How to Paint Your Truck Bed Liner At Home

Let’s start with the important advice: Your truck needs a bed liner. If your truck does not have its bed fully protected it will eventually lead to damage ranging from dents to rust, and both the usefulness and lifespan of your vehicle can be greatly impacted. (LINK)Pre-molded “drop-in” bed liners(/LINK) are an effective option in certain cases but painting your own bed liner can be done cheaply and easily from home. We’ll walk you through it with our easy guide.

Purchasing Raptor Liner

You’ll need to get a kit, when you can find more details about in our raptor liner buyers guide. If you haven’t read up yet, please take a look so you know what materials you’ll need.

Preparing to Paint Your Truck Bed

Assuming you’ve read up on (LINK)the pros & cons of various bed liner paint(/LINK) and have chosen the kit that’s right for you it’s time to get everything in the back of your truck scrubbed down and clean – And I do mean clean. Spotlessly clean. White-glove clean. “I could eat a plate of spaghetti off of this” clean. Cleaner than your truck bed has probably ever been in its life, including when it rolled fresh and new off the factory floor. Making sure you’ve gotten everything scrubbed can take a lot of effort but no fear – We’ve broken it down into this list of easy-to-follow steps:

* Step #1: First, make sure to follow appropriate safety guidelines. Safety goggles are a must through-out the entire process – First to protect against metal shards and secondly to protect against loose splatters of paint. When it comes to the painting process itself you’ll want to have a ventilation mask handy as well. (LINK)Using polyurethane-based truck liner paints can be hazardous(/LINK) so make sure to take the proper precautions.

* Step #2: If your truck is older and has any rusty sections make sure to scrub them thoroughly with a wire brush, getting down to the bare metal. Once these spots have been cleaned remove the rusty dust with either a leaf blower or a vacuum and then prime these bare spots with a spray-based zinc primer. Allow these to fully dry before proceeding.

* Step #3: If possible, remove your truck’s tailgate prior to proceeding – This will help make the cleaning and painting process for the rest of the bed much easier. If you want to paint the interior of your tailgate just follow the rest of these steps on the surface you want to paint before reattaching it to the truck.

* Step #4: Degrease your truck bed thoroughly with a trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner, making sure to leave behind no oil, grease or other stains; use a scraper if you have to to get rid of stubborn, stuck-on stains. While cleaning try to wipe in one direction, from the front of your truck bed to the open end, to help protect against pooling.

* Step #5: Once it’s been degreased wash your truck bed thoroughly. Do not apply any sort of wax or after product; the bed should be down to bare paint. If you’ve applied wax in the recent past (LINK)see our guide on how to remove car wax(/LINK) to make sure you’ve gotten everything stripped away. After washing make sure to let it completely dry before proceeding.

* Step #6: Using masking tape go around the edges of the bed and block the areas where you want the bed liner to stop. Take the extra time to make sure your tape is straight and exactly where you want it – Little details like these make the finished job look much cleaner and more professional.

* Step #7: Using either the scuffing pad supplied with your kit or some 150 grit sandpaper go over the entire interior of the truck bed, scuffing up the surface as much as you can. Be thorough in this – If the surface isn’t completely scuffed the liner will eventually peel away. If you don’t want to spend that much time scrubbing by hand an orbital sander is well-suited for this task, though you’ll still need to take care of corners and divots manually.

* Step #8: Lastly, we’ll need to give the bed a final wipe with acetone to clean away any remaining debris. Use shop towels for this, applying the acetone to a small area and letting it sit for a few moments before wiping away. As with the degreaser you should move in one direction for the wiping process, starting at the front of the truck bed and moving to the open end. Keep your towels clean and never use a side more than once; after you’ve finished let the bed dry for ten minutes before moving on.

Applying Roll-On Bed Liner

We recommend moving directly from your acetone wipe to the paint job to ensure a spotless painting surface; if for some reason you absolutely must wait any significant length of time between the two go back over your truck bed with a leaf blower before proceeding to remove any dust or dirt that might have settled in the meantime.

* Step #1: First, your supplies – You already have the bed liner painting kit (hopefully!), and you’ll also want to have a 1″ paint brush to go with it. Shop towels, rags, and a bucket of clean water are good ideas, as is some xylene for cleaning up spills. You’ll also want to wear some clothes and shoes you aren’t afraid to throw away after you’re done, and your safety goggles/ventilator mask as well. (LINK)Paint-on truck liner can be hazardous stuff(/LINK) so make sure to keep yourself, and your good clothes, safe. We also recommend doing this project outside; even with a mask it’s worth waiting for a nice, calm, sunny day to avoid dealing with a build up of nasty fumes, as polyurethane can be irritating to the skin.

* Step #2: Next you’ll need to mix your paint, using a paint mixer to thoroughly combine; if you bought a two-stage mix you’ll likely want a new container to pour them both into before stirring them up. If your paint needs to be thinned a bit you can add some of your xylene to the bucket as well, but don’t go beyond a 10% mixture.

* Step #3: Once the paint has been mixed you’re ready to begin. Start in the corners and dab along the seams/joints of the truck bed, applying here with your paint brush. Try to treat your brush more like a sponge, and avoid using a stroking motion; this will help make sure the liner has a uniform texture once dried.

* Step #4: After you’ve coated the corner bits take your paint roller and begin applying the paint along the large panels, starting at the top of the sides and working your way down to the bottom of the bed. Take any areas that may look “clumped” and smooth them out a bit with your brush, using the same dabbing motion as before. When you are done with the first coat go back and quickly add a second thin coating along the edges of your masking tape, as this will help prevent tearing when you remove them.

* Step #5: Now that you’re done with coat number one it’s time to let it dry, but not too much – Your specific paint kit should have directions on how long to wait between coats (anywhere from 1 to 6 hours) and it is important not to go past that time frame. If you wait too long before applying the second coat it may not properly bond to the previous layer of paint, and I likely don’t have to tell you why that’s not a good thing. Just make sure the first coat no longer feels “tacky” to the touch and you’re ready to proceed.

* Step #6: Your second coat should go much like the first, starting at the edges and then working from the top down to the bed. Once completed wait for roughly thirty minutes before gently removing the masking tape; doing this while the paint is still tacky and wet will help the lines look more natural.

And that is it! You are now done lining the bed of your truck. This will need to set up and cure for quite some time before being ready to use – A minimum of 24 hours is recommended for light use and preferably a minimum of 72 hours before you start throwing in any heavy loads; expect these times to be longer if you live in a particular cold or humid climate.

It may not be the quickest process in the world but with just a little know-how, some basic supplies, and a helping of elbow grease, we hope we’ve shown you how to protect your truck bed and save a little extra cash at the same time. Still not sure if this is the right solution for you? Make sure to check out our article on the advantages & disadvantages of bed liner paint jobs to see if a painted bed liner makes sense for your needs.

James Kennedy