Coatings for truck beds (or Spray Bed Liners) make up a large product segment competing for the truck bed liner market. These spray bed liners vary greatly in cost, properties and benefits as much as the plastic and rubber bed liners, if not more so. Zolatone® from Surface Protection Industries was one of the first spray bed liners to be sold to the truck bed liner market. Known for its success in the floor and wall coatings markets, Surface Protection Industries (SPI) introduced Zolatone to the truck aftermarket industry. This tough, rigid, colorful coating became famous for its simple paint gun application and its multi-color flake that floated within the coating itself.
Also early on the spray bed liner scene was Rhino Linings USA, Incorporated. Founded in 1988 by Russell Lewis of South Africa. Rhino Linings improved the spray bed liner concept by introducing a rubber-like, two part, polyurethane coating that could be sprayed very thick. TuffStuff® from Rhino Linings evolved from an idea borrowed from the mine cars of South Africa. This spray bed liner was much more expensive than the Zolatone® liner due mainly to the large volume of material that is applied (6 - 8 gallons versus 2 - 4 quarts). Even though more pricey, the rubber-like coating from Rhino Linings® soon became the spray bed liner of choice throughout the United States.
With the success of TuffStuff®, many new spray bed liner competitors emerged, Armorthane®, Ameraguard®, Diamond Liners®, and Line-X just to name a few. In fact, former Rhino Linings' employees broke away and started new competing companies in the spray bed liner market. Many new spray bed liner companies opened during the early 1990s. New variants of the original coating along with technological advances in equipment kept the market alive and well, giving potential spray bed liner installers many options to choose from.
In the later part of 1995, a new product entered into the spray bed liner scene called Speedliner®. Speedliner was different than any other product in the market. Previous spray bed liner products were two component (catalyst and resin) urethanes that when mixed, the liquids hardened within seconds. Having no pot life required the user to invest thousands of dollars in airless spray equipment that would mix the two components as they sprayed. Many businesses both small and large were uncomfortable committing to a large up front investment or lengthy lease agreement.
Industrial Polymers of Houston Texas saw an opportunity to create a high performance coating that would be perfect for the spray bed liner market yet have a reasonable pot life when catalyst and resin are mixed, enabling the applicator to use simple, inexpensive, conventional spray equipment. The result was a product that could be sprayed very thick like the original urethane spray bed liners, but with several new product benefits.
Better physical properties became the first noticeable difference in the Speedliner® spray bed liner product. Tensile strength, a test for measuring a products resistance to pulling and stretching, proved to be about twice the industry average. Stronger tensile strength means the product is more resistant to tears, scratches and gouges.
The other benefit was the level of UV protection Speedliner® offered. Speedliner®'s delivery system enabled large quantities of additives used solely for the purpose of color retention in sunlight to boost UV protection. Speedliner®'s color held up great without the need for a secondary UV topcoat process commonly offered with original urethane systems for an additional charge.
Speedliner®'s color benefits went even further. Completely compatible with automotive tints, Speedliner® users could easily custom match the color of the vehicle they were lining, taking spray bed liner customization to a whole new level.
The success of Speedliner® was immediate. With its low start up cost and physically superior product, Speedliner®'s dealer base grew like none other. Within a few short years, hundreds of Speedliner® spray bed liner dealers emerged all over the country and throughout the world.
As with Rhino Linings before, success bred competition. Other pre-mix spray bed liner products like Speedliner® emerged on the market place. Scorpion Liner®, Mega Liner® and Super Liner® were all competitors started by former Speedliner® customers or employees. Not being in the urethane manufacturing business like Industrial Polymers, these companies were spawned by their owners finding other manufacturers to supply them with the urethane products they sold.
A variant to the spray bed liner market is the do-it-yourself coating products. These single component products include Durabak™, Herculiner® and the aforementioned Zolatone®. For those who want to save money, the D-I-Y truck bed liner may be the option. A lowered cost is achieved by using less material. In reality the D-I-Y products are far more expensive per gallon than spray on bed liner products, between two and three times more expensive. The end product does offer some protection for truck owners, but the primary benefit of the D-I-Y bed liner kits is cosmetic. To match the protection of thick spray bed liners would mean using $400 to $600 of product for a truck bed application, making D-I-Y products cost prohibitive to those wanting equal protection.
Numerous options now exist in the truck bed liner market. Truck owners get to choose from a plethora of options, colors and price points to find the bed liner that is perfect for their needs and demands. It is a market that has enjoyed enormous growth over the past twenty-five years and continues today. As long as people buy trucks, companies will continue to create bed liner products to improve the performance and longevity of the truck bed.