When my husband and I purchased a 1998 Fisher pontoon boat for what we thought was a steal, one of the first things we needed to do is replace the dry-rotted carpet. The pontoon had been sitting in the sun for ten years and the carpet was torn and had areas of dry-rot. As soon as the boat season was over my husband started tearing down the pontoon. Here is what we did to bring an old pontoon back to life.
Materials that could be needed for this project: camera, paper & marker, zip-loc bags, treated plywood to cover the deck, stainless steel hardware, carpeting (marine or indoor/outdoor), power drill, cordless screwdriver, carpet glue, paint roller or trowel, floor roller or rolling pin, sharp scraper, sandpaper, clamps, stainless steel staples & a stapler,
Take pictures of your pontoon so that you have a visual memory of where things go. Use zip lock bags and labels to keep track of all the hardware. Disconnect all the wiring to the console and labeled it to be sure that you will be able to re-connect everything properly.
Draw a diagram of the deck and include precise measurements. Then go back and measure again to be sure you have it all right.
Check all the under deck wiring and the hardware to make sure that everything is tight. Be sure to pay special attention to the fittings in the transom area where most loose bolts are found.
Remove the furniture, railings and the edge cap.
If the deck is questionable, tear it out and replace it with. This material is a chemically-treated wood that excels in weathering harsh marine conditions and has an incredibly long lifespan. Lay all the new sheets of treated plywood on top of the old plywood to mark all the areas that need to be cut, marked, or drilled. Then remove the old plywood. Place the new plywood on the cross members. Install the fasteners on the cross members where the wood is not butted together. Use at least three fasteners on the entire cross members.
Roll out the carpet on your clean deck to insure that you have enough to cover the deck, and then put it somewhere handy until it is needed. If the carpet came on a heavy duty cardboard roll, save it for later to use as a roller. The color of your carpet is a very important detail to consider. Remember that dark colors attract and hold the heat. Light colors will get dirty faster but they will not require you to wear your shoes because the carpet is too hot to walk on.
If your plywood is still in good condition, you will need to remove the old carpeting. Use a sharp knife and cut the carpet in strips at the deck joints and pull the strips up by hand. There’s a good chance that some bits of carpet backing or other residue will be left over and you don’t want lumps in your new carpet, so use a sharp instrument and scrape off as much of this stuff as possible. Some bits might stubbornly refuse to come off with a knife, so you may want to use a heat gun and a scraper to remove the residue. In extreme cases, you might have to sand off the residue with sandpaper or even a belt sander.
Use a paint roller to apply a liberal amount of glue on the deck. Two gallons of glue are recommended for a 16 foot deck. Allow the water to “flash out” of the glue before applying the carpet.
When the glue is tacky to the touch but before it turns clear, apply the carpet. This should be done when the temperature ranges above 60° F and when the humidity is not too high. The cooler the temperatures (and the higher the humidity), the longer it will take for the glue to dry. It is suggested that you have the deck out of the elements and you wait at least 24 hours even when all the conditions are optimal.
Lay the carpet down in the rear first. Roll out the carpet flush with the edge. Keep it tight and straight. Work out the wrinkles with your hands by pulling the carpet toward the front and sides. An efficient way to install the carpeting is to lay the carpet down all at once, fold one half of the carpet back, and apply the glue while paying special attention to coat the edges. Then, lay the glued half down and use a roller to smooth out any air bubbles. Repeat this process on the second half of the carpet. The glue should dry in an hour or so.
Staple the carpet along the rear with stainless steel staples
Using a floor roller, rolling pin, or even the cardboard tubing the carpet came on, roll the carpet to ensure that the carpet is in contact with the plywood.
Staple the rest of the edges and trim any excess carpet. Install the edge cap first. Set the entire rail on the deck and align it in position. Use clamps to keep it in place. Some people suggest that you use all new stainless steel hardware. In our case we were able to re-use the hardware that we removed.
Pull out the pictures to use to re-install the hardware. Start with the edge cap then place the railing back in its proper location. Clamp the railings in place. Set all furniture on the deck and fasten it down using stainless steel fasteners with fender washers.
Re-install the steering, throttle, and shift cables. Re-inspect the pontoon’s steering by turning the steering left and right prior to the next launch to insure a safe maiden voyage in your almost new pontoon.
Now it is time to protect your almost new pontoon with the purchase of a low cost, 4 or 5 year warranty pontoon cover. This cover should eliminate the extra cleaning needed after the last rain storm or the seagull’s last fly-over and it will sustain the look of your new carpet for a reasonable length of time instead of showing the rapid deterioration of the carpet that has been left out in the sun for long periods of time.