Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Choosing A Truck Bedliner

Time to talk about bedliners.  With most people this boils down to plastic drop in liner or a spray in liner, but there are other alternatives out there.  So let's talk some bed protection today.  In the interest of full disclosure, let me say as I have before, I own a truck accessory retail store so my opinion of these various products comes from that point of view and my experience with these products over a good number of years.  I have sold plastic bedliners for 25 years and spray in bedliners for 15 years.  I have met many people who will only consider one of these alternatives (like some only buy Fords and some only buy Chevys), but in truth there are advantages and disadvantages to each depending on how you use your truck.  So here is what I think...

Plastic drop in bedliners. 
These are staples of truck bed protection.  They have been around for decades and probably everyone has seen one.  Good value for your dollar as far as protection you get for your truck bed versus the price you pay.  The chief advantages are lower price relative to spray in liners, impact resistance due to high ribbed design, and quick easy installation.  The impact resistance is the biggest advantage over a spray in liner.  Because the bottom of the plastic liner has raised ribs, when a heavy object is dropped into the truck bed, the ribs tend to absorb the shock and help protect against bed dents better that spray in liners which have the material bonded to the bed sheet metal, so if the metal bends, the spray liner goes with it.  The other purpose of the ribs is to allow water to drain from under the liner.  Most manufacturers make both over the rail liners to protect the top of the trucks bed rails and under the rail liners for use with bed covers, bed rails, or other add on items.  Features to look for if you are shopping for one of these are skid resistant coating to minimize items sliding in the bed, holes for access to bed tie down points (preferably with removable caps to keep debris out), and built in UV protection to keep the new look for years.  Price varies according to brand and market, but in general one of these liners should be about $150 (probably more at a new car dealer).  You can have any color you want, as long as it is black.  A couple of criticisms of plastic liners I hear often are that water will get under the liner and cause the bed to rust.  In 25 years of selling these, I have not found this to be the case.  The ribbed design allows for air flow underneath and water to drain, and I would add that all new car manufacturers sell these as well, so apparently they don't feel this is a problem either.  The other criticism I often hear is these liner damage the paint on the bed under them.  I have seen a lot of paint wear when liners are removed from older trucks, generally just damage to the clear coat due to the liner moving around just slightly and rubbing the paint.  I would add that compared to a truck of the same age that has no liner, that this amount of damage is small in comparison.

Spray in bedliners.
Spray in liners are the high end of bed protection.  They offer advantages over other bed protection method and also generally cost much more.  The primary advantage over other bed protection methods, is that a spray in liner provides a continuous form fitting durable coating bonded to the bed sheet metal.  Theoretically most brands when properly applied, provide permanent protection to the bed that won't crack or peel and locks out rust ,abrasion, and chemicals.  The rubbery textured surface provides a non-slip surface for your cargo.  And most brands offer colors including some that offer exact paint match colors (expect to pay more for color).  Most brands require no maintenance and are repairable if damaged.  Spray in liners even provide a level of insulation from road noise and vibrations.  All in all, spray in liners are probably the best system of bed protection available.  Again, price will vary by brand and market, but expect to pay about $400 for a short bed truck, maybe more for a longbed or spray on top of the bedrails, and more at a car dealer.  Spray in liners are also an excellent choice for older trucks that already have bed damage, as they seal the damaged areas and provide a like new looking bed.  But any dent or large holes will still be there, just better looking covered with liner material.  Here is a couple other things to know, despite what any liner salesman tells you, all spray in liners can be cut or gouged by sharp and heavy objects.  If this happens, is this covered or not covered by the warranty and if not, what does repair cost?  Ask before you buy, because if you use your bedliner for heavy work, you may run into this, and different companies handle this different ways.  Also by their very name...  spray in... means a human sprays the material onto your truck bed.  So it is a good idea to see some other work they have done before you commit. 

Other bed protection.

A couple other options for bed protection are bed rugs which are heavy duty outdoor carpet type bedliners.  These are good choices for trucks with bed covers since when you crawl in and out of the bed since they are easier on your knees.  Another choice the the basic rubber bed mat.  These do a good job of protecting the bottom of the bed but offer no protection for the sides and are fairly inexpensive,


  1. Looking at the prices, repair of truck bed liner is not expensive.

    1. If you mean repair of a spray in liner, here are a couple things to know. A lot of the work involved in a spray in liner is not the spraying of the material, but the prep work to get a truck ready to spray. Even in a repair, this prep work still has to be done (like covering the areas you don't want to get spray material on). Also if trying to repair tears or nicks in a existing liner, they can just be sprayed over which will seal the area but will look repaired. To make the areas look like new, there is some sanding/grinding of the edges that has to be done to make it all blend together and not look repaired.


  2. I read your blog frequently and I just thought I’d say keep up the amazing work!
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