A question that gets asked a lot on Facebook groups and forums is whether someone searching for a bedliner should opt for a drop-in one or a spray-in one. If you’re also looking to find out more about this topic, you’re in luck since we are going to be answering that question. To assist you further, we are also going to provide an unbiased review of the pros and cons of drop-in and spray-in bedliners.
Installation Advice for Spray-In Bedliner
Spray-in bedliners are mainly a painted coating that’s applied with a spray gun in a paint shop. The coating that will be spray-painted on your vehicle will vary from product line to product line and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Therefore, you must ask some important questions when you’re looking to purchase a spray-in or a drop-in bedliner. The questions you should ask include:
- Is the liner going to be an aromatic or aliphatic coating?
- What is the vehicle preparation process you employ?
- May I see your paint shop before I decide to buy it?
We’re also going to provide you with the reasons why you should ask these questions so that you have a complete idea about the importance of the installation process. These questions include:
Aromatic vs. Aliphatic
Generally, spray-on coatings are of polyurethane which means that the coatings will start to harden when they are left exposed in the open. However, there are other types of coatings as well which include aliphatic and aromatic coatings. The aliphatic compounds will end up maintaining their pigment better when compared with aromatic compounds; this is the reason why they won’t fade quickly. This is also the reason why aliphatic coatings are more expensive.
Aliphatic compounds are very popular in the spray-on business since they are considered better by everyone. So, if you buy an aliphatic compound, you’ll get a good price for it and will fade quickly.
Vehicle Preparation Process
Spray-on liner is basically painted which is why it is very important that there is proper preparation for the vehicle body surface. A rushed or poor preparation process will lead to major problems, which is why the preparation process shouldn’t be compromised.
All good vehicle preparation processes will include the following:
- Using a sander or grinder to strip the bed of the truck down to the bare metal or primer
- Cleaning the newly sanded or ground surface carefully
- Use of chemical cleaner along with the sanding/grinding process
- Carefully masking the painted area, so that you don’t get overspray on the fenders and on the back of the cab of your truck.
- A lot of space between all the vehicles that are being sprayed. It’s best if the spray-on installer has a separate spray booth with a ventilation system.
Checking the Paint Shop Yourself
There’s a lot you can tell regarding the quality of the bedliner installer by inspecting their shop in person. You should check if their shop is organized and clean, and whether they have tools and discarded parts laying around the shop. Also, check if their employees wear masks and eye protection and if they have a separate paint booth area.
Pros and Cons of Spray-In Bedliners
Now that we’ve discussed the background and given you some advice on whether to purchase a spray-in or drop-in bedliner, we’ll discuss the pros and cons now.
- When properly applied, a spray-in liner looks extremely nice.
- The coating can be sprayed anywhere if the area has been prepared. Yes, you can even get your fender flared and bumper coated.
- The texture of the surface ensures that no cargo slides around, especially when compared with a plastic drop-in liner which can be slippery.
- The factory paint of the truck bed can be destroyed by the spray-in bedliner. This isn’t a bad thing but it will cause your truck’s corrosion warranty to be invalidated on parts that have a spray-in coating.
- The spray-in installers should be very careful, highly trained, and attentive to details. They could end up damaging the truck bed if they try to cut corners in the application process or the preparation.
- You can’t remove spray-in liners. If you purchase a new truck, you won’t be able to take out the spray-in liner and drop it into your new truck.
- Spray-in liners don’t have great warranties.
- Spray-in liners can also be expensive, with the average cost expected to be somewhere between $350 and $1000, depending on the type of liner and features you install.
Pros and Cons of Drop-In Bedliners
When comparing drop-in bedliners with spray-in bedliners, the simpler option is the drop-in bedliner. It doesn’t require any complex installation or background introduction, which is why we aren’t going to waste your time with it. The only advice we’ll give you is to purchase a drop-in bedliner that is designed for your truck. Most drop-in bedliners are ‘universal’, which means they won’t fit properly, and that is the reason why a lot of truck owners choose spray-in bedliners.
If the universal fit drop-in bedliners get loose, they can move about in the truck when you’re driving and could potentially scuff up your paint job.
- They’re extremely affordable and can be bought for only $200.
- You can install them by yourself.
- They can be removed and transferred to another truck if it has the same dimensions.
- They come with a plastic liner that protects the bed from dings and dents during the unloading and loading of cargo.
- The quality of drop-in bedliners is on the lower side since they’re on the lower price point. They could have poor fitting which leaves gaps between the bed and liner and these can crack over time.
- The surface of the drop-in liner is slippery, meaning that your cargo will bang into the sides of the bed and slide around, which may damage the cargo.
- If you’ve not properly fitted your drop-in bedliner, it can move about with the cargo in the bed and scuff up the paint job of your truck bed.