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A pickup truck bed is one of the most versatile things you’ll find on a vehicle. Capable of hauling a variety of things from tools, equipment, dirt, debris, and weekend adventure toys, it is hard to overestimate the versatility a pickup truck bed offers truck owners. With that said, it is also easy to damage the bed over time. From basic scratches to irreparable dents and holes, protecting the bed can be a worthwhile investment for any owner wanting to preserve the value and usability of their vehicle. This is where protective options like spray-on bed liners come in. If you are searching for a way to protect your truck bed, read on for our helpful guide for some of the best bed liners to do just that.
Why Buy a Spray-On Bedliner
- Preserve the condition of the bed. It should go without saying that a used truck bed is going to look less than ideal. Anytime you slide things in and out of the bed, scratches are bound to happen. A good bed liner takes the brunt of the abuse so the metal underneath remains untouched.
- Prevent scratches. Some materials are just more scratch-resistant than others. While the metal and paint of a typical bed do a good job of protecting the surface from outdoor elements, scratches, dings, and dents are different altogether. Spray-on bed liners, however, use different materials that are more scratch and impact-resistant, so damage is less likely to show up in the first place.
- Install the bed yourself. It’s pretty easy to find good, professional service to get a bed liner installed correctly. If you do this, however, be prepared to pay extra. In addition to the bed liner itself, the service will likely be billed on an hourly or project basis. You can save some money, however, by doing it yourself. This is the main benefit of spray-on kits, which often come with nearly everything you need to get the job done yourself.
Types of Spray-On Bedliners
When it comes to spray-on bed liners, most types are similar except for one major difference: quality. Aliphatic spray-on bed liners are higher in quality than other types. This is largely due to the pigmentation that’s included in the spray formula. This pigmentation does a better job of blocking harmful UV rays that are common when a truck is outside. Sunlight can fade the color of the bed liner and reduce its protective properties over time if left exposed. Aliphatic bed liners last longer, preserving the durability and longevity of the layer.
Unfortunately, extra longevity and protection also lead to a higher price tag. This is why many people on a budget turn to aromatic bed liners instead. Lacking the quality pigmentation of aliphatic varieties, aromatic bed liners still have a decent lifespan at a lower cost. Ultimately, if you don’t plan on keeping your truck for a long time, aromatic options may be the better option to save money in the long run.
Top Brands of Spray-On Bedliners
Owned by Old World Industries, the Herculiner brand is dedicated to a whole line of truck bedliners intended to work in extreme conditions. The company has a history of creating automotive products that last where others fail. Bedliners like its Herculiner Spray-On Liner are prime examples of the results of the company’s four decades of experience.
Focused on what goes onto a vehicle’s surface, U-POL has a line of products that ranges from fillers and coatings to heavy-duty bedliners. For more than 70 years, the company has been a popular choice for professionals wanting to create a solid, protective layer over a vehicle. Check out the Raptor Black Urethane Liner Kit for a sample of the company’s design philosophy.
Rust-Oleum is a global name brand in virtually anything having to do with paint. Started in 1921 by Captain Robert Fergusson, the sea captain unintentionally started the company looking for a way to keep his ship protected from rust and corrosion. Today, Rust-Oleum has an expansive range of paints and primers, including convenient spray can bedliners like the Truck Bed Coating Spray.
Spray-On Bedliner Pricing
- $50 and under: Singular cans and bottles of spray-on bedliner are common in this price range. This is a good place to start if you have the equipment and experience necessary to do a good DIY job right from the start.
- $50-$100: Smaller bedliner kits start to creep up around this price range. The kits tend to be small with only a few bottles of liner for smaller truck beds or fewer coats.
- $100 and above: To have it all, this is the price range to consider. For the extra money, you can easily find large kits with multiple bottles for multiple coats. Included spray guns are also common here.
Bed Liner Finish
The most important part of any bed liner is the finish. The quality of the protective layer needs to be as perfect as possible (or as you can afford). The finished results depend on the protective qualities of the liner and the final look. The color should be either matched or, at least, mixed with the vehicle’s color. Since it is difficult to remove a spray-on bedliner once it has been applied, it’s smart to research ahead of time to see which kits offer the best results.
Beyond just the look and general protection of a liner, quality protective layers offer resistance against the elements. In particular, this comes in the form of water resistance. Since most truck beds use metals like steel that can eventually rust, water protection can extend the life of the bed itself.
- Quantity: The amount of bed liner will determine how much surface area you can cover in the truck bed. Thankfully, most bed liner manufacturers design their kits around a specific truck bed size. This means you’ll find some kits that can cover a 5.5-foot bed, while others will have enough to cover 6- or 8-foot beds. Obviously, it’s important to know the size of your truck bed ahead of time so you can buy the right kit with the right amount of spray in it.
- Ease of Use: Although many kits are labeled as easy DIY products, the ultimate measure is how easy it is to apply in the first place. Included accessories influence ease of using the most. For example, if a kit comes with a basic application gun to spray the bed liner on, this is one less tool you’ll have to buy. On the other hand, more experienced users may prefer or have their own equipment, making included accessories redundant.
Best Spray-On Bedliners Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Spray-On Bedliner Overall: Custom Coat Black Liner Kit
This complete spray-on bedliner kit is one of the most comprehensive options available today. Good for first timers wanting a weekend DIY project, the kit comes with everything you need to get started on an easy-to-apply bedliner for your truck.
The included spray gun in this kit makes it a very user-friendly, beginner-friendly option for home DIYers. The gun has a generous spray pattern that doesn’t require too much in terms of accuracy. Seams and areas of overlap tend to disappear in the finished results. The bedliner is also easy to mix with the included hardener.
Despite the ease of the use, the spray gun is somewhat finicky in operation. It’s important to keep the gun clean every few liters of bedliner; otherwise, it’s prone to clogging quickly as the overspray and leftover liner begins to harden. The finished black coat also isn’t as glossy as the box suggests.
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Best Spray-On Bedliner Value: U-POL Raptor Black Liner & Texture Kit
Unlike most bedliner kits, this option does away with the extra included tools that can nearly double the price of the kit. Instead, the kit only comes with the protective coats you need to get a high-quality layer onto the surface of the bed.
The bedliner is easy to mix up and apply to the truck bed. The bottles are tintable, meaning you can (and most likely should) add some color for the final finish. With the right prep, the spray can also be added to other areas like the bumper and fenders.
Unfortunately, near-perfect preparation is the key to getting the best results with this bedliner. Proper sanding, removing dirt and debris, and other basic steps to get the surface clean and clear are important. Otherwise, the bedliner has trouble sticking to the vehicle, especially on non-metal surfaces.
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Best Spray-On Bedliner Honorable Mention: U-POL Raptor Black with Regulator Kit
Sometimes, more is more. This is the philosophy behind U-POL’s Black Raptor regulator kit that comes in 4-, 6-, and 8-liter options. In addition to the protective coats of the bedliner itself, the kit also includes a high-quality spray gun with a regulator and gauge.
This kit is all about quantity for first-time DIYers. In addition to the spray gun, the bottles offer enough bedliner for several coats over a typical truck bed size (6.5 feet or shorter). Mixing is easy enough, and the spray gun has adjustable pressure to get the right coverage.
Like other bedliners, preparation is key for the best results. This bedliner requires a lot of sanding of the bed surface beforehand to get good adherence. The correct mixing ratios and air pressure may also deviate from the instructions, depending on the truck bed and outside conditions.
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- If you have experience with spray-on bed liners and have the tools to install one yourself, look for standalone bed liners that lack the included accessories of most kits. This will save you money and allow you to use the tools and techniques you are comfortable with.
- Take your time when applying a spray-on bedliner to the bed of your truck. Application can be challenging when rushed. Even protective coatings are important for the best results.
- Make sure you cover every square inch, including the tailgate. It is important to cover the corners, cracks, and seams of the truck bed in order to get the most weatherproofing possible.
- If your truck bed has tie downs or stake pockets, cover these up before you apply the bed liner. Much like painting, it is easier to mask certain areas off so the spray-on liner doesn’t stick to these surfaces.
Q. Are spray-on bed liners better than other options?
A. In terms of protection, they tend to offer the best impact and weather resistance than many drop-in liners, since they cover more of the bed’s surface area. Other types of bed liners do an adequate job of protecting the bed but often leave seams and small cracks open where dust, debris, and water can get into unnoticed.
Q. Can I install a bed liner myself?
A. Yes. With a little bit of practice and experience, spraying a bed liner into the bed of your truck is easy to do. Having a friend help can speed up the process with preparation, but the actual spraying step usually only requires one individual.
Q. Can I still use accessories with a bed liner?
A. In most cases, yes. Non-slip bed mats, for example, will fit right on the liner. Bed accessories that sit on the rails, like ladder racks, are rarely encumbered by a bed liner. Accessories within the bed, however, may be affected if the liner itself takes up too much room or is too thick.
Our top pick for the best spray-in bed liner is the Custom Coat Black Liner Kit since it has one of the best-included spray guns and simple mixing process.
If you can do without the extra equipment, check out the U-POL Raptor Black Liner & Texture Kit. It has enough bed liner for several coats with some extra left over.
What is your experience with spray-on kits? Do you have some alternative picks? Maybe you prefer a simple brush-on kit instead? GIve us your thoughts below.
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