Chevy truck owners generally get a lot of use out of their vehicles—they are, after all, trucks. You don’t buy a Silverado or a Colorado so it can sit in your driveway and look pretty; you get a truck because you have work to do, trailers to tow, cargo to haul, and so on. A truck’s cargo bed can carry anything from construction materials and power tools to camping gear and ATVs—and all of that loading and unloading can wear away at the floor of the bed over time, which isn’t great if you want to keep your truck in good condition or preserve its resale value down the line.
When you get a new truck, you can probably get a bed liner bundled in at the time of purchase. But when you’re shopping at a used Chevy dealer, you’ll have to get your accessories separately—and you’ll want to ensure it’s the right fit for the particular model. While bed sizes can change from year to year, there are plenty of options that can accommodate older Chevy trucks, so you should be able to find something that’s right for you. In this guide, we’re going to go over the basic types of bed liners available so you can make the best choice for your truck.
Polyethylene Bed Liner
A hard plastic bed liner provides a good balance between practicality, aesthetics, and affordability. They generally come in black, which pairs well with any paint color and won’t make scuffs, scratches, and spills look too noticeable. Generally, a bed liner will provide complete coverage, not just protecting the floor of the bed but the walls as well, and will often have useful features molded into them, like cargo tie-downs on the sides and cupholders on the tailgate surface. The hard surface is designed to provide you with a bit of grip, both to help cargo stay in place during transit and to give you a more useful work surface. It’s pretty easy to clean, too, so you can get all the dirt, sawdust, or other debris cleared off quickly between jobs or outdoor adventures.
Because this liner is molded to fit the exact dimensions of the bed, you can simply drop it in and install it yourself without following complicated steps or even using any tools. But that snug fit also means that you should probably stick to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts since third-party products can be less reliable. An added perk of getting a GM liner is that you can get one with the Chevy bowtie logo embossed into it, making the liner look like it’s been part of the truck all along.
Carpeted Bed Liner
If you often haul things that need to stay nice during transport, like furniture, then you might want to opt for a carpeted bed liner. Under the soft surface of the carpet, these generally have a layer of foam that helps to cushion cargo while en route. The comfortable surface can also come in handy during tailgate parties, giving you a softer seat to hang out on. Like a plastic liner, these will typically cover the sides as well, making it essential that you get a good fit.
Of course, carpet isn’t quite as easy to keep clean as hard plastic. You can find carpet liners that are water and stain resistant, but you’ll still have to vacuum up things like dirt and dust that can work their way into the soft surface. Carpet liners also tend to be a bit more expensive, but if you need that soft surface to protect precious cargo, then that higher price and extra time cleaning may well be worth it for you.
If you don’t care about getting 100% full bed coverage and want to save a bit of money, you can opt for a bed mat instead of a full liner. A mat will cover just the floor of the bed rather than extending up onto the sides. This makes installation a bit easier, and if you want to be able to remove your bed protection more easily, it’s a smaller object that’s simpler to store. Because they use less material, they also tend to cost less. Just be aware that, while bed mats can reduce how much your cargo shifts, if any of your cargo bumps into the sides of the bed, neither the cargo nor the walls will be protected.
Spray-On & Brush-On Bed Liners
Even if your used truck is a decade old, there’s a good chance that you can find an OEM bed liner that’s a perfect fit for your model. However, some older trucks—or ones that have been customized by previous owners—can be difficult to shop for. If you can’t find a drop-in liner that’s a good fit for your model, then it’s time to consider a spray-on or brush-on liner.
Spray-on liners require some specialized equipment to apply, so they can end up being more expensive than drop-in liners. Brush-on liners can be applied by a DIYer fairly easily and are therefore less expensive, but it’s harder to get into tight nooks and crannies, and you’re more likely to end up with a patchy or uneven result, so only choose this option if you’re sure that you can do it right. With either one, you’ll be applying a polyurethane mixture directly onto the surface of the bed’s floor and walls.
Not only is this a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s also an airtight fit (when applied correctly), so no moisture or debris can get in between the liner and the bed. However, you do need to keep the cons in mind before applying a spray-on liner. First of all, note that a spray-on or brush-on bed liner is a big commitment. Drop-in liners or mats can be removed fairly easily at any time, but spray-on liners are typically permanent. Even if you do manage to remove a spray-on liner, you’ll certainly damage the paint underneath it quite a bit. These liners also tend to leave you with a rough, textured surface that’s harder to clean and more likely to scratch your cargo.
Sliding Bed Tray
This option is typically much more expensive than any of the others we’ve mentioned so far, but for a good reason. First of all, it can serve a similar function to other bed liners and mats: your cargo will sit on the surface of the bed tray rather than the floor of the bed, and rails along the sides will keep it in place. But a bed tray can also slide out, bringing your cargo to you so that you don’t have to reach or climb up into the bed to load or unload. If you do a lot of deliveries or have mobility issues that make accessing the bed difficult, then this innovative option might be worth the extra cost. Be sure, however, to check the weight limit of the product you’re looking at before you buy; unlike other options, this one may limit the amount of cargo you can haul in your truck.
So, Which Liner Is Right for Me?
For most people, a hard plastic drop-in liner will be the best option; it’s affordable, versatile, and durable. If you need that extra soft surface, consider carpet. If you want easier access to your cargo, spring for a sliding tray. If you can’t find a drop-in liner or mat that’s a good fit, a spray-in liner may be your only choice.
One piece of advice that holds true no matter which one you go with is this: pay attention to the details. Dimensions, warranties, limitations, and other factors can seem like a lot to juggle at first, but please go through each of them carefully before making a final purchase. As long as you get a liner that’s a good fit and that works for your particular needs, you can protect your bed and keep your truck in great condition for years to come.