Your truck bed is exposed to all sorts of troubles. One the one hand, you have natural elements, such as rain, sun (UV light), oxidation, corrosion, extreme temperatures, and so forth. On the other hand, you are probably putting your truck bed under a lot of pressure, always loading something in and out of the truck.
Having this in mind, you can probably see the importance of proper maintenance and adequate protection. In this article, we will talk about the best roll on bed liner: what is the purpose of bed liner, how should you use it, what factors you have to consider before you buy one, and so forth.
We already touched on bed liners in our What Is The Best Bedliner Kit article. However, there we emphasized the advantages and usability of spray guns (and bed liner). If you are more interested in spray guns, you should probably switch to that article.
Here, we emphasize rollers and brushes, and the liners that come with them. We will examine 4 products, describing (in detail) their strengths and weaknesses. Also, we will provide you with buyer’s guide, where we will discuss the factors you have to consider, some issues regarding specific products, and so forth.
Best Roll-On Truck Bed Liners
|Rust-Oleum||Alkid Oil-based||Black, Low VOC Black||1 Quart, 124 oz|
|Dupli-Color||Water-Based Polyurethane||Black Satin||Gallon Kit, Quart|
|U-POL Raptor||Urethane||Black||2 L|
|Herculine||Polyurethane||Black, Gray||1 Gal|
Those of you who know a thing or two about paint manufactures know that Rust-Oleum is a very respectable company. This bed liner paint comes in 1 qt /1 gal capacity and is intended for covering and protecting truckbed surface.
The liner is very elegant and delivers near the professional finish. Though you can apply it with a spray gun, we recommend using with the Rust-Oleum Truck Bed Applicator Kit. The kit contains roller frame, roller cover, brush, roller pan, and a scuff pad for surface preparation.
Excellent Adhesion and Coverage
It is highly protective, made in the US. This liner prevents rust, endures extreme weather, and is resistant to stretching (to some extent). But it’s not just about durability for the Rust-Oleum; the finish is excellent too. It delivers texture finish, which enhances the overall appearance of the truck, giving it a touch of novelty and freshness. The liner drys quite rapidly and covers the surface evenly. Now, the manufacturer claims that the Rust-Oleum Automotive Truck Bed Coating covers the surface without primer.
While you can skip primer application, we still suggest you do a thorough surface preparation and apply the primer for better surface protection and adhesiveness. This particular liner is very smooth, easy to apply. We suggest you do several coating to get that bed liner textured look. Read the instructions to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
It has its downsides. For starters, it is expensive (if compared to other’s on the list). But the price isn’t that problematic; it’s the smell. We suggest you apply it outside, and in a well-ventilated space.
Also, make sure you protect yourself adequately (you can find more info in our other article). The scent will be potent during the curing process, but it should relax as the time goes by. There are some misconceptions regarding this product, and we suggest you read this forum discussion to learn more about propper Rust-Oleum application.
How to Apply
As the name suggests, the Dupli-Color (manufacturer of this DIY roller bedliner) offers you kevlar kit, more specifically, the Dupont Kevlar. The product is quite durable and reusable, but you’ll probably spend it all at once anyway. Still, it is good to know that the product can withstand some shelf life.
It is a water-based paint, so you won’t get the same durability as you would with other, more denser mixtures. That is why we suggest that you apply this paint on your truck bed only if it isn’t exposed to a heavy workload. You’ll find a lot of negative reviews regarding peeling, and most of it comes down to application conditions.
Please, read the instructions very carefully; everything counts, from surface preparation to proper mixture and optimal weather conditions during application. Armor DIY Truck Bed Liner is almost entirely odorless (thanks to the water-based formula), and cleans up rather quickly.
The finish it delivers is impressive: it is not on a professional level but comes very close to it. You will have to apply several coats of this paint due to its thin formula (make sure you give the surface enough time between the coating). The kit includes a lot of things: brush, roller tray, roller, stir stick, and so forth.
You receive 1 gallon of paint for a reasonable price. Downside? Durability and application. As we said, this liner is tough to apply, and you need to meet a lot of conditions before you apply it. Because of this, we can’t recommend it to inexperienced painters, only to those who already worked with similar liners. In any case, make sure you read the instructions with attention and care.
If everything goes right, you will end up with solid, rubberized finish, which will extend the bed’s life. Even though we criticize the product’s durability, it doesn’t mean that it won’t protect your truck from natural elements, chemicals, rust, and so forth.
How to Apply
3. U-POL Raptor
Raptor is another respectable paint manufacturer, known for producing compelling and user-friendly material. Their kit contains two bottles of bed liner (2 x 750ml), two hardeners (2 x 250ml), two rollers and one roller handle, two paint trays, two abrasive pads, anti-slip additive, and four disposable gloves. I guess it is fair to say that Raptor offers the most generous kit on our list.
But what is the paint like? For starters, it is very protective, resistant to rust, UV light. It also deals well with impacts and stretching, meaning that you can apply this paint on a busy bed truck. It will protect the surface of your vehicle from virtually any element, such as salt, rain, oil, or any other chemical.
Impact, Scratch and UV Resistant
Raptor is also highly versatile: you can apply it on various materials, including wood, metal, concrete. The formula does contain urethane, which makes it both durable and water resistant. The paint also contains water resisting additives, which means that you can apply this paint on boats, RV roofs, floors, and so forth.
Naturally, your truck bed will benefit from it too, since the cargo won’t slide across the surface during rain. More importantly, you won’t slip as you load or unload the cargo during those delightful rainy days! The kit contains pretty much everything you need to paint the surface, though you still need a thing or two for surface preparation.
Instructions also contain data on how you should mix the paint and hardener depending on the type of finish you want. Surprisingly, the only issue we have with this kit is aimed towards the rollers, not towards the paint. As we said, the paint is fantastic, durable, easy to apply, and with an excellent finish.
However, the rollers you receive aren’t that great (let’s put it that way). Rollers break and disintegrated very quickly; make sure you have spare rollers if you tend to use this product. It is a shame that the Raptor didn’t include better rollers because the paint they sell is quite amazing.
How to Apply
4. Herculiner – The Best Kit On The List (Editor’s Choice)
We already discussed the Herculiner kit in one of our articles, but it was a brush-on kit amongst the spray gun kit, which wasn’t a fair fight. However, if you compare the Herculiner Brush-on Bed Liner Kit with other brush on and roll on products on our list, it tops every single one of them. Why?
For starters, it is effortless to apply. The liner is ready for application, meaning that you don’t have to make your mixtures. If you are a complete beginner, go for this kit (or Rust-Oleum Automotive Truck Bed Coating ). Apart from black paint, you will receive a brush and two rollers.
The kit you receive is quality made and durable (regarding brush and rollers). It is also worth mentioning that the Herculiner is purchasable in different quantities, depending on your needs. You can apply this liner to most materials, such as wood, metal, concrete, and so forth.
5 Times Thicker than Other Roll-Ons
The mixture is very thick, and you will need only one layer application. Even after one layer, the paint won’t peel, bubble or chip. It will protect the surface from chemicals, salt, solvent, oil, stains, rust; you name it. All this is possible thanks to the paint’s adhesiveness.
It penetrates deep into the cracks and pores of the material, sealing and bonding the surface. But durability isn’t the only positive outcome of proper adhesion. If you prepare the surface properly, and if you know how to manage a brush (you don’t have to be a pro), you will get a beautiful, glossy finish.
The polyurethane/rubber mixture delivers quite a texture and enhances the overall appearance of your truck. And since the paint is very thick, you only need to apply one coat to protect the surface. Downside? The brush. Rollers are great for the job, but the brush isn’t.
It’s not that the brush won’t get the job done, but if you are looking for the best possible finish, we suggest you buy a second brush, just in case you don’t like the one that comes in the kit. But when it comes to the paint, we have no complaint (read this forum discussion to see why we opted for Herculiner).
How to Apply
In this section, we will advise you on the products we presented, and explain why are these particular products on our list. More importantly, we will number several factors according to which you should base your choice. Let’s get to business, shall we?
Defending Our Picks
There is an excellent and concise Monstaliner DIY article regarding the topic of best bed liners (you can read it here). Now, this article doesn’t agree with our picks, claiming that the Herculiner is the most popular DIY bed liner merely because it was the first DIY bed liner on the market.
It also mentions some of the manufacturers we reviewed Raptor (U-POL) and Rust-Oleum, but not the products we discussed. Why are we saying all this? Well, we feel that we should defend our choice. The critique mostly revolves around poor UV protection. While it is true that the Herculiner doesn’t feature fantastic UV protection, that doesn’t mean that the sunlight will destroy it in less than a year.
And btw, can you guess Monstaliner’s alternative to Herculiner, Raptor, Rust-Oleum? Monstaliner, of course; very non-biased. So, you have a “non-biased” reviewer bashing respectable and notable paint manufacturers who sold thousands of products and have thousands of positive reviews (not all of them are positive, of course), and at the same time having the nerves to promote their product.
Now we are not saying that the products on our list are perfect; each has its strengths and weaknesses. But you don’t see us promoting our brand and our products as an alternative to “those bad products.” The reason why we are mentioning this is that we feel that the products on our list are good and that we have a duty to defend our choices from such “non-biased” claims. Oh, and you can check this forum discussion to see what non-biased reviews look like!
Is DIY Painting Efficient?
Well, depends on how you look at it. Is it the same as professional? No. Can you mimic the professional effect? Yes, with effort, adequate tools, and proper surface preparation. There is an interesting forum discussion (F150 Online, you can read it here) concerning the topic of professional vs. DIY bedliner.
Here, you can find forum members recommending Rust-Oleum Automotive Truck Bed Coating. Some of the members are also discussing the benefits of Kevlar in bed liner formula (one product on our list does contain Kevlar, the Dupli-Color Bed Armor DIY Truck Bed Liner with Kevlar Kit). There is even an image showing the effects of UV lights on the Kevlar.
Evidently, the Kevlar doesn’t deal well with UV light, which is both true and false. But, a most so-called professional will brag about Kevlar, and you’ll end up paying hundreds of dollars for a paint job you could do on your own. It won’t be as good as a professional paint job, but it’s not rocket science. DIY painting is very efficient and very cost-effective if you prepare the surface and if you buy the right paint; don’t fall for the advertising tricks that boost the price without concrete evidence.
Applying Brush-On Paint
Let’s assume you found your ideal bed liner: how should you apply it? For starters, you need to prepare the surface. Now, since we don’t want to rewrite and repeat our content, you can find in detail instruction regarding surface preparation in our other article regarding bed liners.
Here, we want to focus on brushing and rolling. Follow these steps only if you found the right liner, and if you prepared the surface. Naturally, you can still read this, but don’t put these methods to practice if you didn’t achieve the mentioned tasks.
As we reviewed our products, we suggested (for some) you only apply one coat. But, if you seek durability more than anything else, it is not a bad idea to apply two coats. The reason why we suggested one is because the paint is dense, and because you will have to buy a lot more than you might want to.
Make sure that, if you do want to apply two coats, that you apply them on the same day (read this article to learn more about it). In short, when you seek durability always aim for optimal conditions: wait for the first layer to dry, but don’t let it over dry.
Furthermore, you should arm yourself with patience. Covering bed truck can be frustrating, but you need to keep your composer, cover your tracks, watch for those hard to get spots (corners or seams).
Rolling And Brushing
Roll and brush method is an old school way of painting, and if you aren’t up to the task, perhaps you should go with the spray gun method. But let’s assume that you are up for the task and that the surface is ready. Where and how do you start?
As one Herculiner article suggests, follow the instructions and make sure you have everything ready (tools, the right mixture, etc.) You will first start coating the corners, using a brush. Rollers aren’t fit for the job since they are too massive and can’t reach the corners and nooks.
Once you are done with the corners, use the brush and start covering the floor and the sides of the truck bed. Most manufacturers include rollers capable of dealing with liner paint. But, if you read our reviews, not every roller is quality made. Make sure that, if you do decide to do this task, you purchase the right rollers the ones that can work with heavy paint jobs (we suggest you look for quality, foam rollers).
Try and enjoy the paint job, work methodically and efficiently. And though we mentioned this in our previous article, make sure you work in well-ventilated space. Once you covered everything, wait for it to dry off. In case of Herculiner, you should wait 1 hour before you apply the second coat (drying lasts 12 hours, curing 24 hours).
What Liner Should I Buy?
Since we already discussed this notion in the first article, we will only pinpoint the most important things. Here they are:
- Durability – naturally, you should aim for the most durable product, the one that won’t peel off after a year of use
- Adhesion – adhesion works hand in hand with durability: more adhesion, less peeling, bubbling, etc
- Density – the denser the paint, the less coating you have to apply. Moreover, thicker paint often protects the surface in a more efficient way
- Quantity – try to estimate just how much paint do you truly need
- Color & Finish – what kind of finish do you want to achieve? What color? Note that some manufacturers don’t offer various colors
- Tools – consider the quality of tools you receive (rollers, brushes, etc)
Did we cover everything from A to Z? Far from it. But that’s not a bad thing: if you are a beginner, you are probably already overwhelmed by the vast amount of new information. It can be discouraging, but most of it comes down to adequate surface preparation and patience.
When it comes to rollers and brushes, patience is the key. Work thoroughly, starting from the angles towards the tailgate. If you want to apply an additional coat (which you should, especially if you have leftover paint), wait for it to dry and apply the second one.
Once you paint your bed truck, I’m sure you will be delighted with the results. Plus, you’ll save hundreds of dollars doing so (perhaps even thousands). And don’t worry about ruining your vehicle: if you can drive and steer that beast, you can probably handle a little brush and roll on kit!