How to apply roll-on liner to your truck bed

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A pulled-out truck bed liner on display in a driveway, next to a pickup truck.

Don't pay for an expensive plastic truck bed liner that won't do the job against the elements. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/GraFFiX49509/Wikipedia)

Pickup trucks are meant for hauling. Why anyone would paint a pickup truck bed with something other than a durable truck bed liner is questionable, at best. Here’s how to do the job yourself with a cheap, easy DIY bed liner that you can roll or spray on at home.

Don’t use wood or plastic

If you use wood to line the bed of your pickup, eventually it will rot. Buying a plastic liner works, but it will cost you, and it can trap moisture underneath. This can eventually lead to rust. Instead, go with an epoxy concrete-floor coating, suggests Popular Mechanics. This spray or roll-on bed liner is tougher than paint. The catalyzed-urethane-based polymers are thick, and the job can be done in about four hours. Best of all, rather than having a professional do the job for anywhere from $400 to $1,000, you can do it yourself for about $50.

Getting ready

Wash the truck, making sure the bed liner area is clean and dry. Give it a full day after your drying efforts are complete; you do not want any moisture between the truck bed and the roll-on liner. Do not wax at this time. Degrease with solvent and paper towel.

When dry, get ready to do the job in a shaded, outdoor area with plenty of ventilation. Put on old clothing, shoes and rubber gloves. Use a leaf blower or shop vac to make sure that no residual dust, leaves or water remain in the truck bed. If there are any oil stains in the back, use mineral spirits to clean it up before you start. If paint is peeling or there’s rust, wire brush and sandpaper it down to clean metal around the area. Use 150 -grit sandpaper. No loose rust should be present.

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Once these cleanup steps are done, get the sanding debris out, then prime the bare spots with zinc-based primer, either aerosol or brush-on.

Coating the bed and cleaning up

Now it’s time for the black epoxy coating. Carefully affix masking tape around the bed tops, tailgate, hinges and latch pins. Then, roll on two coats of the epoxy on the same day, waiting an hour or two between coats. Make sure that the texture of the epoxy is consistent. Watch inner corners, seams and fittings of the truck bed, as the epoxy can sag in these areas. The watchword throughout this process is patience. If the epoxy spills where you don’t want it to go, use mineral spirits or lacquer thinner for clean up.

Four hours after painting in the truck bed liner, remove the masking tape. Then, allow the whole thing to dry for at least 24 hours. It is normal for the black of the liner to fade. Hold on to any remaining coating, as it can be used for touch-ups in the event that there is scratching.

Applying a Rust-Oleum truck bed coating

Sources ATVs/Offroading

Popular Mechanics

Roll-on bed liner Squidoo

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