There are several different styles and types of pontoon tops, from a light-weight Bimini top and a soft awning style to a hard composite type of top. Different pontoon tops have specific advantages when compared to other styles, and some are designed for specific use on the boat. Advantages between pontoon tops are relative to the location of the boat as well as the individual owner's personal preference and taste. Often, an owner may have more than one top and change it as conditions warrant. From full tops that cover the entire deck to half and quarter tops that cover only a portion of the deck, a pontoon top often reflects the owner's lifestyle and the boat's purpose.
Most owners of the leisurely pontoon boat employ a top of one type or another in order to shade the boat from the intense sunlight and heat so typical on a body of water. Boats used primarily for slow cruising and sightseeing often replace the original style top for that of a Bimini style of pontoon tops. This is, in essence, a tank top for a pontoon boat. Consisting of a thin and lightweight, single-layer cloth or nylon top that covers only the very top of the framework on the boat, the Bimini top offers the minimum in sun protection.
Those owners who enjoy a boat ride in all types of weather often choose the full coverage, soft, convertible style of pontoon tops. These pontoon tops not only cover the entire deck area and protect passengers from sun and rain, they can also be folded down to allow for maximum sun exposure. Some boats used in climates that get very cold and freeze utilize full hard-type pontoon tops that can double as a protective wintertime cover when folded down. The hard tops prevent snow and ice as well as animals from entering the boat while it is in storage over the winter months.
Many pontoon boats are used for fishing as well as leisurely cruising of the waterways. The pontoon tops used on these boats are often the half or quarter tops to enable fishing poles to be cast without making contact with the top. The open front of the boat allows fishermen to sit or stand while fishing, and the top covering the back portion of the boat gives an escape out of the harsh sun for the fishermen as well as shade for the captain of the boat. Regardless of the intended use of the boat, there are pontoon tops for nearly any occasion and lifestyle.