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Determining the Need for Replacement Pontoon Seats

Pontoon boats are popularly nicknamed "toons," but when they first arrived on the market, they were called party boats or party barges. Party boats became popular in the mid 1960s. They were used for relaxing on the water as well as for many water sport activities. Fishing, waterskiing and wakeboarding can be performed on pontoon boats, depending upon the size of the motor used. Pontoon seats include a variety of furniture including captain's seats, fishing pontoon seats, bench pontoon seats, pontoon lounge seats, corner seats and other types of pontoon seats. Pontoons boats have more usable square footage dedicated to passengers than other types of boats, so more varieties of boat furniture are available.

To determine if you need to start searching for replacement pontoon seats, inspect your pontoon furniture for wear and tear. The upholstery fabric, usually pontoon vinyl, should be pliable. If the pontoon furniture has been exposed to excessive UV rays, it may appear bleached or faded; there may also be cracks in it. The UV rays break down protective surfaces, and the polyurethane becomes brittle, leading to cracks and tears.

Replacement pontoon seats may be necessary if the seams are excessively worn. Worn seams can allow water to seep into pontoon stuffing, eventually breaking down the polyurethane foam. Mesh upholstery fabric, unlike pontoon vinyl, is breathable and allows water into the seats. Since the mesh also allows air, the water has an opportunity to dry out. The breathability of mesh fabric makes it cooler in the hot sun. The choice to use either vinyl or mesh upholstery fabric comes down to personal preference.

Inspect seam threads and zippers for rotting or excessive wear. If only the thread and zippers are rotted, it is possible to have the seating repaired, rather than replacing the pontoon seats. Repair can be done by experienced owners, but more likely by sail makers or boating specialists.

Construction of Replacement Pontoon Seats

Plastic, or polyurethane, is used for any number of products. It is inexpensive to make and can be used for many applications. Base units for pontoon replacement seats are constructed using hard polyurethane, which is molded into shape. Because most types of polyurethane are waterproof, they make an excellent choice for marine use. For the most part, polyurethane bases on pontoon furniture have replaced wooden bases.

Base units for pontoon boat furniture are bolted to the pontoon deck and are perfect for stowing gear, food and other supplies. The cushioned seat of replacement pontoon seats lift up on hinges for easy access to the contents of the base. The hinges and bolts are manufactured using stainless steel or aluminum so they will not rust in the damp environment.

OEM, or original equipment manufacturers, continue producing pontoon seats long after the pontoon models were initially introduced to the market. Consumers purchase OEM seats to replace existing pontoon furniture because of wear or damage to the original furniture, or to upgrade to a better quality. Technological advances can also be an incentive to purchase replacement pontoon seats. Better acrylic protectants, better upholstery fabric and better polyurethane can convince consumers to replace original furniture with newer models.

Locating Replacement Pontoon Seats

If careful inspection of your furniture has revealed the damage is significant enough to warrant replacement, several options are available to locate replacement pontoon seats. Make a list of the factors that are most important to you to ensure you will purchase the optimum furniture for your needs.

When looking for new or new-used replacement pontoon seats, gather information about your furniture. Note your pontoon brand, model, style and your price range. When searching, get seller information including contact information, location, shipping costs, quality of the furniture, the amount of wear, color and materials used to construct the seating.

Pontoon boat web sites are developed not only to sell products, but also to educate owners. Many sites have public forums for pontoon owners to discuss current products and share boating experiences. Newsletter e-mail lists are provided for the same purpose, and are a convenient way to stay in touch with other boaters and to get information about new technology. Pontoon sites often sell both new and used pontoon replacement seats. Many vendors have both physical and Internet locations to better serve their customers. Some sites even have live Internet chat ability as well as the phone contact information and physical address.

Online classified ads list individuals and vendors who have pontoon seats for sale. Check the listings daily for additional ads, since the information is often updated. When purchasing from online individuals, it is important to do your homework and confirm the people and products actually exist. If the products will be shipped to your location and the seller will not be paying for shipping, determine the cost by contacting freight companies for quotes.

Long-distance purchasing of used products carries an inherent risk that you may be paying for products that are not in the condition you understood. Minimize risks by requesting a current photograph of the pontoon furniture and by requesting that a local marina confirm the condition of the replacement pontoon seats. The shipping costs may make purchasing used seating more expensive than OEM furniture.

Online directories of boat-related vendors can be found using popular search engines like Google or Yahoo. Online vendors specialize in selling both new and used pontoon replacement seats and accessories. The advantages of purchasing from online vendors include a broader search for the products and competitive pricing. Many vendors also have contact information so you can speak with pontoon boat experts about your search. Experts can often have additional information that you had not previously considered, like different types of fabric or upholstery foam. Once again, shop wisely, confirming that the businesses you contact are reputable.

Online auctions differ from online directories or vendors in that they offer products to the highest bidder. Products are placed for auction with a minimum acceptable price and often a "Buy Now" price. The Buy Now price is the cost to purchase the product without placing bids against other buyers. If vendors have a large inventory, they may choose to set a low Buy Now price to improve sales. Online auctions give information about the replacement pontoon seats including dimensions, condition, photographs, shipping charges and contact information. When making a large purchase, check the vendor rating. Many auctions have a star rating to show the vendor's reputation with other buyers. The site will also list information about how payment should be made. Keep all interactions with the vendor as supporting documentation in case there is a discrepancy in your purchase.

Local newspapers list boating accessories in the classified advertising section. Classified ads in local newspapers are only listings; the paper is not responsible for the reputation of the person placing the ad. Use the same criteria as for online classifieds. Determine the individual is reputable and that the products are in the advertised condition. The advantage of purchasing from a classified ad in a local newspaper is that the products are usually nearby and you can personally inspect the replacement pontoon furniture. An additional bonus is that there will be no shipping charges for furniture, which could be significant because of the weight and size of pontoon seats.

Local marinas and boating supply stores are both good options for purchasing new or used pontoon replacement furniture. The vendor may even know the history of the furniture and can offer important information about it. In-house boating experts can offer free advice about what to buy, how to install it and long-term care. Besides being able to view the pontoon furniture and avoid shipping charges, the marina or store may provide installation services. They can remove the furniture currently on your pontoon boat, and may even purchase it, or sell it on consignment. Local marinas and boating supply stores may even be able to repair the pontoon furniture you thought had to be replaced.

Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs, are the companies that built your pontoon boat, the furniture and the pontoon seat accessories originally installed. While they may be more expensive than other sources for replacement pontoon seats, there are several reasons you may choose to purchase from them. They provide new pontoon furniture with the latest technology. They have multiple grades of replacement seats that will fit your pontoon boat exactly. For those who are restoring pontoon boats, the value of the finished product is higher if OEM replacement furniture is used. If the original manufacturer is not local, you will need to add shipping costs to the price of the replacement pontoon seats.

The Right Replacement Pontoon Seats for You

For many people, one of the most important factors in purchasing replacement pontoon seats is the cost. After determining you need replacement furniture, create a budget for the project. Consider the cost of new furniture, shipping, installation, and removing old furniture and hardware. This is also a good time to replace worn carpet. Once the old furniture has been removed, carpet installation is easier. New carpet should always be installed on the pontoon deck before new furniture. The carpet will be better secured if furniture is placed on top and there are no seams at the bases of furniture.

Create a list or spreadsheet with your total budget and all costs associated with refurbishing your pontoon boat. Updating your project information as you get each new piece of information will be an invaluable tool in your project to replace pontoon seats.

After determining your budget and creating a spreadsheet to gather information, list each piece of pontoon furniture you want to replace. This list may change as you progress, since you may change the arrangement of furniture or determine that some of the furniture will stay for another season. Pontoon replacement seats are sold by packages or individual units. Replacement seat packages include captain's seats, bench seats, folding seats and armrests, but can differ depending on your preferences.

As you contact replacement seat sources, keep track of the cost, condition, color and style of each piece of pontoon furniture. In addition, note the vendor or individual selling the furniture, their location and contact information. Price shopping is well worth it to get the best value for your money.

Pontoon replacement seat packages are often a good value for both you and the seller. The seller offers a lower price because you are buying multiple units and you get a better deal than if you bought each piece of furniture individually.

When searching for individual pieces of pontoon replacement seats, look for a variety of furniture names. For example, a lounge seat at one vendor may be a pontoon bench seat at another and a fishing seat at a third.

Installing Pontoon Replacement Seats

Many pontoon boat owners create a family weekend adventure of installing pontoon replacement seats. This is, providing you follow the directions, the least expensive method to install pontoon furniture, and the most enjoyable. Marinas, boating stores and other boat specialists may be hired to install your new furniture. This is a good idea if the thought of replacing your own pontoon furniture is overwhelming.

Removing the existing pontoon furniture can become challenging if the hardware securing the seating to the deck has rusted. Special products that remove rust may help in removing stubborn hardware or it may have to be cut out. Check online boating forums and do-it-yourself sites for suggestions on removing stubborn hardware. They contain valuable information and some very entertaining stories about frustrated boat owners and rusty bolts.

When the existing furniture has been removed, inspect the pontoon deck to make sure it is sound. This is also a good time to replace worn carpeting. Any damaged or rotting decking should be removed and replaced for safety.

If you have purchased new pontoon replacement seats, follow the instructions carefully. Most OEMs offer call-in customer service to help you with the installation. Information for installing used pontoon furniture can be found online. Perhaps the most important step to successful installation is to only hand tighten the bolts and screws for each piece of furniture. When all of the furniture is in place, tightening the hardware with a power tool is appropriate.

Caring for Pontoon Replacement Seats

The lifespan of pontoon replacement seats can be extended by vigilant cleaning. Many causes of damage to pontoon furniture stem from simple housecleaning. Use a good quality marine detergent to wash pontoon seats regularly. Sunscreen, spills, pollen, leaves and standing water can damage surfaces and reduce the life of your furniture.

Household cleaners for the home are not suitable for cleaning pontoon boats or pontoon seat vinyl. Many are far too harsh for furniture that faces UV rays and the elements on a daily basis. Use cloths or soft bristled brushes to clean replacement pontoon furniture. Anything that scratches or gouges the surface of the furniture should be avoided.

After a thorough washing, rinse furniture several times with a slow stream of water. Heavy-duty pressure washers are damaging to pontoon replacement seats. Follow up with a marine quality acrylic protectant on all surfaces. This helps fight harmful UV rays and can contain antimicrobial properties that protect against mold and mildew.

Cover your pontoon with a pontoon seat cover when it is not in use to keep debris from accumulating. Proper care of pontoon replacement seats will lead to years of use and protect your investment.