Ford F-150/F-250: Bed Liner Modifications

There are many options for bed liners, but which one is the best? Years ago drop-in bed liners were the norm, but now there are new options like spray-on and roll-on bed liners that offer distinct advantages over the traditional liner. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of all three types.

By Marc Carter - November 11, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and F-250 Super Duty (2005-2014).

Once you shell out thousands of dollars to get the keys to your new truck there is one item that is essential to keep your truck looking new longer, a bedliner. You can think of a bed liner in the same way that you think of a case for your cell phone, without a bed liner your truck's bed is prone to damage from anything you throw at it.

Figure 1. Before and after.

When you make the decision of covering your truck's bed, you will be faced with three great options. Even though the drop-in bedliner used to be the most popular options, times have changed, and we started realizing what is the most beneficial for everybody's needs. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of all three types:

Drop-in Liner

Figure 2. Drop-in bed liner.

Cost: $200 - $800

Pros: Large Items can slide across the surface, easy to install and replace.

Cons: Allows water and dirt to get in between it and the truck's bed causing rust and corrosion. Tends to fade over time.

A drop-in liner is constructed of hard plastic and is literally dropped in the bed as a layer over it to protect the it. A drop-in liner is traditionally a cheap option with prices ranging from $200 to $800 and allows for heavy large items to slide across the surface without your truck's bed receiving any permanent damage. It's also easy to clean and is easy to replace. It's less permanent than a spray-on or roll-on bedliner, so it's ideal if you only plan on keeping the truck for a few years.

Even though a drop-in liner has been around for years and it's relatively cheap, it's not seen as the best choice since water can become easily trapped between the plastic and the steel of your truck's bed. The trapped water can lead to rust. A drop-in liner can also become loose over time, since it's only attached with a series of bolts.

Spray-on Liner:

Figure 3. Spray-on bed liner.

Cost: $500-$750

Pros: Painted directly to your truck's bed, offers a good amount of grip so items do not slide around.

Cons: Quite difficult to install on your own since it's literally sprayed on, and will be hard to remove.

A spray-on bed liner protects your bed better than a drop-in liner. A spray-on liner is a polyurethane elastomer that is sprayed directly on the bed, which means it won't move around or allow water to sit between it and the truck's bed. A spray-on liner also offers good grip and tends to look newer longer, but it can have a few disadvantages.

A spray-on liner is pricier than a drop-in liner if you have a professional install it with a price ranging from $500-$750. You can spray it in yourself, but it does take a lot of prep work. Also, if for some reason you decide that you want to remove it, it is not nearly as easy as removing a few bolts, like the drop-in liner.

Roll-on Liner

Figure 4. Roll-on bed liner.

Cost: $100

Pros: Adheres to your truck's bed like a spray-on liner.

Cons: A lot of prep work is needed to make sure the bed's surface is smooth before applying, also not as strong as a drop-in liner when it comes to preventing dents.

If you're looking for a cheaper option than the spray-on liner, a roll-on liner is the right choice if you want to do it yourself. A gallon of the typical roll-on liner can cost around $100. Just like the rpray-on liner, a roll-on liner is applied directly to your truck's bed, but it does take a bit of prep work before you can apply it.

The Final Analysis

At the end of the day, the right choice depends on how you plan to use your truck's bed and of course your budget. A drop-in liner is an easy option that allows for items to easily slide across it, but since it can let water and dirt get in between it and your truck's bed, it is not seen as a long term option. A spray-on or roll-on bed liner is often viewed as the better option since they offer better protection, but having a professional apply it can cost a bit more. In any case, regardless of what you choose, it's best to have some sort of protection to take care of your truck's bed.

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