How to Remove Old and Install New Truck Bed Liner

Truck Bed Liner

You change your bed liner once or twice in the lifetime of your truck. So when you do that, it better be done right.

Now, you can watch those YouTube videos the makers of which can't even hold their cameras straight let alone giving a meaningful content or read this detailed article on how to remove old and install new truck bed liner.

What's Down the Page?

There are four basic bed liners.

  • Drop-in bed liner
  • Spray-on or roll-on bed liner
  • Bed-rugs
  • Bed-mats

If you have anything other than these four types of liners, you probably should see the professionals because those are gonna be too tricky to DIY. Furthermore, I am also skipping the removal and installation of rugs and mats because it would be ridiculous if I explain those.

Now, we are down to the most common and expensive two liners. Drop-in is quite easy if you have some basic hardware skills. On the other hand, the application of the spray-on liner is both tricky and expensive. Hence, if you are thinking of doing it yourself, you should research it thoroughly.

So here are the step by step removal and installation system of these bed liners. 

Drop-In Bed Liner Removal and Installation

We are starting with the easier of the two. Drop-in is quite intuitive.

Things Needed for the Job

Here are a list of tools and some other stuff that you need by your side during the process –


  • Fasteners
  • Drills
  • Cutters
  • Water
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Cleaning soap or detergent

Fasteners should match the size of your new liner. Be careful to choose a liner and their fasteners because the wrong sizes can mean a lot of drilling.

You might need more or fewer tools depending on the type and brand of your truck and bed liner.

Place of Execution

You have more freedom with the drop-in bed liner than the spray-on liner. Just pick a place where you can easily remove the liner and put it away. You will also be cleaning the bed with water. So, do it where there is a proper drainage system.

## Removal

This phase only applies if you already have a bed liner installed. Follow these steps to remove the liner swiftly-

Step 1: Get everything off the bed and open the tailgate. Your bed should be hauling nothing. You don't want extra weight while removing the liner.

Step 2: Locate the fasteners. They are most probably on the top of the bed rail and around the parameter of the tailgate. If the liner was modified, the fasteners could be hard to find after all this time. But never use force to get it off the bed.

Step 3: Unscrew the fasteners. Use an electric screwdriver to unscrew them because the fasteners could be jammed with rust and stain.

Step 4: Gently remove the liner from the bed. If possible, ask one of your friends to help you with the removing. Don't wrestle with it. It should come out like a piece of cake.

Step 5: Repeat these four steps with the tailgate as well.

That’s how you remove a drop-in liner.

## Installation 

If you are done with the removal, we can move on to the installation process of a new drop-in bed liner.


Step 1: The first step of the installation of a bed liner is always cleaning. You need to make sure that there is no dirt or grime on the bed. Sand or other rough particles can damage the bed so much that you might see holes in your bed and the liner as well after some years.

So, clean it properly with car washing soaps or detergents. Afterward, you must dry the bed completely so that moisture under the liner can't harvest any rust.

Step 2: You need to get the best truck bed liner . Otherwise, it won't fit and will require a lot of modification, which undermines the integrity of its structure.

Step 3: Match the liner with the bed. See if you need extra holes on the bed or not for fasteners. If you do, then this is the time to make some holes with the drill. 

Step 3: Place the liner on top of the bed and match it with the front and sidewalls. Then you can push it into place. Again, you can ask a friend to help you with the heavy lifting.

Step 4: Attach the liner with the bed using fasteners. You may require various kinds of hardware, depending on the liner arrangement. But, a simple electric screwdriver should do the job.

Step 5: Examine the liner for any misfits. See if it has a rigid fit with the bed or not. Any mismatch should be fixed soon.

If you have a perfect fit, you have done your job. There is nothing to do more but enjoying a secure truck bed.

## Spray-On Bed Liner Removal and Installation

Drop-in was easy, wasn't it? But spray-on is another story.

So, if you aren't feeling confident, leave it to the professionals. It will be worth the cost. And yeah, spray-on and roll-on are the same things.

## Place of execution

Spray-on will involve a lot of dust and chemicals. Never do it in a confined area. It is sure to undermine your health. So, get your truck in an open place where spray painting and harsh chemicals will not be a problem. However, if it has to be done in an enclosed facility, then make sure that it is well-ventilated.


Removal


Be very careful about reading this. You don't wanna mess up here.

Before starting the step by step process, you need to have these tools by your side –


  • Gloves
  • Chemical removers (if you choose to use it)
  • Eye protection, mask, and other protective gears
  • Grinder
  • Heat gun or torch
  • Hammer

Now, let's move on to the removal process.

Step 1: See What Type of Liner Coating You Have and Choose the Chemical Accordingly

This is very important when you are applying chemicals. Most of the tutorials and instruction guides will just recommend the strongest chemical out in the market. But those chemicals are neither good for your health nor very cheap.

So, have a close look at your bed. If you have a polyurethane type bed, then you can use a simple urethane remover such as peel away. Regular paint could be removed with any thinner or paint remover. But if your bed doesn't fall in these categories, then you have to use some harsh chemicals such as aircraft remover.

It should be mentioned that you can just go for aircraft remover for any liner if you are experienced enough. But don't show unnecessary courage.

Step 2: Apply the Chemical

Now that you have your remover juice, we can move to apply it. Be extra cautious if you have decided to use aircraft remover or other harsh chemicals like it. Put on your goggles, mask, and protective clothing.

Now, you want to paint it on your truck bed gently. Spread it with a brush. Remember, your chemical can melt plastic and eat through your driveway. Treat it like hazardous waste.

Give the liner 5-15 minutes to soak in the chemical. Solutions other than the aircraft remover might need multiple segments of the coating.

Now, you should be able to scrape away all the liner. You can always skip this part and do it the hard way.

Step 3: Grinding

Using chemicals almost always gets the job done completely. All the steps after step 2 apply if you have decided to skip step 3 or to deal with a very thick liner, which is almost non-existent these days. However, some corners and hard to reach places could also use some love from the grinder.

Wire wheels are the best option for removing liners. It will have minimal damage to your bed.

Step 4: Chisel-Hammer Treatment

Again, if you are not using chemicals, this step gets very important. Get a small fine chisel, and start your hammer action to scrape off the liner from the bed. Be careful with the chisel angle as a wider one can dent your bed. Consider using a heat gun to make the work easier.

Step 5: Sand the Rest

To have a smooth finish, you need to sand the bed at the end of the process. There could be tiny bits of liner here and there. Sanding will give you a clean final finish.

That’s how you remove spray-on liner like a pro.

 Installation 

Nowadays, DIY spray-on liners have become very popular. You can easily do it with a spray-on kit. Generally, a spray-on kit has everything you need for the operation. However, here is the list of things that you will need for the installation process –

  • Spray gun
  • Car wash soap or detergent
  • Rust remover
  • Solvent cleaner
  • Sandpaper
  • Blower (not mandatory)
  • Tape
  • Plastic sheet
  • Bowl or jar (for mixing the solution)
  • Liner liquid
  • Catalyst
  • Color (not mandatory)

Before gathering these tools read the installation process below. It might have some mercy on your wallet.

Step 1: Clean the bed

Buy a car wash soap or detergent from the store and get to work. There should be no grease, wax, or other oily substances on the bed surface.

Step 2: Fixing rust and damages

Any rust or corrosion on the bed has to be fixed and completely removed. Holes, dents, and damages also need fixing before the painting. This allows even coating all around the bed.

Step 3: Applying a solvent cleaner

Get a solvent cleaner and apply it to your bed. The purpose is to wash the debris that was not cleaned by the car wash.

Step 4: Sanding

36 grit Sandpaper is the preferable tool for the job. Get one and start smoothing the surface. This will guarantee the best finish. Nevertheless, be aware of sandpaper bits on the bed. If possible, use a blower before painting.

Step 5: Mask the truck

You need to cover the places where you don't want to have the painting. Don't be skimpy, cover the whole truck with plastic sheets, and tape them in place. Skillfully tape the edges to have a sharp finish.

Never spray your liner on metal that is not painted. So cover the places where there was rust. Also, cover those places which are filled up with rust tape.

Step 6: Preparing the spray mix

I love this part.

Get a jar or a bowl where mixing the thick paints would be easy. Then, mix the bed liner with the catalyst at a ratio of 2:1. If your spray-on kit advises otherwise, then follow it. You can have different colors for liner other than black.

Put it in the gun, and you are good to go.

Step 7: Spraying

Get a cardboard to test your spray gun. The pressure should be on 45 or 90 PSI. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation if they say otherwise. If you do not have the desired results, try adjusting the mix and the pressure.

After getting everything ready, start painting the bed. Start with the walls, wheel tubs, and tailgate. Leave the floor for later. Paint in an even manner. If you do not have enough experience, paint with lighter coats. You need to do three coats. Wait 30 minutes after each spray segment.

Now, you need to coat the floor. But not before giving the last coating of the walls for about 30 minutes. Repeat the same three coat process that you did with the walls.

Spray from different angles to get the best coating. Try different and even paths to avoid shades in your bed. Eighteen inches is the ideal distance of the spray gun from the bed.

Now, you should be done coating.

Take off the masking tape and plastic sheets to enjoy your ride.

Final Words

It's more fun when you do it yourself. But, playing with concrete eating chemicals is not a child's play. Just knowing how to remove old and install new truck bed liner is not enough. You need to have the proper tools and protective gear.

But that is only with the case of spray-on. Other liners are almost intuitive.

That is all about removing and installing liners.

Be confident while doing it.

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