How to select a Bed Liner

Bedliners protect the bed of your pickup truck by providing an insulating layer between cargo and the walls of your truck’s bed. They cover the factory sheet metal and prevent the bed from becoming scratched and dented from constant use.

There are two basic types of liners, plastic drop-in and urethane spray-on.

Drop in liners

truck bed linersGenerally, plastic liners are pre-formed to the vehicle’s bed. They hold up to a lot of abuse and allow cargo to easily slide out from the bed, making them great for carrying large, flat, heavy loads. Rug liners provide a soft alternative and are great for improving the bed’s appearance and will not scratch delicate cargo.

Spray on liners

Urethane liners are a coating of polyurethane that also hold up to lots of abuse, but also have a skid resistance, preventing objects from sliding around in the bed. Unlike drop in liners that simply “drop-into” the bed of your truck, urethane liners must be applied by a professional and is sprayed on like paint. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but either one will enhance the overall appearance of your truck and add to its lasting value.

Benefits of truck bed liners

If you’re concerned about protecting your truck’s bed and cargo, then a bedliner is a necessity. Choosing one however, can be a difficult task.

It is important to first consider the benefits of bedliners, such as preventing rust, cargo stability and/or to enhance your trucks overall appearance. Knowing this, you can then try to determine what kind of bed protection best suits the majority of your needs.

  • Some liners work best for truck owners who occasionally use their trucks to carry cargo.
  • Other liners offer better bed protection for heavy duty use and truck owners who use their vehicles for work.
  • Many truck owners like to carry watercraft or other valuable cargo, so they want a liner that won’t scrach or damage cargo.

Depending on which of these situations best describes your usage, here is some background information on the various types of liners.

Plastic Drop In Liners

drop in truck bed linerIf you are a truck owner who seldom uses his bed, except for the occasional trip to the warehouse store, a plastic drop in liner might be your best choice.

Many trucks are sold from the dealership with a drop in plastic liner. These work great to keep moisture away from your cargo as they use deep channels to help disperse the load across the floor of the liner.

Some of the plastic liners have slip resistant surfaces that prevent cargo from sliding across the liner and damaging your bed. The main thing that many truck enthusiasts do not like about plastic liners is that they can scratch the bed and retain some moisture underneath the liner which can cause some rust.

Penda Liners

This drop in liner manufacturer makes a traditional plastic liner that fits tightly against the walls of any make and model truck bed. The company’s Pendaliner features a SR skid resistance surface that offers some protection against cargo sliding in the bed.

Spray On Urethane Liners

Urethane liners are often referred to as spray on liners, due to the process involved in applying it.

The two major ingredients of the urethane liners are often kept separated until they are mixed together from the spray gun that is used to apply the liner to the surface of the bed.

Although there are slight differences in the urethane formulations of each company, the main differences depend on the pressure used in the application process and the type of applicator used to mix the two ingredients.

Preparing your bed is the key to success

The most important aspect to applying a urethane bedliner is the preparation of the bed. The bed must be sanded and “roughed” up to allow the urethane to properly adhere to the surface. Once the urethane coating is applied, it adheres to the bed and cannot be removed. It eliminates any chance of rust and can absorb impacts, preventing any denting of the bed sides.

But not all urethane liners are the same.

Reflex Liners

Reflex liners are spray on urethane liners that offer excellent protection against rust, dings and scratches.

reflex truck spray on

The Reflex liner is a durable urethane bed liner that is sprayed on 1/4-inch thick and offers a permanent bond that will not crack, peel or warp. The Reflex spray-on liner uses factory paint in their mixture to duplicate an exact color match to your vehicle, if that is what you desire over a standard black finish.

For truck owners who want a little more pizzazz in their truck bed, Reflex offers a metallic or pearl finish for show vehicles wanting something different. Reflex’s coating has a non-slip texture that provides maximum load grip so items won’t be sliding around in the bed.

Rhino Linings

The Rhino liner is a more popular bed liner product and has a thicker, shinny appearance. The company can also color match the liner to your vehicle and offers superior UV protection.

rhino truck bed liners

Rhino Linings has a great reputation as one of the best durable sprayed-on polyurethane protection for truck beds. It can be sprayed to any thickness and in any color. Its texture has lots of skid resistance and has a shinny appearance. It is great for keeping cargo in place and insulates against road vibration and noise. It can also be applied with a UV protective coating that keeps the color looking great for a long period of time.

Rhino also has a wide variety of colors and can be expertly color matched to your vehicle. Rhino has a wide retail network allowing the truck owner to easily find an authorized installer in your local area.


The Line-X urethane bed liner has a slightly different texture than the Reflex and Rhino liners. It has a flat-appearance with a fine grain texture that is not as thick as most other urethane liners. However, it is a good compromise between having some skid resistance with a bit of allowable slippage to make it easier to slide out flat, heavy cargo.

Line-X also has a wide distribution of authorized installers, making it easy to find a location to have it installed.


herculiner roll on bedlinerThe Herculiner system is for the do-it-yourselfer. It’s a great way to add new life to a beat-up old bed, but doesn’t offer the same amount of protection as a spray-on liner.

This urethane liner takes a low-cost approach and allows the consumer to install the liner themselves.

The Herculiner comes in a paint can and is rolled on with an applicator that is provided in the Herculiner kit.

Although it does offer some protection against dings and scratches it would take several applications and layers to give it the same protection as spray-on liners which have a thicker finish.

If however you want a low-cost way to protect your bed, the Herculiner urethane liner is a great way to fix-up a scratched and worn bed.

Rug Liners

Rug LinersIf you carry watercraft or other valuable equipment in your truck that you do not want to get scratched, a rug-style liner will work best.

This type of liner offers protection for your bed, as well as offering a soft cushion for your cargo. This type of liner looks and feels like soft carpet but is actually made from plastic. It has a foam backing and is waterproof and can be easily installed.

Bed Rug

The Bed Rug liner is one of the most popular for truck owners wanting a soft, foam liner in their bed. It helps protect cargo and gives a great appearance as well.

This is the only rug-style liner that we are aware of and it is very popular with many truck enthusiasts.

The Bed Rug is soft, easy to install and won’t scratch your bed or your cargo. It is manufactured from a polypropylene fiber/foam and is cut to fit snug onto the contours of your truck’s bed.

The Bed Rug can also be cleaned with a hose and is a very popular choice for enthusiasts who carry water craft or motorcycles in their truck’s bed.

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