Truck Bed Liners: 7 Tips For Buying The Right One

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Bed liners might be the most popular truck accessory of all time. Truck owners love them for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is their role in protecting the shiny factory finish inside the truck bed. If you’re a new truck owner thinking about getting a bed liner, here are 7 truck bed liner buying tips for you:

1. It’s all about what you’re hauling. If you own an antique furniture business and you’re putting a bed liner in your delivery truck, a rug liner probably makes a lot of sense. It’s going to protect your cargo (furniture) while also protecting your truck. On the other hand, if you’re hauling drums of toxic waste, a spray-in bed liner with corrosion guarantee is the only way to go. In other words, the best liner for your truck is the best liner for your typical cargo.

2. Beware the do-it-yourself bed liner. From trim-to-fit rubber mats to truck bed liner “paints,” there are quite a few inexpensive do-it-yourself options. Some of these options are better than others, but the take-away here is that these home remedies often underwhelm…many of them are cheap for a reason. UPDATE: As Mickey commented below, he has had success with Herculiner. While we can’t vouch either way for Herculiner or any other do-it-yourself bed liner coating, it’s important to factor prep and installation time into the final cost. For example if your time is worth $30 an hour and it takes 4 hours to install a do-it-yourself bed liner, the total cost is higher than the initial $70 price.

3. Consider surface texture. There are five types of bed liners that are often used – plywood, rubber mats, molded plastic, carpet or “rug” mats, and a liner that’s a sort of thick, plasticized paint (like Linex or Rhino liners). Each type of liner has it’s own texture, and the differences can be important. Plastic liners, for example, are easy to slide across. If you do a lot of loading on your own, you might want a slippery surface to make your life a little easier. On the other hand, if you want things to stay put in your bed as you drive around, a rough spray-in texture might be better.

4. Every bed liner material has it’s advantages. Rubber absorbs more shock than any other type of liner material. Plastic does a nice job of protecting the truck bed from dents. Wood is cheap. Carpet mats are great for truck camping. Spray-on liners look great and stay out of your way. The bottom line is that every type of liner is worth considering – every material has it’s own strengths.

5. Think about bed liner cost as a long-term investment. Often times truck owners buy the bed liner that offers the lowest up-front cost. However, up-front cost should be weighed against long-term value. A spray-on bedliner, for example, is all but guaranteed to add $100-$300 value to your truck when it’s time to sell or trade it. A rubber mat, on the other hand, might actually hurt the value of your truck if rust has accumulated underneath.

6. Think about maintenance. Unless you opt for a spray-on bed liner, you’re probably going to want to pull your plastic liner / rubber mat / carpet liner / piece of plywood out of your truck once or twice a year and clean. If not, dirt and moisture can accumulate underneath and cause your bed to rust.

7. Talk to your local new car dealer. Often times you can get a deal on a bed liner (especially a spray-in liner) by asking your local dealership for a referral. Call the new truck manager at your favorite Toyota dealership (or Ford or Chevy or whatever) and ask them who they recommend. If you’re nice about it, you can sometimes find out what the dealer’s price is for the liner. If nothing else, you’ll find out the name of a local company that sells a lot of bed liners…which means they probably know what they’re doing.

Read more about different truck bed liner options and our Linex vs. Rhino liner review.

Filed Under: Tundra Bed Liner


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  1. mk says:

    As far as #6 is concerned, I have had plastic bedliners and very thick and heavy duty rubber mats and never had rust form on the inside of the bed underneath even after 2 years. However, I did once or twice take off the plastic bedliner just to see what was underneath and was surprised on a new truck only about 10 months old, the paint on the bed of the truck and wheel wells were pretty scuffed up and a lot of the paint was gone due to the shifting of the plastic bedliner. I would bet probably in 5 years or more, the non painted surfaces underneath the plastic bedliner would just start to rust though simply because the paint is mostly gone to help protect the bed from rusting. I use now just an 8′ thick rubber mat bought new for 50 bucks in the bed and it protects everything I use the truck for except the wheel wells that get scuffed up from time to time. It works great to keep items from shifting, is heavy enough to not fly out and when the tailgate is closed, the extra 1 1/2′ foot can be moved up to protect the front of the bed of the truck and when the tailgate is flipped down, you slide the rubber mat out to protect the inside of the tailgate. Works pretty good all around and is very inexpensive.

  2. Mickey says:

    Again I say this. Just because Herculiner is cheaper than Line-x and Rhino doesn’t mean it’s worse than the rest. What’s the difference is the person buying herculiner is willing to do the work and prep on the bed, and not pay someone for doing so. It’s all in the prep. You have to read and go strictly by the instructions to get a good product. For $68 vice $300 and up I’ll do my own job. Over 11 years of using this product with no disappointments. A bed liner, plywood, palstic, and rubber mats you will still get scratches. Might as well get a sprayed or DIY liners put in and don’t worry about the scratches. You won’t have them.

  3. TXTee says:

    I opted for a heavy duty rubber bed liner and it’s been great. I’m anal about keping my truck clean so everytime I wash the truck I remove the liner to clean and dry beneath it. So far, it’s doing a great job of keeping ttings from slipping/sliding, specifically the dogs and it also made it a nice grip for loading/hauling my motorcycles. For around $70, definitely worth the investment.

  4. mk says:

    #1 on what you are hauling does make a big difference though. I wouldn’t put dirt, gravel, or sand piled high in the bed of my truck with just a rubber bed mat. It really all depends on what you are going to use the truck bed for. One bedliner/bedmat is really no better than the other, it just depends on what you are going to use the bed for. I think if I was going to get a plastic bedliner for around 250 bucks, I would spend the extra 150 bucks and get it rhino or x-lined professionally for that little bit of extra money seeing as how you will get that extra 150 bucks back on resell although a plastic bedliner you can take out of the old truck, although scratched/scuffed paint underneath, and transport it to the new truck assuming same model truck.

  5. Matt says:

    I have the Line-X in my truck bed and I am very pleased with it. It does fade a little in the sun over time, but it still looks great, and it cleans up very well with a pressure washer.

  6. mk and TXTee – I like the option of a rubber mat too – they’re pretty good so long as you remember to pull them out and clean up underneath once a year. mk, just as you say, as the bed gets older the possibility for rust increases.
    Mickey – You and I have had this discussion before. I think in the right hands, Herculiner is probably as good as anything. I just don’t think most people can pull it off. I also think that $400 vs. $68 isn’t as big as it sounds when you factor in the lifetime of the vehicle…plus all those hours of work needed to install the liner. Still, your point is well taken.
    Matt – I’m with you man – Line-X is my personal choice too.

  7. Jeremy the Dark Dork Overlord says:

    What type is the thin but VERY hard coating? I had some in my 97 Frontier and that stuff was nearly indestructable. Problem was it was so rough I used it to sand wood. No Joke.

  8. Jeremy – Sounds like Linex.

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