How to Select a Spray-on Truck Bedliner
This is a lot of information to read, but you will find it to be very helpful.
It's difficult to find useful information regarding spray-on truck bedliners, so I'm providing the following information to help you decide what's right for you.
1. The Application Process
A high heat/high pressure application is superior to a low heat/low pressure application. The high heat (about 140 degrees) lowers the viscosity of the product which enables it to better penetrate the surface which renders superior adhesion. The high pressure (about 2,000 psi) does two things: It forces the product into the surface for better adhesion and it creates a very fine final bedliner texture which looks MUCH nicer than a low pressure texture. The high pressure texture is more fine (as opposed to chunky) and appears to be much more uniform throughout the entire bedliner. The low pressure texture is not uniform and looks "gooped on" or "chunky", some say it looks like cottage cheese. Low pressure is old school, but some dealers still offer it. Why, you say? Well first, low pressure products are less expensive and second, it's possible that the bedliner dealer can't afford the high pressure equipment, it's pretty expensive.
There is one type of low heat/low pressure application system that you should definitely stay away from. It uses small cartridges that are filled with bedliner chemicals. The problem with cartridge based spray-on bedliners is that once the applicator pulls the trigger on the cartridge gun, he can't stop spraying until the cartridge is empty. Thus, the applicator has very little control over the spraying process. So, the cartridge based bedliner has the low pressure chunky look, has inferior adhesion, and the applicator has very little control over the spraying process. Stay away from cartridge based spray-on bedliners such as QwikLiner, Velox, RhinoPro CS, Indy Blast, and SprayMaxLiner. By the way, LINE-X has cartridge products also, but we use them to fill cracks in concrete, NOT to apply a truck bedliner!
LINE-X is applied using a heat/high pressure system which is the absolute best application process available.
---Choose A High Heat/High Pressure Application---
2. The Bedliner's Base Components
All tires are made of rubber, but tires can have very different physical properties because there are different rubber compounds. Some tires are soft (performance) and some tires are hard (truck/off road). Bedliners sort of work the same way, they may have similar base components, but their physical properties can vary. Most spray-on bedliners are either: 100% polyurethane, 100% polyurea, or a hybrid of both polyurethane and polyurea. The best product for spray-on truck bedliners is either a 100% polyurea or a polyurea/polyurethane hybrid which contains mostly polyurea. Polyurea gives the bedliner a higher tear strength and higher temperature tolerance. The standard LINE-X bedliner product, XS-100, is a polyurethane/polyurea hybrid with a high percentage of polyurea. How about a real life example: Rhino TuffGrip is polyurethane. Standard LINE-X has a 93% higher tear strength, a 61% higher tensile strength, and a 45 degree higher temperature tolerance than Rhino TuffGrip. That's a HUGE difference, LINE-X is WAY stronger! (Data per Rhino TuffGrip Data Sheet from Rhino Linings USA.) You should also know that not all polyurethanes and polureas are the same, here's what I mean: LINE-X Platinum and LINE-X Pro are both 100% polyurea and their tear strength is 708 lbs/in. Bullet Liner BL-71 is also 100% polyurea but only has a 550 lbs/in tear strength. So, even though LINE-X and Bullet have the same base component, LINE-X is 29% stronger, that's a HUGE difference! LINE-X Xtra no longer contains Kevlar. Kevlar fibers are destroyed by UV light (from the sun).
---Choose Polyurethane/Polyurea Hybrid That's Mostly Polyurea Or 100% Polyurea---
Most standard spray-on bedliner products are "aromatic". Basically, that means that they are sensitive to UV light from the sun which causes the bedliner to lose its gloss and lose some color over time. The opposite of "aromatic" is "aliphatic" which means it's not sensitive to UV light and thus is more color stable. There are aliphatic urethanes available, but high quality aliphatic urethanes are more expensive than aromatic urethanes. So, if you care about how the bedliner will look over time and you don't plan on putting a tonneau cover on the truck (which would shield it from the sun), then you might want to consider some sort of aliphatic product. LINE-X offers several aliphatic products: LINE-X Premium, LINE-X Platinum, and LINE-X Ultra. All three are much more fade resistant than "standard" bedliners.
---Aliphatic Is Much Better (Although It's Optional)---
One way some of our competitors like to compete is to just lower their price below ours and then spray less bedliner product in your truck. A thin bedliner gives you a slip resistant surface, but it does not give you any impact protection. Also, a thin bedliner is easier to gouge. We don't use such tactics. We ALWAYS apply a thick bedliner that provides the performance that you expect from a spray-on bedliner. (Also, our bedliner thickness must comply with our LINE-X franchise agreement!)
UPDATE: We've been measuring competitors' bedliners with an electronic gauge whenever we have the opportunity and we're seeing 40 to 60 mils. This is extremely thin, the thickness on the floor should be about 125 mils. We believe competitors are spraying thin because the raw cost of bedliner chemicals has increased quite a bit recently and they're trying to keep their retail prices steady. Again, we cannot and do not spray thin bedliners.
---Choose A Bedliner With A Proper Thickness---
The warranty is very important and often overlooked. If you develop a problem with your bedliner, I bet you would like to have it conveniently repaired. Most spray-on bedliner brands will offer you a "lifetime" warranty. However, the warranty is typically only valid with the dealer that applied the bedliner. So, if that dealer closes or sells out, you have no warranty! LINE-X was the first to offer a limited lifetime warranty that's valid at ANY LINE-X dealer across the nation.
Choose A Lifetime Warranty That's Valid Nationwide
6. Chemical Quality
I decided to include chemical quality although you're probably not going to be able to research this. You should be aware that there are high quality and low quality bedliner chemicals out there. Low quality bedliner chemicals won't cross-link well (causes the bedliner to be weak), won't adhere to the surface well, and will fade at an accelerated rate. The old cliché "you buy cheap, you get cheap" certainly applies here. LINE-X uses only "top shelf" chemicals. You cannot buy higher quality chemicals than what you get with LINE-X.
---Buyer Beware! Choose High Quality Chemicals---
7. DFW Auto Dealerships and Stores That Sell Truck Bedliners
Unfortunately, many DFW auto dealerships will buy the least expensive spray-on bedliner in order to maximize their profit when they re-sell the bedliner to you. It's not such a surprise, is it? Don't put your money in their pockets by allowing the dealer to install a cheap inferior spray-on bedliner in your expensive truck. Tell the dealership that you absolutely want LINE-X or pass on their offer and come directly to our shop. Beware of what some auto dealerships and some of the other bedliner stores tell you. We've heard all sorts of lines such as, "...it's just like LINE-X", "...."it's better than LINE-X "...I used to work at a LINE-X store". It's nice to know that everyone WANTS to be like LINE-X! Don't fall for their hype, you can only get LINE-X at a LINE-X franchised dealer. You should know that we are the ONLY franchised LINE-X dealer in the Fort Worth area.
---Make Sure You Actually Get A LINE-X Bedliner---
8. Experience and Training
Consider the bedliner dealer's experience and training. Most licensed professionals are required to have annual continuing education. LINE-X dealers are offered ongoing training on an annual basis also. We are taught the latest techniques and advised of the latest products. Do all bedliner brands offer continuing education for their dealers? Absolutely not! We're in our 15th year of business, we've accumulated a significant amount of experience through the years, and we've attended ALL of the training that LINE-X has offered.
---Choose A Dealer With Experience And Advanced Training---
Well, I hope that helps! Use the information above to choose which spray-on bedliner product and dealer is right for you. If you have any questions, feel free to call us for help.