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Pontoon Boats vs Deck Boats (8 Key Differences)

If you enjoy going to the lake and are in the market for a boat, or perhaps just considering one, you’ve probably been comparing all the different types of lake boats. If you have a family or even a lot of friends, then 2 particular types of boats stick out for the average person. Those two boats are pontoon boats and deck boats. In this article we will be comparing pontoon boats vs deck boats, discussing the main differences between them, and answering some common questions one might have about them.

Let’s get straight to it, but first I’ll give you a quick definition of each of these types of boats.

Pontoon boat

A pontoon boat uses 2 long, aluminum tubes that run the length of the boat to remain buoyant and stay afloat. Most pontoon boats have 2 pontoon boat have 2 pontoons, others have 3 and are called tritoons.

The deck of a pontoon typically has an aluminum frame, tons of seating, and room for a large family. Most pontoon boats will have a gate around the deck, making them great for small children. In addition, you can usually add a shade top and even get a full zip-up enclosure.

Deck boat

A deck boat is typically made of fiberglass and has a monohull design. This recreational watercraft is great for skiing, fishing, cruising, and all types of water activities. Most deck boats are pretty large and can hold up to 12 people or so.

Deck boats are almost as fast and versatile as a small bowrider and have almost as much seating as a pontoon, making them a great choice for some people.

Pontoon boats vs deck boats – 8 differences

1. Material

On of the most obvious differences between these two types of boats is the hulls and the materials they’re made of. Pontoon boats have aluminum hulls and decks, while deck boats are made of fiberglass.

2. Speed

The top speed on a pontoon boat depends on the type of boat you have, but most pontoon boats can reach speeds of 20-25 mph. This is fastest enough to cruise around the lake and even pull a tube. Deck boats are much faster and are pretty much limited by the size of the engine. Having said that, an average deck boat can probably go 30-50 mph.

3. Maneuverability

Deck boats, without question, are much more maneuverable than pontoon boats. If there was one thing I didn’t like about my pontoon boat, it’s that it was very sluggish and difficult to handle. Pulling it back into the slip was always a pain. Deck boats are just about as nimble as small runabouts and bowriders.

4. Storage

While both options will have a lot of extra storage compared to many smaller boats, I’m going to have to give an edge the pontoon boat. They are just overall larger and will have many more compartments and storage spaces.

5. Versatility

Since the deck boat is faster and more maneuverable, you’ll be able to use it for a variety of water sports like skiing and even wakeboarding. Pontoon boats are to big and slow and unfortunately won’t work with water sports like these. Fishing is fine in both types of boats though and you can even safely attach a trolling motor to a pontoon boat.

6. Hull

Most pontoon boats have two aluminum tubes that the deck lays flat on, known as a multi-hull design. A deck boat has a fiberglass v-hull.

7. Maintenance

First, there is really no such thing as a low-maintenance boat. However, pontoon boats made of aluminum are non-corrosive and will generally last a long time. Compared to other boats, there is minimum maintenance, though you will have to do some general upkeep such as keeping your boat winterized in cold weather.

8. Fuel economy

In most cases, deck boats are going to use significantly more gas than a pontoon boat. If only because you can go much faster in a deck boat. So this is definitely something to consider when purchasing your boat, especially if you are going to keep your boat in a slip and be forced to buy your marina’s expensive gas.


1. Are deck boats good in choppy water?

Deck boat are great in choppy water, mainly due to their design and their v shaped hull.

2. Do pontoon boats have bathrooms?

Some pontoon boats actually do have small bathrooms. Don’t expect anything luxurious though, any bathroom you find on a pontoon boat will likely be very cramped and only have a small portable toilet.

3. Is a deck boat as stable as a pontoon boat?

Both of these types of boats are quite stable on the water because of their designs. A deck boat is more stable while moving through the water and waves, while a pontoon boat is an all-around stable boat whether it’s sitting still or just putting around the lake.

4. Are pontoon boats heavier than deck boats?

In most cases though, a pontoon boat is going to be lighter than a deck boat because aluminum is a lighter material than fiberglass. The average pontoon boat will weigh around 2,000-2,500 lbs while a deck boat can weigh over 3,000 lbs.

5. Can I use a pontoon boat for fishing?

Absolutely! A pontoon boat is often a great fishing vessel and one that will have plenty of room, as well as a livewell.

6. Can a pontoon boat fit in a garage?

Unfortunately the answer is, it depends. There are all shapes and sizes of both garage doors and pontoon boats. To answer this question you’re going to have to do some research and break out the tape measure. In many cases though, a small pontoon boat on a trailer can fit into a garage.


Deck boats and pontoons differ in many different ways, but these are the main differences: Deck boats are generally faster and handle better, yet are a bit more expense. While pontoon boats are typically slower and less maneuverable, but have more room and are more affordable.

Both of these types of boats are great options for large families or people that like to take large groups of people out on the water. A standard deck boat can hold around 12 people while a large pontoon boat can safely hold 16.

Written by OutdoorMotives

At outdoormotives.com we talk about all types of outdoor activities. We answer common questions and recommend the best products to help you enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.


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