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January 2021

One of the most common questions we see on truck fan forums or Facebook groups is, "I want to get a bedliner, should I get spray-in or drop-in?". 

In this article, we do our best to help you make that determination based on your specific needs. We'll give our unbiased view of what's good and bad about spray-in and drop-in bedliners.


A Spray-in bedliner is just that, a sprayed-in material. The application is made in a paint booth by an installer using a spray gun. Spray-in (or Spray on as it is also referred to) bedliner is a thick painted-on coating of 100% polyurethane, 100% polyurea, or a hybrid of both. The specific makeup of the material applied varies from company to company.




Aliphatic vs. Aromatic – Most spray-in coatings are polyurethane, and they harden when exposed to the atmosphere. However, some spray-in coatings are called aromatic, and some are called aliphatic.

An aliphatic compound will maintain its pigment (color) better than aromatic compounds. This means a spray-in bed liner using an aliphatic compound will not fade as quickly as one made with an aromatic compound.

The downside is aliphatic coatings are more costly. If you ask someone who works in the spray-in business, they would agree that the aliphatic coatings are better. 

Our take on things? 

If you are not getting a spray-in bedliner made with an aliphatic compound, you should be receiving a very good price, but you can also anticipate it to fade faster.


Truck Prep Process – Spray-in bedliners are essentially painted on, so preparing the surface before painting is the most critical step in the process. A speedy or lazy prep process might not show up right away, but ultimately, the truth will come out in the form of chipping and peeling of the sprayed bedliner material.

A high-quality prep process will comprise of the following steps:

  • It is peeling away the truck's bed to the primer or bare metal. This is done using a grinder or sander.
  • Cleansing of the newly stripped surface
  • Optional but suggested cleaning with a chemical surface prep solution.
  • Masking of any coverings of your truck not to be covered with spray-in bed liner. Overspray is a problem with some applicators, and it is very tricky to remove from your truck's paint without scratching the clear coat finish.
  • Sufficient gap between your truck and any other vehicles being sprayed. Ideally, the application process should be done in a vented paint booth, but this might not always be available in the shop to get as many done in the day as they can.


Ask if you can see where the shop and installation process – You can acquire a lot of information about how a company does business by seeing its work environment. A lack of attention to their workspace means a lack of solicitude for the quality of their work. Is the shop clean? Is it organized? Are the workers properly protected for the work they are doing? Are the workers attentive, friendly, and accommodating?


Now that you have some framework understanding let's look at the good and the bad about spray-in bedliners.


  • A professionally conducted spray-in bedliner looks very good when applied accurately.
  • Spray-in bedliner can be utilized anywhere you like as long as the source is prepped as outlined above. This means you can use it on your bumpers, fender flares, or even on the whole body of your truck if you want.
  • The spray-in bed liner's texture will usually stop cargo from sliding around in the truck bed compared to a drop-in bed liner's slippery synthetic.


  • The process of installing a spray-in bedliner requires destroying your current factory paint in your truck bed. This will nullify your truck's corrosion warranty on any parts with a spray-on coating.
  • Installers of spray-in bedliners need to be professionally qualified and have meticulous attention to detail to accurately and correctly do the job without later problems. If shortcuts are taken, the results can be disastrous. You can find plenty of horror stories about installation frustrations on various websites.
  • You cannot remove the spray-in bedliner. Once it's applied, there's no turning back. 
  • A tough textured exterior makes it painful to kneel in the truck bed when working.
  • Expense. The cost of a spray-in bedliner can be as little as $400 and as high as $700 or possibly higher if you want a color tint or the tailgate covered.


In the drop vs. spray-in debate, it's useless to go into great detail on the installation process. Drop-ins are pretty simple. The only guidance we have on the installation "process" is to buy a drop-in bedliner specifically designed for your year make and model vehicle.

They make drop-in bedliners with a universal fit, but this implies they were designed to fit in many truck beds. This can lead to a poor fit, which leads to a host of other problems. Loose-fitting drop-in bedliners scuff your paint, and that causes the bare metal, which will probably not be seen before it's too late.


  • Low Price – They are inexpensive when compared to spray-in bedliners. Most are in the $125 to $200 range.
  • Easy Install – Do-it-yourself installation.
  • Removable – And potentially transferable if your next truck has the same bed dimensions.
  • Protects – Protection from dents and dings when loading and unloading cargo.


  • Poor Quality – Low price usually means a low quality of the plastic used. This type of plastic is vulnerable to cracking and warping. This leads to fitment problems, and bad fitment causes scuffs, which lead to rust and lowers resale value.
  • Slick Materials – The covering of most drop-in bedliners is slippery. This leads to cargo sliding around and possible damage to the truck bed's contents.
  • Traps Water – Drop-in Liners is a huge plastic tub, they tend to trap water and do not allow for proper drainage.
  • Exposed Sheet Metal – Tie-down access is not typically machined to tight tolerances; rather, it is an access hole. This reduces your cargo space in the truck and allows water and debris to get trapped under the liner.
  • Noisy – With poor fitment, you have a loose piece of plastic in your truck bed. On the road, the wind can get under the bed liner, leading to noise from the bedliner hitting the truck bed's sides and floor.

While our opinion on which bedliner you should choose is pretty clear (we think Spray In Bedliners are best), we encourage anyone buying one with an ArmorThane spray-in bedliner to do their due diligence. With over 30 years in the business, they are the go-to company when it comes to Spray In Bedliners, and they are who we highly recommend. If you choose a spray-in bedliner, look into the installer completely.

If you opt for a drop-in bed liner, be sure it fits correctly, and consider purchasing a rubber bed mat to improve the cargo control.

About as fast as consumers are deciding to get a spray-in bed liner from the factory is about as fast as they’re going to spray applicators to have them replaced.

Over the last six months, spray applicators have replaced thousands of spray-in bed liners from the factory. After the most recent word on replacements, we decided to get the message out. That message is; STOP getting factory spray-in bed liners!

Many factory bedliner applications consist of cheap off-brand imported hybrid polyurea/polyurethane, which is mechanically sprayed ultra-thin. We have received dozens of complaints from consumers who have spent hundreds of dollars to get this cheap material removed and then replaced.

Compounding the issue of lesser quality material is the lack of preparation of the beds. When removing the factory bedliners, we have come to find that there is very little preparation done to the beds before application. Manufacturers are not preparing the bed for the best adhesion results, nor removing factory items such as bolts, lights, etc. the manufacturers are only using a bonding agent. This obviously doesn’t create a strong enough bond and in many cases these bedliners are not lasting longer than a couple years of use. 

Know the facts. What are you putting in your truck? ArmorThane's ultra-tough product called ArmorLiner continues to rank at the very top as the best possible bedliner material. It is a stronger material and is applied with the proper preparation to ensure the lining does the job and remains durable. Want proof? Try peeling up your factory liner, then call ArmorThane to apply their material today.

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