white truck is parked with the tail gate of the bed open.

Worried about scratches and dents in your truck bed? They look unsightly, open the door to rust, and give potential buyers a reason for beating you down on price. That’s right, a truck bed liner could save you money when you’re ready to sell or turn in a leased vehicle.

Here’s what truck owners should know when considering the best way to protect the vehicle bed.

How Can I Protect My Truck?

The bed of your pickup truck holds anything from fence posts and mulch to bikes and sports gear. Trouble is, dents and scratches are virtually inevitable when moving those things in and out. Plus, items move around while you’re driving which is bound to leave traces of damage. Dents look unsightly, but won’t shorten the life of your truck. Scratches are another matter. As car body specialists will tell you, unattended scratches let rust get a toehold.

A truck bedliner protects against this kind of damage. It can also prevent stuff from sliding around when you accelerate, break and round curves. As a bonus, depending on which type of bed liner you choose, it can be easier on your knees when climbing in and out.

What Are the Best Truck Bed Liner Options?

You can spend as much or as little as you want on a bed liner, and generally speaking, you get what you pay for. That said, some types of liners may your truck and your needs better than others, so here’s a look at your options.

Bed Mats

These are the least expensive liners. Think of them as giant rubber mats. Universal mats need cutting or shaping to fit, or you can buy mats custom-molded to the shape of your truck’s bed.

Made from heavy-duty rubber, these do a good job of absorbing shop and providing grip. Most truck bed mats have a ridged underside to let water drain out. A disadvantage is that they only cover the floor and not the tailgate or side walls. In other words, basic protection for a basic price.

Bed Rugs

Similar to mats, truck bed rugs are made from a tough polypropylene material and look more like carpet. These rugs reduce the tendency for things to slide around. Most have some kind of foam backing for impact absorption which also makes them more knee-friendly. Rugs range in price but more color options are available than with rubber mats.

Drop-in Bed Liners

If protecting the walls and tailgate is a concern, a drop-in liner might be the best solution. These liners are made to suit specific makes and models of truck and as the name implies, are easy to install. All you have to do is drop it into the truck bed. Some liners fit under the bed rails while others go over the top.

Drop-in liners are made of highly durable plastic and usually bolt onto the bed. A separate panel bolts to and protects the tailgate. By fixing it with bolts, you can still remove the bed liner when necessary. You may find that a drop-in liner covers up tie downs that you need to access. Another issue is that the plastic could chafe against the paint, eventually wearing it through.

Spray-on Bed Liners

The most expensive, and arguably the best, are spray on truck bed liners. The application process involves using a spray gun to create a custom coat that protects the bed. The protective coating is made of a hard-wearing material that’s sprayed into the truck bed, like paint, covering all the surfaces. A spray-on liner looks smart and protects against scratches. However, it doesn’t provide a lot of impact absorption so won’t effectively prevent all dents when carrying heavy cargo.

What’s Better: DIY vs. Professional Installation?

If you want to do it yourself, mats and rugs are ideal options for truck bed protection. They can be heavy and difficult to handle but should only take minutes to put in place. Drop-in liners are more awkward, because of they are bulky and require drilling holes. However, if you’re comfortable with power tools this is a DIY job you can probably handle.

Spray-on bed liner kits can be found at your local automotive store, but we don’t recommend them for the average weekend project. This kind of bed liner application is really a job for a professional. As with auto body paint there’s a lot of prep work involved, and achieving an even, run-free finish takes practice.

Other Points to Consider When Purchasing a Truck Bed Liner

  • Be sure to check your bed length before buying a rug, mat or drop in liner.
  • Consider whether you’ll want to take the liner out at some point in the future. Mats and rugs are easily transferred and can be quickly removed or replaced.
  • Spray-on liners are the only type that don’t let water seep underneath. If you carry caustic chemicals or solvents, a spray-on liner might be a better choice.

Learn more about the Best Collision Repair Practices for Trucks.

Ask the Auto Body Specialists

If you need more advice on how to protect and care for your car, ask the folks at Badell’s Collision. With our reputation for integrity, you know we’ll steer you in the right direction. And don’t forget, we have two locations in Pennsylvania from which to serve you better. Stop by one of our shops or use our simple online estimate form.

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