How to Create a Lasting Truck Bed Liner

This article is only a very basic step by step, the procedure should be fairly obvious to those with the most basic mechanical aptitude. The focus instead is on some more specific ideas and advice from my own personal experience.

Roll on Bed Liners: Preparation and Overview

Before you can begin refurbishing a truck bed you must take some time and be thorough with the steps necessary to ensure a good bond between your preferred brand of bed liner (Author used “Herculiner” brand). Depending on the size of your truck bed overall preparation can take anywhere between 10-18 hours of labor.

NOTE: all text in parentheses are the specific tools and brands used by the author, they are to be used as examples for readers to compare quality and assess similarities according to their resources.

Tools and items needed

– Grinder (Dewault 4-1/2″ Small Angle Grinder with multiple types of wire brush heads)

– Standard Drill: Electric, Cordless, or Air (Used Electric Drill for consistent performance, will also require multiple types of wire brush bits to reach corners and complex angles)

– Wire brush

– Metal Paint Scraper

– Ratchet set and Wrench set with standard and metric sizes and basic hand tools (for tailgate removal which is optional but advised)

– Roof and Gutter Caulk

– Paint Mixing tools

– Standard broom or mop handle with threaded end for supplied Herculiner roller

– Depending on Bed Size you will need anywhere from 1 to 2 Gallons of Bed Liner (I used 2 gallons of “Herculiner” brand roll on Bed Liner on a standard 8 foot bed: Purchasing the “Herculiner” kit will simplify the requirement for tools for the painting process)

Roll on Bed Liners: Preparation and Overview

Before you can begin refurbishing a truck bed you must take some time and be thorough with the steps necessary to ensure a good bond between your preferred brand of bed liner (Author used “Herculiner” brand). Depending on the size of your truck bed overall preparation can take anywhere between 10-18 hours of labor.

NOTE: all text in parentheses are the specific tools and brands used by the author, they are to be used as examples for readers to compare quality and assess similarities according to their resources.

Tools and items needed

– Grinder (Dewault 4-1/2″ Small Angle Grinder with multiple types of wire brush heads)

– Standard Drill: Electric, Cordless, or Air (Used Electric Drill for consistent performance, will also require multiple types of wire brush bits to reach corners and complex angles)

– Wire brush

– Metal Paint Scraper

– Ratchet set and Wrench set with standard and metric sizes and basic hand tools (for tailgate removal which is optional but advised)

– Roof and Gutter Caulk

– Paint Mixing tools

– Standard broom or mop handle with threaded end for supplied Herculiner roller

– Depending on Bed Size you will need anywhere from 1 to 2 Gallons of Bed Liner (I used 2 gallons of “Herculiner” brand roll on Bed Liner on a standard 8 footbed: Purchasing the “Herculiner” kit will simplify the requirement for tools for the painting process)

Nooks and Crannys: Caulking your Truck

After you’ve removed the paint you may notice where different panels meet there are strips of caulk. You will have to assess for yourself whether this too will need to be removed before continuing to the next process in paint stripping. Look for any missing sections of caulk or visible cracks, as an extra measure you may want to lightly tap every few inches to ensure quality.

In my case, the majority was either missing, cracked, or otherwise unsuitable. Most came free with a simple paint scraper and flat head screwdriver, for more stubborn sections I suggest the use of a hammer and flat head screwdriver. Avoid using any tools that are too sharp or too much force, punching a hole in your steel won’t do you any favors.

Simply ensure the cleanliness of the sections you wish to caulk and create a smooth bead by doing a section no longer than a couple of feet at a time. Once you’ve laid down a bead you’ll need to use the single most valuable tool a DIY guy can possess- your finger. Simply use your finger to smooth the bead and also press it deeply into the seams of your truck bed. This will save you the future aggravation of your caulk being chipped by time and use and it ultimately just looks better. This should be your stopping point for Day 1 to allow Caulk to set up and cure.

Day 2: The Application

After allowing the caulk to cure overnight ensure it has completely hardened. Take any extra steps you deem necessary to clean surfaces to be painted, I cannot stress enough that cleanliness is the most important step in ensuring your liner will achieve the best and longest-lasting bond possible.

Application strategy:

The method differs according to who you ask but the way that has the most success for me is getting maximum coverage in a few coats, allowing drying time between, and detailing after the main coverage coats have dried. This is where the Herculiner Roller with the attached broom handle will come in handy to avoid being hunched over the entire time.

Don’t worry about spots or corners yet, the goal at this point is quantity over quality. Make sure you tape off any portions you don’t want bed liner on but DO NOT paint over the tape just yet. Again your focus with the first few coats is broad coverage on the larger surface areas.

In this specific project, I decided to apply Herculiner well around both the visible and nonvisible portions of the truck bed for maximum protection. It meant more detail work but that’s easily managed by leaving the details for the second to last step. If you try to complete it all in one go your likely to wind up frustrated and with more rubber on you than your truck bed.

After you’re satisfied with the coverage of your large surface areas (some small spots may still show) you may begin using small amounts of Herculiner to cover corners and edges. work from the furthest to the shortest distance according to what you can reach from the outside of the truck bed.

Once the main coats and inner details look uniform you may finally turn to your taped sections. The reason you do not want to simply paint, dry, and peel (as with normal paint) is once Herculiner sets up tearing off a clean line with applied painters tape will prove almost impossible. instead roll on an even thick coat and wait a maximum of a few minutes then remove the tape while the Herculiner is still somewhat wet.

You should have a little more than a quart left at this point which you can use to cover any remaining spots and apply additional layers to corners and edges. This will be your stopping point for Day 2 while you allow Herculiner to bond and completely dry.

Day 3: Final Products

The procedure from this point is the reassembly of any parts removed in the preparation. This is also the only part where the second pair of hands might be necessary to reattach your tailgate without risk of damaging the metal or your new liner.

As I mentioned earlier I chose to extend my bed liner coverage to a few inches beyond the top and edges of my truck bed, its a good look as a stand-alone but I also had diamond plate trim and decided it would not only protect the edges from impact/weather but also avoided metal on metal contact.

Ensure moving parts and attachments are secure and operate properly.

Stand back and admire your work.

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