How To Convert A Pontoon Boat To A Houseboat?

Although a pontoon boat can be really cool to own, sometimes people might tend to get bored of it and want something new, but within a budget. Thus, although buying a new boat might seem a little too expensive, choosing to convert your pontoon boat to a houseboat might be a good alternative. 

Through this article, we will help you to figure out the best way to convert your pontoon boat to a houseboat, as well as some important tips that you should keep in mind during the conversion. 

What is the difference between a pontoon boat and a houseboat?

Honestly there are very few differences between a pontoon boat and a regular houseboat. 

A pontoon boat is basically a flat style boat that tends to rely on floats in order to remain buoyancy and stay afloat. These pontoon boats are often designed with massive decks that are usually fitted with a variety of accommodations, such as stand-up bars, sun pads as well as expansive lounge areas.

A houseboat on the other hand has been designed and modified in order to be used as a home. Houseboats can either be motorized or they might be stationary as well (although the motorized version is more popular). 

Similar to a pontoon boat the deck of the houseboat is the main area where people spend most of their time however houseboats typically have two decks. The upper one and lower one. 

Houseboats will also have a kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms which make it much more of a complete boat and a place where people could stay for weeks or months if they chose. 

What factors should you keep in mind when trying to convert a pontoon boat into a houseboat?

When you are considering turning your pontoon boat into a houseboat, you’ll have to keep the following factors in mind:

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Make sure that you keep it lightweight

A pontoon boat is usually designed in such a way that it is able to carry heavy loads. They aren’t really designed for easy and smooth boating however, which doesn’t really go on to say that they won’t be able to serve any other purpose.

However, when you are thinking of building a pontoon houseboat, you need to make sure that it is sturdy but also not too heavy that the pontoons can’t hold the weight. 

If you put too much weight on top of the pontoons when you are trying to build the pontoon houseboat, you will quickly realize that your boat is too low in the water. The only way to try to elevate the cabin is to keep the construction light enough that the pontoons can handle the eight of everyone and everything that is on top of them. 

Use proper insulation

Even though you are planning on keeping it light, there is no reason to believe that it should in anyway hamper your overall comfort, which is why it is absolutely necessary to insulate the cabin of your pontoon houseboat. If you skip this step you might end up feeling extremes of temperatures – either too cold in the fall/winter or too warm in the spring/summer. 

You should consider using styrofoam or any other lightweight material to get the insulation done right. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that styrofoam tends to attract ants, which is why if you face trouble with ants in your area or even at the marina you will be docking at then it is the best course of action to choose some other material for your insulation. 

Even out the weight distribution

Remember that along with your houseboat’s cabin, the roof should also be lightweight. Creating a drip edge might be considered a good idea with regards to this. This will ensure that rain rolls off the side of the cabin and the interior remains protected.

However, if you intend on sunbathing, then keep a small designated area for the same, ensuring that the rest of the roof is kept as  light as possible. 

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Also make sure that you add in safety railings in order to prefent falling off or slip-ups. A good idea would be to use an anti-slip material on the patio of your roof, with regards to this. In case you do opt for the same, try to look for a lightly shaded anti-slip material so that deck doesn’t get too uncomfortably warm during the summer months.

Give prefab a thought

As you’ll likely be well aware of, your pontoon boat will not have to be built from scratch, because it usually comes pre-fabricated as well as pre-designed.

You’ll simply have to add on certain features to your pontoon boat, such as a sturdier hull – provided it is necessary.

Pre-fabbed pontoon houseboats usually resemble cabins, campers as well as tiny houses. Some people even go on to suggest attaching an old Airstream trailer onto your pontoon.

However, if you do decide on going this route, remember to take proper measurements and work with proper professionals so as to ensure proper installation. You don’t want to try and do it yourself only to have the entire upper portion of your houseboat fall off the pontoons at sometime in the future! 

Some other necessary extras to keep in mind

Based on all the factors we have stated above, you might be getting the impression that in order to convert your pontoon boat to a houseboat, you need to be resourceful. Although that is true to an extent, being resourceful doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to forego certain luxuries, amenities as well as much needed comfort.

Keep in mind that the more resourceful you tend to be, the more extras can you add on-board! That is to say, you could easily add on a roof patio, an air conditioner or even an extra bathroom, if you simply are a little more resourceful. So, there’s not much to lose here.

All the factors mentioned above are an absolute necessity when looking to convert your regular pontoon boat into a proper pontoon houseboat but it is far from the only thing you should consider. 

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One last factor that you should consider is what you could sell your pontoon boat for and what you could buy a houseboat for. When you figure out the price difference it actually might make more sense for you to sell your pontoon boat and buy a housbeoat rather than converting it! 

Now this certainly won’t be true in all cases but it does happen depending on the demand for houseboats and pontoon boats in your area. If you aren’t going to save any money by doing this conversion why would you want to put in all of the time and effort to do it? 


Although a houseboat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying that a sudden getaway on the water doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Having a houseboat in such a situation works perfectly, because that way, you can stay close to land and also reside onboard the houseboat, something which wouldn’t be possible if you have a pontoon.

The reason behind this is that, a pontoon doesn’t really serve you very well for the purpose of living. It is okay for a small getaway, or for having a party or even for an overnight stay but it won’t work well for living on board for any considerable amount of time at all. 

Thus, this is when you might want to consider converting your pontoon boat into a houseboat, if you plan on living onboard, along with your family or friends.

It isn’t very easy to convert a pontoon into a houseboat, but then a little bit of planning and strategizing can easily help you make this dream into a reality!

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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