aluminum fencing
  • Designed for rafting a pontoon boat to a conventional hull boat or a high dock
  • Comes with attachment strap

This fender saver by Taylor Made Products secures to the railing but specifically designed to protect your pontoon’s aluminum fencing.

I’ve seen these used out on the water with large groups of rafting boats tied together. These fit snugly but also come with an attachment strap for extra security.

7. Corner fenders

Preview
Taylor Made Products 31033, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, 90 Corner, 3.5...
Taylor Made Products 31034, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, Raduis Curve,...
Taylor Made Pontoon Corner Bumper One Size, Silver
Corner Casting, Starboard - Jif Marine
JIF MARINE DMH Large Corner Casting
Item
Taylor Made Products 31033, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, 90 Corner, 3.5...
Taylor Made Products 31034, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, Raduis Curve,...
Taylor Made Pontoon Corner Bumper One Size, Silver
Corner Casting, Starboard - Jif Marine
JIF MARINE DMH Large Corner Casting
Preview
Taylor Made Products 31033, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, 90 Corner, 3.5...
Item
Taylor Made Products 31033, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, 90 Corner, 3.5...
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Products 31034, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, Raduis Curve,...
Item
Taylor Made Products 31034, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, Raduis Curve,...
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Pontoon Corner Bumper One Size, Silver
Item
Taylor Made Pontoon Corner Bumper One Size, Silver
Check Price
Preview
Corner Casting, Starboard - Jif Marine
Item
Corner Casting, Starboard - Jif Marine
Check Price
Preview
JIF MARINE DMH Large Corner Casting
Item
JIF MARINE DMH Large Corner Casting
Check Price

Pontoons are already manufactured with aluminum corners to protect their platforms. But hit a dock—or a neighboring boat for that matter—at the right speed and you’ll rip one right off. Adding a nice buffer like these corner fenders can limit your impact.

Their gray PVC color blends into the original aluminum framing, making them not that noticeable. And when you purchase—pay attention if your pontoon has square corner fenders or round corner fenders. You’ll need to the right size to fit.

Dock Fenders

8. Dock edge boat saver

Preview
Dock Edge Boat Saver Air Cushion PVC Spot Protection Dock Guard, Navy Blue, 24"
Taylor Made Products 46013 Comm Dock Side Guard Coil Retail Pack, 10-Feet, White
Attwood White One Size 93532-1 Dock Fender Straight Edge
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS 46011 Pro Dock Cushion
Item
Dock Edge Boat Saver Air Cushion PVC Spot Protection Dock Guard, Navy Blue, 24"
Taylor Made Products 46013 Comm Dock Side Guard Coil Retail Pack, 10-Feet, White
Attwood White One Size 93532-1 Dock Fender Straight Edge
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS 46011 Pro Dock Cushion
Preview
Dock Edge Boat Saver Air Cushion PVC Spot Protection Dock Guard, Navy Blue, 24"
Item
Dock Edge Boat Saver Air Cushion PVC Spot Protection Dock Guard, Navy Blue, 24"
Check Price
Preview
Taylor Made Products 46013 Comm Dock Side Guard Coil Retail Pack, 10-Feet, White
Item
Taylor Made Products 46013 Comm Dock Side Guard Coil Retail Pack, 10-Feet, White
Check Price
Preview
Attwood White One Size 93532-1 Dock Fender Straight Edge
Item
Attwood White One Size 93532-1 Dock Fender Straight Edge
Check Price
Preview
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS 46011 Pro Dock Cushion
Item
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS 46011 Pro Dock Cushion
Check Price

These dock fenders can be used for both docks and pilings.

Often, dock fenders come with molded caps which mount to your dock and gives a bit of cushioned protection

9. Corner dock wheels

Preview
KUFA 12" Dock Wheel with Corner Bracket DW12
Dock Edge + Inc. Corner Mount Dock Wheel (12-Inch, White)
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Taylor N A 1214 14" Dock Post Guide Wheel
Item
KUFA 12" Dock Wheel with Corner Bracket DW12
Dock Edge + Inc. Corner Mount Dock Wheel (12-Inch, White)
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Taylor N A 1214 14" Dock Post Guide Wheel
Preview
KUFA 12" Dock Wheel with Corner Bracket DW12
Item
KUFA 12" Dock Wheel with Corner Bracket DW12
Check Price
Preview
Dock Edge + Inc. Corner Mount Dock Wheel (12-Inch, White)
Item
Dock Edge + Inc. Corner Mount Dock Wheel (12-Inch, White)
Check Price
Preview
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Taylor N A 1214 14" Dock Post Guide Wheel
Item
TAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS Taylor N A 1214 14" Dock Post Guide Wheel
Check Price

Dock wheels work great if you tend to come into the slip a little too strong.

They roll you off and away from the dock, keeping your boat from a direct impact and possible damage.

These dock wheels mount on the corner of your dock with a bracket and are re-inflatable.

 

Having the correct quantity and sizes of fenders can really make or break a bad situation.

Maybe our poker run neighbor didn’t have the fender dropped to the appropriate height. Maybe the fender wasn’t ribbed, which caused it to flail around everywhere.

A fender may seem like an insignificant piece of equipment, but one day, and maybe even at a huge dock party—your pontoon boat and neighboring boats will thank you!

Leave a Comment