Herculiner Pros and Cons

How easy is it to install this brush-on bed liner yourself?

Herculiner truck bed liner kit
(Photo from Amazon)

Whether you use your pickup truck for work or play, its bed leads a rough life. Herculiner brush-on bed liner makes it relatively easy to protect your vehicle, and at about half the cost of having a liner installed at the dealership.

Getting Started

The Herculiner kit includes just about everything you'll need to apply a heavy-duty textured polyurethane coating that covers up to one six-foot truck bed. In addition to the one-gallon can of coating itself, you'll get an application brush, two rollers, one roller handle, one abrasive cleaning pad, one can opener, and detailed instructions for priming your truck bed and applying the product.

Before you start the project, we strongly advise purchasing some extras. Preparation by properly deglazing and roughing up the surface is the key to a durable, long-lasting coating. To more quickly rough up the surface, consider using the sanding attachment on your drill. In addition, use some xylene, acetone, or MEK to ensure a complete deglazing of the surfaces you want to coat. Further prep your surface by using two-inch-wide blue painter's tape to mask off any areas you don't want to be coated. Protect your hands with some chemical-resistant rubber gloves, and use a sturdy paint stir stick or drill with paint mixing attachment to ensure that the polyurethane coating is well mixed. And have plenty of rags on hand to clean up spills. A rag soaked in xylene can also be used to remove the Herculiner product if it gets on your skin or other truck surfaces.

Each gallon can is enough for two coats. Don't scrimp! The first coat forms a good base. After allowing 1 to 1½ hours to dry, apply a second coat to cover any open pores. Your truck bed is ready for light use after 90 minutes of drying time. Within 24 hours, the bed liner is fully cured and able to handle whatever you might throw its way. (Curing begins when the Herculiner is exposed to atmospheric moisture. Therefore, curing time is shorter when the humidity is high.)

Because Herculiner takes paint well, once it cures you can also go over the entire area with black Rustoleum paint for a shiny, more professional look.

Pros

Among the many options for do-it-yourself application of a bed liner to your pickup truck, Jeep, or other off-road vehicle, the Herculiner Brush-on Bed Liner Kit ranks among the best for a number of reasons:

  • An affordable alternative to plastic drop-in and messy spray-on liners. You can complete the project for $100–$150 in a day or a weekend.
  • Adds a skid-resistant surface to your truck bed and a tough, textured finish from a proprietary polyurethane and rubber formula.
  • Bonds and seals all surfaces to prevent rust.
  • Waterproof, non-flammable (when dry), and resistant to damage from oil, gasoline, solvents, and chemicals.
  • Flexible—won't chip, flake, or peel.
  • Can withstand years of heavy-duty use.
  • Helps to dampen road noise.
  • Used in vehicles like Jeeps and Broncos, it eliminates the ongoing worry about damaging your carpet.
  • Makes cleaning up after hauling or four-wheeling much easier, since you can simply rinse out the entire area with water.
  • Available in black, gray, red, and white.
  • Can be applied between 32ºF and 95ºF. The colder the temperature and the lower the humidity, the longer the curing process will take.
  • It's repairable. Just touch it up with more Herculiner—it bonds to itself. Other bed liner coatings would have to be removed entirely to repair gouges.
  • Can also be used as an automotive undercoating for protecting trailers, hitch receivers, grille and trim around headlights, bumpers, door jams, flares, roof racks, mirrors, nerf bars, roll bars, wheel wells, skid plates, ramps, 4x4 tubs, marine decks, walkways, steps, and more.
  • Bonds to most clean/dry surfaces, including painted or primed steel. It also adheres quickly to metal, aluminum, concrete, wood, asphalt, plastic, rubber, and fiberglass.
  • Can be applied with a brush/roller or with a spray compressor.
  • Has a long shelf-life. If unopened, a can of Herculiner can be stored for several years.
  • Is so professional in appearance, that most people think it's a spray-on bed liner, and that you paid several hundred dollars more than you did.
  • The satisfaction rate among those who've applied the Herculiner themselves is extremely high.
  • No risk of overspray—a common problem with most spray-ons.
  • Prevents things from sliding around in the back due to its slightly bumpy texture.

Potential Cons

While Herculiner ranks among the best when it comes to do-it-yourself bed liners, there are a few things to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Must be applied in a well-ventilated area.
  • The smell can linger for up to a week or two.
  • Nearly impossible to remove from skin. If you get some on you, clean it off immediately with xylene, then wash the area with soap and water.
  • Red, gray, and white kits cost more than black.
  • It is critical that you do NOT rush the prep phase. The more time you take scuffing the paint, the better the Herculiner will adhere to your truck bed.
  • When you think you've scuffed the surface enough, you haven't. It takes several passes to get the appropriate "roughness" necessary for proper adhesion. Those spots you neglected to rough up will begin to wear away first.
  • While the instructions state that preparation and application takes about four hours, plan to spend at least a few days working on prep a little bit at a time. On average, it takes about four hours just to roughen up the surface of the bed, and that's AFTER you've spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the vehicle first. This process will take longer when applying Herculiner to the interior of Jeeps, Broncos, and such.
  • It takes about an hour to apply each coat, with two hours of drying time in between coats.
  • The can of Herculiner itself is made of a soft, pliable metal, which makes opening the can quite a procedure. So go slowly and be careful not to damage the lid.
  • Herculiner does have a tendency to fade to gray with prolonged exposure to sunlight. To restore the luster to Herculiner, simply clean it with a product like Spic'n Span and rinse thoroughly. Then you can apply Armor All as a shiner and protectant, but be careful—the surface will be slippery.
  • Not as thick as that of a sprayed-in liner. Applying an additional coat or two for heavy-duty use is recommended.
  • May tend to get tacky in the summer's heat.
  • You must apply carefully and evenly. If the liquid pools up too much in any spot it will eventually crack in those places.
  • Most negative reviews refer to applying Herculiner to fenders. In many cases, it tends to flake off—though that could be due to poor prep work.
  • It cannot be removed. While you can use xylene to remove from hands and surfaces while the Herculiner is still wet, it's permanent if allowed to dry. Which is a good thing for your truck bed—not so good for other parts of your vehicle or your skin or clothing?