Best Truck Bed Coatings

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
334 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best truck bed coatings

Last Updated July 2020

There are several options when it comes to protecting the bed of your truck, but modern coatings have one major advantage: when applied properly, they form a tough, flexible second skin over the entire surface, delivering superior protection that reaches into all those nooks and crannies where otherwise rust could start.

There are other benefits, too. A truck bed coating provides excellent wear resistance and a high level of grip, not just for you but for any equipment you’re transporting. It also deadens sound and reduces vibration. What’s more, most can be used on a wide range of materials, including metal, fiberglass, and wood, allowing you to protect and provide grip on all kinds of surfaces from boat decks to industrial floors.

Given the variety of potential applications, it should be no surprise that there are lots of brands to choose from. We’ve been checking them out so we can help you decide which is the right one for the jobs you need to do. Our recommendations showcase premium and value-for-money alternatives, and in the following buying guide we look at the factors to consider before you buy.

Coverage differs from one truck bed coating to another. Measure the area you need to paint, look at the number of coats suggested, then you’ll know how much material you need to buy.

Key considerations

Composition

Historically, truck bed coatings were two- or three-part products (typically paint, hardener, and tint) that needed to be mixed carefully before use. They also had quite a short shelf life, though that’s no longer a problem in many cases. While this type of coating is still common, there are single-part products that are ready for use right out of the can.

Urethanes and epoxies are used for their toughness. They are considered safe as long as they’re used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the past, volatile organic compounds (VOC) were included, but they are bad for your health and the environment. Today, these are tightly controlled, and only low- or zero-VOC products are permitted. However, they might still find their way onto the market through discount stores. We would advise against buying from that kind of outlet unless it’s a recognized brand and you can check content carefully. If labels are missing or obscured, don’t be tempted. You have no way of knowing how long old stock has been lying around.

Application

Professional: Some truck bed coatings can only be applied using professional spraying techniques. Skilled individuals can produce a very uniform thickness, but the setup is painstaking and masking is usually required to protect the rest of the truck from overspray. Inexperienced sprayers tend to waste a lot of material.

Spray gun: A spray gun is supplied with some kits. It has a large nozzle to cope with the viscosity of truck bed coating. You’ll usually need a compressor capable of producing 60 psi or more in order to be effective.

Brush: Applying the coating with a brush or roller is much easier for most people, and the majority of products can be used that way. If you’ve chosen a coating with a textured finish, any tool marks will be all but invisible.

Spray can: Spray cans are also relatively easy to use and very good for small areas and repairs but doing a whole truck bed will be very time-consuming.

Drying time

Note the drying time carefully. The surface can be dry to the touch in a matter of minutes, but it might take as long as a week to fully cure (perhaps less if you’re using a spray booth and infrared lamps).

Cleanup

Cleanup requires solvents in many cases, though a number of water-based polyurethane truck bed coatings are now available. Some are toughened with the addition of Kevlar. We also came across one in which the texture was made with rubber from recycled tires.

Protection

All truck bed coatings that we checked are completely waterproof when applied properly. They have high levels of adhesion, so they don’t peel. Many are stain resistant and don’t scratch easily, though as with any coating, damage is possible under extreme conditions. Fortunately, patching up small areas is easy.

Most truck bed coatings have good levels of UV protection, so the color won’t fade. Several offer good resistance to chemical, solvent, gasoline, and even salt water, making the latter popular for marine applications like decks (on fiberglass, steel, or wooden boats), ladder treads and dock areas.

EXPERT TIP

For long-term durability, always follow application instructions precisely. Not doing so is likely to result in a coating that blisters, cracks, and wears rapidly.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Truck bed coatings aren’t just for truck beds! Some people use them on running boards, bumpers, wooden decks, and even rifle stocks.


Staff  | BestReviews

Truck bed coating prices

Normally, we like to give price guidance for the products we review in categories of inexpensive, mid-range and expensive. That’s difficult to do with truck bed coatings for two reasons.

First, the coverage is different from one product to another. For example, one might suggest two coats, while another recommends three or even four. Second, these coatings come in all different sizes, such as 16.5-ounce spray cans, liter bottles (there are 3.78 liters in a gallon), plus quart or gallon tins. To make matters worse, the same product might be $80 a gallon at one supplier and $140 a gallon at another! Instead, we’re offering an approximate cost for materials (not labor), based on a standard 6-foot truck bed.

Using aerosol cans, it’s possible to cover that area (based on manufacturer recommendations) for about $100. Many spray-on truck bed liner kits can do it for around $120 or $130. While it’s difficult to be precise, we would estimate spending no more than $180, even with the most expensive product we looked at.

Manufacturers don’t always provide accurate coverage figures, and, to be fair, it’s difficult to do because each person will apply a different amount. It’s worth checking online customer feedback. The opinions of real users often prove very helpful.

Textured truck bed coatings are a popular choice, but they’re not the only one. Those that dry smooth are also available.

Tips

Each manufacturer provides its own usage instructions, but there are a few suggestions that are pretty much universal for preparing the surface and applying these products.

  • Remove grease. As with any finishing, good surface preparation is vital. Some, but not all, brands recommend using a degreaser. However, check the chemical composition to be sure it won’t react adversely with the chemicals in the coating.
  • Clean off dirt and rust. Surfaces should be free of dirt, rust, and any existing finish that is loose and flaking off. Use a wire brush, dual-action (DA) sander, or coarse grit aluminum oxide paper to prepare.
  • Apply a primer. Where included, apply a primer or adhesion promoter first.
  • Apply the truck bed coating. Use a brush, roller, or spray gun according to your preference. Applying two or three thin coats is usually preferred over one thick coat. It’s usual to paint the sides first, standing on the bed for easy access. Then paint the bed itself, from the cab backward, so you can back out.
  • Follow the directions for additional coats. Pay close attention to the recoating time. It’s important to follow the procedure carefully in order to create the proper bond between coats.
  • Allow for proper curing/drying time. Do not rush this step or the finish may be compromised.

Other products we considered

If you don’t see what you need in our matrix, we found a few more products for you. The Custom Shop Custom Coat Truck Bed Liner is affordable and comes as a two-pack of liner and hardener, with several tints available as well. A gun is included, and the manufacturer claims that one pack is enough to spray any truck bed.

The Durabak-18 Truck Bed Liner Kit is not just waterproof but resistant to saltwater, too, making it popular in marine situations. There’s a choice of rubber grit or smooth finish and a wide choice of colors. It can be applied by brush, roller (two are included), or spray gun. It’s not cheap, but it is very durable.

If you’ve got a couple of trucks or maybe a truck and a trailer, you might want to think about the 3-gallon LinerXtreeme Bedliner Kit. It’s a tough epoxy-urethane combination that’s easy to apply, and it adheres to a wide variety of surfaces. Again, a gun is included in the price, which is very competitive.

Why restrict your coating to the truck bed? A number of people have sprayed the whole vehicle (cars, too). It’s not cheap, but it makes an interesting finish, and it’s more durable than auto paint.

FAQ

Q. Is truck bed coating better than a drop-in plastic liner?
A.
It’s a tough question, and you need to weigh the pros and cons, plus the cost for your vehicle. Although cheap drop-in truck bed liners might seem like an economical option, they don’t have great durability. Even with quality models, there’s always that gap between the liner and the truck bed where dirt and water can get in. Some people have removed a drop-in liner only to find the truck bed underneath is rusted through. A spray-on coating, when properly applied, provides a similar level of protection, and if there’s any damage, you can see it straight away and rectify it before the problem gets worse.


Q. I see lots of black. Are there other truck bed coating colors?
A.
Yes, but options vary. Many are only black, some come in gray or tan, and some can be tinted using automotive paint products. Caution is needed, though. Some manufacturers warn against it, saying it will upset the chemical balance of their product. On the other hand, we found one that’s available in 18 colors! There’s also the possibility of painting the coating after application. However, you need to pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s something best thought through at the outset.


Q. Are truck bed coatings toxic?
A.
Again, it depends on the product. Some two-part components can cause irritation and allergic reactions but are safe when mixed, applied, and dry. Many companies now produce nontoxic truck bed coatings. Nevertheless, fumes aren’t always pleasant, so it’s a good idea to wear gloves and a dust mask if you’re applying it with a brush or roller and a proper respirator if spraying it on. The maker should provide safety advice. Don’t skip it. It’s there to protect your health.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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