How to Install a Hard Truck Bed Cover?

Truck bed covers or tonneau covers have increased in popularity over the years. The popularity is so much that no other after-market parts are as much in demand for trucks as the truck bed covers are. And it’s justifiably so. 

Truck bed covers do the essential job of protecting the cargo of a truck. While there are many different types of truck bed covers out there, the main issue is the installation. Many people struggle with the installation process simply because they don’t understand the manual or don’t know which type will best suit their truck. 

For that reason, this article will focus on all the common types of installation and a detailed guide on how to install them. Read along to know which is the best truck bed tonneau cover for your truck and how to install it. 

how to install tonneau cover

Types of Hard Truck Bed Cover

Most of the hard folding tonneau cover out there are after-market products. As a result, there is a completely free choice when it comes to choosing the tonneau cover for your truck. But before we dive into how to put on a tonneau cover, it’s important to know what are hard tonneau cover and their types.

There are mainly three different types of truck bed cover – folding, retractable, and roll-up. In this article, we are focusing on the installation of hard truck bed covers for pickup trucks, so we will exclude the roll-up covers. 

The folding covers generally come as a hard tri-fold tonneau cover. There are three panels mainly made out of aluminum which is interconnected in a threefold system. These hard tonneau covers for pickup trucks are perfect for manual usage and heavy protection. 

The retractable ones are a bit more advanced. Most of the retractable covers come with an automated mechanism where the cover opens up or closes at the push of a few buttons. These are a great way if you want automated features for your cover. They are also very durable and do an excellent job of weatherproofing your cargo. 

What’s the Best Hard Truck Bed Cover? 

Now you might be wondering what would be the best hard top tonneau cover. The choice becomes difficult with all the options out there. 

Here are two of the best ones you can consider. We will talk in detail about how to install the gator EFX hard fold tonneau cover. We will also talk about how to install a Mopar hard tonneau cover. 

1. Gator EFX Bed Tonneau Cover – Best for F150 (2015-2020)

Key Features

  • Type: Tri-fold tonneau cover
  • Material: Heavy-duty aluminum panels
  • Exterior: UV protected powder coat finish
  • Security: Tailgate lock system

The gator EFX tonneau cover is an overall better hard truck bed cover out there. It’s not just affordable but also ticks a lot of the boxes. 

The cover is a tri-fold design. The top of the cover is black coated aluminum which gives it a premium look. In addition to the matte covering, the cover has a weatherproof coating which makes it perfect for every season. 

The cover also has under paneling to protect the cargo. It can be used in three different positions depending on the use of the case. Overall, it can be a good choice for people looking for a hard-top truck bed cover within budget.

2. Mopar Ram 1500 Black Folding – Best for Ram 1500

Key Features

  • Type: Folding tonneau cover
  • Material: premium aluminum slats 
  • Exterior: Powder coated matte black texture 
  • Security: clamp locks 

The Mopar Ram 1500 tonneau cover is a purpose-built weatherproof truck bed cover. This is a folding tonneau cover with some handy weatherproof features. 

The panels of the cover are made from aluminum. 

Its specialized powder coat makes it extremely durable against the weather. Whether it’s the heavy snow or the chemicals, this cover will protect your cargo like no other. 

It has a clamp lock security system which can be carried either as an open carry or fully covered. The installation process of the cover is also very simple and takes less than 30 minutes. 

We will talk more about the installation process in the latter part of the article. It’s a great purchase if you want something as rugged and strong as your truck cover.

Types Of Installation Method 

As there are different types of tonneau covers, so are there different types of installation methods. Out of the common types of tonneau covers out there, the most common installation methods are clamping, semi-permanent clamping, retractable and hinged lid mechanisms. 

For ease of understanding, we will separately discuss each of these installation processes. 

Temporary Clamping 

This is probably the easiest installation method out of all the installation mechanisms. It’s easy to assemble and remove the hard tonneau cover in this system. You don’t even have to have any form of expertise to get going with this installation. 

Usually, the cover doesn’t come with any type of installation tools since you won’t be needing any. To get started, follow these steps – 

  • The tonneau cover should be completely folded. 
  • After that, the cover should be put on top of the truck and as close to the cab as possible. 
  • There are two latches on the farthest side of the cover on two sides. Pull the latches and place them in a way that they fall exactly over the lip of the rail. 
  • Use the pump to achieve optimum tightness of the grip. Aim for the tightest position. 
  • Open the entire cover and spread it up to the tailgate. 
  • Attach the tailgate latch in the same way as that of the side rails. 
  • Check whether the tailgate lines up properly after closing. 
  • You might need to make some adjustments, but that’s about it. 

Semi-Permanent Clamping 

Semi-permanent clamping uses a bolting mechanism along with the clamps. The installation process is as follows – 

  • Locate the tools that come with the cover. The installation process itself is not labor-intensive, but you do need to have the tools in place. 
  • The first step is similar to the temporary clamping system. Except if the cover uses shims, you need to properly line them up on the rails. 
  • If there aren’t any shims, proceed with lining the bed cover over the rails near the cab. 
  • Once it’s completely lined up, use the bolts to secure them in place. 
  • Open the cover once it is bolted and close the tailgate. Test if everything is lined up properly and all the levers are working. 

Retractable Tonneau Covers 

The retractable tonneau covers are the same in every way as the above two. However, there is an extra canister that needs to be attached. 

  • Firstly, position the canister at the center of the truck bed. It’s important to make sure it’s in the complete center position. Make sure the gap between the bed and the cab is perfectly sealed once you place the canister in position and as forward as possible. 
  • The cover rails should be placed over the bed rails and attached to the canisters. Also, make sure the rails are properly lined up to ensure that the sliding mechanism is smooth. 
  • The attaching clamps should be positioned in the right place to ensure a secure lock. When in the right position, each of the clamps should be properly bolted. The bolting will create the necessary tension for the cover rails. 
  • Follow the measurement of the guide to ensure that the rail span is of the recommended size at both front and back. If the measurement is not correct, you can use a shim to correct the measurement. The remaining bolts should be properly fixed in the position.
  • Once the rails are secured, install the straps, water canister, electrical component, and external tubes. 
  • At the last stage, test out all the equipment to see whether they are in unison. 

Hinged Lid Tonneau Cover 

The hinged lid hard to tonneau cover is a slab-like cover that uses the internal shock of the rails to open up. Follow the instruction below to install a hinged lid tonneau cover. 

  • You have to use a forklift to prop up the cover on top of the bed. Once on top, prepare the bed and the underside of the cover. Carefully place the rail tape on the underside of the cover. 
  • After that, place down the cover on the truck bed and make sure it’s completely flush in every direction. 
  • Go inside the truck bed and connect the C-clamps on each of the four corners. You will have to use a wrench to attain optimum tightness. 
  • After that, open up the cover and attach the knobs hanging down from the cover to the internal shocks. 
  • Add batteries, and your tonneau cover is ready for use.

Final Thoughts 

The process of installing a hard truck bed cover isn’t that complicated. You don’t even have to have any expertise to get it done. Just follow the instructions of this article for your type of hard truck bed cover, and you’re good to go! 

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