A Paint On Truck Bed Liner - Personal Experience
Choosing a bed liner
A few years ago I sold my old beatup Nissan pickup for a "new" (12 year old) Ford Ranger. I had driven the Nissan for over 20 years and was just a little tired of it. My new ride was in astonishing condition for being 12 years old and I wanted to keep it that way as long as I could. It had one of the plastic bed liners in it, but I hate those things. They are slick, may collect moisture under them and, in my opinion, don't look good. I work in the building trades and use my pickup all the time for carrying things - it is not a toy for me. I don't usually carry large or heavy items, but what I do carry will still scratch and scar a truck bed.
I checked out the preferred bedliner (at least in my area) - a Rhino Liner. At around $400 and up it was beyond my reach. A Line X bedliner is also available, but also spendy. Auto parts stores sold several do it yourself spray on liners, but I was not impressed with any of them. An on line search yielded a paint on bed liner made by a company called grizzlygrip. It appealed to me, and even came in many different colors and I eventually purchased an application kit.
It turned out that application was a little tedious, but straight forward. Surfaces had to be extremely clean for adhesion; I washed the entire bed area with xylene twice. A rather harsh chemical, I used what I call "surgeon's gloves" for protection - they didn't last 3 minutes before the xylene ate through them! Figuring the damage was already done, I finished the job without either gloves or damage, but I would really recommend a better pair of gloves. Thin latex didn't make it.
I wanted the liner to cover part of the top of the sides, so masked the area off and then removed the tailgate. That was easy to do and made painting the tailgate much easier. Applying the DIY paint on bedliner consisted of rolling it on with small paint rollers supplied with the kit. Corners and small areas required "daubing" paint in with an old paintbrush. The truck was allowed to sit overnight and a second coat applied the next day.
Finished Product Experience
I was initially quite disappointed with the appearance. I had carefully picked a shade of green that was a little darker than the paint; it was so dark as to be almost black. The texture was a little rough, and though I carried no loads for 2 weeks or so, I could tell early on that materials would stay put better even than paint, to say nothing of the plastic liner the pickup came with. I know that the curing process required moisture, and might take a while to totally cure in the deserts of Idaho - what I didn't know was that the color would change with curing. Over the next few months the color gradually lightened to what I expected, particularly where rain or snow might accumulate. The upper half of the sidewalls are still quite dark, but I don't find it objectionable.
I have now had the liner installed for about 3 years. There has been a little chipping, notably on the large galvanized bed bolts and the top inner corner of the tailgate where I rest long pipes. The rest of the bed is nearly perfect, although dirty in the pictures. The material is rather soft and rubbery; indeed it has ground rubber in it to give the rough texture. I suspect that heavy loads, particularly those with sharp corners, could cause considerable damage by gouging. I always take extra care when transporting such loads, though, and have had no trouble.
Overall I am very pleased with my do it yourself bedliner. At a cost of a little over $100 it is considerably cheaper than the professionals can provide. It doesn't have the quality in my opinion, but has done an excellent job for me. In another 10 or 20 years, I may re-paint it.
© 2010 Dan Harmon