WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW about Pontoon Boat Tops
Will OUR pontoon top fit YOUR Pontoon boat?
Yes, 90% of the pontoon boat tops made in the past fifty years were 8’ (96” wide). The fence sits in from the edges of the deck a couple of inches on each side. The center of the top rail on most pontoon boats is 88” to 94”. The legs of our frames spring in or out from about 87” to 94”. Our 8’ frames will fit your 8’ wide pontoon boat.
What kind of material do you like?
The choices are extensive; Endura®, Odyssey®, Navigator®, Polyguard®, Shade Mate®, Solar Skin®, Sunbrella®, Sun Runner®, Summerset®, Sur Last®, Top Gun®, Vortex®, Weathermax® and half a dozen others. Do you have a favorite? Most people haven’t heard of any of these with the possible exception of Sunbrella®. These are trade names developed by companies to identify their products. Sunbrella® has established a brand through extensive advertising, but in our opinion all it is, is a solution dyed fabric with a long prorated warranty.
The important consideration is how long a pontoon top will look new and not fade. Solution dyed fabric is the standard of the new pontoon industry. Most new pontoon boats have pontoon top fabrics that are solution dyed. When buying a pontoon boat top, you want to know if you're getting yarn or solution dyed fabric. A trade name will not tell you how it's colored although the better brands will advertise or at least state that their pontoon top is solution dyed, although there are some sellers who just won’t know the difference.
Zippers vs Sleeves
All of the pontoon boat top fabrics we sell have zippers
We believe that zippers are a huge advantage over pontoon boat tops with sleeves or pontoon tops with just two zippers and straps. Installation is much simpler, you assemble and mount the frame and then just “zip” the pontoon boat top over the frame. For winter storage, it only takes minutes to un-zip the pontoon boat top. This is especially important in northern states where pontoon boats are often stored outdoors. Storing your pontoon boat top fabric indoors will dramatically increase its life.
OTHER pontoon tops fit through “sleeves” which makes assembling the pontoon top difficult.
All of our pontoon tops mount with zippers
You assemble the frame, mount it on the fence and simply pull the pontoon top over the frame and zip it on.
Storage boots are included in our Universal Fit ™ replacement pontoon tops and our pontoon top packages. When you’re not using the pontoon boat, zip the fitted storage boot around the top to prevent damage. Your pontoon top stays clean and dry.
We cannot over stress the value of the stern support and a storage boot.
Fold your pontoon top back in the storage position and let the winds blow.
High Rise Brackets
Replacement frames on many newer pontoons could benefit from High Rise brackets. If you have seating that sticks up higher than the rail, the taller bracket is a major benefit. Regular hardware will interfere with the seat back of the seat in the photo. However, as seen below, the High Rise bracket is 2” taller and should clear the most luxurious seating. The High Rise bracket is sold as a part for $9.25, but when you buy one of our Deluxe frames, we offer the High Rise brackets at half price. When you check out online, a drop down will appear offering the High Rise brackets at the discount price.
Height of the Pontoon Top
Most pontoon fence is about 26” tall. Our tops are about 52”. If you're mounting our pontoon boat top on a 26” fence, (26” and 52” = 78”) a person 6’4” could comfortably walk beneath our top without bending. In designing our pontoon tops we measured the pontoon tops on new pontoon boats, 6’4” seems to be the average. We’ve seen some after-market pontoon tops that stick up almost 7’. You can sometimes see how unusually tall these pontoon tops are in photos.
Strength of the frame
Few sellers stress the overall strength of their frame, but if you have a boat with an engine larger than 40 horsepower or you’re on a big lake with winds, it’s a very important factor. It’s not difficult to figure out which pontoon tops are stronger. 7/8” round, 1” or 1 1/4” square. ALL of our pontoon tops (even the economy frame) have aluminum stern supports, they are stronger than straps. The economy frame has front straps, like everyone else, but our 1 1/4” Deluxe Package frames have adjustable aluminum front supports, generally only available on pontoon tops from the new boat manufacturers. Aluminum supports front and rear give you a very strong pontoon boat top.
Adjustable straps for pontoon tops Adjustable Aluminum Support
Speed and Pontoon Boat Tops
We are frequently asked what speed our pontoon tops will stand up to. Generally speaking, we don’t recommend leaving the top up for speeds over 15 MPH. If you have a good strong frame with good fittings and the pontoon top is fitted tightly, speeds up to 15 MPH shouldn’t be a problem. We have tested our economy pontoon top with nylon fittings to 15 MPH and didn’t have a problem, but our pontoon boat tops are sold as shade and not designed for high speed running. If you're running at 25 MPH with the top up and come around a bay with a 20 MPH cross wind, all warranties are off.
If you have a pontoon boat with a larger engine there are real benefits to the deluxe frame with the 1-1/4” frame, heavy duty fittings and aluminum supports front and rear.
Our pontoon tops come with stern support bars and if you’re going to run at higher speeds, or on windy days, fold the frame and top back into the storage position. When you leave the lake if you’ll fold your pontoon top back into the storage position, it will lessen the possibility of storm damage.
NOTE the pontoon top is folded back so as not to catch the wind.
ALL OF OUR COMPLETE PACKAGE PONTOON TOPS HAVE ADJUSTABLE ALUMINUM FRONT SUPPORTS AND STERN SUPPORTS.
How "good" of a pontoon boat top do you want? We have two types
1” square tube frame, molded nylon fittings, yarn dyed fabric. Complete with molded nylon mounting hardware. Our economy pontoon boat top is similar to other tops sold as “aftermarket” replacements, except that it is a square tube which we believe is stronger than round, it has stern support bars and it mounts with zippers instead of sleeves. A storage boot is included. If you have an older pontoon and don’t want to spend a lot of money, our economy package with snap together square tube Snap & Mount ™ frame, will do fine.
Deluxe 8’ and 10’ Packages
The Deluxe Packages come complete with all the features of the economy pontoon top but the frame is 1 1/4” with heavy duty aluminum fittings and mounting brackets. The fabric is 8.8 oz. solution dyed and has a reinforced hole cut for the optional stern light with trim around the hole. The storage boot also has a hole for an optional stern light. Wiring for the optional stern light is included and it runs through the frame and comes out the top through a hole (pre-drilled) in the frame. Besides being a stronger frame, the Deluxe Package pontoon tops have adjustable aluminum front supports replacing straps. Our Deluxe Package pontoon boat tops are similar to those found on the most expensive new pontoon boats. If you have a deluxe pontoon and want a pontoon top as good (maybe better) than the original, you’ll like our deluxe package.
What's the Difference? 1” frame versus 1 1/4” Frame
1 1/4” frame is stronger and recommended for pontoons with larger engines (higher speeds). The 1 1/4” frame has bigger-stronger fittings on the frame and on the mounting hardware.
Nylon/Plastic Fittings versus Aluminum
Aluminum fittings are stronger, can handle speed and wind better than plastic. All of our Tops use the stronger aluminum hardware.
Yarn Dyed Fabric versus heavier Solution Dyed material
Two-year versus Five-year warranty and the solution dyed material is heavier. Trim edging is black on the economy while trim edging is color coordinated on the Deluxe.
Pre-cut hole for a stern light in the Deluxe pontoon top and storage boot
Cut your own hole for a running light in the economy top and boot.
Straps vs aluminum supports
The economy Bimini top has straps in the front. Deluxe has aluminum supports in the front for a stronger frame.
Wiring is standard on both the deluxe and the economy tops.
Top mounts with zippers (all our tops mount with zippers)
Most of our competitors have sleeves in the fabric that you must pull the top frame through.
One last consideration between the Economy and Deluxe
Do you have deluxe high back furniture on your pontoon? All of the economy pontoon boat tops (ours and others) mount with hardware that is close to the rail. If you have deluxe furniture that extends 3” or 4” above the rail, the top of the hardware may interfere with the seat back when lowering the top. This might be a reason for a Deluxe Package top with high rise brackets.
The seat back behind these top brackets is 4” tall. The economy frame hardware and our standard deluxe package hardware can interfere with the seat back of your furniture. The High Rise 4” bracket usually clears the top.