Pontoon Boat Cleaning Tips

The following post was written by our friend Bryan Hermann from EzFender, who shared these steps for tube polishing and protecting on the Pontoon Forums website. It was so detailed, we figured we’d share with our audience. Thanks, Bryan!

For those who are interested in polishing and protecting the tubes on your pontoon boat, here is a list of materials and step-by-step process to make your tubes shine like a mirror.

Start out by getting the right tools and supplies.

I bought 2 quarts of Sharkhide Protectant, 2 quarts of Cleaner and 1 can of Polish. This ended up being more than enough to do 2 boats, actually.

I used my 8″ 3000 to 8000 RPM Sander/ Polisher and 5 buffing pads.

Other materials:

  • 1 gallon of lacquer thinner
  • About 2 dozen old cotton rags and 1 roll of paper towels
  • 600 and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand out scratches
  • 1 brass chisel and a small dead blow hammer to knock of welding slag
  • Masking tape, I used 2″ wide
  • Plastic to cover the trailer

Preparing to clean scuffed pontoons
1. Start out by removing any prior protectant by washing the pontoons off with lacquer thinner poured into a rag. If any protectant is on, you’ll see it dissolve. Get it all off, or the cleaner won’t attack the aluminum, which is what you want it to do.

2. Next, when drying off the pontoon, you can feel any slag which was splattered on the pontoon during the welding process. Remove this with a soft tap on a chisel with a hammer. I could even just use my hand in most cases. Wet sand the rest off, as well as any scratches you want to remove. In my case, it was the bad scratches down the center of my pontoons from the previous owner’s docking technique. I don’t think he had one!

3. Dry again. Then tape off all areas you are not going to treat, and cover the trailer with plastic sheeting to protect them from the acid and polishing compound.

4. Get ready to clean! Dilute the Sharkhide cleaner to strength needed. I diluted mine 3 parts water to 1 part cleaner in a garden sprayer or spray bottle. Spray on the cleaner evenly and let it foam up. After about 3 minutes of working time, I rinsed it off with water. This left behind a nice white finish that will let the polishing compound do its job more easily.

5. Polish time! Working in about a 3 foot section, I started with the polish at the top of the pontoon and worked my way down in an “S” shape to the masking tape line at the trailer bunk. Clean excess compound from the pad when it builds up and starts to bite hard. Add more compound to the pontoon when it seems like it doesn’t bite anymore. You want it to bite into the aluminum to work properly. Clean the pontoon with lacquer thinner as you finish up each section. Go to the next section and repeat all the steps until you are done with that pontoon.

6. After the polishing is complete, wash the pontoon off with lacquer thinner to remove all residue left from the compound. Make sure you remove it all. Use white rags or paper towels and clean until you have no more black residue on the rags. If the tube is not completely free of residue, the protectant will not stick to the aluminum.

7. After you are done, it’s time to apply the protectant. It doesn’t take much! Use a clean rag and fold it to the size of your palm. Pour a little protectant to the front of the rag and wipe it on the tube in 6 foot sections. I found that working in a right to left motion from top to bottom worked the best for me. I did miss a few small spots, but after the first coat cures, in about 24 to 36 hours, you can apply the 2nd coat and can catch all the spots you missed. Don’t try to apply to missed spots when it’s still wet; it will dissolve the first application and look splotchy. After the second coat is on, you can either stop there or apply a third coat.

Aluminum pontoons so clean, they become a mirror
That’s it! Pontoons that shine like a mirror.

If you have any questions or comments, contact Bryan at sales@ezfender.com.