How to Choose the Right Type of Boat Fender


Boat fenders are undoubtedly a cost-effective way to enhance your boat’s safety and longevity. They also protect your dock from damage.

But when it comes time to purchase fenders, you’ll notice there’s a lot of options to choose from. How do you know which boat fenders will suit your needs?

As the premiere provider for all marina and dock equipment and accessories at Haven Dock & Marine, we’ve put a guide together for boat owners to understand the different types of boat fenders and how to choose the right ones for your boat. Read on to leverage our expertise!

How Boat Fenders Work

Boat fenders, also known as bumpers or dock fenders, absorb the shock of water vessels bumping into each other or the dock. They act as a barrier between boats, docks, and other boats to minimize damage.

Boat Fender Types

Haven Dock & Marine offers a complete family of top-of-the-line boat and dock fender products and accessories.

We are proud to be the sole manufacturer and distributor of FEND-ALL dock fenders, the premier dock and boat fenders on the market. They’re the only continuously supported, double-wall fenders available with an “internal high-energy absorption web” for the highest performance in the harshest climates and a life expectancy of 10+ years.

Check out a few marine fender products:

  • FEND-ALL FA 250—Medium Duty Dock Fender: This is a medium-duty dock fender intended for boats from 25′-50′. It can be mounted directly on a piling or on any flat surface.
  • FEND-ALL Heavy Duty Corner Fender: A versatile product to fit your needs. Available in black, and lengths include 2', 4', 6', and 8'. The 90-degree corner fender can be mounted horizontally or vertically and is designed to offer protection from concrete corners. Also available in light duty, medium duty, and extra heavy duty. 
  • FEND-ALL FA 201—Floating Dock Fender: This fender is intended for use on floating docks. It has larger dimensions, greater wall thickness, and an internal high-energy absorption web to manage vessels much larger than the typical floating dock fender available on the market today.
  • FEND-ALL FA 400 Pile Mount: This mount provides maximum protection in narrow slips without the need for special fasteners and is mounted directly on pilings. It stands up to the sun, salt water, and everything else that the elements can throw at it, providing years of protection from damage. 
  • FEND-ALL Unmounted: These fenders are available mounted on recycled plastic lumber for easy installation on a round piling or a larger flat surface. They are also available unmounted for installation on an existing square post or on your pressure-treated lumber for freshwater applications. These fenders are designed primarily for vertical mounting, although they can be installed horizontally to fit the needs of the buyer.
  • Molded Universal Dock Corner Bumpers: designed to mate with almost any dock bumper or dock bumper extension; made with rugged, marine-grade vinyl longevity against yellowing, even in harsh marine environments.

Choosing the Right Type of Boat Fenders

Choosing the best type of fender can be tricky because there are so many varieties of boat fenders. 

If you’re looking for something in particular or unsure of what you need, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Haven Dock & Marine so we can make suggestions on the right fenders. 

Here are a few tips to get you started!

Fender Size & Type

Fender size is essential, but the exact sizing depends on the type of fender you’re using and the size of your vessel.

For example, when using a cylindrical fender, the general rule is that the fender diameter should be an inch for every four to five feet of boat length. But for ball fenders, the ratio is two inches for every four to five feet of boat length.

The type of fender you should buy will depend on its use. More on that below.

Fender Material Options

A fender’s material affects its cost, performance, and longevity. Foam and rubber dock bumpers are convenient and lightweight; however, they are also easily damaged and deteriorate quickly. PVC vinyl, on the other hand, is affordable and durable. 

Our FEND-ALL dock fenders lead the industry due to their unique double-wall design. They’re made from 100% certified prime virgin UV-stabilized flexible PVC to withstand demanding marine environments, combatting common marine hazards like gasoline, oil, and salt. With a life expectancy of 10 years, you won’t have to worry about replacing your fenders any time soon.

From our selection, you may choose from black or white fenders to perfectly complement your boat's gel coat for a seamless look.

Fender Quantity and Placement

The number of fenders your boat requires depends on its size. Large vessels, like pontoon boats and yachts, require more fenders than small fishing boats.

As a general rule of thumb, every boat needs a minimum of three fenders. Additionally, it’s best to hang your fenders so that there is one fender for every ten feet of waterline.

Secure fenders to a boat cleat or rail at the height that offers the most protection based on the dock’s height. Always account for water level changes to avoid placing the fenders incorrectly.

If the fenders are too high, the waves may push them out of position. Conversely, if they are too low, they may sit in the water and be susceptible to marine growth.

Fender Use

Your boat may require several different fenders to provide coverage in different situations.

For instance, pilings often roll or push bumpers out of place. Boats that dock next to pilings typically use a fender board that covers the distance between pilings.

Boats that tie up to floating docks usually place fenders just above the waterline to create a buffer zone between the boat and the dock. On the other hand, boats that moor together use fenders at the point of contact or where the beam is the widest.

Further, consider your boat’s size and use. You won't need industrial-sized fenders if you have a small fishing boat. Even speed boats and yachts don’t require the fenders that commercial vessels do.

Boat Fender and Dock Accessories

In addition to boat fenders, you can purchase from Haven Dock & Marine’s full line of boat accessories. They include:

And more! To learn about all the boat fender accessories available, check out some of our must-have dock accessories for boaters!

Find the Types of Boat Fenders You Need

We hope this guide helped you understand which boat fenders would be best for your needs. 

However, we know it can be challenging to make the best purchase decision with so many options. If you’re still unsure which fenders to choose, consult a boating professional for guidance. Our team at Haven Dock & Marine would be happy to help you out!

Find a local dealer and get in touch so we can ensure you get the best fenders for your boat and dock.