How to Prepare A Surface for Bedliner

How Should You Prepare Your Vehicle Surface for a Bedliner Paint Job?

Painting your car or truck (or any other surface) with bedliner is a pretty straight forward process, and requires much less preparation that a traditional paint job. That being said, you still need to do certain things to ensure the bedliner will adhere properly to the surface of your vehicle. That way, you will get a good final result.

Keep in mind every vehicle is different, and there is more than one way to accomplish everything. I’ve listed the steps I’ve used in the past to get good results with a bedliner paint job, and I think you will have pretty good luck if you follow these basic guidelines as well.



Wash your vehicle thoroughly

washing car for bedliner paint job

Before you do anything else, be sure to wash the surface you’ll be painting very well. Even though you’ll be scuffing up or sanding the surface in the next step, you don’t want to grind any dirt particles into the existing paint. As a general rule, I usually like to wash the vehicle TWICE before doing anything else. Use a detergent soap (dish soap works well) to remove any oils from the surface as well.

Scuff the surface

scuffing pads

Now that the vehicle has been cleaned up, it’s time to scuff the surface to improve the adhesion of the bedliner. For the purpose of applying a spray-on or roll-on bedliner, you want to use a pretty aggressive sandpaper such as 80 grit to really dig in and create some scratches for the bedliner to get into. A red Scotch-Brite Pad works pretty well too. If there is a clear coat on the surface you’re working with, be sure that you end up with no gloss left. Nothing likes to stick to the clear coat, so try to remove as much of it as possible. Don’t worry, a thick bedliner such as Raptor Liner will cover all of the scratches and you’ll never see them.

Pro Tip: When sanding or scuffing your vehicle, mask off any surrounding areas you don’t want to get scratched.

Wash the vehicle again

washing kit

That’s right, after you sand and scuff, it’s time to wash again. All that clear coat, paint, and debris you just sanded will form a film on the surface of your vehicle and could cause problems down the road if it’s not removed. Follow the same procedure as above and make sure everything is 100% clean. This may seem redundant, but it’s the best way to get your vehicle’s surface prepared for the bedliner!

Repair any areas needing attention

repair damage before bedliner paint job

Now that the vehicle is clean, it’s time to address any areas that need to be repaired before applying the bedliner. Cover any bare metal with a self-etching primer, and remove any rust. A rust converter can also be used to convert light surface rust to a primer like material. Also, now id a great time to fill any dents or dings that may show through. Bedliner is thick and will mask very shallow dings or imperfections. BUT if you can see the dent from a few feet away, you will probably have better results if you fill it in. A quick skim of filler and a little sanding will usually do the trick. Remember, if you sand anything, you need to clean it again!

Wipe down the surface

wiping down vehicle for bedliner paint job

After the surface has been washed again and is dry, it’s time for a final wipe down before applying the bedliner. A number of solvents can be used such as Xylene, Alcohol, or wax and grease remover. Personally, I’ve had the best results using Acetone. Wipe down any surface you’re going to paint with bedliner, let it dry, and then wipe it down one more time right before you paint. This is really the final step to prepare the surface for the bedliner.

Mask the vehicle

best tape for bedliner paint job

Now that you have prepared the surface for the bedliner, it’s time to mask! The better you mask, the better your final result will be. Be sure to use a good quality painter’s tape and not regular masking tape. Painter’s tape is designed to remove easily and won’t leave 100 tiny pieces of tape on your vehicle that you have to pick off. I recommend watching some videos on masking techniques, it’s a little too much to cover here. Keep in mind that you will have quite a bit of over-spray when shooting bedliner. Use a plastic sheet or some newspapers to cover anything you don’t want covered in bedliner!

Pro tip: If you are painting an area next to an unpainted area (such as rockers), try removing the masking before the bedliner is completely dry, you can get a cleaner line that way.

Spray (or roll) the bedliner!

completed bedliner paint job

Time to get out the bedliner and complete your bedliner paint job! Spray the bedliner on the prepared surface areas in even coats and be sure to clean the gun after each coat. Take your time and enjoy your final result! The transformation can be truly amazing.

That’s the best advice I have for preparing your surface before applying bedliner such as Raptor Liner to your vehicle. There are a lot of variables that are hard to cover in a blog post, so I highly recommend you do as much research as possible before getting started. A good place to start is my step-by-step guide. Good luck!

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