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Pontoon Boat Fence

Pontoon fence hasn’t changed much since the early 1980’s.  Except on the very high-end pontoons.  An aluminum skin is fastened to an aluminum frame and graphics added.  Early fence was 1” but most boats built after about 1985 have  a 1 1/4” frame.  

1980's Sanpan w/sundeck

2018 Sanpan stern entry w/sundeck

In the 1980’s port and starboard entry gates were a new innovation, but on the 2018 Sanpan you enter from the front or port.  Eliminating an entry gate on the captains side allows the steering stand to be moved forward for more seating.   Buyers should give some consideration to the entry gates in relation to how you moor your boat.  In the 2018 Sanpan shown above there isn’t much space on the front deck for boarding. The average height of most pontoon fence is between 26” and 28” to satisfy Coast Guard requirements.  Some newer boats have taller fence.

Panel Inside

Panel Outside

Most pontoons built before about 2010 had the fence paneling on the “inside”.   About 2010 a trend started of putting the fence paneling on the “outside”.  Paneling on the outside gives a sleeker look.  It allows an uninterrupted surface for more elaborate graphics.  But the majority of new 2018 boats have reverted back to paneling on the inside.  I suspect it might have something to do with reducing transportation damage. 

Pieces shown from

Pontoon fence is usually components bolted together.  Corners, straight pieces and gates.  The longer the boat the longer the straight pieces or gate.  Its easy to manufacture and replace.  New boat builders have been troubled for decades by pontoon fence being scratched or dented in transportation.  Most new boat manufacturers are reluctant to supply aftermarket components.  Their production and warranty take up most of their fence building capacity and transportation can be a hassle.  They often price replacement or aftermarket pieces so high to discourage purchases.

Black Fence with Paneling inside

Black fence paneling on the inside

In the modern era colored fence is the norm.  At the 2015 Chicago Boat Show there were 78 pontoons.  Sixty percent were black and the other forty percent were dark blue.  Older pontoons have occasionally had colored paneling but “colonial white” (an egg shell color) was generally the norm.  

Fence on modern high end boats is spectacular.  The boat to the left has an intricate aluminum frame with black panel on the inside.  The boat to the right has mahogany (yes, wood) as fence.   Of course it's expensive but its beautiful.  Your mahogany fence boat won’t be confused with the neighbors.

Modern boat fence fills the deck

1980's boat

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