So you just bought a new truck, and now you’re thinking of covering its bed with a bed liner to keep it protected from weather elements and everyday abuse.
In the market, the two most common types of bed liners you’ll find include spray-in and drop-in bed liners.
Truck owners have always urged over which of the two options does a better job at protecting your truck. The varying opinions from experienced users make it quite hard, especially for starters, to choose between the two liners.
We have done our research on each of the two liners, and we’ll share with you our full findings below to help you make a more informed decision.
What makes the best be liner?
FIRST things first…before we can delve into more details on the two liners above, let’s first understand what makes the perfect bed liner for your truck.
The KEY factors that will affect your choice of bedliner include:
- Type of goods you ferry: Knowing the kinds of goods you haul with your truck will help you choose the right liner for you. Drop liners usually feature a smooth surface and are easy to slide items on. If you carry harsh chemicals, e.g., pool cleaning supplies, paints, thinners, etc., then you should go for a spray-on liner. This is because the liner is sprayed permanently on your truck bed, eliminating the possibility of the chemicals spilling and getting between the liner and your truck and causing damages.
- Weather protection: If you usually ride in snowy, rainy, or generals wet weather, a spray-on will be an excellent choice as it forms a tight water seal to prevent elements from getting to your truck bed.
- Removability: If you don’t plan to remove the liner on your bed truck anytime soon, then you’d consider going for a spray-on option as it’s permanent liner. The drop-in, on the other hand, isn’t permanent, but it’ll require a lot of work and time to remove.
- The current condition of your truck bed: If your truck bed is already covered with dents, dings, scratches, etc., then you’d want to get a liner that helps conceals them. A spray-on liner conforms to your truck bed contours, so it will only be ideal for hiding minor dents. A drop-in liner, on the other hand, can help conceal all the flaws of your truck bed.
- Cost: Different bed liners also come with varying prices. And how much you’re willing to spend on a liner will affect the type you end up with. The spray-on liners are more expensive than drop-in models and generally all the bedliners, and require professional installation.
With this info in mind, now we can look at the details of the two top bed liners to help you understand how they compare and contrast…
Drop-in bed liner
This is simply a plastic/rubber liner that’s molded to securely fit in the bed of your truck and then fastened to the bed using bolts. Unlike the spray-in liners, this liner isn’t permanent and lets you remove it if the need arises, say when it gets damaged.
The liner is also incredibly easy to install and doesn’t require any professional installation. Once you put it in place, the flexible material offers protection against any denting attempts on your truck bed.
However, keep in mind that these liners could become loose if installed incorrectly. This can cause them to scratch your truck body paint. Dirt, water, debris, etc. might also find their way between the liner and your truck bed and cause damage. The drilled holes can make your truck vulnerable to weather elements.
The COST of drop-in bed liner depends on the materials used. If you go for a rubber bed liner, it’ll cost you approx. $50 to $200. A plastic liner will cost you approx. $140 to $400.
- Incredibly affordable bed liners
- Easy, fast DIY installation
- No prep work required during installation
- Removable and transferable from, truck to truck
- Thick plastic liner keeps off dents, dings, etc. during loading/offloading
- Conceals all your past truck bed dents and damages
- Most drop-liners have a solid surface, causing your goods to side around
- Poor installation can make the liner lose, causing it to move around and scratch your truck paint
- They can easily trap water between your truck bed and the liner, increasing chances of rust and corrosion forming
- Plastic liners might become loose with time due to vibration
Who is the Drop-in Bedliner for?
With the key strengths and weaknesses of the drop-in bedliner in mind, do you think this liner is for you?
We believe the drop-in bedliner is for:
- Truck owners on a tight budget. As we have just said, these liners come at a lower price than the spray-ons, making them an alternative for folks on a tight budget.
- Truck owners who want maximum dent protection
- If your truck came with a drop-in liner which works just fine, you’d want to stick to it
- If you wish to add an extra layer to your truck bed for the ultimate protection
- You want a skid-proof truck bed surface. The rubber drop-in liners offer excellent skid-resistance.
Spray-in bed liner
This is a type of liner that comes as a liquid and gets sprayed or rolled onto your truck bed. On drying, the liner forms a solid, permanent cover on your truck bed contours—offering weather and watertight seal that keeps off elements.
Although these liners might not be as thick as the drop-in liners, they offer impact absorption, which helps save your bed from minor dents.
For the best results, professional installation is required for these bedliners.
As you might have noticed, the popularity of this bedliner has risen to high levels in recent years. This is mainly due to the durability and high level of protection a high-quality spray-on liners offers you.
Don’t forget that these liners come in a variety of colors to help you customize your truck. And cleaning them is pretty easy.
The COST of a spray-on bed liner can carry depending on the manufacturer you get your liner from. But the cost generally ranges from $300 to $900.
- Forms an extremely durable, rustproof coating on your truck bed
- Permanently adheres to your truck bed, leaving no gaps for water or dirt to collect underneath and cause damages
- A quality liner delivers an aesthetically pleasing finish
- Textured spray-on liners offer skid-proof surfaces
- Helps reduce the road noise for a quieter riding experience
- Top brands offer you an international warranty, which means free or cheap repairs
- Can increase the resale value of your pickup truck
- Can conceal minor dents/damagesYou can spray on the bedrails and tailgate too, unlike the drop-in liners
- The liner is permanent; removing it might not be easy
- Spray-in liners are more expensive than the drop-in liners
- Spray-in liners aren’t DIY; you need to hire a professional installer for the job. This means you’ll need to spend more
Who is the spray-in bed liner for?
- If you use your truck for heavy-duty work, e.g., hauling gravel, sand, rocks, firewood, etc., then you’ll need the toughness of the spray-on liner to keep the bed protected
- If you want maximum protection against corrosion and rust, then a spray-on liner is the way to go. The liner forms a permanent bond with your truck bed surface, creating a weather-tight seal
- If you want to a finished look for your truck bed, go for the spray-on liner
- You’ve got money to spend? Go for a premium spray-on liner like the Line-X
- Go for this liner if you want maximum protection of your truck bed against scratches, dents, dings, etc.
Now that we have fed you with everything you need to know about the two popular types of bed liners, the rest is up to you. Digest this info, closely comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the two liners to help you make a wise decision.
If you want a permanent, reliable liner, then the spray-in bed liner is the way to go. If you want something you can easily remove at any time, then go the drop-in liner way.
If your truck carries heavy-duty equipment, materials, and harsh chemicals, then you’d want to use the spray-on liner as it can withstand heavy-duty use for years.
And if budget is an issue, the drop-in liner will cost you way less than the spray-in liners. However, keep in mind that the low price point might mean less quality and a shorter lifespan.
Have you already decided on the right liner to buy for your truck?