Pontoon boats are a great option for many people to get out on the water. They’re stable, provide lots of room for passengers to enjoy, and can perform a variety of functions from being fishing boats, to pulling skiers, etc.
How much do pontoon boats cost?
Pontoon boats cost anywhere between $8,000 to over $100,000, depending on whether you’re buying new or used, the brand and size of the boat, how much horsepower it has, and what kind of accessories it comes with. Ongoing costs like add ons, maintenance and storage will increase the cost.
Here’s what you need to know about how much pontoon boats cost, what goes into that cost, and how to cut costs when you are deciding on the right pontoon boat for your family.
What Goes Into The Cost Of A Pontoon Boat
Whether You Are Buying New Or Used
Not surprisingly, a new pontoon boat will cost you considerably more than a used model. New pontoon boats are attractive not only because they are shiny and have never been used by anyone else, but also because they often include a manufacturer’s warranty.
When you buy used, you’re typically buying the boat “as is”. This can be especially risky with engines. If the engine goes out right after you buy the boat, you may find yourself in the hole for not only the cost of a used boat but also for a new engine.
On the other hand, a used boat is not only cheaper but also often better adapted to being on the water right away. People make all kinds of alterations to their pontoon boats to make them more enjoyable.
You may find a used boat with an attached bimini, seat covers, rod holders, and many more amenities at a very reasonable cost. Attaching all of these amenities to your own boat will come at a considerably additional cost as well as the purchase of a new boat.
The bigger the boat, the more you’ll pay for it. Pontoon boats average between 17 ft and 28 ft. Smaller boats don’t just cost less to purchase. They also cost less to keep at a marina. If you store your pontoon boat at dry dock, a smaller boat will be less expensive as well.
Smaller boats may be able to be stored at your home, further decreasing storage costs. It’s a good idea to get only as big of a boat as you need.
A smaller pontoon boat can handle about eight or nine people, whereas larger models can handle 15 or 20 people. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 more for every 2 ft increase in length, all other things being equal.
You’ll pay more for some brands of pontoon boats than others, even at the same size and horsepower. One of the key characteristics that goes into why you’ll pay more for some brands is the materials that are used.
Pontoon boats are typically made from aluminum, but they can also have fiberglass siding which will come at an increased cost. Decking can be made of plywood, aluminum, composite wood, or vinyl.
You’ll pay less for composite wood or plywood, but you also need to cover them to keep them safe from the sun.
More powerful engines cost more to buy and to run. If you just want a little boat to tool around in and go to the local islands or beaches, you need much less horsepower than if you want to pull your friends behind the boat on water skis or a wakeboard.
Larger boats also require more horsepower in order to achieve reasonable cruising speeds than smaller boats.
Expect to pay between $3,000 and $4,000 for a 15 to 25 horsepower engine and as much as $14,000 or $15,000 for an engine of around 200 horsepower.
Engines that are made by better brands will cost more for the same horsepower as engines by less popular brands.
All pontoon boats require a certain level of maintenance. Expect to pay boat insurance at a couple hundred dollars a year, around fifty bucks for a boating license, and fees for storage and cleaning.
If your boat stays in the water, the bottom will need to be scraped, scrubbed, and repainted regularly.
Bottom paint is surprisingly expensive. Expect to pay between $26 and $29 per foot for bottom paint, which usually results in a total cost of a couple of thousand dollars.
The deck also needs to be waxed regularly to keep it protected from the sun. If you will be storing your boat at a marina or dry dock, you will need to pay storage fees, typically by foot.
Typically, the bare-bones pontoon boat that you buy from a manufacturer will not be in the boat that you take out on the water.
You’ll likely choose a lot of different add-ons to increase your enjoyment and the functionality of the boat.
If you intend to tow the boat out of the water at any time, you’ll need a trailer for it. Boat trailers usually cost at least $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the size of your boat. To protect your boat from the sun, you’ll want a cover for it.
You also need some absolutely essential accessories like an anchor and depth finder. Basic live-aboard accessories to extend the life of your boat like seat covers and for the safety of your passengers like floor matting are important as well.
Fun features like speakers, underwater lights, fancy trim, etc can all cost you significantly more. Unless your boat comes with a bimini or you don’t mind standing in the sun the entire time you’re on the boat, you’ll need to invest in a bimini as well.
Depending on everything you want to add onto your boat, you can expect to pay from a couple of thousand dollars to upwards of five or six thousand dollars in add ons.
Here’s a chart to give you an idea of how much you may expect to pay for accessories:
|Bimini||$700 to $1,000|
|Camping cover||$2,000 to $2,500|
|Fishing live well||$200 to $1,000|
|Tow bars for skiing||$200 to $700|
|Speaker upgrade||$100 to $200|
|Ladder||$200 to $500|
|Anchor||$100 to $600|
|Underwater lights||$300 to $700|
|Boat cover||$300 to $1,000|
How To Reduce Costs For Your Pontoon Boat
If you have your heart set on a pontoon boat and want to get the most for your money, here are a few tips to help you reduce your cost:
- Consider getting a used boat without an engine. Since the engine is the thing you most have to worry about when buying a used boat, buying a boat without the engine and then adding the engine on yourself can save you a lot of money and result in you getting exactly the boat that you want.
- Don’t get a bigger boat that you need. People tend to go as big as they think they can afford when choosing a new boat, but in reality, you will get a lot more bang for your buck and reduced maintenance and storage costs by choosing a smaller option.
- Look carefully at what’s included. Boats that come with many of the add ons you might want like a bimini, live well, anchor, good speaker system, etc will save you a lot of money in accessorizing after the fact so it may be worth paying more for a boat that has these features upfront.
- Don’t overdo it on horsepower. Unless you know you want to be towing jet skis or reaching a particular destination in a particular time, it may be better to choose less horsepower than more. Horsepower is one of the most expensive things for your boat. Higher horsepower engines are expensive to run, maintain, and replace as well.
- Add on slowly. It can be tempting to buy all of the features that you think you might possibly need for your boat before you ever get out on the water, but in reality, it is better to try using your boat some before you invest in lots of accessories so that you can determine what you actually need and what might not be necessary.
- Think about storage. Storage is often one of the most expensive aspects of owning a pontoon boat. Shop around for marina or dry dock storage or see if you can store the boat on your property in order to cut costs before making your purchase.
Find The Best Price For Your Pontoon Boat
You will likely get many hours of enjoyment out of your pontoon boat, making it worth your while to invest in a boat that will meet your needs.
On the other hand, there’s no need to spend more than you have to in order to get the right pontoon boat for your family. Think carefully about what you really need in order to find the best price for your pontoon boat.