Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Tonneau Covers | Which is Best?

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Tonneau covers are made of various materials, but the most common are aluminum and polycarbonate. Both offer excellent protection in the harshest weather conditions and are long-lasting.

It’s a fact that polycarbonate is lighter and can handle more abuse than aluminum, but it’s more expensive.

So, why is one better than the other? To answer that question, we need to understand what properties each material has and how they can be beneficial.

What is polycarbonate?

It is a polyester and is a popular material for tonneau covers. It is not plastic. It’s very resistant to impact damage. In fact, it is used to make bulletproof windows in automobiles. It is also used to make soda bottles, food storage containers, eyeglass lenses, and shower doors.

It has a high resistance to heat and can withstand the hottest temperatures mother nature can through.

It is lighter than aluminum, making it easier to handle, and as a bonus, gas consumption will be less than if you have a heavier aluminum cover. It is easy to recycle, making it safe for the environment(1).

Because of its durability, and lightweight it is soon becoming one of the most popular materials for truck bed covers, such as this one.

What is aluminum?

It is a silver/grey-colored lightweight metal. It can be welded and is soft and malleable, and easy to work. It can also be powder coated, plated, or anodized to protect against corrosion. It is less expensive than polycarbonate. 

Aluminum offers good protection from the elements. It is relatively easy to maintain and requires only simple maintenance such as regular cleaning and protectant applications. 

It is the most common truck bed cover material because it’s tougher, lighter than most metals, and is and cost-effective(2). 

Which is Better – Polycarbonate or Aluminum Tonneau Covers

When it comes to tonneau covers, they are both rigid and tough. Polycarbonate may be less rigid, but it will still hold up to daily use as well as in severe weather.
Aluminum is solid, but it scratches and dents very easily, and the scratches stand out more.

Polycarbonate also scratches, but it’s more resistant, and if it is dyed all the way through, scratches will be less noticeable.
A truck bed cover made from either of these materials can take a beating and keep on trucking!

Both are similar in weight and very strong, but it is a matter of personal preference and budget.
Polycarbonate unlike plastic is resistant to harsh elements such as sunlight and salt and won’t fade as quickly as a painted surface.

Aluminum Tonneau covers

Aluminum is a popular choice because it is easy to work with. It is inexpensive and it’s lightweight. It also requires fewer supports and is more rigid.

They come in a variety of colors, finishes, and styles. Some people prefer them because of their lower cost, durability, and strength. 

Because of the rigidity, they are great at keeping your cargo secure from thieves and elements. However, some people are looking for a lighter-weight cover that will reduce the extra weight on their truck.

Aluminum is an excellent choice for truck bed covers because it is cost-effective while durable and corrosion-resistant.

A great example and one of the more popular aluminum covers is the Retrax Pro MX.

More about the best locking tonneau covers.

Retrax pro mx on a black dodge ram pickup

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Polycarbonate Tonneau Covers

They are lighter and more durable than aluminum when it comes to truck bed covers? They are more expensive, harder to find, and require less maintenance.

These covers typically outlast covers made with aluminum and other materials.

They are lightweight, durable, and very resistant to breaking, denting, and scratching. They have excellent impact resistance and can withstand a high degree of abuse.

They are not only tough and durable; it is an aesthetically attractive material with high-gloss and color stability, an excellent choice for truck bed covers.

It also resists mold and mildew better than aluminum which keeps it looking cleaner and protects your cargo from moisture.

polycarbonate tonneau cover on a truck

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Aluminum-Reinforced Polycarbonate Tonneau Covers

They will add some protection from corrosion, dents, and scratches but is much more expensive than aluminum by themselves.

It has some advantages over polycarbonate by itself. It is the most durable combination and offers all the best aspects of each material in one.

If you’re looking for a tonneau cover with added protection and extra durability, an aluminum-reinforced polycarbonate cover is a great choice. 

roll up tonneau cover an a blue pickup truck


Tonneau covers are an inexpensive and effective way to protect items in your truck’s box and enhance appearance.

There is a distinction between these two materials. They’re priced very differently, polycarbonate is cheaper, but aluminum lasts longer than polycarbonate. You’ll want to consider cost versus durability in choosing which material works best for your needs.

I hope you enjoyed this article and it has answered your question – Which is better? – Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Tonneau Covers.

Need more tonneau cover advice?

Related articles:

Tri-fold vs Roll-up Tonneau Cover – Which is Better?

What Is The Best Tonneau Cover For Your Money?

9 Best Retractable Tonneau Covers | Top Review


Aluminium alloys as structural material: A review of research https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141029620339730

W.I. Wu, … P.R. Selvaganapathy, in Microfluidic Devices for Biomedical Applications, 2013 https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/polycarbonate

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