Spray-on vs Drop-in Bedliner: Which Is Better?

polyurea hybrid spray bedliner

Spray-on and drop-in bedliners offer truck beds extra protection from daily use and abuse. Whether you’re using your truck for work hauls or just moving equipment around for a friend, it pays to keep every part of the vehicle in tip-top shape. Great truck bed liners will preserve the truck bed for the entire life of the vehicle.

Now the question is, which type is best for you: spray-on or drop-in? While each comes with pros and cons, which one you choose will ultimately depend on how you use your truck bed, how often, and how much you’re willing to pay for protection.

What Is Spray-on Bedliner?

It is a paint-like protective coating, generally made from polyurea, polyurethane, or hybrid chemistry. These coatings are sprayed on the truck bed using high-pressure, low-pressure, or cartridge-driven spray equipment. Most coatings are fast curing for a quick return to service in as little as one day. Polyurea coatings come with excellent physical properties that make them the premium product for spray on bedliners.


1. One and Done Solution

Coatings are a simple and mostly permanent solution to protect your truck bed. When sprayed, they adhere directly to the metal, forming an airtight bond. They won’t slip, shift, fall out, or cause damage to the truck bed from an improper fit. They should last the entire life of the truck when applied correctly.

2. Durability

They offer excellent protection from daily wear and extreme temperatures with impact resistance and abrasion resistance. Since the surface is sealed, moisture and other debris cannot get beneath the liner to the bare metal, reducing the risk of rust and corrosion. They also have excellent chemical resistance. They keep the truck bed looking new without warping, cracking, or breaking.

3. Aesthetically Appealing

If you’re concerned about the appearance of your truck, not only does the spray-on bedliner provide protection, but it also looks great doing it. Coatings mold to the contours of the bed without looking bulky, and very minimal maintenance goes into keeping them looking great for years.

Texture can also be applied for a finish that suits your needs. A grittier texture can provide traction to prevent cargo from sliding around the truck bed.

4. Versatility

Applied by spray, these coatings fit all-size truck beds with no custom fitting needed. They are also not limited to just truck beds as they can also offer protection to a handful of other industrial applications. You can cover bumpers, fenders, trims, and entire vehicles with spray-on liners. We have also seen them used on ATVs, emergency vehicles, utility vehicles, boats, and more.

5. Increased Value

Your truck starts depreciating the second you take it off the lot, so why not protect it with the best? Spray-on liners are a worthy investment and offer better value for your money. Since they don’t need to be replaced, the one-time installation costs are paid off in the long term. This added protection keeps the truck bed in great condition, increasing the value when it is time to sell.


While durable, these coatings can be expensive and time-consuming to apply. Most require expensive spray equipment and special training to use. They also rely heavily on surface preparation, which can be a meticulous process. You must make sure the truck bed surface is thoroughly scuffed, cleaned, and taped up to avoid overspray and adhesion issues. However, if you can get past the initial costs, they are more cost-effective in the long run.

Also, you must be aware that these coatings may fade depending on the chemistry. Colors fade much faster, which is why black is popular since the fade isn’t as noticeable. Consider applying a UV-stable topcoat for optimal protection.

What Is Drop-in Bedliner?

It is a plastic or rubber sheet that you “drop into” the truck bed. The best-installed drop-ins are custom-designed to fit the make and model of the truck. Some offer a universal fit, which means they’re made for a wide variety of truck beds. While this may be appealing, it may cause issues later.


1. Cost-effective

They are more affordable because of the materials they are made of and the do-it-yourself installation. They are a great option for truck owners who use their truck beds sparingly since they likely won’t offer the long-term protection desired.

2. Easy Installation

Unlike spray coatings, you don’t have to worry about a full cure time. They are easy to install from home without the help of a trained professional. Extensive prep work is not required, so your truck bed gains an extra layer of protection in under 30 minutes.

3. Removable

If you’re looking for a temporary solution, drop-in liners are the perfect option since they just sit in your truck bed. Some require you to drill holes to secure them down, but for the most part, they should be custom-made to fit securely in the vehicle. When it’s time to sell your truck, it can be easily removed and transferred to a vehicle with similar dimensions.

4. Covers Previous Damages

Coatings conform to every curve of a truck bed, so prior damage to the metal is more visible. Drop-ins hide the damage that the truck bed accumulated before installation. Since most are made of hard plastic, they are resistant to impacts, so you can load large objects into the bed without damaging them.


While the price may be lower, it typically means the material is of lower quality and looks like it too. Frequent replacement is more likely to occur when using a plastic drop-in liner. It is vulnerable to cracking, breaking, and warping over time. You’ll have to replace it several times across the lifespan of your truck because they don’t last as long as spray-ons.

If it’s not custom-fit, it can scuff the paint and cause dents on the metal bed. There is also the potential for water and other debris to slip under gaps and get trapped. Moisture and dirt on the bare metal will allow rust and corrosion to form.

When driving at high speeds, wind can get under the plastic and cause it to vibrate. The vibration causes it to hit the sides and floor of the truck bed, creating a lot of noise. Constant rattling from a loose bedliner could become quite annoying and it may cause cracking to occur.

It doesn’t have the same traction support as spray bed liner, especially when wet. The surface can be slippery, which makes sliding equipment into the truck a breeze, but you should also expect cargo to slide around while driving. A slippery surface can cause damage to the truck bed and its contents.

Bed Mats & DIY Bedliners

Bed mats are a type of drop-in liner that only covers the floor of the bed. They’re usually made of rubber and fit specific truck makes or models. They are preferred when truck owners want a soft material that provides shock absorption and impact protection. They require more maintenance as you’ll need to remove them often to clear the debris or moisture that builds up over time.

Aerosol sprays or roll-on coatings are more affordable and appeal to do-it-yourselfers who want a quick and easy solution from home. While you get a low-cost product, you also sacrifice quality. These products aren’t as thick, so they may need to be applied a few times for damage protection. Using a DIY product can also be much more labor-intensive since they take longer to apply.

VFI Coating Solutions

VFI’s protective spray materials are time-tested for quality assurance. We offer solutions from high and low-pressure formulas to our patented Qwik Spray System for low-volume application and those new to the industrial coating industry. Contact VFI today about any of our spray-on bedliner products.