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Choosing the right Truck Bed Liner

You have a pickup and you have decided you want to use some sort of bed liner to protect the interior surfaces of the bed. There are a wide variety of these available on the market:

– Paint it in yourself – Have a spray-in coating applied professionally – Preformed inserts that are made for your truck

Before you decide which one, decide how much protection you want and keep in mind your primary uses of your truck bed.

Do you want something that wraps over the top edge of the bed and will be visible from outside of the truck?

Do you want tailgate protection? If so, do you want it to wrap over the top along the top horizontal surface?

Do you use your truck to move items frequently haul heavy items or to haul small items?

These all may have a bearing on your decision of which one you will ultimately select.

PAINT-IN YOURSELF While economical to initially install, if you do not follow the directions carefully, you may not get the quality finished product you desire. This is for someone with the time and patience to properly prepare the surfaces before beginning.

PROS
1. Cost savings are huge with this choice. The materials can be purchased for a tiny fraction of professionally applied coatings.

CONS
1. If improperly applied, you may have a more expensive repair to “fix” this if it turns out bad. 2. Typically your color choice is limited to black. 3. Normally applied with a brush resulting in poorer quality than spray-in.

PROFESSIONAL COATINGS Companies such as Line-X and Rhino offer spray-in liners that are applied thicker than brush-on do-it-yourself liners and for additional charges LINE-X will add an additional color layer that bonds with the primary Line-X layer resulting in a more customized appearance.

These coatings are applied after your bed has been prepared by the company’s personnel to ensure proper adherence resulting in very nice looking end product appearance.

PROS
1. The professional companies do all the work as far as preparation and spraying the liner in
2. Colors are now available to more closely match the color of your vehicle. 3. The resulting liner is fairly thick and able to withstand abuse associated with pickup bed usage. 4. Spray-in liner has a professional appearance and can increase your truck’s resale value. 5. The non-skid surface texture helps hold loads from moving in transit. 6. Available for every truck regardless of vehicle model year or size of the bed. 7. Many companies may offer some type of warranty for the liner coating.

CONS
1. Expensive to have applied. 2. Additional expense to have a color applied with some companies. 3. Drop off of vehicle and you may be without it for one or more days during the work. 4. If removal is later desired, it will be costly to remove and restore original flat finish.

INSERTS This option is the easiest of the three covered to install. It simply slips into the truck bed and attaches with some fasteners.

PROS
1. Not as expensive as spray-in liners. 2. Can be installed “while you wait”. 3. Heavy duty material withstands damage from loads. 4. Items are easy to load because they slide easily on the surface of most inserts. 5. Most are easily removed. 6. Available in over the top of the bed and under the top of the bed versions, depending on your preference.

CONS
1. Most inserts are smooth and loads easily slide if not adequately secured during transit. 2. Moisture can become trapped between the insert and the truck bed resulting in corrosion. 3. Improperly secured inserts can be lifted out of an empty truck bed during high speed transits. 4. May not be able to find for older vehicles.

Whichever option you decide on, ensure if it is being professionally installed that the installer completes the process correctly to prevent damages that could result from an improperly installed liner.

When shopping, if you notice someone driving a truck with the liner of your choice and the opportunity presents itself, ask the driver/owner of that truck their opinion of their liner, would they go with it again and why/why not? What other options did they consider when buying it?

Their insight into their experiences may also help you locate a reputable shop in your area when you are ready to take the step with your truck.

Whatever your truck, you can find a bed liner solution to fit your needs and your budget.

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