Pontoon vs. Deck Boats – Which Is Right For You

If you’re shopping for a new family boat, you’ve probably realized that there are many choices. Because of the huge variety of choices, it may be overwhelming for some boat shoppers to know exactly where to begin.

If you are on the hunt for a new boat, start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What does your perfect day on the water entail?
  • Are you looking for a boat with just enough space, or do you want to include the whole family and some friends?
  • Is a smooth ride essential, or are you ready to dive into bigger, more exciting waters?
Styling is one of the major differences between pontoon boats and deck boats – and when it comes to styling, the choice comes down to your preference.


Fortunately, there are a few boats that cover all those bases and more. Many families looking to live the boating lifestyle are usually drawn to pontoons and deck boats and are often left wondering, what’s the difference between the two? That, of course, depends on what exactly you are looking for in a boat.

These two boat types share many of the same benefits and exciting features, and if you are looking for a new boat, it can be tough to decide. You can’t go wrong either way; both types of boats are great for families and are a lot of fun. As you try to determine which would be ideal, consider the following to find out which will work best for you.

Space and Sizing

The actual size of pontoons and deck boats can be similar, so if this is your deciding factor, consider your vessel’s purpose.

Deck boats can accommodate about 12 people, but the more-spacious layout of a pontoon boat can comfortably fit up to 16 on the larger models. Pontoons are known as one of the best values because of their attractive price point and ability to hold a large group. Both boats will have a generous amount of storage space, but because of their size, a pontoon will have more.

Versatility and Customization

One of the fantastic things about pontoon boats is that they’re available in countless shapes, sizes, and layouts.

You can choose where you want your fishing chairs or that comfy lounger seat. You can also pick fun add-on features, like a tow pylon for watersports or cooler compartments for day cruising. You can make a pontoon boat as customized or as versatile as you want!

In contrast, deck boats are generally fiberglass boats with fixed decks and hulls. As a result, many of the features are molded, and the floorplans can’t be as customized. This may seem to put deck boats at a disadvantage, but there is an upside! With the fiberglass construction, the builder can create things like sturdy steering consoles, ski lockers, and seat bases.

It’s safe to say that deck boats paved the way for the comfortable, functional, gather-friendly boat experience.

Stability and Ride

Deck boats use v-hulls, which cut through the water, allowing them to accelerate quickly while making them easier to maneuver.

A pontoon boat attempting to reach the same speed as a deck boat will require more energy and fuel. However, pontoons are generally more fuel-efficient. The downside of the deck boat v-hull comes from its central axis, which leads the boat to rock with waves, passenger movement, or wind. Pontoon decks lay flat across the two pontoons, which makes them ideal for entertaining. The flat hull keeps the ride steady and smooth. In short, the deck boats are better for slicing through the water, but pontoon boats will keep you steady for a long day on the lake.

The Bottom Line

Usually, a deck boat will cost more than your traditional pontoon.

However, more modern pontoons are becoming more luxurious and will begin to approach price points like that of a deck boat. Whatever your boating budget, the cost is usually a high priority when comparing pontoons and deck boats. Pontoons typically win out when looking at smaller, less expensive size ranges. There are plenty of relatively small pontoons with low-power outboards at an attractive price. There are some small and affordable deck boats, too, but foot for foot, the pontoons will cost less.

However, this advantage disappears when it comes to newer, larger model boats. Many of today’s pontoon boats are exceptionally well equipped with luxury features, accessories, and powerful engines. They can get as expensive as a comparable deck boat, sometimes even more.


With the recent increases in pontoon boat power, the differences between what you can do on a deck boat compared to a pontoon are becoming minimal.

Especially considering the more advanced model’s capabilities. For example, a pontoon with a 150-horsepower engine is great for tubing or water skiing. However, if you’re more of an expert water sports enthusiast, you won’t catch as much air. Deck boats are definitely superior in that area. They slice through the water with power and give plenty of wake for the ride. If your water activity of choice is fishing, a pontoon boat may be the way to go. While you can fish from a deck boat, the stable platform, built-in features, and additional room on a pontoon boat will be valuable as you try to reel in that big catch.


As with any watercraft, keeping your boat clean and in working order is critical.

This requires some consistent effort on both pontoon and deck boats, but the difference is most noticeable on the hulls. The aluminum pontoons are much easier to maintain than the fiberglass hull of a deck boat. A fiberglass hull will need to be wiped down after each day spent on the water. If you don’t wipe the gel-coat meticulously, water spots will be painful to try and remove later.

So, which boat type is right for you?

Pontoon and deck boats both offer some amazing features ideal for any family. With large passenger capacities and a stable ride, deck boats and pontoon boats have a lot in common.

So, what’s the final verdict? That will depend on how you prioritize the listed factors. We know one thing for sure, choosing either will be a significant lifestyle upgrade. So, do your research, make your final call, and get ready for endless fun on the water. Start by exploring our hundreds of pontoons for sale and deck boats for sale, and begin your boating journey today!