Whether you want to protect your payload or improve your ride’s aerodynamic qualities, a tonneau cover is a valuable addition to your truck. But, if you have to pay a fortune to have the local auto shop complete the tonneau cover installation, the price adds up quickly. Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know how to install a tonneau cover yourself.
Tonneau Covers Installation Steps
- The first thing you’ll want to do is select the tonneau cover that’s the best fit for your needs and for your truck. See below for more info about which tonneau is best for you
- Attach the rails that came with your tonneau cover to your bed. If using an over-the-bed rail liner, you may have to cut notches in it for the tonneau’s clamps to poke through
- Align the tonneau cover’s rails and tighten all mounting hardware until it loosely holds the rails in place. Re-check rail alignment and if ok, fully tighten the mounting hardware
- Install any tailgate or cab-side seals if they were included with your cover
- Set the top on the tonneau rails and check that the tonneau sits evenly along the perimeter. If it doesn’t, recheck your rail alignment and adjust as necessary
- Inspect all sealing surfaces for visible gaps or bulging. Again, if the tonneau isn’t sitting flush on the gasket without excessively compressing it, make the necessary adjustments to the rail’s position
- If your tonneau cover came with drainage tubes you’ll want to connect them and route them to the corners of the bed
Types of Tonneau Covers
Now that you know how easy it is to install your tonneau cover yourself, the decision shouldn’t be to buy or not to buy, but rather which tonneau to choose. Truck bed covers come in several different styles, in order to best meet your exact needs. If you are looking for an inexpensive solution, soft tonneau will provide you with many of the benefits without the big price tag. But if you are serious about security, strength, utility and style, a hard tonneau cover is the way to go. They support more weight and come in a variety of styles. No matter which one you choose, you’ll also have to decide on the opening style. Here are the main types of hard and soft tonneau covers.
- Uses multiple panels that fold to expose the bed’s contents
- Commonly used on trucks with 5th wheels or gooseneck hitches because they can be secured in a partially open position
- Popular in both hard and soft tonneau styles
- Mainly used on soft tonneau covers, this style rolls from the tailgate to the cab
- Can use snaps, Velcro or peel-n-seal methods to hold the top on the cover’s rails
- Generally lighter weight than other tonneau cover styles for increased bed security without adding noticeable weight to your truck
- Typically a single piece of fabric stretched over a metal frame or solid fiberglass in construction
- Attaches to the front of the bed and tilts upward from the tailgate end to reveal the bed
- Many fiberglass offerings can be paint-matched to your truck
- Extends from and retracts into a drum that’s housed in the cab-end of the bed
- Usually made from aluminum slats, providing very good bed security when closed
- Can be opened incrementally
Selecting the Right Tonneau Cover for Your Ride
Here at AutoAnything, we have a huge selection of tonneau covers to choose from, all crafted from the top names in the game, like BAK, Extang, Truxedo and Undercover. If you’re looking for a folding cover, be sure to check out the Extang Trifecta or the BakFlip F1. If you want the looks and benefits of a hard top, but without the weight, check out the selection of Undercover tonneau covers.
If you’re still uncertain which tonneau is best for you, check out our hard tonneau cover buying guide, soft tonneau cover buying guide or our huge collection tonneau cover reviews. You can see exactly what people are saying about the bed covers made for your truck, and you can read up on different styles, like the Extang Solid Fold Tonneau Cover or the Roll n Lock Tonneau Cover.