Floating foam mats have become immensely popular in the pontoon boating world in the past few years.
You might have seen a pontooner in your local boating area with a water-floating mat hooked to the side of their boat and wondered how to get one.
Floating foam pad mats provide a lot of fun on the water, and there are options for single boaters and pontooners looking to enjoy with family and friends.
There is a catch, though. Floating foam pad mats can be very expensive, especially for someone looking for a decent and highly durable mat.
You might need more than $300 to get a spacious and sturdy water-floating mat to have fun with your friends or family and make the most of your lazy summer days.
Luckily, you can easily make your own floating mat at home. Depending on the materials you use, you could make a DIY floating foam mat at a fraction of the price and save a lot of money.
If you want to make a floating foam mat, I’ll show you how to go about it.
How to Make a Floating Foam Mat
Making a floating water mat is a great decision for you and your family as it provides a fantastic place to relax and enjoy on the water.
At the same time, you need to ensure that you make a high-quality and reliable floating mat to avoid placing your friends or kids at potential risks and water hazards.
While you might be looking to save money with the DIY project, you need to strike a good balance between good quality and affordability.
This means that you should get the right materials for making a floating water pad and follow the right procedures.
I recommend using high-quality materials that won’t degrade quickly or, even worse, fail to float.
It’s also important to do some research on the cost before committing to this DIY project to see if it’s worth it.
Floating Mat Pad Materials
- Polyethylene (XPE) foam
- Bungee cord
- Tether kit
- Head screwdriver
Once you get the required materials, follow these instructions to make a floating water mat:
Step 1: Create the Foam Matting Area
The right dimensions of your matting area will depend on how you plan to use the water mat. If you intend to use the water-floating mat alone, a 3 by 7 feet mat will be a perfect choice.
However, if you want to have one or two more individuals on the mat, you’ll want to go for something at least 6 ft wide and about 9 to 20 ft long.
The foam should also be at least 1.5 inches wide to ensure that it can hold reasonable weight. For larger groups, you’ll need to get a thicker mat that can support more weight.
Here are the recommended load levels for floating foam mats:
- 6 by 9-ft mat pad for 4 adults
- 6 by 15-ft mat pad for 5 adults
- 6 by 16-ft mat pad for 6 adults
- 6 by 18-ft mat pad for 8 adults
- 6 by 20-ft mat pad for 9 adults
Step 2: Create Holes on the Mat for Tethering and Anchoring
After creating the foam matting area, the next thing you need to do is make some holes on the pad for tethering and anchoring.
The connection points are important, especially if you plan to use your DIY foam mat on the lake or a larger water body.
In this case, you need to create holes and attach the bungee cord for tethering. But before you make the holes, you need to do some measurements and ensure that the grommets you plan to use fit perfectly.
You can use a head screwdriver or any similar tool to create the holes.
If you want to use your floating foam mat in a swimming pool and don’t intend to use it on a lake or any other large water body, you may skip this step.
Step 3: Test Your DIY Floating Mat Pad
Once you are done making your floating foam mat, it’s time to load test it before taking it out on a lake or any other open water body.
If your DIY floating foam mat pad passes the stress test, you also need to be careful when using it on a lake and large water bodies.
If you doubt your DIY skills and don’t think you can nail it, you don’t have to make your own water-floating mat because you can always get a branded one.
There is really no need to make a faulty floating mat that will expose your family and friends to risks on the water.
For boaters who enjoy open waters, I’d suggest buying a quality floating mat with safety features to be safe and confident while having fun.
But how do you buy a perfect floating water mat that will let you, your family, and your friends have fun safely on the water? Read on to find out more….
How to Buy the Best Floating Mat
When it comes to buying a floating water mat, there are so many options and sizes in the market, which makes it quite difficult to choose the best one.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t get the type of water-floating mat you want. If you take note of certain considerations, you can be sure of buying the best floating water mat that suits your needs.
Here are the essential things to consider when purchasing the best floating water mat:
The weight capacity is a crucial consideration when buying a floating water mat as it dictates how many people it can hold on the water. You don’t want to purchase a pad that won’t support your family’s weight.
It’s simply the same concept that applies when buying a pontoon boat with your preferred weight capacity.
If you buy a floating water mat that can’t hold the weight of your boating buddies, it will ultimately sink and leave some people in the water as it rises back.
You also need to keep in mind that manufacturers base the mat’s weight capacity on equal weight distribution.
So, you need to ensure that your buddies sit or lie on the appropriate points for stability and evenly distributed weight when floating.
The quality and durability of your floating water mat will depend on the materials used and thickness.
If you want a durable mat that will serve you for more than a few seasons, look for polyethylene (XPE) foam, as it’s resistant to chemicals common in swimming pools. It can also withstand sunshine without deteriorating.
Thick floating mats made of foams will definitely last longer than inflatable mats since they don’t rip or tear easily with rough use on the water.
Another vital thing to keep in mind when buying a quality mat is dogs. If you plan to bring your furry friend on board, you need to buy a strong mat that can hold up the sharp nails.
If your pets love the water, I recommend buying them an inflatable floating water mat, as most of them are dog friendly.
Size and Portability
Floating water mats come in varied sizes and weights. And while large mats provide much fun for more friends on the water, they are bulkier to lug around.
It can also be challenging to store them on your pontoon boat when you are not using them.
So, you need to strike a better balance between size and portability to ensure that you buy a mat with adequate room for your family and is still easy to carry and store.
If you are a solo boater and like having fun alone, large floating water mats may not be ideal for you as they can be too heavy for you to carry.
Depending on the type of activities you want to engage in, you need a firm floating mat that can support various water sports.
While some thick and firm floating foam mats are designed to support different water activities like playing, running, and walking, others are only suitable for sitting and lying.
So, be sure to get a firm mat that can support you and your friends without the risk of falling and ruining sweet moments.
If your dog loves playing on the water, you can buy a small inflatable floating mat and let them have fun as you relax on your foam mat.
Ease of Maintenance
While floatation foam mats require little maintenance, some are easier to clean than others are. You should get a foam mat that you can quickly clean with a sponge and soapy water.
Once you purchase the right floating mat, it’s important to clean it regularly and ensure that it remains fresh and mildew-free.
Ideally, you should hose some soapy water on your mat after using it in saltwater.
Q: What Kind of Foam is Used for Floating Mats?
A: Most floating mats use polyethylene (XPE) foam. Polyethylene foam is highly durable since it’s resistant to the chemicals common in pools and water bodies.
Floating mats made of polyethylene foam can last long and are highly versatile. They are also lightweight and resistant to UV rays, so there is no need to worry about sunshine.
Some floating mats come with a soft EVA foam on the outer layer to improve comfort and prevent sliding. This foam also improves performance since it doesn’t absorb water.
If you want a quality and versatile water-floating mat that can be used for many different applications, cross-linked polyethylene (XPE) foam should be your go-to option.
This foam is safe for kids, pets, and boaters of all ages to have much fun on the water.
Another incredible thing about polyethylene mats is that they are quickly rolled for easy storage and transport.
Nonetheless, this foam is quite expensive, and that’s why manufacturers use vinyl as an economical option to make cheaper inflatable mats.
Q: Why are Floating Foam Mats So Expensive?
A: Floating foam mats tend to be more expensive because they use high-quality XPE foam, which is also known as, polyethylene foam.
Also known as closed-cell foam, non-toxic polyethylene foam is highly durable and buoyant to provide the required floatation.
While XPE foam mats may seem like nothing more than a simple large foam pad, there is more than what you see.
These foam mats are carefully crafted with sturdy inner structures to ensure that they are stable and lightweight.
They are also lightweight and stress-free to transport. If you are a solo boater looking to relax on a floating mat, you’ll find assembling a foam mat easier than setting up an inflatable mat.
Depending on your mat’s size and weight capacity, you can be able to bring your whole family on board and relax on the foam pad.
Thick and large foam mats are more expensive, but they are the best floating water mats for boaters who want to relax with a few more friends.
If you want to have fun on the water with a floatation mat but can’t afford a commercially-made floating pad, you can always make one.
All you have to do is get the right type of foam and buy a tethering and anchoring kit to attach the mat and secure the mat to your pontoon boat or pool rails.
Q: What Are Lily Pad Floating Mats Made of?
A: Aqua lily pad floating mats are made of marine-grade closed-cell foam known as cross-linked polyethylene foam.
This type of foam is mechanically durable, lightweight, and UV-resistant, making it ideal for making floatation mats.
When buying a floating pad, you need to be careful as some pads use only closed-cell foam, and they may not last long or withstand the hot sun.
Lily pad floating mats also use eye-catching yellow, green, orange, and other vivid colors for high visibility on the water.
Q: How Do You Anchor a Floating Water Mat?
A: To anchor a floating water mat, you need to secure it to the boat with a rope or strap attached to the pad.
If you have a DIY foam mat, you need to create holes and attach some kind of ropes or straps for tethering and anchoring.
You can also anchor your floating foam mat by attaching it to a dock or pier, anchored buoy, or even another water-floating mat to make a larger island.
If you want to attach to another mat, you need to ensure that at least one pad is secured to the pontoon boat, pool rails, or other stationary objects to prevent them from drifting away in the wind.
The main point is to attach it to a secure and solid place to ensure that everyone is safe on the water.
If you are not sure of the safety of the area you intend to anchor, you should consult with a lifeguard in charge of the boating or swimming area.
And while there are many ways to anchor a floating mat, I recommend that you practice how to secure it beforehand.
When anchoring a floatation mat, you also need to check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you do it right and prevent unnecessary accidents.
Once you anchor your mat, you need to test the strength before allowing kids or pets to sit, lie, or play on it.
While it’s certainly possible to make your own floating water mat for recreational activities, some risks are involved.
You can’t be sure whether the mat will float and support your weight until you actually try it in a swimming pool.
If it doesn’t float, it can be quite hard to return the materials, since you’ve already created some holes for tethering and anchoring. So, you’ll need to find other creative ways to utilize the pad.
And if the water mat floats and supports your weight safely on the pool, you’ll need to be extra careful when using it on a lake or any other open water body.
It may be ultimately safer and more economical to purchase an affordable floating mat like the Outroad Water Floating Mat for more fun and relaxation on pools and open waters.