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What is a Truck Bed Liner?

What makes a truck a truck? Ask 100 people this question and it’s likely that the most common response will be that a truck has a bed. This defining characteristic lets you haul large items that wouldn’t fit in a car or even an SUV. If you’ve ever seen an older truck, you might notice that the bed tends to develop scratches, dents, and other superficial damage over years of use. How can you prevent this issue on your own truck? Easy: by installing a bed liner.

Truck Bed Liners

 

A truck bed liner is an optional accessory that protects the surface, sides, bulkhead, and tailgate of your truck. It is distinct from a bed mat, which only protects the surface and sometimes the tailgate of the bed. The materials used to make a bed liner vary from hard plastic to carpet-like composite material and even spray-on lining. No matter which material you choose, any of these liners offer a degree of protection for your truck bed, absorbing impacts and abrasions that could otherwise dent and scratch your vehicle.

If you plan on using your truck bed frequently, a bed liner is a wise investment. To help you narrow down your choice of bed liners, take a look at these common materials used in their construction.

Polypropylene and TPO Bed Liners

 

BedRug Full Bedliner
BedRug Full Bedliner
Husky Liners UltraFiber Full Truck Bed Liner
Husky Liners UltraFiber Full Truck Bed Liner
 BedTred Ultra Truck Bedliner
BedTred Ultra Truck Bedliner

These materials result in a somewhat soft, easily moldable liner that is durable and resistant to harmful chemicals such as engine oil and battery acid. So why would someone want a soft bed liner? The name of the game here is absorption. Drop a cinder block into a bed lined with this material and the majority of the impact will be absorbed into the liner. Try something similar with a more rigid material and you have a greater chance of scratching or denting the bed beneath the liner since the liner itself has very little give. Because the material is easier to shape, it also adheres to the contours of your truck bed better than comparable hard liners. This results in less space between the liner and the bed, creating superior damage resistance. These bed liners can usually be installed at home with a little patience and basic tools.

Choose a polypropylene/TPO bed liner if: You want full bed protection that’s easy to install at home.

Spray-On Bed Liners

Long considered the industry standard, a spray-on bed liner consists of paint-like material, usually urethane and/or acrylic, which is sprayed directly onto the bed to protect the metal from dents and scratches. While DIY kits are available, it’s recommended that spray-on bed lining be applied by a professional or at least someone with experience painting vehicles. When correctly installed, a spray-on liner provides good bed protection and a clean, professional appearance. Spray-on liners are also good at filling in nooks and protecting other parts of your vehicle, such as the undercarriage. Keep in mind, however, that proper installation means sanding your bed down so the spray-on coating can adhere to the metal. If you don’t like the idea of sanding your truck’s bed, one of the poly bed liners mentioned above may be a better choice.

Choose a spray-on bed liner if: You’re comfortable sanding your truck bed or you have an older vehicle with no custom-fit bed liners available.

Al's Liner Do It Yourself Spray On Bed Liner
Al's Liner Do It Yourself Spray On Bed Liner

Bed Mats 

Gator Rubber Truck Bed Mat
Gator Rubber Truck Bed Mat
Gator Premium Bed Mat
Gator Premium Bed Mat
Dee Zee Truck Bed Mat
Dee Zee Truck Bed Mat

While distinct from bed liners, bed mats deserve mention here since they fulfill a similar purpose. Bed mats can be made of any number of materials including polypropylene, composite, and rubberized plastic. Installation is as easy as rolling the mat out on your bed and shutting the tailgate. Speaking of which, many bed mats can be purchased with an optional tailgate mat for additional protection. Bed mats won’t protect the sides of your bed or your bulkhead, but they’re a great choice for budget truck builds that need a degree of bed protection.

Choose a bed mat if: you need basic, dependable bed protection on a budget.

If you have questions about bed liners, chat or call our product experts.