The truck bed liner seems to be the most benign and harmless of devices. Who would even suggest the hint of a harmful intent or device associated with such a clearly helpful and useful invention. Ah, but as with many seemingly positive contrivances, there are sinister consequences to consorting with these covers of pickup beds.
Whether spray in liners or the cheap roll on bed liners, each has a negative side which only often comes to light after close acquaintance has made them more familiar. Same story for the other approaches to "bed" protection in the form of carpet rugs or even rubber pickup truck bed mats and drop in liners of plastic as well. Following are just some of the weird consequences of starting down the road with a bed coating that is really more than you may have thought of or even considered at all. Read on for more and look out...
The Cadillac (spoken as a former GM man) of liners must surely be the spray on professionally applied bed liner. Of course that professional is just the employee of a franchise owner most likely, but after all most so-called professionals are employees too. Regardless, the big name liner coatings all go on about the same way. Now here's the first of several things to consider.
Spray on liners are paint coatings after all. If you've looked closely you note that the coating is almost so thick as to make it look other than paint. And it is quite the material after all. Developed as coating to protect mining material handling in South Africa, the material has evolved to be a somewhat unique product. Sprayed on with guns and almost instant drying the material includes texture and cushioning to make for the all but legendary protection.
The guarantee adds to the appeal. But note that the guarantee does not maintain that the coat cannot be damaged or all but destroyed. Not at all... It's that it will be repaired. That simple means it can be sprayed on again. Question how many times that could practically be accomplished?
Here's another thing.
Spray on coatings are not magic. To stick they require certain surface preparation. Therein lies a step you may not realize is there. Just like most painted surfaces, the paint sticks better to a seriously abraded surface. That translates to this.
The existing bed paint on a truck to get a spray liner gets seriously "sanded" or worse. It, even on a new truck, gets pretty well destroyed. Not that it all gets removed, it just gets scratched like crazy. That's new paint or old...
That mostly works for the best though. It's what it takes to turn the original bed paint into a coat that will stand up to just about anything and will stay on the bed for the life of the truck. And it still can be fixed if that's required.
There you have a few secrets hidden under spray liners but that's not the only liners with secrets. Here's more...
What could possibly be the harm of plastic bed liners?
Mostly these are the one piece sort that would make great wading pools if the shape was just a bit different. Therein lies part of the story.
These must custom fit every model of truck since they just drop in and are not so easy to change and they surely don't stretch or shrink either. So with a truck that's not such a common model, the plastic liners probably aren't made to fit your truck anyhow. That could be bad, but it could be good. Here's the deal...
Poor fitting liners, and remember the liners are custom fit for every model of truck, by definition don't fit just perfect. That's bad for a few reasons. For one, poor fitting liners often catch wind, of which there is a lot whipping around the bed of any truck.
That wind can toss and turn a plastic liner and that's a perfect set-up for some serious movement taking place. That's likely to start some wear at every point that the liner touches the bed paint. That means before long at some points the paint on the truck bed gets worn away and you get bare metal. What makes it double bad, it's mostly out of sight. So the paint is gone and you never know.
That might not be so bad, except a less than perfect fit means some amount of water gets underneath that liner. Mix that with bare metal and whaddayagit? It's rust and it's hiding and it's wrecking your truck bed and you don't even know it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stop a drain hole, out of sight and out of mind, and the water just sits there and the damage just escalates.
There's more but that's likely enough.
The plus is that the plastic drop in liners are so tough as to be all but impossible to harm or destroy. What's more, for protecting the hidden truck bed from impact the plastic has no equal. It's just the possibility of damage and destruction and the stuff I still haven't mentioned. But moving on...
BedRug makes both carpet bed liners and just the mat parts too. Elegant and luxury on look, these are marine type carpet made for weather of any sort. Either custom fit liners of more generic mats make for fine protection. Can water stand in and under? Likely. Would anybody in their right mind choose to haul greasy engines and such on carpet??? I didn't think so. So it just all depends... Maybe "yes" and maybe "not likely."
How about other options and their hidden failings???
The so-called roll on bed liners define this group. Roll on works but so does brush on or even spray on, though after the bed liner paint dries it's hard to tell the difference.
Again, the coating is paint and in this case not paint up to the standards of the professional kind. What's more rather than paying somebody to do all the necessary dirty work of washing and scratching the old paint all but off, you get to do it yourself.
Betcha most do it yourself bed liners get put on without the proper surface prep. After all the paint's so sticky surely it won't come off. It's sure hard to get off one's hands... But it does come off your hands in just a few days and it will come off your truck bed too in time if you skip the cleaning and sanding. That part's guaranteed.
Here's the thing. For older trucks in less that great shape, bed liner paint is a sure way to a better looking truck with a minimal investment in material and a "little" work. It's a good idea for some situations and adds a minimum of protection and a lot better look for not much spent, time or money either really.
Here's another cheap route.
Nearly nothing beats big old thick rubber pads for protection. That's what you get for next to nothing and what you should find in a typical truck liner review. In most cases the mats are custom fit for many trucks and at a seriously low price too. What's more, these mats work well over other liner options. Think protection for the most costly spray in liner or even over a carpet. You get no protection for anywhere except the floor of the bed, but on the floor you're set.
A pickup bed liner of the right sort can keep a pickup looking good and working while at it. Pick the wrong match for the way you use a truck and it may be a disaster in the making. What you may get is a mess rather than what you sought...