A tonneau cover is a great investment because these specialized covers really go the distance when it comes to protecting your truck's bed from the elements. 

Tonneau covers come with different fitments that are optimized for different truck models. The key is learning how precisely a tonneau cover fits onto a truck, which this guide outlines. From there, you'll learn how to install a tonneau cover on just about any truck make or model.


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To make sure your chosen tonneau cover will fit your truck correctly, start by measuring the length from the bulkhead to the tailgate. Then, convert that measurement into feet. This will be the length of tonneau cover you’ll need. From there, you'll need to find a model of that length designed for your truck's make and model so that it can account for the unique in-bed design of said truck.


How Much Does It Cost to Install Truck Bed Covers?

Truck bed cover installation costs will depend first on what kind of cover you've chosen. Soft covers tend to cost between $100 and $500, while hard covers start at around $500 and range up to $2,000. You'll also need to factor in the cost of labor if you are opting for a professional installation. Your local mechanic can give you an estimate of those added costs.


How Long Does It Take to Install A Tonneau Cover?

In theory, a professional with experience could install a tonneau cover in just a single afternoon. However, if you’ve never performed such a job before, you may need a little more time to make sure the whole apparatus is mounted properly. In any case, seeking a professional installation will always be the faster, more reliable route.


How to Install A Tonneau Cover?

Compared to many other forms of vehicle modification, installing a tonneau cover is well within reach of many amateur mechanics and DIYers. However, there are particular steps you'll need to follow to make such a project a success. 

The following are a few key steps that almost all tonneau cover installations will call for. Keep in mind that your chosen cover and your truck's make/model may also impact the installation process.

To start, you’ll want to take measurements of your truck bed and produce a tonneau cover that is sized for that truck bed. At the same time, you should ensure that your chosen cover model is compatible with your truck’s make and model. Before starting the main installation, you’ll also want to check if your other truck bed equipment is compatible with your cover. In other words, you’ll need to determine if modifications will be warranted for your bed liner or rail covers.

From there, you’ll want to grab some temporary clamps and using them to temporarily mount your cover’s side rails into the upper edges of your truck’s bed. From there, you can begin to follow the process for installation outlined in this video.


Specific Tonneau Covers & How to Install Them

By Type Or Material

  • How to Install A Roll Up/Soft Tonneau Cover
    Ensure that you have clamped the cover rails on evenly. Otherwise, the cover may always go one unevenly.
  • How to Install a Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover/Tri-Fold
    Don’t forget to install the drain hoses. Otherwise, you may end up with condensation build-up on your cover’s surface, causing it to bow inward.
  • How to Install a Retractable Tonneau Cover 
    Be sure to have a full Allen wrench set on hand. You'll need a few to fully assemble this kind of cover.
  • How to Install a Fiberglass Tonneau Cover
    This is one task that DIYers might want to shy away from. Fiberglass covers are hefty and are best placed with heavy equipment like a forklift.

By Tonneau Cover Brand or Truck

  • How to Install a Truxedo Tonneau Cover
    Be sure to mount seals correctly, or they may come loose when placing on the cloth cover.
  • How to Install a Bakflip Tonneau Cover
    Don’t forget to stick on the bumper pads. These prevent the hard panels from hitting one another while folded over.
  • How to Install a Tyger Tonneau Cover
    Don’t skip the weather sealing. It can prevent unwanted noise and moisture from entering the bed while driving.
  • How to Install a Snugtop Tonneau Cover
    Consider adding a touch light to the underside for easier material removals at night.
  • How to Install a Gator Tonneau Cover
    Don’t force the clamp bolts down. They can break off.
  • How to Install a Tonneau Cover on a Toyota Tacoma 
    Be sure to save enough seal material for it to extend into the bulkhead. Otherwise, moisture can enter in at that corner.
  • How to Install a Tonneau Cover on a Ford F150
    Double check compatibility. Newer F150 covers tend to leak on old F150 truck beds.
  • How to Install a Tonneau Cover on a Dodge Ram 
    Be sure to clean truck rails before attaching cover rails. Otherwise, they may slip out of position over time.
  • How to Install Tonneau Cover on a Chevy Silverado
    Make sure to use the correct corner pieces. They can look similar on these truck beds until it is too late.

Tonneau Cover Care Tips

Caring for your new tonneau cover is the best way to keep it sturdy and aesthetically stylish for the long haul. One way to do this is to routinely clean off your cover with soap and warm water. However, if you have a vinyl cover, use vinyl cleaner instead. Specialized tonneau cover cleaners also exist and may be a better option, given that they can also condition the cover’s surface as it cleans.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you install a tonneau cover with a bedliner?

Yes. However, you should be aware that this modification may cause covers that should otherwise fit to be misaligned. One way to prevent this is by making modifications to the cover that allow for proper spacing on the cover rails.

How do you keep a tonneau cover from flapping?

If your new tonneau cover is flapping, then that’s not a good sign. On one hand, this might indicate that your chosen model is not the correct size for your truck bed. It may also suggest that your cover is not holding adequate tension while your truck is moving at an average speed.

How tight should a tonneau cover be?

Naturally, you’ll want to avoid any sagging across the breadth of your new tonneau cover. However, you also don’t want that cover to be so tight that you can never relock it into place. Instead, you’ll want to find a nice middle ground where the fabric is "drum-tight" when locked into place.

Do tonneau covers fit all trucks?

Not at all. Tonneau covers come in all kinds of sizes to match the numerous truck sizes offered by major truck manufacturers today. At the same time, tonneau covers are usually made to fit the dimensions of a specific truck brand, make, or model. You'll need to buy a model that is compatible not only with its specifications but also with its rear architecture.


Conclusion

As you’ve now seen, installing a tonneau cover does not need to be an intimidating task. So long as you make all of the necessary measurements and get a properly fitted model, you should be in the clear to perform a DIY installation. Professional installation is also a worthwhile option, especially if you are worried about correctly mounting your new tonneau cover.