One of the most common thread starters on forums and Facebook groups goes something like this: “Looking for a bedliner, should I do it myself or hire a pro?”. In this post, we’ll try to answer that question as well as we can, with an unbiased review of what it’s like to have it done professionally vs. done yourself.
Typically applied in a paint shop with a spray gun, spray-on bedliners are essentially a painted liquid rubber coating. The specific coating that’s painted onto your vehicle varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from product line to product line, so it’s important to ask some questions before buying a bedliner. Specifically, you want to know:
Is the liner an aliphatic or aromatic coating?
What is your specific vehicle preparation process?
Can I see your paint shop before I buy?
Here’s why you want to ask these questions.
Aliphatic vs. Aromatic – Most spray-on coatings are polyurethane, and the coatings strengthen when exposed to the atmosphere. However, some coatings are aromatic, and some are aliphatic. Aliphatic compounds maintain their pigment better than aromatic compounds, which means that they don’t fade nearly as quickly. Of course, aliphatic coatings are also more expensive.
Most people in the spray-on bedliner business agree aliphatic compounds are better. Our advice? If you’re not getting an aliphatic compound, you should be getting an excellent price…and you can presume you will be getting relatively fast fading too
Vehicle Prep Process – Since a spray-on liner is essentially painted on, vehicle body surface preparation is critical. A weak or rushed prep process is far more likely to result in problems than a quality preparation process.
Any good prep process will involve:
Stripping your truck’s bed down to the primer or bare metal, using a grinder or sander
Careful cleaning of the newly ground or sanded surface
A chemical cleaner is sometimes required in addition to the grinding/sanding process
Careful masking around the painted area – you don’t want overspray on the back of your truck’s cab, on the fenders, etc.
Ample separation between your vehicle and other vehicles being sprayed. Ideally, your spray-on installer will have an actual spray booth with a separate ventilation system. This prevents overspray as well.
See the Paint Shop/Liner Installation Area for Yourself – You can tell a LOT about the quality of a bedliner installer by looking at their shop. Is it clean? Organized? Do they have discarded parts or tools laying around? Are the employees wearing eye protection and masks? Are the vehicles separated from the paint booth/application area? etc.