Trucks are initially designed by the auto manufacturer with the idea of using it as a workhorse. They give you proper rated tires, heavy duty leaf springs, etc. right from the factory. But with most trucks, they only paint the bed with the same paint as they do the exterior of the truck. This looks great on the dealer lot, but the first time you attempt to actually “use” it as a truck, you will find that the paint chips and comes off quite easily. This then leads to rust in the bed that can eventually spread (mental note: “Rust=Bad”). A bed liner is by far, the best solution for any truck that you plan to carry any cargo with.
For those following at all over the past few months, I spent a good portion of my summer restoring an old VW Rabbit pickup truck. Now after painting the exterior of the truck and detailing the undercarriage and engine bay, I had the truck looking much better than it did when I first got it. The only nagging issue was that the finish inside the bed of the truck wasn’t fitting the part. Even though I plan to only use the bed for carrying minor loads (maybe a junkyard trip or two with it), I still wanted a finish that would allow for the bed to stay looking good. I also wanted the finish to be tough enough for me to load “stuff” in there if need be.
I ended up choosing a kit we offer called “Shake and Shoot Bedliner Kit”. This kit is designed to be extremely user friendly. In this case I wanted something I could do in an hour or two, and not waste the entire day. If you’re looking for the best spray on bed liners, Carlypso, has a great list.
I had never done a spray on bed liner on my own before, so I decided to be overly cautious and mask and plastic off the entire back end of the truck. I wanted to take every precaution to keep from a mistake getting bed liner on my fresh paint!
I then took a wire brush and brushed out any loose surface rust and paint. Even though the bed liner will stick to most anything, you still want the base you are spraying to be as solid as possible. I then followed up with Rust Converter on any of the areas with heavier rust. Once the converter had fully done it’s job, I hit those same areas, and the rest of the surface rust with Rust Encapsulator to stop and seal any further rust from occurring under the bed liner. I know that we preach it a lot here at Eastwood, but making sure you prep the work area correctly, will definitely make the final product that much better.
Once all of that was taken care of, I went overly cautious with my masking off the back half of the truck. Anytime you are painting, there is no harm in masking off an area a little more than you will need. This keeps any chance of getting over spray where you don’t need it. I used some plastic sheeting and painters tape to get it all covered up. Keep in mind that the areas you tape off close to the edges of the bed will be where the bed liner will stop. I decided to “hard edge” the top of the bedsides with the painters tape along with just below the rear window. This would allow me to keep the nice green paint I sprayed in those areas in tact, and leave a nice contrast with the black bed liner.
The products needed to do this job are pretty minimal. I choose this kit just for that reason. Aside from the Shake and Shoot Bed Liner Kit that I already mentioned, I chose to use our basic undercoating gun to apply the bed liner. This kit comes with two different extensions for applying your coating. In the end I found it was much easier to stick with the stock nozzle on the gun. It was fairly accurate, and allowed for me to keep a spare hand free to hold my airline from touching the wet bed liner while spraying. For someone with a truck with a larger bed, the extensions might come in handy to hit those hard-to-reach areas with out straining too much.
Mixing the parts before shooting the bed liner is extremely easy. It really is as simple as the name of the product suggests. You first add enough of the “Part B” catalyst to the “Part A” can to fill up to the line they have on the label. Once it is filled, thread the cap back on the “Part A” can and shake for a few minutes until the catalyst has completely mixed in. Once it is fully mixed, you can remove the cap on the can, and thread it directly onto the undercoating gun. This is very handy, as it saves from any mess mixing and dumping the chemicals into a special container for the gun. I told you this was going to be simple right? One thing to mention, is that the bed liner has a moderately quick “pot life” after it has been mixed. It calls for about a 45-60 minute life in mid-70 degree weather. Because of this, you want to make sure that you have everything “ready to go” before you start mixing the bed liner.
Since I had never used this particular undercoating gun and bed liner, I decided to do a test spray on some cardboard to dial in the spray pattern to where I felt comfortable. The gun is actually quite accurate with little over spray if you dial the tip in a bit.
Once you have your fan pattern set how you like it, you are ready to spray the bed. I chose to work from the middle out as I sprayed. Once it lays, it seems to blend together pretty well. One thing to mention is that you want to make sure that you keep a pattern running the length of the bed as you spray. You don’t want to spray side to side, then along the length of the bed, as it will possibly give an inconsistent finish. Once you are spraying you can also notice that the heavier you lay the bed liner on, the more textured the finish becomes. This is something you may want to pay close attention to if this is more of a “show vehicle”. If you watch closely, you can keep the texture about the same through out the entire bed. I ended up using three of the four cans of bed liner on my truck. My truck is relatively small, so anyone with a much larger truck may consider purchasing two kits to be safe.
The light sheen of the coating can be seen immediately after I was done. If you look closely you can see a spot I had resprayed where I had gone a little light on a previous coat. This blended just fine into the existing bed liner I sprayed.
After everything had fully cured (about 2-3 hours later), I snapped some pictures of the final look of the bed liner. You can also see in the second picture how I laid the bed liner moderately heavy to get a nice texture to the finish.
A week later, and I can say I am very happy with the bed liner. It held up well to some engine parts I had loaded into the bed to carry around. I simply hit the bed with a power washer, and it looks just as it did when I was done. This was a nice change to some of the other major jobs on the truck I did like my Gas Tank Restoration job that I covered in August. It didn’t take all day, wasn’t all that messy, and I wasn’t covered in stinky old fuel, so I was happy as could be!
Feel free as always, to comment with any techniques or tips that any of you have used!