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Roll On Bed Liners — The Low Cost Option

Roll on bed liners are the do-it-yourself way to a better looking truck bed and improved bed protection too. We have lived with a do-it-yourself bed liner for about three years now and here’s what it took to get the liner on.

The Tools and Materials For A Bedliner

The easiest way to get going is to just get a kit. Herculiner is the leading brand with a kit, but now other liner paint companies offer the one stop material solution.

You’ll need the paint for starters. Plan on at least 5 quarts for a full-size truck bed. The more the better. That makes sense when you realize that professional liners consist of about 5 gallons of paint. That’s 5 gallons, not just 5 quarts. So, don’t be satisfied with just a gallon of bed liner paint.

You’ need an applicator, preferably a roller and some cheap brushes. Don’t worry. As the paint dries, it settles and the roller or brush marks just fade away.

Cleaner is a must, but a simple solution is to just get regular automotive grease and wax remover. That’s really the cleaning problem, getting rid of wax and grease.

Then you’ll need masking tape, quite a lot really. You do not want bed liner paint anywhere except where it should be. It’s so sticky, it’s hard to clean it off once it’s where it shouldn’t be.

Finally, don’t forget the sanding material. That can be sanding paper or it can be abrasive pads. In any case, get plenty to get the job done.

Getting Started Right

Clean surfaces are key to paint that sticks. Getting rid of the old wax and grease is a must to get a coat that sticks. Don’t even think about sanding before cleaning. If you do, you drive the wax or grease into the paint. The sanding doesn’t get rid of it. That’s a sure road to peeling paint. So clean first or else.

Acetone is the right solvent, but it’s easy to get as a automotive wax and grease remover.

Sanding For Success

Applying bed liner paint isn’t the place for fine sanding. It’s the place for very aggressive abrasives. See, what you want is a really rough scratched up surface. That’s what helps the paint stick, a really rough surface prep. No fine sanding is required or desired.

Application

After the truck bed is clean and sanded, the hard part is done. Actually putting on paint couldn’t be easier. Partly because the liner paint is so sticky and so thick. It just levels out and sticks almost like a gel coat. You just roll it on and stand back. The paint levels out as it dries and all the roller and brush marks just fade away. It’s easy as pie.

Good And Bad

Applying bed liner paint yourself is a fast way to get a spray-on bed liner look-alike for just a fraction of the cost of a professional model. It really looks almost just like a professional liner but at just a fraction of the cost.

The liner we put on as stood up to hard use for about three years. The bed looks good still, though before lining it was rusty and in sad shape. It is scratched and scarred from use but looks good especially from a few feet away. Here’s what to watch for if you choose this route.

There’s more to this than just rolling on paint. The preparation is the tough part. Do it right or waste your time.

A coating you put on yourself isn’t nearly as durable as a professional spray on liner. That’s mostly because it just isn’t as thick. The professional liner just consists of much more material.

Especially for older pickups with existing bed paint damage, a roll on bed liner makes perfect sense. After living with a roll on coating for three years, I say it’s worth the trouble if you want a cheap bed coating.