If you're looking for the best way to accessorize your truck, one of the best places to start is with a tonneau cover. We have created the ultimate tonneau cover buying guide to help you through the process of selecting the tonneau cover that will perfectly fit your truck, that is in your price range and functions based on how you work.
Tonneau covers not only look great, they can also improve your fuel economy and, in some cases, pay for themselves in as little as a year with the money you'll save on fuel through improved gas mileage with your tonneau cover.
Finding the right tonneau cover can be a tricky process if you don't know where to start. In this tonneau cover buying guide we will tell you what to look for in a tonneau cover, tips on installation and how our tonneau covers will provide flexibility to your truck, pad your wallett and make you look sharp. Let's get started.
Sure we get plenty of protection from the wind and rain while sitting in the cab of our trucks, if only our cargo was afforded the same luxury. The simple way to go about that is with a soft tonneau cover. There are many different types of soft tonneau covers and we will cover (no pun intended) the basics of your options here.
When wondering what type of tonneau cover should I buy, most people will purchase their tonneau cover based on the opening style and hard/soft cover type.
Hard or Soft Tonneau Cover?
Folding Tonneau Cover
Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Hinged & Roll Up
With so many different bed covers on the market how your tonneau cover seals itself could vary from cover to cover. Here are some of the most popular ways a bed cover will seal:
For many years, this was the only option for sealing a tonneau. You would have to snap or button down your cover to secure it into place. If you are purchasing a snap-down cover, ensure you purchase one with adjustable snaps for the case the tonneau shrinks or expands.
Low Profile Tonneau Cover:
Low profile tonneau covers are snapless and have a sealing system which features a rubber tongue and groove seal. You simply push the rubber/plastic seam into the aluminum channel and slide your hand down the bed.
Tonneau bed covers that use velcro are very fast and easy to open. Also since there is not a need for special snaps or channeling system, they are typically easier to install.
Tri fold tonneau covers are typically installed over the rails and will sit up a few inches from the top of the box. To work a tri-vold you open the tail gate and will typically pull down on two latches to release the tonneau. The tonneau will then fold up into three sections. Once it is folded-up, there are some latches to secure it. Most tri-folds do not fold all the way up, so unless you remove the tonneau cover, you can't reach under the tonneau next to the cab of your truck.
Roll-up tonneau covers work as the name suggests. They roll-up from the back of your truck box all the way to the cab. A roll-up cover will sit inside the rails. Compared to a tri-fold, a roll-up will be a much lower profile tonneau. To work a typical roll-up cover, you will open your tail gate and unlatch a small slide-lock. You then simply roll-up the cover all the way to the front of the cab. A benefit of a roll-up is that you can use your entire bed without removing the cover. There is typically a bit more mounting hardware with a roll-up as you need to attach mounting rails, but the installation will usually take less than 30 minutes.
1. What is your main purpose of adding a tonneau to your pickup truck?
While you may think you want a tonneau cover for your pickup, the main purpose for your tonneau can help determine the style you purchase. If yo u afe looking for function, security, looks, versatility or easy removal it can determine if you go with a roll-up or hard-top. Determine this first - it will make your buying process easier.
2. How often do you need to access your cargo and to what extent?
Will you need quick and efficient access to your truck bed on a daily or hourly basis or do you only require occasional access? Whether it is a hard or soft tonneau, both are available in folding and retracting designs.
3. What's your budget for a tonneau cover?
Soft covers generally cost $250 to $550 where as hard covers start at about $500 and go up to over $1,500.
4. Who will be installing the tonneau cover?
Most tonneau covers can be installed by a single person in their garage in around 30 minutes. That being said, covers work the best when they are properly installed. Rail mis-alignment or improper seal installation could leave your tonneau wobbly and your cargo wet.
5. Do you want to have the tonneau on your truck 24/7 or only occasionally?
Will your tonneau be a staple of your truck or do you anticipate removal of the tonneau during certain times of the year?
6. How tall is your truck?
If your truck is lifted or you have some huge tires on that bad boy you might have to hop on the tailgate in order to retract your tonneau. Consider the height of your truck and how you will operate the tonnear.
To clean your tonneau cover you can use warm water and mild soap or opt for a cleaner specific for cleaning tonneau covers. You will want to use soft cotton cloths or a sponge to dry the cover.
While soap and water will clean your cover just fine, the vinyl cleaners also contain protectants which can prolong the life of your truck bed cover. For more cleaning information check out this post on how to clean your tonneau properly.
Tonneau covers have come a long way in the past 25 years. There are more styles available than ever before and several top of the line brands to choose from. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $2000 purchasing a tonneau cover so it is not too difficult to find one that fits your budget.
Tonneau covers can roll-up, be hinged, or they can fold or snap. Most tonneau covers have strategically placed weather seals which are there to aid in channeling water away from your cargo.
There are several different manufacturers of tonneau covers and all offer a very quality product. We'll look at 5 of the best tonneau cover brands out there and look at the products they offer.