How to Make Homemade Pontoon Boat Cover Support System

How to Make Homemade Pontoon Boat Cover Support System

Owning a pontoon boat is exciting, but you cannot escape the tedious work of protecting the vessel when not in use. 

We can both agree that proper winter storage and maintenance are crucial for pontoon boats’ longevity and better performance. 

A pontoon boat left exposed to the harsh outdoor conditions like the sun, rain, snow, and heavy wind will look old and grimed after a short period. 

The UV rays are very powerful, and they can easily damage your costly vessel’s interior in no time. This is a sad truth, but it’s exactly what happens. 

Some pontoon boat covers feature a ready to install  support system, while others do not have one. If yours doesn’t have a frame, it can be a little more tricky to protect your boat. 

Sure, you could simply put a cover over the boat, but trust me, you’ll be disappointed to find that it sagged and collected water. 

It will be more frustrating when the cover gets loose, allowing even critters and pests to get into the boat. 

But how do you make your own boat cover support frame? And how do you prevent the cover from collecting water and snow? 

Many people ask these questions when trying to protect their pontoon boats from harsh weather. 

So, I researched and prepared a handy guide to help you make your own pontoon boat cover support system with little effort and DIY skills. 

Check out these practical ideas!

How to Build a Homemade Cover Frame for Your Pontoon Boat

When it comes to making DIY support systems for boat covers, there are simply no rules on which design or style to use. You can make it to your preferred fashion, as long as you use the right materials that will hold. 

If you are entirely not sure on what exactly to do, here are some useful ideas: 

Make a Tent-Like Frame with PVC Piping

Make a Tent-Like Frame with PVC Piping

This is the most popular approach for building a homemade pontoon boat cover frame. It’s super easy and inexpensive. 

To make a tent-shaped boat cover support, here are the things you’ll need:

  • PVC pipes with the T and elbow fittings
  • Glue
  • Safety gloves 
  • Handsaw
  • Measuring tape

Once you gather the required things, you can follow these instructions:

Step 1: Measure the PVC Piping

The first thing you need to do is measure your PVC piping and mark the points where you’ll cut. You’ll need several pipes to achieve a tent-like structure. 

You can have one long PVC pipe running down along the midline of your pontoon boat. Then measure two or three more poles to support the middle pipe and raise it off the deck. 

To ensure that the structure comes out strong, you can have more poles on both sides connecting the middle pipe and the rails.

Step 2: Cut the Materials

Once you measure your piping and mark the points that need cutting, use a grinder or a handsaw to cut them into the appropriate sizes. 

Be sure to get clean edges for proper and effortless fitting. If you don’t have a long enough pipe for the lengthwise piece, you can divide the length into two or three and connect several pieces. 

Connecting several pieces to make a long longitudinal pipe will actually be very helpful when the support frame isn’t in use. Shorter pipes are a bit easier to handle and organize during storage.   

You also need to cut the T fittings on the top side so that they will fit over the rails snugly. Keep in mind that the T and elbow fittings will determine how stable the frame is.

If you don’t want to attach the frame to the rails, you’ll need more piping to create a stable base and achieve a full-tent like a system. 

Step 3: Secure the Fittings

Connect a T fitting to each pipe that comes down from the longitudinal piece to the boat’s rails. The T fittings should look upside down when secured to the rails. 

Then attach a PVC pipe of about three to four inches to the extending edge of the T fitting and put an elbow fitting over the open pipe. 

Connect a length of PVC pipe into the elbow fitting to ensure that it reaches the longitudinal pipe. Then use another T fitting to attach the sloping piece to the straight pipe down your boat’s center. 

Step 4: Glue Some Pieces

Glue down the pieces you want to remain in place for a perfect fitting. Depending on how easily you want to be able to disassemble your support frame, you’ll need to leave some ends unglued. 

You can simply glue all the pieces at one end and leave the other side unglued for easy disassembling when you don’t need the frame. 

Once the frame is complete, try it out on the boat and see if there is an intersection that needs adjustment. 

If the frame seems to sit nicely on the rails, give it a little push to see how well the support system can hold. 

Take care of any areas that need reinforcement to ensure that the frame will withstand heavy rain and strong wind. 

Use Poles or Extendable Shower Poles

Use Poles or Extendable Shower Poles

Another approach you can use when building a DIY boat cover support system is using poles and rods. 

You can get some incredibly cheap poles from Walmart in their boat equipment section. For even a more affordable option, you can use extendable shower curtain poles. 

Shower curtain poles are pretty easy to use as they come with rubber ends for extra stability. 

Extendable twist-lock shower rods are also very affordable as you can get them for less than $10. And they have rubber tips which are perfect for your pontoon carpet cover. 

When using the Walmart rods or the shower curtain poles, you’ll need to stretch them well for a tight cover. This will keep them in the right position and prevent water pooling when heavy rain hits. 

You can also try to create a tiny pocket on the topside of your boat cover and ensure that the poles stick into it for stability in harsh weather. 

Get Some Cheap Extendable Painting Poles and Tennis Balls

Get Some Cheap Extendable Painting Poles and Tennis Balls

I also found that even extendable painting sticks  or sponge mops hold really well when used as support systems for pontoon boat covers. 

You just need to insert tennis balls at poles’ ends. The whole project is effortless and will not cost more than $20. 

Some boat owners also use sponge molooking ps to create a simple boat cover frame. So, you can get any poles available, as long as they have a base and offer enough height for the cover.

While these poles may not make the best boat cover frame for highly windy areas, they work well for someone for an easy and adequate solution. 

Use Patio Umbrellas

Use Patio Umbrellas

If you have two or three patio umbrellas you don’t plan to use anytime soon, why not put them in your pontoon boat and use them as a frame. 

They won’t shake even in strong winds if they have a stable base. 

Depending on the size of your boat, you just need to put one at the forefront and another at the rear. Then open them to create enough room for your boat cover to rest over. 

This is a good option if you already have umbrellas since you are not likely to use them during the cold season. 

If you want to try this method and don’t have patio umbrellas, you can find cheap options online or at your local stores.

Build a Sturdy Frame with Welded Metallic Poles and Old Car Frames

Build a Sturdy Frame with Welded Metallic Poles and Old Car Frames

If you live in highly snowy places like Peninsula, Rochester, or Buffalo, you’ll need a robust frame as the PVC poles may not hold very well.

In this case, you can use welded metallic rods and old car frames to make a sturdy frame. You’ll need welding equipment to weld the poles to car rims laid on the ground.

Then make a pole to transverse on the pontoon boat to ensure that the edges descend at a perfect angle to avoid collecting rainwater. 

How to Buy a Frame for Your Pontoon Boat Cover

How to Buy a Frame for Your Pontoon Boat Cover

If you don’t want to build a homemade pontoon boat support frame yourself, you can still buy a new system online. 

Most boat cover support system poles are designed to provide a universal fit, so you don’t have to worry about finding the appropriate size for your boat. 

However, there are a few things you need to consider when buying a cover support system for your pontoon boat. These include application and ease of installation. 

The poles should be strong enough to support the cover and smooth enough on the ends to prevent damaging it. 

You’ll also need to keep in mind that some poles are designed to keep out heavy snow, while others are great for windy areas. So, you need to be a little more objective to ensure that you get what suits your needs best. 

When it comes to installation, some cover support systems are easy to put up, while others have complicated designs. 

To avoid confusion, be sure to look for frames that are easy to assemble or those that come with easy-to-follow installation guides. 

The NEXCOVER Boat Cover Support Pole is a great option for pontoon boats if you are looking for a cheap and easy-to-install frame. Three or four poles will do the job reasonably well. 

Overall, the support system cost for boat covers varies widely, depending on quality, design, and materials. 

Frames made of steel and other high-quality materials will obviously be more expensive than those made of plastic and aluminum. 



Q: What is a Cover Support System for Pontoon Boats?

A: This is a frame that goes underneath a pontoon boat cover to help it remain in place. It gives the cover a tent shape, ensuring that it doesn’t collect water. 

A support frame allows better airflow in the boat since it lifts the cover. This way, your boat is not exposed to the dangers of moisture and high humidity. 

Along with improved airflow, pontoon boat cover frames also help keep pests and critters off your boat as you can notice any entry points and block them. 

Q: How Do You Keep a Pontoon Cover from Collecting Water? 

A: To keep your pontoon cover from collecting water, you need a proper support frame. Even if you have a quality cover with a snug fit, it will sag with a little water and create a pool on the low points. 

If the support system that came with your factory mooring cover isn’t working well, you can easily create your own frame, and there are several ways to do that. 

For cheaper options, you can buy some PVC piping, extendable poles, or even shower poles and use them to build a better homemade boat cover frame. 

Q: How Do You Stop the Cover Support Poles from Falling Over?

A: One of the most common issues with pontoon boat cover support frames is that the poles slide easily. 

Luckily, there is a solution. You can use painter’s tape or about half a thin duct tape to wrap the extension poles a few times to keep them in place. 

Alternatively, position the frame poles to the desired height and drill a small hole on the railings through the piping that makes the base. 

Then put a mini bolt in the holes to secure the poles. You can do this on both sides to build a cover support system that doesn’t fall over.

Q: Should You Cover a Pontoon Boat? 

A: Yes, you should cover your pontoon boat to protect it from harsh outdoor elements like the sun, rain, ice, snow, and strong wind. 

Leaving your boat uncovered exposes it to damages like scratches and dents that can be caused by twigs and branches falling from trees. 

It also makes the watercraft a suitable habitat for pests and bugs that want to hide from the cold weather. 

If you want your boat to last for many years and sustain its new look for a longer time, you should consider investing in a good cover with a good support frame. 

It’s also sensible to cover your boat even when leaving it outside for a night or only a few days, especially if there are signs of bad weather. 



Leaving your pontoon boat outside can be inevitable when you have a small garage and don’t want to rent storage. 

But it’s not a really bad thing to keep your boat outside, provided you cover it well, protecting it from harsh outdoor elements. 

While it all comes down to a good cover, the support frame is also equally important as it keeps the cover in place and improves airflow.

If you want to make your own pontoon boat’s cover support system, feel free to use any of the ideas explained above. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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