You’ve researched a lot of pontoon boat prices and you can’t help but balk. It seems like even if you’re looking at used boats, they’re just so much money! You’d rather spend the time and make your own DIY pontoon boat. How do you even go about doing this?
To make your own DIY pontoon boat, you can either buy a kit that comes with most of the materials or procure these materials yourself. Then it’s just a matter of following instructions and building your boat!
In this in-depth guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about making your own custom pontoon boat. From detailed steps to what kind of finished product you can expect, you’re not going to want to miss it.
Can You Use a DIY Pontoon Boat Kit?
If you’d prefer, rather than build your own pontoon boat from nothing, you can always rely on a DIY pontoon boat kit. This comes with everything you need to make your very own pontoon boat, including the instructions (at least, most of the time). Here are some kits you might consider if you want to go this route.
The pontoon boat kit from U-Fab Boats is ideal if you want to make a full-sized vessel. The company says you can use the kit to create houseboats, tour boats, utility boats, work boats, or party boats like a pontoon.
Your U-Fab Boats kit include the following:
- Extruded hat bar cross-members between two and six inches tall
- Extruded I-beam or C-channel cross-members (if you want them)
- Side keel and bottom panels, which come designed for the length of the boat
- Heavy-duty skid plates for the bottom and side keels (also optional)
- Small pontoon, raft, and dock wall thickness of .100 inches
- Welded baffles per five feet to make watertight chambers
- Die-made end caps
- Extruded risers up to 25 feet long for maintaining riser width and length
- Towing bar
- Aluminum edging that’s three inches in width
- Aluminum motor support for a transom that’s 20 inches
- Aluminum corners, four total
- The hardware needed for building and installation
- An assembly booklet telling you what goes where
U-Fab Boats uses journeymen welders for the construction of each pontoon boat kit. They ensure the parts meet United States government standards, specifically ISO 9001:2000. They’ll even get a Certification of Kit through Transport Canada if you need your kit shipped overseas.
Pond King, Inc.
If you’d prefer your pontoon boat mini, then try this kit from Pond King, Inc. Designed at different price points, you get a boat that can fit up to two people. You and another buddy can then party under the sun or even spend a chill afternoon fishing.
For those on a tight budget, there’s the True Do-it-Yourselfer Mini Pontoon Boat Kit. You can also opt for the more expensive Build Your Own Kit Plus or the even costlier Minimal Assembly DIY Boat Kit.
Let’s start with the True Do-it-Yourselfer Mini Pontoon Boat Kit. This comes with the assembly instructions you’ll need. You also get all the materials for deck-building as well as bolting hardware and four aluminum pontoons.
In the Build Your Own Boat Kit Plus, you’ll receive the following:
- Assembly instructions
- A six-inch kick rail with included edge trimming, which has six pieces in all
- A motor mount
- A marine-grade glue and trowel
- Marine-grade deck carpeting in gray that comes precut
- All the deck assembly materials
- All the bolting hardware
- The welded aluminum pontoons, four total
Then there’s the Minimal Assembly DIY Boat Kit with:
- The six-inch kick rail and edge trimming, this time in one piece
- The motor mount
- A full wooden deck that measures four feet by eight feet, completely assembled. It has marine-grade carpet made of premium materials in gray. You also get plywood decking with pressure treatment and a two-by-four wooden frame.
- The welded aluminum pontoons, four total
American Pontoon Co. LLC
Your next option is American Pontoon Co. LLC. They sell a range of kits, including for deck boats, house boats, work platforms, tour boats, pleasure crafts, and pontoons. All kits get built in American Pontoon Co.’s facility in South Carolina. You can even request a tour to see how it gets done.
You may select from kits to make boats with the following measurements:
- A beam of 8.5 feet, a length of 20 feet, and a diameter of 25 feet
- A beam of 8.5 feet, a length of 24 feet, and a diameter of 25 feet
- A beam of 8.5 feet, a length of 20 feet, and a diameter of 27 feet
- A beam of 8.5 feet, a length of 24 feet, and a diameter of 27 feet
For some of the boats, you can even get a third tube included with your order, making the boat you build a tritoon. If you want a boat that doesn’t quite match the above sizes, you can always ask American Pontoon Co. to custom design a kit for you. They’re usually up to the challenge!
For those based out of Canada, there’s Build-a-Boat. They have kits for electricity-powered pontoons, transport platforms, work boats, houseboats, and recreational pontoons. You can even request pontoon tubes from them.
If that’s what you choose, then you get such items in your kit as:
- Front eyes
- Front water deflectors
- Rear mounting brackets
- One-piece risers (full length)
- Sealed chambers per five feet
- Walls that are between 0.80 inches to 0.125 inches thick
- Magnesium alloy and 5052 H32 marine-grade aluminum parts throughout
- Under and side keels (also full length)
Otherwise, the standard kits come with the following:
- Towing bar
- Aluminum corners
- U-bar cross-members
- Aluminum edging with a width of three inches
- Aluminum motor support
- Aluminum pontoon tubes
- Screws, nuts, and bolts made of stainless steel
- An assembly instruction manual
How to Make Your Own DIY Pontoon Boat: All the Steps
Okay, so you went ahead and ordered your DIY pontoon boat kit. It takes a while, but one day, it finally arrives on your doorstep. You couldn’t be more excited to get started building your own pontoon boat.
Do keep in mind that, while kits are very helpful, the assembly is all on you. Only some of the companies we covered above offer partially finished boat kits. Even those require some installation.
We recommend following the instructions that came with your kit. If you by chance don’t have any instructions, then we’ll provide some here for you now. You can also make a pontoon boat following this method without having ordered a kit. You’ll need to procure your own materials, though.
Let’s get right into it.
Step #1: Plan the Design
If you have a DIY pontoon boat kit, then you probably won’t have to do much on this end. The boat’s layout and design should come pre-planned for you. Those who are building their boat from literal scratch will have to design their boat from scratch as well.
You want to ensure you build a sizable boat that’s considered a pontoon, but you don’t want it too big. Remember, you have to lug this boat into and out of the water each time you want to use it. If doing that becomes too much of a pain, then your boat will sit and collect dust. All this time, effort, and money would have been for naught.
Another consideration for size: you need to make sure your pontoon boat fits in a commercially available trailer. Paying for a custom trailer isn’t something you really want to do since these can get quite expensive.
Step #2: Select a Place to Build Your Boat
You’ve drawn out the blueprint for what will become your DIY pontoon boat. Now you have to pick a place to get building. You need a lot of space for this project, as it’s quite a gargantuan one. More than likely, you cannot build a pontoon in your garage unless this space is very big.
Your backyard might suffice, but you do want to keep the homemade pontoon boat safeguarded from the elements. You would hate for parts to rust out before you even get the pontoon boat assembled.
It’s easier if you can build closer to the sea or another body of water in which you intend to ride, but that’s not mandatory. Do keep in mind that the further from water you build, the further you’ll have to transport your boat when it’s finished.
Step #3: Choose Your Pontoon Tubes
Again, if you’re using a DIY kit, then you can skip this step. Most kits should include pontoon tubes, so there’s no need to go scavenging for your own. That can be a fun part of the process though, so don’t feel too discouraged if you don’t have a handy kit to work from.
We recommend starting with a scrapyard if you need your own pontoon tubes. There, you could potentially find plastic drums or PVC water pipes. In some rare instances, you might even come upon military drop tanks. The aerodynamic qualities, strong honeycombed baffling, and anti-rust design makes drop tanks a pretty phenomenal choice for pontoon tubes if you can get your hands on them.
One plus to making your own DIY pontoon boat from the ground up is you can decide if you want your boat to have two pontoon tubes or even three. That’s not always an option with the kits.
Step #4: Pick Your Pontoon Frame Material
With the pontoon tubes selected, you need to keep finding materials for the rest of your boat. Next, you want to focus on the pontoon frames. PVC water pipe not only has buoyancy, but this material is readily available and fairly inexpensive as well.
You might use southern pine lumber for the support frame, but make sure it’s treated so it doesn’t warp or rot when exposed to water.
Step #5: Lay out the Framework for Your Boat
For the sake of this plan, let’s say you’re making a pontoon boat with a length of 16 feet and a width of eight feet. If you’re following along with your DIY pontoon boat kit, then your boat size will likely be different. That’s okay.
For the 16×8 boat, you want to begin making the framework by taking two PVC drainpipes and laying them down flat. They should be parallel to one another. Also, each tube should have a diameter of 12 inches.
Cap off the ends, sealing them tight so the tubes can’t fill with water and sink your boat. No-hub bands or glued slip caps will secure the ends, but these don’t come cheap. For a budget option, take some wood, whittle it down to a plug shape, and then attach it in the pipes with screws and epoxy. Again, make sure you treat the wood.
Next, you want to take the pine boards, which should be two-by-fours that are about eight feet. Chop them down until they’re seven feet, nine inches long. Then, place them lengthwise along the pipe. These will become your joists.
Step #6: Secure the Framework
With another two-by-four that’s 16 feet long, lay it along the joist ends, nailing it into place. This is now your support band. Do this for the other sides of the framework as well.
Get a drill with a coarse thread hex-head screw. Make sure the screw is two and a half inches long at least. Use the drill to connect a two-by-four block between every joist. Attach two screws for each block.
Step #7: Add Your Galvanized Strap
The galvanized strap provides bracing to your DIY pontoon boat. You want 16-gauge galvanized steel for this job. Make sure it’s at least an inch wide. Then, screw the strap in at a diagonal for each corner. Use tech screws or hot-dipped galvanized nails. Your drill could come in handy for this.
Check your deck corners after installing the first galvanized strap, particularly the one opposite the corner with the strap. Make sure they’re all at equal width and length at this point before it’s too late to fix it. Then add straps to the other corners.
Step #8: Set up Your Deck
Cool! You’ve gotten pretty far at this point. Now you’re going to work on your deck. You want either marine-grade plywood or treated lumber, especially 1X4 or 1X6 wood. Make sure the wood doesn’t weigh much but is still dry. This plays into the displacement of the PVC pipes, which is roughly 1,572 pounds. The above wood could add 600 pounds before you consider how much your pontoon tubes weigh. That would push everything to around 900 pounds, so a simple, light deck works best here.
Step #9: Add Other Features
From a Bimini top to an engine or other must-haves, you will want to install these now.
Step #10: Use Your New DIY Pontoon Boat
Whether you followed these instructions or those provided with a DIY kit, your pontoon boat is now complete. Test it for safety and then try it out on the water. Enjoy your boat!
More Homemade Pontoon Boat Plans
Perhaps none of the ideas or plans here have really jumped out at you yet. That’s alright, as we have some more handy homemade pontoon boat plans for your perusal. Take a look!
PVC Pontoon Boat
If you want to make an incredibly basic but inexpensive and functional PVC pontoon boat, make sure you check out this YouTube video here from Ray Makes.
Plywood Pontoon Boat
Maybe you have some scrap wood you’d like to configure into a pontoon boat. If so, then you don’t want to skip this instructional guide on Robnoxious.
The Pontoon Boat/Double-Hulled Kayak
Why choose between a pontoon boat and a kayak when you don’t have to? This combination vessel from Frugal Grasshopper.com is like the best of both worlds. Try making it yourself!
A new pontoon boat is quite a costly venture, and sometimes you only shave a few thousand dollars off the cost of one by going used. You can still have a fully functional pontoon boat without all the extra costs by making your own.
You may rely on the guidance of a DIY kit or even scavenge for parts and follow your own blueprint. By using seaworthy materials, you can ensure you have a safe, awesome homemade pontoon boat you will enjoy for years to come.