A spray on bed liner is a great way to protect your truck, and to enhance its appearance. Plastic drop-in bed liners can actually do more harm than good to the paint job of your pickup truck. Since there is no easy way to wash under them, dust collects between the bed liner and the paint over time. Vibrations from your truck’s normal operation grind dust and grit into the paint. This process effectively sands your truck bed down to bare metal. Eventually rust and corrosion begin due to condensation and other moisture that finds its way under the bed liner. As it turns out, you would be better off to go without a bed liner than you would to use a plastic drop-in bed liner.
If, on the other hand, you did leave your truck’s bed unprotected and subjected it to normal use, damage to the paint job will still result in rust and corrosion over time. A spray in bed liner is the perfect alternative. A spray in bed liner is applied much like paint and sticks directly to the factory paint job in your truck’s bed. This means that absolutely no dust or moisture can get to the paint job or metal in your truck bed. Spray in bed liners offer a significant amount of protection from rough use and damage, however, if you do damage a spray in bed liner they can be touched up or fixed easily.
Professional spray in bed liners can be very expensive, and have little or no advantage over the spray in bed liner which can be bought at your local auto parts store. Applying a professional looking spray in bed liner to your pickup truck may seem intimidating at first, but if you take it one step at a time it is a simple job which can be done over the course of two days or less.
As with any paint job or auto repair job, the most important step is preparation. You must make sure that you have everything you need before you begin. You must also properly prepare the truck’s bed. Failure to prepare for this job properly may result in discoloration to the bed liner or flaking and separation from the truck bed. Do not be discouraged by this. Preparation is simple, but its importance must be stressed to ensure a professional outcome.
First of all you’ll need to measure the bed of your truck and calculated square footage. Be sure to include the sides and the inside of the tailgate. A simple way to calculate square footage is to measure the five surfaces separately, then add them together. In other words, multiply the length times the width of the bottom and set that number aside. Repeat this with each of the four sides of your truck’s bed, including the tailgate, by multiplying the depth of your truck bed times the length or width of each side. Next you should add the five numbers together. An average full-size truck will have about 70 feet of surface area which will need to be covered by bed liner. Be sure you buy enough bed liner to complete the job. You can always return a can if you buy too much, but if you buy too little you’ll end up with an ugly seam in your bed liner. Most trucks will require 2 to 3 gallons of bed liner. Carefully study the directions printed on the can to be sure that you have everything you need before beginning. The directions for every brand will be different, so this article is intended only to teach you the general steps for applying a spray in bed liner.
You will need to lightly sand the paint in your truck’s bed everywhere that you intend to apply a bed liner. You will also need masking tape, plastic drop cloths, paint brushes, and a roller or sprayer. Check the directions on the can for any special considerations or specifications about these items. Most truck bed liners can be applied with a paint roller, however spraying the bed liner in will create a much more professional finish. Some brands of bed liner will need to be thinned in order to be sprayed, and may require multiple coats. Be sure you select the sprayer which is designed to handle thick liquids. Spray in bed liner will quickly clog many types of sprayers. The best choice would be a gravity fed, compressed air powered hopper gun with a coarse spray tip.
Once you have sanded the bed of your truck, wash and rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry completely. Apply masking tape at the edges of your truck’s bed to create straight borders for your spray on bed liner. Cover the rest of the truck with drop cloths and tape them to the tape which you have already placed.
Now are you are ready to spray. Spray some test patterns on a flat surface such as a cardboard box before trying it on your truck. Make sure that you are able to overlap each pass evenly so that your overall finish appears even and smooth. Spray the sides of your truck’s bed first, and then spray the bottom, working your way backwards and finished with the tailgate.
While the bed liner is still wet, look for any runs or imperfections and touched them up with a paintbrush if necessary. For some brands, the tape should be removed before the bed liner dries. If this is the case with your bed liner, take special care to roll up the drop cloths as you remove them so that you do not smear wet bed liner onto your truck’s paint.
Your spray in bed liner should give your truck years of protection. Save any leftover bed liner and store it in a cool dry place in case you ever need to touch up your bed liner.