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

Taylor Made Products 1139, Pontoon Boat Rail Fender Hanger /  Adjuster, Pack of...
472 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

Taylor Made Product 2011, 2 Fender Rack, Stainless Steel, 9 inch to 11 inch Size
9 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

Star brite Mold Stain & Mildew Stain Remover + Cleaner – Lifts Dirt & Removes...
1,077 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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Our Top Pick:Our Top Pickbtbtbl-table__imagePolyform G-4 Boat Fender White
  • G-4 black fender
  • Pre-inflated
  • For boats between 20-30 ft in length
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageShoreline Marine Ribbed Inflatable Fender
  • Black ribbed design
  • Can be tied to cleats or rails
  • Reinforced eye ends
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 950824 Super Gard Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender
  • High gloss finish
  • Seamless one-piece construction
  • Molded-in valve
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 1032 Big B Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender with Center Rope
  • For boats 35-50 feet
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Built-in inhibitors
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btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 1192 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Fender
  • Tested to 2000 psi tensile strength
  • Tri-valve for easy inflation
  • Flexible marine grade vinyl
VIEW ON AMAZON →

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 1143 Tuff End Inflatable Vinyl Boat Buoy
  • For 40-50 feet boats
  • Tested to 2000 psi tensile strength
  • Tri-valve for easy inflation
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btbtbl-table__imageSalty Reef Marine Hardware - 12” All Purpose Marine Grade PVC Vinyl Round Buoy
  • Extra large line holes
  • High grade PVC vinyl
  • Easy inflation
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btbtbl-table__imagePolyform A-1 Buoy Red 11 x 15 in.
  • Can also be used as marker buoy
  • For 20-30 ft boats
  • Available in a variety of colors
VIEW ON AMAZON →

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 56090 Transom Boat Fender, 10 x 22 inch, White
  • Uniquely shaped to fit stern
  • Made from soft, flexible vinyl
  • Rubber football inflation valve
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btbtbl-table__imageOcean Universal Bow, Stern and Dock Fender PVM1, one Size fits All, 24 x 7 x 10...
  • Unique universal bow fender
  • Protects the bow from anchor swinging
  • Fits all bow shapes
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageOcean Fenders Ocean Universal Bow, Stern & Dock Fender Pvm1, One Size Fits All,...
  • Unique universal bow solid fender
  • Protects bow from anchor swinging
  • Flexible Integral PU skin foam technology
VIEW ON AMAZON →

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageMISSION Boat Gear Sentry Boat Dock Fender Bumper (Blue Lagoon)
  • Easy positioning
  • Hugs contours
  • Integrated strap
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btbtbl-table__imageHULL HUGR Contour Fender, Black
  • Easily folds up for under seat storage
  • Tough marine grade tri-laminate covers
  • Polycarbonate grommets
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageHULL HUGR Modular EVA Fender, 24 x 12 x 3 in., Blue
  • Easy to stow
  • Flat design resists rolling or riding up
  • 3 layer dual density EVA
VIEW ON AMAZON →
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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 31030 Pontoon Boat Fender (9" x 16", White)
  • Made with marine-grade vinyl
  • UV-resistant
  • Football-style valve
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btbtbl-table__imageTaylor 31035 Fender Pontoon-Saver Silver
  • Molded in ridge hooks
  • Contoured shape
  • UV-resistant vinyl
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btbtbl-table__imageAKUA Pontoon Boat Fender
  • Easy to put on & easy to take off
  • No need for cleats
  • Attaches to the top rail
VIEW ON AMAZON →

 

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

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 31033, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, 90 Corner, 3.5...
  • Designed for 90 degree square corners
  • Includes all stainless fasteners
  • Made from a special gray PVC
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 31034, Pontoon Boat Corner Protector Fender, Raduis Curve,...
  • UV-resistant vinyl
  • Football-style valve for easy inflation
  • Mounts over original factory-installed aluminum corner
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Pontoon Corner Bumper One Size, Silver
  • Flex to fit Radius and 90 degree corners
  • Silver color matches aluminum decking
  • Stainless fasteners included
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageCorner Casting, Starboard - Jif Marine
  • Good quality
  • Fits well
  • Safe
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageJIF MARINE DMH Large Corner Casting
  • Looks good
  • Fits well
  • Good quality
VIEW ON AMAZON →

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageDock Edge + Boat Saver Air Cushion PVC Spot Protection Dock Guard, Navy Blue, 24
  • Includes molded in caps
  • Molded in mounting groove
  • Ribbed surface design
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btbtbl-table__imageTaylor Made Products 46013 Comm Dock Side Guard Coil Retail Pack, 10-Feet, White
  • Made from marine grade resins
  • Commercial grade double molded
  • Made with 85% recycled materials
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btbtbl-table__imageattwood 93532-1 Softside UV-Resistant Marine 18-Inch Straight-Edge Dock Fender,...
  • UV resistant
  • Available in a variety of functions
  • Tough and durable
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTAYLOR MADE PRODUCTS 46011 Pro Dock Cushion
  • UV protected
  • Maintenance-free foam
  • 5" thickness
VIEW ON AMAZON →

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

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
btbtbl-table__imageKUFA 12" Dock Wheel with Corner Bracket DW12
  • Inflatable wheel boat fender
  • Rolls with impact to fend off boat
  • Extra galvanized bracket
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btbtbl-table__imageDock Edge + Inc. Corner Mount Dock Wheel (12-Inch, White)
  • Molded-in valves
  • Heavy-duty, hot dipped galvanized hardware
  • Inflatable dock wheel
VIEW ON AMAZON →
btbtbl-table__imageTaylor N A 1214 14" Dock Post Guide Wheel
  • Molded from UV resistant
  • 14" Diameter with 2" inside diameter
  • Wheels can be stacked for added protection
VIEW ON AMAZON →
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!

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