A Step-by-Step Guide of How to Install Tonneau Cover With Bed Liner

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Most tonneau covers work well alongside a bed liner. Installation shouldn’t be a problem when installing tonneau covers over bed liners or even installing liners alongside them.

You must be careful when Installing a tonneau cover over a bed liner to ensure the rubber seal contacts the bed correctly for maximum protection from the elements.

However, any issues that do arise can easily be fixed with the proper methods. Let’s look at how to install a tonneau cover with bed liner to make the process a lot simpler to understand.

Truck bed liner in a yellow pickup truck

The Truck Liner Preparation

Truck liners exist to provide a protective layer for the bed of the truck and come in many different forms. They could be a spray-on plastic adhesive, a rug lining the inside of the bed, or a mold that takes the shape of the bed. Installing these are deceptively difficult, as all one needs is the product and the knowledge.

To begin with, you’ll have to thoroughly clean out the bed of your truck to prevent debris from becoming trapped beneath the liner. This can cause severe damage as it wears a hole down through the bed itself.

Let the bed dry thoroughly before you fasten the liner to the bed of the truck. This is especially important if you plan on using a spray-on coating, which requires a perfectly clean and dry surface. 

Should you be utilizing a placeable, you need only align it and fasten it before marking the drill holes. Once you’ve found the correct drilling locations, insert the screws, and attach the liner to the bed of the truck.

Lastly, trim the edges of the liner so that it remains flush with the sides of the bed rail and tailgate. If using a spray-on, let it dry and ensure no dirt gets in before it does so.

It should be noted that paint on bed liners will not interfere with a truck bed cover at all. 

tonneau cover installed over a bed liner


The Tonneau Cover Installation

Tonneau covers can be installed safely right after you install the liner. There are a set of steps that all installations follow, summarized below. 

  1. Temporarily attach the side rails to the truck bed rails of the truck using the provided clamps. Ensure the clamps are loose enough to allow adjustments later.
  2. Ensure that there are no gaps between the side rails and the truck bed side rail. This can be helped by inserting shims into the gap itself, which aligns the rails when tightening. Shim brackets may be needed when the gap is too large between the bed rail and the side rails.
  3. Align the side rails to be flush with the cab and tailgate so that they are parallel with each other. This will allow the tonneau cover to slide into place for bolting easily.
  4. Insert the rubber/silicon weatherproof seals in the demarcated spots on the side railings and tonneau cover.
  5. Attach any additional components which may come with the model of truck bed liner.
  6. Once aligned, slide the tonneau cover in and push down slightly until it is in a position to be bolted. It needs to be flush with the tailgate and cab too. The bolt holes must align with those found on the side rails. Once correctly aligned, bolt the cover in and tighten it, so it remains secure.
  7. Lastly, tighten the clamps so that the side rails will not come loose for a long time.

truck bed cover with a truck bed liner

What About Incompatibilities Between The Two?

While the tonneau cover installation does not cause significant conflict between the bed liner and tonneau cover, there will need to be some additional work done to allow them to fit together in order to be a good weatherproof cover. The main idea behind the tonneau cover is to protect against the elements. It cannot do this when other components are in the way.

The truck’s bed side rail is the biggest culprit but can easily be solved by removing the caps which block the weatherproof seals from fitting properly. The rubber seal needs to contact both the tonneau cover and the bed liner without leaving any gaps.

The other incompatibility is with the bed liner. Often, placeable liners do not fit perfectly to the truck bed rail, so they must be trimmed down.

When adding tonneau covers, liners often need to be trimmed down even more. This is most evident with the placement of clamps, as the clamps will usually need to grip where the liner is laid. This can be fixed by merely trimming a slot or groove for the clamp.

Another spot is where the tonneau cover falls flush with the cab or tailgate. Often the liner will prevent the tonneau cover from laying perfectly flat with the ends. This can cause severe leaking, damaging everything inside. This can be remedied by trimming the liner to be flush with the opening of the truck bed cover.

Final Thoughts And Considerations

Pickup trucks can support tonneau covers, hard or soft, alongside a bed liner. The two work well together in keeping whatever is being transported safely and protecting the vehicle itself from receiving damage from excess transport.

The tonneau cover installation process is complicated if you have a liner already installed, but it’s not too hard to install if you know how to trim the truck bed cover to allow it to be attached to the bed rail correctly.

If this installation is for your new truck, I highly recommend getting it professionally installed to ensure it’s done correctly and void any warranties.

Now you know exactly how to install your tonneau cover with a bed liner to your pickup truck. This process should now be stress-free and straightforward and allow you to do it with ease in the future. Enjoy your adventures. 

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