What is the first thing you notice while purchasing a tonneau cover? Well, being a truck owner, I always observed its durability, how skilfully it shelters my cargo, and which materials it is made of. Inversely, the tonneau cover provides your pickup or UTE with a sleek look. Utilizing tonneau covers for several years pushed me to pen down its most important factors. In this article, I will demonstrate the Tonneau Covers Buying Guide.
Why is the Tonneau cover important?
A tonneau cover not only gives your truck style and value. But also improves your pickup fuel efficiency and saves your equipment from getting lost.
There are some of my chief and foremost concerns on which I decided to elaborate in this article and will save considerable time. Moreover, it pinpoints what style and material best suits your needs. To know what you should keep in mind before buying a tonneau cover, you must give it a read for better and thorough knowledge.
A Detailed Tonneau Covers Buying Guide
Specify Your Requirements
What do you demand from a tonneau cover? Either it protects your cargo while hauling or gives your truck a valuable appearance. I noticed some people use their pickup just for groceries and have installed hard or hinged tonneau covers. Undoubtedly, hard and hinged bed covers are stiff and rugged, and no one can steal your objects. But at the same time, their operation mechanism is not easy.
In this way, you must fix your purpose and type. If you are a cargo deliverer, you must opt for a hard and proper locking system type of tonneau cover that serves shelter and theft protection.
If I speak about my specific requirements, my utmost concern is why I am installing a tonneau cover and its purpose. Do I want to cover up my luggage or give my pickup a beautiful look? In addition, I always delve into protection; how perfectly it covers my cargo, material; if it is made up of vinyl or hard Aluminum, and weight; how proficiently it carries my equipment load. If concerned about the size, you can read our detailed guide on measuring a tonneau cover.
Price: How much does a tonneau cover cost?
There are two ways the price affects the cost of a tonneau cover. The purchasing price and the installation fee. First, let’s go through the purchasing price. Purchasing price is the most dominant factor when buying a tonneau cover. The price of tonneau covers ranges from $150 – $2000.
You might get anxious about the price. The cost depends on the quality and size of the cover. A soft bed cover costs start from $150 – $500. It is made up of soft vinyl along with velcro attached at the edges. Its installation is easy and is the best option for beginners who do not have much experience and knowledge about covers.
While a hardcover price starts from $500 – $2000, it is made of Aluminum, hard plastic, and fiberglass. Hard to install but provide extra protection to the objects. You can get your tonneau cover at a reasonable price with so many options.
There are plenty of tonneau covers with different price tags. It all depends on your needs and budget. If you are using your pickup occasionally, a soft rolling cover will best suit you. But if you cover your entire truck bed to protect it from outer elements, then a hard one is better suited for your truck.
Another factor that affects the price is the Installation Fee. Beyond the vinyl covers, all the aluminum and fiberglass covers are hard to install and are not adjusted alone. So it is essential to hire a professional to install a tonneau cover. It can save time and won’t hurt you because they are heavy and a bit more complex while fitting on the truck bed. Professionally installation costs from $100 – $500 depending on the size of the truck and the style you choose.
Material: What is the best material for a tonneau cover?
A tonneau cover on your truck bed is like a home to your valuable tools and luggage. While discussing the materials, knowing which bed cover best suits your needs is best. A soft one or a hard one.
Soft tonneau covers are made out of soft vinyl or canvas. They are durable and can easily be installed or removed. On the contrary, hard tonneau covers provide more security, protection, and defined style looks.
What kind of material does your tonneau cover have? There are mainly 4 different types of materials that are used for the manufacturing of tonneau covers. Here is the rundown of these;
Vinyl is the most popular and common material used in manufacturing soft tonneau covers. It is waterproof and durable. Typically crafted by mixing the marine-grade material and vinyl equally with superior stitching. It helps to keep the cargo protected against mother nature and secured from the eyes of theft.
Vinyl tonneau covers are very lightweight, which makes their installation and removal handy. They are versatile and available in most opening styles. The best part is that it is cheaper than the other materials.
Hard tonneau covers are made out of Aluminum. They provide the heavy duty yet are the lightest ones. In addition, they are crafted with good-quality aluminum panels that make them sturdy and rugged. Due to their rigid and strong top layer, they are durable without tearing apart.
It is mainly used in making folding and retractable tonneau covers, and most people like covers. It is excellent in security and protects the luggage and cargo from UV rays and heavy rain. They are costly yet operated easily.
Fiberglass is another excellent material used in the manufacturing of hard tonneau covers. Fiberglass tonneau covers are hard enough to protect your cargo and objects from the outer elements and thieves. It gives more security than vinyl bed covers.
If we talk about appearances, tonneau covers crafted using fiberglass provide a more sleek and polished look. They give better strength and go longer than any other tonneau cover.
Canvas is another type of soft bed cover. Tonneau covers, which are made up of canvas, are lightweight. They are installed and operated easily. Moreover, these covers are durable and budget-friendly. It is specially designed for those people who utilize their trucks occasionally and for groceries. This truck bed cover is excellent for protecting your cargo.
Fabric: What material is used for the tonneau cover?
Tonneau covers are made of various materials, including vinyl, fiberglass, Aluminum, canvas, and plastic. Each material has its pros and cons. Let’s get to know about vinyl material.
Vinyl laminated is a fabric that is mainly used in the making of soft tonneau covers. The bed covers made of vinyl are waterproof, shrink-resistant, and durable. It provides your truck with a sleek and seamless appearance. Vinyl tonneau covers are great for protecting the cargo from outer elements.
Some tonneau covers are made out of both vinyl and aluminum materials. Those tonneau covers have a rugged top surface because the aluminum and vinyl frame guarantees long operating life in outdoor conditions.
Brands: What are the best tonneau cover brands?
What are you looking for in a tonneau cover? Of course, its durability and strength while hauling the equipment. Various brands claim their tonneau covers are the best but are they? Below, I disclose the top brand’s tonneau covers that are great for protecting and securing your valuable cargo from harsh elements.
TruXedo Pro X15 soft rolling cover is excellent for covering and keeps the water out. It is crafted with woven fabric which provides an enchanting black matte finish. It is claimed to be durable. This cover has a quick-release system of just latching and unlatching.
Its installation is handy and offers weather protection. Even though it is not entirely water resistant, it keeps the cargo safe and sound by not dipping the water inside the truck bed.
BAK All-New Revolver X4S is a hard-rolling cover. It is an upgraded version of Revolver X4S with some new features and is made of Aluminum which gives more strength in protecting objects and luggage.
It is crafted with a mixture of industrial grain and vinyl that resists water from getting inside. This tonneau cover is upgraded with a safety clasp for rolling and durable straps and buckles for shielding the open cover while hauling. They give a warranty of 5 years.
Tonno Pro Hard Fold tonneau cover has aluminum panels which make it durable and add more strength. It is lightweight and easy to use. All you need to do is unclamp the holds and fold. It has nylon straps that are great for securing the cover in an open position.
The best thing that made me happy was purchasing this cover with pre-assembled side rails. The folding rail is weightless and can be installed, removed, or folded by one person. There is no need for drilling to adjust it. They allow a limited lifetime guarantee.
BackFlip MX4 Hard Folding tonneau cover has durable Aluminum that covers the cargo from sunrays and heavy rain. It is an upgraded version of G2 that offers an automatic latch system that is partially or fully opened and closed. The cover gives a UV matte black finish that protects the cover from scratches, dents, and UV rays.
The MX4 makes your truck sleek by not showing clamps and raw Aluminum. Moreover, it provides waterproof sealing end caps at both interior rails, enhancing its looks and functionality. It comes with 5 years of warranty.
Type: What are the different types of tonneau covers?
There is plenty of truck bed covers in the market, which break down by price, durability, warranty, and level of security. Bed covers come in 5 different types, but they are categorized into two sections which are:
Before we jump into the types, let me demonstrate the difference between soft and hard. Soft bed covers are made up of soft vinyl. It keeps the cargo protected and secure but not as safe as hard bed covers. In addition, they give trucks a sleek and soft appearance by allowing them a low-profile look. In contrast, Hard bed covers are made of hard plastic, fiberglass, and Aluminum, making them rugged. It provides the truck with a high-profile look and cannot quickly wear and tear.
Roll-up truck bed Covers
It is the most traditional and common type of tonneau cover. Rolling covers are made of faded-resistant soft vinyl and aluminum slide rails. It has velcro on both sides, ensuring you put the cover back in its place. It accomplishes two significant features, which are protection and weatherstripping. Moreover, it can hold up to 120 pounds of weight.
Installation of this tonneau cover is handy, and it provides tear resistance. Although it is not very strong, it gives security and protection from outer elements.
Soft roll-up bed covers are easy to use and specifically designed for family usage. It has a hook-and-loop system that fastens the cover.
A hard roll-up bed cover has the same feature but gives security with a hard top. The top is reinforced with hard Aluminum that protects against dirt and grim. It includes a cable release on both sides, allowing you to open it from either side. We have covered a detailed guide on problems and their solutions with roll-up bed covers.
Folding Tonneau Cover
Folding bed covers have 3 or 4 panels that fold up. Both are durable and stable. The panels fold towards the cab and are exposed to as much of the truck bed as desired. This cover is easy to operate and can be locked in multiple open positions.
It is best for both worlds regarding protection from outer elements and got weatherstripping all around the edges and is also a very effective tonneau cover for theft protection. It is manufactured with a mixture of fiberglass and Aluminum, which makes its texture hard, provides a Low profile look, and can hold up to 300-600 pounds. This tonneau cover is famous among truck owners because of its folding. It comes with a lifetime warranty.
The soft folding tonneau cover is perfect for family use, such as protecting their sports and fishing cargo, groceries, etc. It features heavy-duty Aluminum and leather vinyl.
A hard folding tonneau cover performs the same function but adds extra protection and shielding. It has a rugged surface and provides security from theft and heavy rain.
Snap-on Tonneau Cover
The snap bed cover is the most common type of tonneau cover. It is manufactured with an aluminum frame. It further attaches to the truck bed rails. However, truck owners do not prefer it because the snap tonneau cover is not very waterproof, and the vinyl tends to shrink in wintertime.
You can operate this bed cover simply by doing a latch or unlatching it to access your bed cover. The loading capacity of the snap tonneau cover is 24 pounds. This cover is weightless, and you can order in custom sizes. However, it has the least water resistance and the least durability.
Retractable Tonneau Cover
It is the upgraded version of a rolling-on bed cover. But rather than roll onto the top of the truck, it rolls into a canister inside the bed. This type of tonneau cover withdraws itself and rearward to the truck when you hit the button. It has aluminum slats underneath a leather-grained texture of matte black vinyl, which is exceptionally high quality. The aluminum slats protect it from thieves. One can not cut it with a knife and access the cargo.
It has a unique style of weatherstripping all around the bed rails, protecting the cargo from external components. Also, it has weatherstrips up by the locking mechanism. It protects it from all the weather systems all year round.
When your tailgate is shut and your cover is locked, no one will have any access to your cargo. It has a sealed ball bearing system that provides smooth operation and prevents the cover from binding while opening and closing. You can load more than 500 pounds and look good.
You can operate both manually and remotely. This cover is durable and sturdy. A truck can be partially open when you have large items. It is waterproof and can not easily tear. You can check some of the best retractable tonneau covers that are reviewed by us.
One-piece Truck bed cover
The hinged tonneau cover is the most stylish and luxurious type. This style gives your truck a classy, sleek look that complements your vehicle. It protects your cargo from the outer element and reduces aerodynamic drag.
It is made up of fiberglass, hard plastic, and Aluminum. There are twin weatherstrip beds seals around the bed rails and the tailgate to ensure that the moisture does not go. This hinged-style tonneau cover is best to shield your cargo. It is highly water resistant and has built-in locks, making cargo super secure.
You can design this cover by matching it with your vehicle color; the cover appears to be an integral part of your vehicle. With this tonneau cover, your truck will become a trunk, and you can load around 1600 lb. It does not require opening or folding, lift, and you are ready to go.
Protection: What is the most secure tonneau cover?
What will you do when traveling on a pickup while exposing your luggage openly and suddenly a rainstorm hits you? You will indeed be worried about your equipment. And covering it with just an ordinary waterproof sheet or tarp can not protect your cargo.
Owning a truck has all the perks until you realize your cargo is unsafe when the climate is in the mood. In this case, you need a truck bed cover to protect your cargo from outer elements. Tonneau covers protect and secure equipment and objects from UV rays, heavy rains, scorching heat, and thieves.
Tonneau covers have come in two groups; soft and hard. Soft tonneau covers are lightweight, durable, and water resistant but not as hard ones. Hard tonneau covers are made of Aluminum, hard plastic, or fiberglass, making the cover rugged and sturdy. Hard bed covers provide complete protection against weather changes.
Rolling, folding, and hinged tonneau covers lie in the hard category. All of them are perfect while doing their job. The main difference between them is the price and weight loading. They promise to keep the water out and secure your cargo from the eyes of prey.
One of consumers’ most frequently asked questions when purchasing a tonneau cover is, Is the Tonneau cover waterproof? Does it keep the water out? There is no wrong in saying that the tonneau cover shields the cargo and keeps most of the water from entering the bed cover.
But describing a tonneau cover as 100% water resistant is inaccurate. You will get a few drops of water inside the truck bed cover. The water sits on the top of the cover’s bed rail and becomes the reason to get inside the truck. We have reviewed some of the best tonneau covers that are waterproof.
Hinged or One-piece is the most waterproof tonneau cover. It is made of fiberglass and ABS plastic, perfect for covering your truck bed and providing complete security. It has the only rear hinge area from where a small amount of water gets inside.
Retractable and roll-up tonneau also greatly resist the water from getting inside and keeping the gear dry.
Weight: What is the lightest tonneau cover?
Not everyone has powerful muscles and is in good health to easily open and close the tonneau cover. Therefore, lightweight tonneau covers are manufactured. They can be installed and removed easily. There are many brands which introduced lightweight tonneau covers;
BAK BAKFliP F1 Hard Folding truck bed cover is crafted with fiberglass and plastic. The panels are made of fiberglass, which means it performs heavy-duty, heat-resistant, dent-proof, and lightweight material. It is mounted flush with the bed of your truck to give your truck a stylish and sleek low profile.
LOMAX Carbon Fiber Hard Folding tonneau cover is exceptionally lightweight yet durable and has a super strong upper surface. It means your cargo will remain safe in heavy rain. With its premium style, it works as corrosion resistant.
UnderCover Flex Hard Folding truck bed cover is made of Aluminum which means it has a rigid and sturdy surface. It is a good option for those who deliver cargo to far areas. It has a stylish low profile and a gloss black finish. You can purchase this tonneau cover confidently; it is lightweight and can easily install.
Another factor lies in the weight category, which is soft and hard tonneau covers.
Soft tonneau covers are mostly made of soft vinyl material and are lightweight. However, they are not very durable. Most of the time, the cover flips out due to soft material and causes tearing.
On the contrary, hard tonneau covers are crafted with Aluminum, plastic, and fiberglass. All these materials make tonneau covers solid and rigid. Therefore, they are durable, offer great longevity without tearing apart, and are waterproof. There is a myth about hard tonneau covers that they are heavy. Not all hard bed covers are hard weight and can easily install and remove to clear out this.
Gas mileage: Do tonneau covers help with gas mileage?
A tonneau cover is a truck accessory that enhances its look and provides its owner with better gas mileage. Adjusting a tonneau cover over your truck bed improves fuel efficiency. But you must wonder how it saves money on gas.
Your fuel economy increases when you haul your truck or pickup without a tonneau cover. The reason is the aerodynamic force gets inside the truck plus the tailgate captures the airflow. Therefore, dragging the truck at high speed demands more fuel.
The truck bed that has installed a tonneau cover helps reduce aerodynamic drag and improve gas mileage.
There is another factor that helps in reducing fuel economy is the tailgate. If your truck tailgate is up, there is less chance of increases in the gas mileage and potentially improves the fuel efficiency.
Maintenance: How do you clean and protect a tonneau cover?
Installing a tonneau cover on your truck bed is excellent, but do you ever think about cleaning and protection? The maintenance of a tonneau cover is as essential as installation. Cleaning the bed cover will increase its longevity, and you can know whether your cover is in good condition.
Protection: If you notice any scratch or dent on the tonneau cover, a mechanic must check it out for its repair and adjustment. These minor issues will lead to a worsening.
Cleaning: for cleaning tonneau covers, all you do is park your truck under a shady tree or away from the sunlight. Mix the solution of the car wash into the hot water. Dip the soft brush or sponge in the solution and gently rub over the tonneau cover. Next, wipe off the foaming with a clean cloth and hose the UV-protecting spray all over the truck to prevent it from sun rays. In addition, your truck bed cover looks polished and new.
What makes you happy when you order or buy a tonneau cover? Of course, a tonneau cover comes along with tonneau cover accessories. But sometimes, you purchase a tonneau cover that costs $350, and to your disappointment, it comes with zero accessories. It makes you upset because you have to spend extra money purchasing accessories.
There are tons of tonneau cover brands that send accessories when you purchase a tonneau cover. Installing a tonneau cover onto your truck comes with everything you need. Accessories include clamps, side rails, tension adjusters, freebies, tonneau tonic (for cleaning the cover), tailgate, bulkhead seal, and mounting hardware to attach.
Tonneau covers vary in their styles, sizes, and adjustment ways. There are multiple types of tonneau covers that exist in the market. There is another factor that makes them differ is closing options.
Snap closure Tonneau covers
There was a time when snap-closure tonneau covers gained popularity. They have become common and used by every other truck or pickup owner because of their handy closing. But with time, they lose their importance when new kinds of closing covers are introduced.
Cold and hot temperatures cause the cover to stretch and retract. If you live in a moderate temperate, then a snap closure tonneau cover will get you and protect your cargo without flipping out or tearing it apart.
Clamps Tonneau covers
Clamps tonneau covers are mainly used on roll-on and folding covers. It makes the opening and closing easy by just latching or unlatching the clamps and rolling toward the bulkhead.
Velcro Tonneau cover
Velcro is like “hook and loop” fasteners. It is used chiefly on roll-on tonneau covers. These velcro straps keep the cover in its place even at high speed.
Lockable Tonneau cover
Locking tonneau covers seem to be more appealing to consumers. The locking mechanism is mainly used in retractable and hinged tonneau covers because these covers are very low profile and can easily lock with the tailgate.
Are tonneau covers worth it?
A tonneau cover is worth buying. It is like an investment in your truck. This cover safe your cargo from everything, whether it is scorching heat or security. It is a great way to give your truck a standard, high-toned appearance. It prevents your vehicle from consuming more fuel, and you can save money. So, it is worth it.
What is the difference between BAKFlip F1 and MX4?
The main difference is the aluminum top surface. The F1 has a fiberglass upper surface, while MX4 has an aluminum top surface. For this reason, F1 has more extended durability than MX4.
As long as your truck has a hard tonneau cover with hard plastic and fiberglass, a car wash does not cause any damage. However, if your cover is painted and made up of soft vinyl, you should choose a touchless car wash to avoid scratching.
How long does it take to install a truck bed cover?
Installation can vary in type and size. If you are installing a soft tonneau cover, it takes 20 – 30 minutes and can be done by a person himself. On the other hand, a hard tonneau cover is difficult to install, needs the help of 2 or 3 persons, and takes 30 – 40 minutes. Most tonneau covers take 30 minutes to 1 hour to install by a mechanic. If you are worried about the installation of tonneau covers, you can read our detailed guide.
Why is it called a tonneau cover?
Earlier, in French, people covered their items and cargo from the eyes of prey and outer elements with a tarp over the tonneau. Later, it was called a tonneau cover. However, a tarp was not too strong to protect the objects from heavy rain, and now, tonneau covers gave way to fixed roof trunks.
Tonneau covers are an additional accessory on your truck, giving it a sleek and stylish look. Moreover, protect and secure your cargo from heavy rains and thieves. From specifying your requirements to closing options, I answered all of your concerns and questions you keep in mind while purchasing a tonneau cover. After reading this, buying a bed cover is no more a difficult task for you.