A Truck Bed Liner Transforms Your Hard-Working Pickup

DIY, Exterior  /   /  By Mark Bach
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There are countless ways to personalize your pickup with accessories. If your pickup is a work truck, we suggest starting with a truck bed liner. The smart move is to add a liner to prevent scrapes and dents before they happen.

Shop now for truck bed liners

You have choices. There are inexpensive bed liners that are simple to install. Or you can coat your bed with a protective, long-lasting paint-like material.

Without a truck bed liner, a truck bed can look used and abused.

Rubber or Plastic Mats for Your Truck Bed

A rubber mat for your truck bed is relatively cheap and easy.

The simplest option is a rubber truck bed liner. Some offerings are basic rectangles that cover most of the truck bed, while others are custom-made for your specific model. Custom truck bed liners will conform around your wheel wells and other odd shapes. They usually ship rolled up, so let the bed liner lay flat before installing. You might need to trim the rubber mat here and there.

Because water can seep under the mat, avoid rust by ensuring that liquids can drain. You should also wipe the mats down with a rubber protectant to keep them looking new and flexible.

Another way to protect your truck bed is a rigid plastic liner. It will cover the floor, sides, and the inside of the tailgate. These liners are usually screwed or bolted down to the truck bed. But make sure to double-check the securing devices—otherwise, the liner can fly away like a Frisbee.

Keep in mind that these liners typically reduce cargo space by a few inches on all sides. That’s because they don’t lay flat against the truck sides. Over time, these plastic liners show their age with cracks or other blemishes.

Fabric Mats and Rugs

A fibrous material offers cushion and a gliding surface for a truck bed.

Sellers on eBay also offer rug-like liner mats composed of soft fiber material similar to outdoor carpets. This helps cushion the metal sides of a truck bed. It also makes cargo easier to slide in and out of the bed.

A drawback to this material is that it might retain moisture. So it needs to be aired out in the sun after a heavy rainstorm. The bed liners are frequently custom-designed for specific truck styles and models.

Spray the Truck Bed Liner for Long-Lasting Protection

A DIY option is to spray the liner using aerosol cans.

The deluxe approach to lining your truck bed is to spray a thick protective layer of polyurea, an elastomer offering superior protection. This truck bed paint often has a coarse layer to help keep the cargo in place. However, some truck owners don’t like the coarse coating. It’s similar to rough sandpaper.

The spray material is often black, but some companies offer a color-matching spray. That can add a little style to your truck’s utility.

Some spray-in liners can be applied using a roller or a brush.

Many installers who spray the protective liners offer a lifetime warranty. However, an owner should be sure about wanting a spray liner. Once it’s applied, the spray liner is nearly impossible to remove.

Cost is also an issue. The spray job can cost a couple of thousand dollars. But DIY truck owners can save money by taking on the job. One expert tip is to scuff up the factory paint and apply a primer—before spraying in the truck bed liner. There are purpose-built spray guns, but using a roller and brush is also possible. Either way, don’t overlook the underside of the bed rails.

Truck bed liners can make an older beat-up truck look practically brand new. After the new liner is in place, consider adding ratcheting cargo straps or a cargo net. Those items will add even more functionality to your beautiful new pickup bed.

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About the Author

Mark C. Bach has oil in his veins and remembers feeler gauges and brake springs. He has a love for all things that move, especially old-school muscle cars. Bach writes for a variety of outlets, including Chevy Classics and FuelCurve.com, and maintains Route66pubco.com.