Spray-On vs Roll-On Bed Liners
Why compare a spray-on with a roll-on bedliner? The reason we chose to compare two different kinds of bedliner is simple: availability.
Virtually every major auto parts chain store carries both roll-on Herculiner and spray-on Rust-Oleum. In the picture below, you can see the different consistencies that spray-on and roll-on liners produce.
As you can see, the roll-on liner contains much thicker particles, as the size of the aerosol nozzle limits the spray-on liner. This is true across all do-it-yourself bedliner brands. Next, we’ll compare the unique traits of these two common brands.
Rust-Oleum is a titan in the paint industry. The company produces a wide range of products from rust-encapsulating clear coat to touch-up paint. As a result, Rust-Oleum bedliner products are common and available at almost every major auto parts store. The Black 248914 Truck Bed Coating Spray comes in a 15-ounce pressurized aerosol spray can.
Each can of Rust-Oleum truck bed coating costs between $6.97 and $9.99, depending on where you buy it. With taxes, we paid about $8.00 per can. It took approximately five cans to coat our 8-foot truck bed. Keep in mind that we applied thick coats to maximize the longevity and durability of the coating. It cost us about $40 to coat our truck bed with Rust-Oleum spray-on bedliner.
The Rust-Oleum truck bed coating has a fine, sandpaper-like finish. We find it’s highly slip-resistant, and it offers some protection for the bed itself. This bedliner held up very well during light-duty tasks, such as hauling a surfboard or fishing gear around. Lighter car parts, such as alternators and exhaust manifolds, failed to scratch the bed. However, the Rust-Olem didn’t fare so well with larger car parts. When dragged across the bed, a set of Olds 403 cylinder heads managed to scrape off some of the bedliner.
The Rust-Oleum bedliner earns points for ease-of-application. Thanks to the finely textured material in the can, on the bedliner is easier to coat evenly than paint. However, you have to shake each can excessively to get it to flow correctly. We found that after a few cans, the long shaking process became annoying.
Herculiner roll-on bedliner is classic and closely mimics professionally-applied products for heavy-duty use. This product usually comes in 1-gallon steel paint cans and requires mixing before application. For this test, we bought the Herculiner HCL1B8 Brush-on Bed Liner Kit in black. The kit comes with a 1-gallon can of Herculiner, a Scotch-Brite pad, a standard paintbrush, a roller handle, and two replacement rollers. The only thing missing from the kit is a paint tray, which can be had for a dollar at most hardware stores.
The Herculiner starter kit is definitely more pricey than the spray-on alternative. Initially, the $90 price tag made us wonder if the stuff was infused with gold. But it soon became evident that you get what you pay for, and that (for the extra money) you get a significant amount of protection. Plus, we had plenty of bedliner left over for repairs and touch-ups down the line. The total cost of the application was just over $90, and the kit came with virtually everything we needed to do the job.
Herculiner roll-on bedliner has a significant amount of rubbery material in the paint. In fact, the stuff dries like rubber and has a flexible, bouncy exterior. The anti-slip particles measure upwards of two millimeters in some areas and provide excellent protection against heavy metal objects. It was close to impossible to scrape off and likely provided sound-deadening as well.
Compared to spray-on Rust-Oleum, applying Herculiner was a messy pain. The application took over an hour, and our pants were just about ruined by the end of the day. It dries relatively fast, but it doesn’t completely cure immediately. Nonetheless, making patch-ups afterward was easy, as you can re-apply Herculiner over dried areas without issues.
Rust-Oleum vs. Herculiner: Which is Better?
The answer depends on what you use your truck for. In short, Rust-Oleum goes on fast and protects the bed against light ‘truck stuff’ and is ideal for typical day-to-day use. Herculiner, while messier and more difficult to apply, is much stronger and holds up to heavy-duty truck work. Both brands hold up well over time. Prep work is more important with Herculiner; be sure not to apply it with any oil on the bed, and follow all prep instructions to prevent peeling.
About THE AUTHOR
I rebuild & restore classic cars and trucks when I'm not researching and writing about all things automotive. My current project is a 1978 Ford.Read more about Joshua Weinstein