Bed liners for pickup trucks cushion and protect a truck bed and prevent expensive damage. The price for doing this varies widely and so does the effectiveness of the different liner options. The obvious first choice for a liner is the spray on bed liner. Other options offer advantages though as you see if you read on.
Spray on liners offer a guarantee for life which certainly has value. But have you thought that the guarantee simply means the liner will be repaired, or sprayed again? It does not imply that the liner cannot be damaged. In fact, it can be and likely will be with hard use. Spray liners are very tough coatings but are still, after all, paint coatings.
You may be tempted by the do it yourself bed liner paint option. Put one on and the cost is only a fraction of the professional version. We did it and the resulting surface looks very much like the spray coating. Beware though. It is much thinner and thus less durable. No guarantee comes with a coating you put on either. That’s mostly because careful surface preparation must be done or the paint will peel. The do it yourself option makes good sense though on battered older trucks since you get a useful coating for just a little money and time.
Have you considered plastic bed liners? For really spray on bedliner use, the plastic linings can stand up to serious abuse. Especially if you want protection from impacts which make dents, a drop in bed liner works. The cost of entry makes them look like a bargain too. Just make sure you get a good fit or the wind passing over the liner will make it sing and move. The noise can be annoying but the movement can be worse. A moving plastic liner may wear away paint and make a perfect spot for rust to start.
A final liner option which often gets ignored is the simple rubber truck bed mat. These offer protection only for the bottom of the bed and not for the sides. But the protection for the bottom of the bed equals or exceeds any other option. You can forget about dents below a rubber mat and there is not even a chance of scratches either. That’s why mats over spray on liners, or plastic liners for that matter, offer distinct advantages. And the cost is so low it’s almost free.
Bed liners for pickups offer real protection for a truck bed. Spray on liners provide many advantages, but the cost prices them out for many owners. A do it yourself coating may work if you can use a thinner coat and don’t mind the work. You can also save money with a plastic liner though you must get a good fit or risk damage to the bed from the liner. Then the lowly rubber mat fits well as protection even over much more costly liners.