The Pros and Cons of Bed Liner Paint Jobs

There are a multitude of ways to line the bed of your truck, from the classic option of wood slats (don’t do this) to fancy spray-on liners. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right truck bed solution for your needs can be tricky. Don’t worry though – We’ve got you covered with our basic primer. Let’s get into it.

 Types of Bed Liners & Bed Liner Paint

Bed liners typically come in one of four styles: Either a hard, pre-molded shell, a custom-fitted polyester fiber “rug”, a disposable rubber mat, or as a form of paint. The hard molded covers are often thick and durable, excellent at shock absorption, but can be expensive for well-made options, with cheaper versions often failing at strength and traction. Additionally they must be properly installed, otherwise water can become trapped underneath the surface leading to a rusted-out bed underneath the plastic.

Rubber mats have many of the same properties as the molded liners but without the durability, and trapped water can be a much more prominent issue; they are usually useful purely for their low cost and disposability. Polyester fiber & polypropylene bed rugs are molded directly onto the bed and rarely have problems with water but they lack in durability and often can’t stand up to heavy, rough loads.

A painted truck bed liner can be done easily at home or by using a professional service. Professional spray paint jobs tend to be thicker and of higher quality than low-end home paint jobs but get expensive quickly.

Painting your truck’s bed with liner at home is a great option price-wise but does take time, patience and a well-ventilated area. When looking for a paint-on bed liner for use at home there are a multitude of products available – The paint itself will usually be either water-based or contain some fashion of solvent, and may come in either a one-stage or two-stage (IE: mix-it-yourself) variety. All contain some fashion of gritty material for skid resistance but may also include rubberized bits for additional resistance to impacts.

Water-based & single-stage solvent paints are cheaper but two-stage liner is more durable, typically sets thicker, and comes with higher quality grit/rubber bits for traction. We recommend viewing this as a good place to spend a little extra cash on a higher-end product, as the results will be noticeable and potentially save you from having to reapply the liner in the future.

Most kits will come with the needed paint and also a roller for application. You can use your own paint rollers if you desire but the included rollers are typically designed for this task and can make the process of painting go more smoothly. Some also come with a scouring pad for scuffing up the bed, which can save you a few extra dollars on sandpaper as a small bonus.

Raptor Liner Kits

If you’re doing this at home, we highly recommend checkout out one of our raptor liner kits which we’ve reviewed in our detailed guide. Check it out if you want to know which one to buy.

Paint-On Bed Liner Pros

The best advantage of a painted bed liner is that it is completely flush with the bed of your truck – No gaps for moisture to leak in, no chance of it cracking or shattering underneath a tough blow. (LINK)Assuming the liner has been applied properly(/LINK) it should last a lifetime, or at least the lifetime of the vehicle.

Paint-on bed liners are often less slippery and have better traction than molded liners, even some high-end models. Plastics can wear down and have their gripping surfaces eroded over time, which is less likely with a grit-and-rubber infused paint applied directly to the truck’s surface. And, due to it being paint, you can choose to attach it to areas where pre-molded plastics wouldn’t go, such as a fender or the vehicle’s bumper.

Cost-wise doing your own paint job at home is one of the cheapest options available and with one of the better results; buying a home kit is often magnitudes cheaper than having the work done professionally, and easily beats out options such as pre-molded liners. If you’re looking to protect your truck and save cash at the same time, this method is hard to top.

Paint-On Bed Liner Cons

The first and most important con: This is 100% permanent. If you are in any doubt about painting your truck bed with a liner the time to stop is before you begin that paint job – Painted bed liners cannot be removed, and even if they are somehow stripped away your vehicle’s original paint will no longer be present, plus any corrosion warranties your truck might have are completely invalidated.

While painting your truck’s bed at home isn’t an expert-level task (LINK)it does require considerable preparation and cleaning to get the job done properly(/LINK); expect to take a full day to complete the process, and that’s not including the final drying time. And if you don’t think you have the time to devote to doing it properly? Again, this is the time to stop – Doing a halfway job on your truck’s bed liner will lead to it flaking off and falling apart at absolute best. If undertaking this task on your own make sure you have the time to do it right.

While bed liner paint is a cheaper option and can help with some shock absorption it will not protect against dents and dings from heavy cargo; if you’re tossing cinder blocks in the back of your truck day in and day out a plastic molded liner might be a better option for you. There are also some safety concerns with applying painted bed liners you might want to be aware about before making your decision.

The Wrap Up

Long story short there are advantages and disadvantages to any type of truck liner you choose, and the best one for you will depend heavily on how you use your truck on a day-to-day basis. We hope our guide to the various pros and cons has helped you decide what sort of bed liner or bed liner paint is right for you!

James Kennedy