Pontoon platforms are one of the best dock options for boaters, anglers, swimmers, and professionals. There have many functions that include wild swimming, bathing, and fishing. Aside from recreational purposes, pontoon platforms are also suitable for construction experts working on the water due to their high load capacity.
Pontoon platforms are especially beneficial to waterfront homeowners who own a boat, Jet Ski, or PWC. However, those who do not have a water vessel can still benefit from having a pontoon platform on their waterfront property. Hence, it serves as an extension of possibilities that can be used for various leisure purposes. Pontoon platforms are suitable for high water fluctuations and there make a favourable option for docking boats.
This guide examines the types of pontoon platforms and their benefits
Why Do You Need A Pontoon Platform?
For boaters, pontoon platforms are an ideal choice for docking boats. Pontoon platforms sit on the water; it raises and lowers with the water level. A person looking to add a dock in an area where the water has a steep slope or high depth may consider pontoon platforms as they can handle water fluctuations. For waterfront homeowners, the platform can also be used for relaxing, holding equipment, or fishing.
Pontoon platforms consist of a floating dock. There are usually made from polystyrene wrapped in an HDPE liner, marine-grade aluminum, and concrete. These are solid and durable materials that are even more water-resistant than timber.
The build and construction of these platforms account for their buoyancy. Also, the material used in making pontoon platforms mitigates the problem of rotting timbers or the need for replacing beams. Hence, users can worry less about maintenance.
Additionally, the floating ability of a pontoon platform makes it a safe choice for use in all weather conditions. These floating platforms will not cause damage to one’s boat or watercraft due to unstable tides.
How Does A Pontoon Platform Work?
Pontoon platforms are supported on buoyant, air-tight pontoons which the dock uses to stay afloat on the water. The pontoons are made from durable, sturdy materials expanded with polystyrene. The polystyrene is responsible for keeping the platform afloat even if the drums underneath are punctured.
Typically, pontoon platforms are connected to the shore using a gangway. They are also firmly anchored under the water to keep them from floating off. When it comes to the installation process, pontoon platforms are easy to install. There are usually delivered in an already assembled state. The user can install it themselves or have a professional do the hard work.
Factors To Consider Before Using A Pontoon Platform
Pontoon platforms can be used for various reasons. However, before acquiring a pontoon platform on a waterfront, some considerations should be made. Hence, before installing a pontoon platform, one must ask;
Why Do I Need A Pontoon Platform?
Pontoon platforms are remarkably versatile. Therefore, different people have different reasons for owning or using a pontoon platform. However, a person must carefully consider why they want a pontoon platform before installing one, as this will affect the type of pontoon platform they will need. The four main reasons people want pontoon platforms are; gaining space, pedestrian access and mooring, swimming or bathing, and technical use.
Pontoon platforms can be used to gain space when creating a restaurant, walkway, or stage on the water. For such purposes, one must install a pontoon platform that is easy to clean, steady, and durable. Pontoons made with HDPE liner are generally used for such purposes as they meet the requirements.
If the structure is temporary, the user must choose a pontoon platform that will be easy to assemble and dismantle to save time and reduce the workload.
Pedestrian Access And Mooring
If the pontoon platform will be used for mooring and accessing boats, then the user must determine the height of the pontoon and the type of boat they intend to moor.
Boat owners with a motor or sailing boat should use a high free-board pontoon platform. Boat owners who have smaller vessels like kayaks or canoes should opt for low free-board platforms to help them get on their boats with ease.
Presently, many big cities encourage wild swimming. So, they install pontoon platforms for swimmers to get in and out of the water easily. For this purpose, a new modular pontoon structure with barriers is usually installed.
Anyone looking to create a pontoon platform for swimming or bathing must use one with modular solutions. This is because they are easy to install and ensure safety for swimmers.
Aside from the reasons above, people also utilize pontoon platforms for technical purposes. Whether for plumbing, maintenance work, or film shoots, pontoon platforms offer a stable platform for working on the water.
Pontoon platforms used for technical use will need to carry heavy equipment. Hence, for this purpose, one must endeavor to choose a pontoon platform that is hard-wearing and easy to assemble. Also, it should have many anchoring options to keep it stable on the water.
Where Would I Place The Pontoon Platform?
Before installing a pontoon platform, one must first decide where the pontoon platform will sit. Popular options include rivers, lakes, ponds, seas, landscaped banks, wild banks, or marinas. The environment where people choose to set up their pontoon platforms will determine their anchoring options.
There are many anchoring options for different water environments. Some anchor systems include cables, sinkers, chains, driven, screwed piles, etc. Usually, installers choose the anchor system best suited for one’s environment.
What Materials Are Best Suited?
Pontoon platforms can be made with one of two materials; HDPE or wood. Both materials hold their benefits and drawbacks. Plus, the environment where the pontoon platform will be installed can determine the best material for the job.
Wooden pontoon platforms are modular, attractive, sturdy, and eco-friendly. They are best suited to be used on lakes, ponds, seas, and rivers. However, they do not offer the same modular flexibility as HDPE platforms. As a result, they are mainly used as permanent platforms rather than temporary systems.
HDPE platforms, on the other hand, are durable, flexible, and easy to maintain. Because there are different ways to anchor them, HDPE pontoon platforms are versatile. There are best suited for technical and temporary use as there are easy to dismantle and assemble. Not to mention that they are cheaper than wooden platforms.
What Is My Budget?
As previously stated, there are different types of pontoon platforms. The price of a pontoon platform depends on the features the user requests, the material, and where the platform will be mounted. Also, other factors like the size of the pontoon, the type, and if the installation is temporary or permanent will impact the price.
Benefits Of Using A Pontoon Platform
Pontoon platforms are popularly used on many waterfronts and shorelines, and the reasons are not far-fetched. Aside from the fact that they are easy to customize and assemble, there are other benefits to using these platforms.
Below are the benefits of using pontoon platforms;
They Offer Quick Installation
One can purchase a pontoon platform that has already been assembled. After that, the process of installation is easy. This is because it does not need to be attached to the lake or seabed. The user can self-install the floating dock. However, it is more advisable to have a professional do it. Whatever the case, it takes one or two days to install a pontoon platform.
They Can Be Dismantled Easily
During the winter season or other extreme weather conditions, it is always better to take down the pontoon platform. Doing this will increase the platform’s lifespan and keep it in good shape. Fortunately, the process of dismantling a pontoon platform is quite easy.
They Are Customizable
Since pontoon platforms are flexible and versatile, users can change the arrangement anytime. The pieces can be placed to create ‘L,’ ‘U,’ or straight patterns.
They Are Adaptable
Since pontoon platforms float, they rest easily on the water. In other words, they adapt to the tides. This helps boat owners to get on and off their boats with ease.
They Are Cost-Effective
Compared to stationary docks, pontoon platforms are cost-effective. This is especially true because it takes less time and materials to install. Hence, the user has fewer payments to make.
They Are Versatile
The uses of pontoon platforms are endless. There can be used for a wide range of leisure and work purposes. Not to mention that they give one’s home a better resale value when they are mounted in one’s outdoor living space.
Types Of Pontoon Platforms
When choosing a pontoon platform, the environment is should be considered to determine the wind or wave load in the area. After that, the user can select an appropriate pontoon platform suitable to withstand the wind load in that area. To make a good decision, users must know the various pontoon platforms and how they stand up to wave loads.
Below are the types of pontoon platforms that are generally used in the market;
Floating Aluminum Docks Pontoons
The floating Aluminum dock is usually produced using the T6 aluminum marine type. Its frame is made with wood composite and decking. The floaters are made from concrete fiber EPS or high-density polyethylene.
These pontoon platforms are easy to move, disassemble or transport as they are lightweight. The unique design of floating aluminum pontoons makes it easy to attach cleats and fenders to the channels on them.
There are mainly used on parts within the port where it is calm and the tides are not high. The floating aluminum dock is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater installations. There are used for boat mooring, piers for a marina, and walkways.
It is worth noting that this type of pontoon platform is the most expensive to install. This is because of the craftsmanship and materials required. Generally, this pontoon platform should last 20-25 years.
- Can carry heavy equipment and tools.
- Customizable and aesthetically pleasing.
- Easy to use, install and transport.
- It has a lengthy lifespan.
- It is expensive
- It is not resistant to high waves.
Floating Concrete Docks Pontoons
The floating concrete pontoons offer the best solution for amplitude purposes. It is fitted around an EPS core to form a durable block in one piece. There are customizable, flexible, and highly versatile.
The iron reinforcement used in their production is hot-dip galvanized. For this pontoon, the CEM3 class concrete is used mainly by manufacturers. These materials make concrete pontoons resistant to corrosion.
Generally, the floating concrete pontoon platforms have the highest load capacity. It is also highly waves resistant and has a long lifespan.
- Has a high load capacity
- It is aesthetically pleasing
- Easy to install and use
- Has a lifespan of about 40-50 years
- It is highly wave resistant
- Some may deem it to be unaffordable.
Floating HDPE Plastic Docks Pontoons
The floating HDPE plastic pontoons are produced by heating the plastic raw material to liquid. This process moves them into a mold on-axis rotation.
There usually have thicknesses of about 3mm to 8mm and are conjoined. There are commonly used as temporary solutions for swimmers as they are easy to assemble and disassemble.
Plastic pontoon platforms are easy and affordable to install. However, there has a short commercial life. After some time, it becomes less flexible, and capillary cracks may form due to the sun’s heat. Subsequently, this pontoon platform may sink or lose its carrying capacity altogether.
- It is cost-effective
- Easy to install and dismantle
- Highly wave resistant
- Has a short lifespan of 2-3 years
- Has a low carrying capacity
- Does not have an excellent aesthetic design
Floating Steel Docks Pontoons
Floating steel docks are pretty similar to aluminum pontoons. However, there are produced using structural steel as opposed to aluminum. The steel parts are hot-dip galvanized, which prevents the platform from corroding.
As a better alternative to plastic pontoons, Steel pontoons have better structural integrity but maintain affordability. Manufacturers prefer to use WPC or natural wood composite for the decking on the steel frame. This pontoon platform is suitable for various architectural needs as the steel frame can be carved into many shapes. These last for about 10-15 years but may last longer in freshwater.
- Has a good carrying capacity.
- Easy to use and install.
- It is affordable.
- Flexible and easy to curve into desired shapes.
- Has a short lifespan
- Mediocre wave-resistant abilities.
Pontoon platforms can be used for various purposes. There can be used as a restaurant or simply for mooring and easy access to boats. Whatever the reasons for investing in a pontoon platform is, it can hardly be a wrong decision due to its many benefits. However, before investing in a pontoon platform, it is essential to consider all the factors and weigh the pros and cons to get the best value.