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Pontoon Lounge Seats

Pontoon boats are summertime favorites among inland water communities. Small lakes and slow-moving rivers are the best bodies of water for pontoon boats because their navigation systems perform best in calm water. Pontoon lounge seats, as well as most pontoon furniture is bolted to the pontoon deck, which works extremely well for smaller bodies of water. The waterproof, buoyant pontoon seats offer additional safety. Pontoon boats should not be taken out when waves are high enough to impede navigation.

Toons, or party boats, are suitable for almost any type of water sport like fishing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, family gatherings or just lazing in a pontoon lounge seat. Smaller motors are best for slow moving sports, like fishing. Stronger motors have enough power to facilitate waterskiing and wakeboarding. The wide, flat decks offer more passenger room than conventional boats. Side rails add a degree of safety so many pontoon owners even bring the family pets for a day on the water.

The pontoons, or sponsons, supporting the party boat are watertight and may be filled with a number of buoyant products, but a polyurethane product is used most often. This makes pontoon boats especially appealing, since any concern that the boat will sink is lessened. It also makes taking naps on pontoon lounge seats one of the great waterfront pastimes.

Pontoon boat furniture consists of several types of seating, including lounge seats, captain's seats, pontoon bench seats, and corner units, which are combined to create a functional seating arrangement. The name, "pontoon lounge seats," describes more than one type of seat. Among vendors and individual owners, the common factor that makes a "pontoon chair" a "lounge seat" is that the unit accommodates relaxing in a prone position.

When searching for new or used pontoon lounge seats, search for a variety of replacement pontoon furniture, including lounge seats, folding fishing seats and bench seats. These can all provide space for relaxing on a pontoon boat, whether as a single surface, like bench seats, or with backs that fold down to form a relaxing space.

Manufacturing Pontoon Lounge Seats

Pontoon boats made their first significant sporting boat appearance in the 1950s. The history of pontoon lounge seats and other padded boating furniture is even shorter. The introduction of pontoon sport boats coincided with the invention of polyurethane foam, in 1954. Lightweight polyurethane makes an excellent filling for pontoon boat sponsons, or pontoons.

Polyurethane has innumerable uses and is available in many forms. Bayer started research in 1937, but was his research was slowed down by World War II. Like many inventions, flexible polyurethane, or upholstery foam, was an accident. When water was accidentally added to the combined organic and chemical ingredients, it produced what the lab technicians described as an "imitation Swiss cheese." We now call this open cell or closed-cell polyurethane foam. Many chemical companies joined the excitement in creating flexible polyurethane including Monsanto, DuPont, BASF, Dow Chemical and other industry giants.

Open cell polyurethane is lighter and more flexible than closed-cell polyurethane. Pontoon lounge seats, benches and other furniture with large seating areas is typically filled with open cell upholstery foam. Closed-cell upholstery foam is used for smaller cushions and is heavier than open cell foam. Although it is heavier, it is more buoyant and can be used as a personal flotation device.

By the mid-1960s, automobile interiors featured lightweight and durable polyurethane foam for car interiors. Also in the 1960s, pontoon boats gained popularity and polyurethane foam production soared. The Harris Corporation began production of padded pontoon lounge seats, bench seats and other boat furniture. They were correct in believing that pontoon boats would be more fun and more comfortable with padded seating. This advancement offered increased functionality and lounge seats became perfect for lounging. Padded pontoon lounge seats are now standard equipment on most pontoon boats.

The bases for pontoon seats, as for many other parts of pontoon boats, are most often constructed using polyurethane, popularly called plastic. The two predominant types of molding hard plastic are injection molding and rotational molding. Proponents of each method claim theirs is the best plastic-molding method. Generally, injection molding is best for smaller, more intricate products. Rotation molding works well with larger pieces and is less expensive.

Injection molding begins with a heated barrel attached to a metal mold by one or more entry points. The rotating heated barrel houses a plunger-like unit. The polyurethane beads are fed into the barrel as the heated barrel rotates and mixes the plastic as it melts. When it is in a thick liquid form, the plunger pushes the plastic into the cold metal mold. The mold not only shapes the plastic, but also cools it quickly.

Rotational molding is also called rotomolding, rotocasting or spin casting. In this process, the plastic granules are put into the mold in solid form. When the mold is full, it is heated to melt the plastic as it rotates. The rotation of the mold during this process distributes the plastic liquid evenly.

Parts constructed using either method are checked for quality when removed from the mold. Excess plastic, called a burr or flash, may leak through the seams and form an unwanted ridge. The ridge is removed from the product and the edge filed smooth.

Polyurethane is also used to manufacture a durable, marine-grade vinyl to upholster pontoon lounge seats. The added surface layer of acrylic protectant guards against UV rays, water, mold and mildew, and makes the vinyl stronger. An alternative upholstery fabric is created when acrylic fibers are woven together to create a polyurethane mesh fabric that breathes. Mesh fabrics allow water to enter, but also allow air to dry out the seats. Mesh fabric is also cooler in the hot sun.

Lifespan of Pontoon Lounge Seats

When first manufactured, protective polymers are sprayed on both the bases and upholstery of the pontoon lounge seat. Polymers are plastic and are often used as protective coatings because they are transparent and elastic. The transparency ensures the original color is retained after being treated with acrylic. Elasticity is important for pontoon seat vinyl, particularly in upholstery, because lounge seat surfaces are subject to a great deal of movement and stretching.

The most effective method to increase the lifespan of pontoon lounge seats is simply to keep them clean. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately so the acrylic coating remains intact; even puddles of standing water can wear away the protectant.

Water damage is the most famous culprit for damage to pontoon lounge seats. Pontoon boats are often launched in the spring and removed from the water in the fall, with almost constant use throughout the summer months. Water spray or wet swimming clothes and towels should not be left on the seat. Windswept water is beautiful and exciting, but it carries grains of sand and other airborne particles that add to polyurethane and acrylic damage.

Excessive UV rays from the sun are not only bad for people, but also damage protective coatings and polyurethane itself. When exposed to UV rays over long periods of time, polyurethane becomes more susceptible to UV damage, including fading and cracking. Use of a pontoon seat cover can help minimize UV damage. Sunscreen, designed to protect people, is notorious for damaging vinyl and acrylic coatings. It should be removed as soon as possible.

Damp pollen and fallen leaves are perfect breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Acrylic coatings were engineered to protect polyurethane from these hazards. Look for antimicrobial protectants to minimize mold and mildew.

Pontoon lounge seats and other pontoon furniture, pontoon accessories, and fixtures can actually exceed their lifespan if routinely cleaned. Replacement protectant keeps the pontoon furniture looking new and protects it from harmful elements.

Caring for Pontoon Lounge Seats

De-winterizing your pontoon in the spring increases the lifespan of the entire vessel, not just the pontoon lounge seats and visible surfaces. Clean and inspect the entire boat including the exterior, the pontoons, pontoon furniture, motor and accessories for wear or other problems.

A good method for winterizing and de-winterizing is to create a checklist of all areas on your pontoon boat. Check the battery for fluids and a full charge; change the motor oil and all the engine fluids and oils. Inspect the hull for rust, peeling paint or other defects. Carpeting on the deck should be securely fastened and have no rips or loose edges. The railing provides protection to your passengers, so it must be intact and secure.

All gauges should be in good working order; fire extinguishers should be inspected. The correct types and quantities of personal flotation devices should be easily accessible and checked for malfunctions. Do not forget flotation devices for pets that might accompany the family on outings. Look closely at the pontoon lounge seats and other pontoon furniture for excessive wear, cracks or tears and rotted thread or zippers.

Caring for pontoon lounge seats and other boat furniture begins with a good spring-cleaning. Remove all loose dirt and debris. Power washers should not be used on pontoon furniture, but can be used on the hull. Upholstery vinyl cannot withstand the intense spray from high-power pressure washers. After removing all loose dirt and debris, use a low-power garden hose to remove stubborn substances and to rinse the furniture.

Wash the pontoon lounge seats with a safe cleaner. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for the best products to use. Even the most common household cleaners may harm surfaces. Check product labels to determine that products used are marine-grade.

Use cleaning cloths or brushes with soft vinyl bristles to clean surfaces, taking care not to scratch or damage the furniture. The protective coatings on pontoon bench seats eventually wears off even with the best care. UV rays, water and other damaging materials wear off the factory-installed acrylic. After washing the pontoon furniture, rinse it with clear water several times to remove any residue from the cleaning detergent. Soap residue can damage polyurethane.

While cleaning pontoon furniture, look for any damaged surfaces and for cracked coverings. Thread used to sew pontoon bench seats is also made out of polyurethane or nylon products. It should not be loose or rotted. Damaged or loose seams are the primary locations for water to enter the seat and leak into the upholstery foam. Zippers are typically nylon; confirm they are in good working order and secure. While tempting to use, duct tape is not the best choice for repairing pontoon lounge seats and other furniture. Repairs made with duct tape will not adequately protect seating; the glue used on the tape can actually damage surfaces.

After ensuring the lounge seats are in good condition, spray the pontoon furniture with a good quality protectant to not only guard against the elements, but to help return some of the original luster of the products.

During the boating season, clean pontoon lounge seats and other surfaces regularly. Clean as often as needed, but at a minimum, twice a season. Use towels to cover pontoon lounge seats when you are wet, or when you are using sunscreen, to increase their lifespan. When docking for the night, or if the pontoon boat will not be in use for a long period of time, a boat cover provides additional protection.

Winterizing your pontoon boat can also prolong the furniture life. Perform a thorough cleaning similar to that done in the spring. Storing a boat with dirty or stained lounge seats and other furniture gives the damaging elements time to degrade the upholstery.

Covering your pontoon boat in the winter may encourage the growth of mold and mildew, which grows in damp, closed spaces. Protect pontoon lounge seats and other surfaces from the growth of mold and mildew with a silica gel desiccant. Desiccants absorb or bond with water molecules in closed spaces. Natural desiccants include simple products like rice or salt, but they are much less effective than substances like silica gel or calcium sulfate.

Avoid winter cold and wind as much as possible. Spray the lounge seat, other furniture and polyurethane accessories with a fresh coat of protectant before storage. Cover the pontoon boat with pontoon seat covers and store it in a carport or garage. Steer clear of as much harsh weather as possible to prolong the life of your pontoon boat.