How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Cost? 8 Driving Factors Behind Pricing
You’re staring out at the blacktop pavement that’s literally steaming because it’s 100 degrees outside. As you turn the air conditioning down even colder, you think to yourself, when will summer end?
The kids’ new pastime is watching T.V. in the cool, dark basement while you’re finding any fan in the house to sit in front of. Family time has turned into fighting over the last popsicle in the freezer.
After weeks of trying to find the coldest air vent in the house, something needs to change. How can you bring the family together this summer? How can you beat the heat and enjoy the great outdoors?
There are the obvious options like running through the sprinkler or tearing out your entire backyard (kiss your perfect grass goodbye) to put in a pool. There’s one choice that really gets the family excited and that’s a boat. After vetting what type of boat is best for you, you settle on a pontoon boat.
Boating has always appealed to you, but you have no clue how much this new venture will cost. Can you afford a pontoon boat? What should you budget for? Are you going to sacrifice the kid’s college fund or that next trip to Europe just to cruise the lake?
Here at Barletta Pontoon Boats we have many different price points, and the industry has even more. What does this mean for you?
I’m going to help you figure out if a new pontoon boat is in your budget. I’ve dissected the seven main factors that determine the price of a new pontoon below. These should help you narrow in on what you can expect to spend based on your wants and needs.
How Much Does a Pontoon Boat Cost?
The pontoon industry offers products that vary in price anywhere from $20,000 to upwards of $300,000. What are the key factors that affect the price of a new pontoon boat? Typically, they fall under these eight categories:
- Trim level
- Freight, prep, and taxes
- Dealer accessories
#1. What Length Pontoon Will You Choose?
The length of a pontoon varies between all makes and models but is a very important factor for determining how expensive the pontoon will be. It only makes sense that the longer or wider the boat, the higher the price, but why?
This is true because a matter of inches can change the person capacity of the boat, the quality of the ride, amount of storage, and so on. As the lengths go up, you get more amenities like seating, deck space, and even the potential to add a larger horsepower engine.
Shorter boats can only accommodate lower horsepower engines ranging from 25HP to 150HP. Longer pontoons can accommodate engines with greater horsepower anywhere from the low range of 25HP up to 450HP, which will lead to an increase in cost. Length should be one of your first considerations when shopping for a new pontoon or any type of boat.
#2. Consider the Floorplan
When shopping for a new pontoon, the floorplan should be a driving factor in your decision. This is the layout of the interior and will vary based on how you plan to use the boat. There are hundreds if not thousands of different floorplans so considering why and how you will use the boat before you begin shopping is key.
The floorplan is dictated by the placement of the furniture on board. That said, the price may increase if you gravitate towards a floorplan with lots of versatile seating generally. The more unique the floorplan, the higher the price point.
Most manufacturers offer standard floorplans that include some type of rear lounge, front lounge, and captain’s seat. Floorplans that differ from these - such as a layout that includes fishing chairs or a bar top - are more unique, and in turn, more expensive.
It’s important to keep in mind that most manufacturers offer a mix of different floorplans at each level, making just about any of them fit a wide range of budgets.
I recommend talking with your future crew to see what’s most important for them. Is it having a large daybed to lay in the sun and catch rays? Is it reeling in the largest bass in the next fishing tourney? Is it having extra space to bring along furry friends? Having the right floorplan will make your pontoon experience worth the price tag.
#3. How To Choose a Trim Level
Let’s think outside of the pontoon box for a moment in order to break down trim levels. I’m going to explain this using my favorite grill companion, steak. Just like pontoons, there are many different types of steak. Depending on the cut, the price will vary greatly.
From the inexpensive sirloin, to the reliable NY strip, to the high end and luxurious filet, you can find a cut that meets your needs but doesn't have to break the bank. Each level has its own great qualities and you choose your steak based on what’s most important to you.
In the same sense, pontoon manufacturers offer many different trim levels. You will find more standards and options at each level as the price increases. I suggest learning about what each time level offers and rule out what’s most important to you whether it’s price or a certain set of features you really want to have.
If you’re looking to get on the water and have a smaller budget, there’s a trim level for you. In the same sense, if you’re looking for a boat loaded with extra bells and whistles, you will need a more robust trim level which does come with a larger price tag. From budget-friendly to the ultimate splurge, there’s a trim level for everyone.
#4. What Size Engine Do You Prefer?
This is where the big bucks come into play. The engine you choose will impact the cost of your pontoon more than any other aspect. Depending on the length of the pontoon, you will be given a range of horsepower you can shop.
There is a wide variety of outboard engines ranging anywhere from 25HP to 450HP which will run approximately $6,000-$80,000 just for the engine. The higher the horsepower, the more expensive the engine. Some pontoon manufacturers also offer the option of having two engines on the boat. It goes without saying, double the dough.
Other factors such as rigging the engine, different steering types, and engine add-ons will also play a part in pricing. It’s important to know what your options are when it comes to adding an engine to the boat. Most online boat building tools will spell out these options to give you an idea before you buy.
I recommend figuring out the right length and floorplan, then deciding on the engine in the range you’re allotted. There are a ton of great articles and videos you can research that will help you choose the right engine for you.
#5. The Value in Standard Features
Deciphering between standard features and optional add-ons can make you dizzy. Regardless, it’s important to know what’s included in the initial price of the boat versus what you’re paying extra for.
Adding options outside of the standard features will increase the price of the boat. Keep your eye out for clearly stated standards when shopping different manufacturers.
Standards should include things like a bimini, mooring cover, cupholders, docking lights, and so on. The necessities you need to successfully and safely boat should not be optional. Look for pontoons that include more standard features and fewer options. This will ensure you’re getting the most value possible.
#6. Which Optional Features Appeal to You?
As I stated above, adding additional options to your pontoon will drive the cost up. Look for manufacturers who include more standards in the initial build. More standard features will keep the price from skyrocketing by the end of the ordering process.
Typical options include upgrading to a tri-toon package, steering functions, flooring, styling, and convenience options. There are many other options to consider, but none of them should be absolutely necessary to get out on the water. Outside of those choices, most of the amenities should come standard.
Having to add on a ton of options can easily take your price up by thousands. Make sure you understand what the options mean and how they will impact your boating experience. If you don’t know how it will help, you may not need that option.
#7. Freight, Dealer Prep, and Taxes
Freight, dealer prep, and taxes are usually an afterthought when pricing out a new pontoon boat. These costs vary based on where you buy and what the dealer offers as far as preparing the boat for you.
Freight is the charge associated with shipping the boat from the manufacturer to the dealership. The farther the boat travels, the more expensive freight will be as the rates are based on mileage. Freight can range anywhere from $300 to $6,000 depending on where it’s coming from.
Dealer prep looks different depending on where you buy and what’s all entailed in making your pontoon water ready. A few examples of what goes into preparing your boat are; unwrapping and cleaning, prop installation, checking the oil, and filling it with gas. These are pretty standard items but your dealer may include other services to prepare the boat, therefore pricing will vary between dealerships.
Once you narrow down the boat you want and the dealer you’re buying from, make sure to discuss what’s all included in their boat preparation before you take possession. This will give you a good idea of the actual final price you will be paying.
#8. Accessories Offered By Your Dealer
It is likely that your dealer will offer trailers, gear, safety equipment, water toys, and other optional amenities. Depending on where you boat, some of these items will be mandatory in order to abide by the law.
Things such as life jackets, throwable flotation devices, and flares may be deemed mandatory by local law enforcement. I recommend learning what your local boating laws are and making a list of equipment you will need before you launch your new pontoon.
You may also be considering water toys, model-specific accessories, or items that will make your time on the water more enjoyable like a grill or a cooler. Many times, your dealer will have these items in stock so that you can buy them with the purchase of the boat.
If you plan on towing the boat, you will need a trailer. It’s important to know that a trailer typically does not come with a pontoon boat. Many times, your dealer will be able to fit your boat for the right trailer once you decide which pontoon you’re going to buy.
A new pontoon boat trailer will cost on average $5,000 to upwards of $10,000 depending on the type. For instance, a trailer that’s designed for saltwater use will be more expensive than a trailer set up for freshwater. Many dealerships will offer to launch the boat and pull it out for you if you don’t plan on towing. Talk through these options before you buy, this will also play into the end cost.
This, along with many other reasons, is why I strongly suggest buying where you boat. Building a relationship with your dealer is the best way to make sure you can easily obtain service when it’s needed. You will also need to be near your dealer if you plan on having them launch and pull the boat for you.
So What’s Next?
After considering all eight factors, I recommend making a list of the features that are most important to you. Whether it’s taking the kiddos tubing or lounging in the sun with your co-captain, these decisions will help guide your budget.
As I mentioned in the beginning, you’re going to see a wide range of prices from $20,000 to upwards of $300,000. The numbers in this article are ballpark pricing but should give you an idea of what type of pontoon will fit your budget.
A great way to start the process of learning what you want in a pontoon and where your price point lies is by using the Barletta build-a-boat tool. Once you build your perfect layout, choose your colors, options, and engine, you can download a price sheet instantly.
You’ve only begun shopping for a new boat but just imagine swapping the chill of AC for refreshing lake water, a freezer full of popsicles for an iced down cooler, and your favorite fan for a cool breeze. The water is just a click away.