Truck Bed Paint – Waste of Time?

Truck bed paint is advertised as a way for you to apply a bed liner yourself using simple tools. But does this kind of liner have any value or is it just a waste of time and money? My sons just applied a liner on our truck and here are a few observations.

A professional spray on liner is applied as a two part coating which includes a catalyst to speed drying. What you get with a professional job is a thick, cushion finish that’s permanent and repairable. That thick, up to 1/4 inch, coating is a key to the durability of a professional finish.

A do-it-yourself lining is not nearly so thick and so cannot match the toughness of the pro finish. Although some coatings are advertised as thicker. Herculiner, for example advertises their coating is 5 times thicker than the competitors’. I’ve seen a Herculiner finish and it does look thick, but I had no way to measure the actual thickness. Part of the thickness of the finish depends on the size of the particles in the coating. Bed coatings do contain rubber granules to give the lining cushion and thickness.

The bedliner you apply usually is put on with a brush or roller but some finishes spray well too. Manufacturers will specify the type of spray gun and the recommendations do vary. It is amazing how much a well done bed liner paint job looks like a professional sprayed on coat. We used a Plasti-Coat finish and it looked almost just like my neighbor’s Line-X.

If you roll on a liner or get a coating sprayed on the key to spray on bedliner sticking is surface preparation. Without proper prep the coating will peel or flake. Good preparation includes using a solvent to remove all oils, grease and wax. Then the existing finish must be sanded very aggressively to promote sticking. A primer coat may be required on severely damaged surfaces. Don’t doubt that the surface prep is where the real work is in a bed liner installation.

The real application for installing bed liner paint yourself is on older trucks. A self applied liner can really make an older truck bed look much better. Plus careful preparation of the bed can help stop any corrosion and extend the life of the truck. Combine a cheap rubber mat with the liner coating on an older truck and you can get a tough bed covering that looks good and didn’t cost much money at all.

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