It’s often one of the first decisions a truck owner has to make: Do I get a bed liner? If you’re smart, the answer will undoubtedly be yes. However, even then you’ve got yet another choice: Drop in or spray on? We recently had to hash out this very conundrum with Project Sierra. After some hearty debate, it ended up being a no-brainer. Here’s why we got a Line-X spray in bedliner and a behind the scenes look at the entire process.
The best thing about having a full size truck is having a massive bed to haul things around. Unfortunately, straight from the factory that huge steel bin behind you isn’t made for heavy duty use. It’s covered in the same paint the rest of the vehicle is and scratches easily. When wet that same paint offers no traction, and even worse, dent and dings are just bound to happen.
For years the solution was drop-in bed liners. They offered protection for your bed in an easy to use package. Unfortunately, anyone who has actually owned a drop-in knows they have a pretty bad downside. After years of sitting on-top of your trucks bed, they effectively wear off the paint and turn the surface under the liner into rust city. They also trap dirt and debris; further reducing the useful life of your vehicle’s most useful asset. Also, drop-in bed liners aren’t form fitting and subsequently take up valuable bed space.
Line-X has been an option in the bed liner scene for over a decade. Unlike drop-in liners, Line-X is an epoxy/plastic like material that is sprayed onto the bed, creating a permanent bond with your truck’s paint. It’s specifically designed to be resistant to hazardous fluids like gasoline and diesel fuel and abrasion resistant to rock, blocks, and metal. It will never come off and that’s the point. When you Line-X your truck, you’re basically coating it in high-strength plastic… for life.
But Line-X isn’t the only “spray-on” bed liner product on the market. In our research we came across a few other options available. After comparing all the products, Line-X was the clear winner. It’s harder, stronger, and more durable than every other alternative. That said, Line-X is also the most expensive. While we’re not normally one to suggest the highest priced option, you really do get what you pay for in this situation. We also figure that considering all the junk we’ll be throwing in the bed, a solid level of protection is a sound investment.
While a typical drop-in bedliner only costs around $150, Line-X starts around $500 depending on the dealer and the application. Our extended cab regular bed GMC Sierra with an over-the-rail application was quoted at $529. We splurged on the “Premium” top coat, offering a slightly darker finish and more UV protection for another $99. The extra UV protection is designed to keep the liner looking brand new for life. The final retail cost to get Project Sierra coated with Line-X Premium was just under $630.
If you don’t like the look of a black bedliner, Line-X can match any paint with a color code for an extra $250 over the base price. The reason that it costs more is because the plural mixing sprayer need to be cleaned and flushed and thus requires more labor. Since Project Sierra is black already, we went with the standard color.
The Line-X process
So what is Line-X and how is it applied? First, Line-X is a two component thermoplastic polyurethane and polyurea that contain no volatile compounds. Since there are no solvents present in Line-X, the finished bedliner is extremely resistant to a wide variety of acids and chemicals. It’s also environmentally friendly.
Second, unlike some other spray/roll in liners, you can’t apply Line-X yourself. The liner requires specific equipment for the whole process to work. At the heart of the entire process is a “plural component internal mixing polyurethane spray machine”. In non-chemist terminology, Line-X comes in two parts that set when mixed. The plural mixing spray machine takes an equal part (1:1) of each and heats it to 120-140 degrees. Only once the two parts reach the tip of the spray gun do they combine at a force of 2,000 psi. By the time the mixture hits the surface it’s fully set. Plural mixing machines like the one you see below can cost around $25,000!
We had the chance to check in with Project Sierra during the entire 2.5-hour Line-X Premium application process. Here is the basic gist of how it went down:
Step 1: The tailgate is removed and the application area masked off. The bed is cleaned out with compressed air and the paint is scuffed. The surface is cleaned to remove dust, dirt, and grease.
Step 2: The truck is backed into the spray booth and a drop-cloth is hung between the bed and the cab to protect the rest of the vehicle.
Step 3: The two part Line-X compound is heated, combined, and sprayed onto the prepared surface at 2,000 psi. It drys in only 3-5 seconds. The optional Line-X Premium top-coat is sprayed on afterwards and dries for 45 minutes.
Step 4: The masking is taken off and tailgate re-attached. Customers are advised to keep the tail-gate down and heavy loads off the bedliner for 24 hours to allow the material to fully cure.
Our Line-X experience
The finished product is almost ready for use the minute you drive away. Line-X advises that owners wait 24 hours before any heavy use of the bed and/or before applying any additional accessories (like bed covers) over the new Line-X.
The coated bed surface is hard, durable, and has the grip of mild sand paper without being abrasive. It’s ready for years of use and because we upgraded to Line-X Premium, should never fade. Line-X also has a limited life-time warranty. Should the bed liner ever become damaged because of a product defect, Line-X will repair it for free. Even if you do manage to damage the coating yourself, any Line-X shop can fix the damage with ease.
We had Project Sierra sprayed at Line-X Of Merrimack Valley in Bow, New Hampshire. The shop’s owner, Steve Owen, answered every single one of our questions (even the stupid ones). He was knowledgeable, kind, and extremely professional. If you happen to be in the New England area, we’d highly and enthusiastically recommend Line-X Of Merrimack Valley.
Before, During & After Pictures
Full Disclosure: Line-X Corporate provided our liner pro-gratis. Line-X of MV provided no consideration and was chosen by us at random.