Difference Between Nerf Bars and Running Boards

If you're having a hard time getting in and out of your truck, installing a set of nerf bars or running boards is probably on your to-do list. But what's the difference between these two products? We examine those differences here so you can make the best choice for your vehicle.


Running Boards

ionic factory style
ionic 51 series brite on red truck
ionic gladiator brite on white truck

A running board is a flat step, usually four inches or wider, that runs either the length of your cab or longer to provide a step going into the bed. They can be made of aluminum, steel, composite plastic, or fiberglass. Running boards drop down about three inches from your vehicle's pinch weld, making it easier for you to enter and exit the cab. Some brands, such as AMP and Bestop, even offer electric running boards that deploy when you open one of your truck's doors and retract when not in use. These boards come down quite a bit further than standard boards, making them a great choice for customers who need maximum drop distance.

Nerf Bars

ionic 3 inch stainless
ionic 3 inch black step pad close up
ionic stainless 5 inch close up side view

Nerf bars fulfill the same function as running boards, but are very different stylistically. Where boards are flat, bars are usually round or oval in shape. Nerf bars are almost always made of stainless or carbon steel, though there are a few aluminum models as well. Like running boards, they're available in both cab length and wheel to wheel sizes. Most nerf bars have a step pad on top of the bar, but some manufacturers also offer bars with hoop steps that drop down to provide a step closer to the ground.

When you purchase nerf bars or running boards from RealTruck.com, hardware and brackets are always included, ensuring you'll have all the parts you need to get the job done. If you have questions about nerf bars, running boards, or any other truck accessories, chat in or call our product experts at 877-216-5446.

Running Board And Nerf Bar Gallery

AMP Research PowerStep boards deploy when you open your truck's doors and retract when not in use.
N-Fab offers nerf bars with steps that drop down from the bar itself.
Ionic Voyager running boards on a Silverado.
Four-inch black Ionic nerf bars.
Havoc HS2 nerf bars on a Jeep Wrangler.
Ionic Billet Brite aluminum boards.