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How to Repaint a Tonneau Cover

by Jenny Carver

Tonneau covers are made to fully cover and enclose the open bed of a pickup truck. This protects the bed and its contents and makes the truck more aerodynamic for better gas mileage. Because of their position, tonneau covers are in direct sunlight and can fade from the UV rays. Tonneau covers are flat and cover a large area, so even small imperfections in the paint will show through a repainted cover.

Step 1

Open and unbolt the tonneau cover from the truck using a ratchet and socket. Have at least one other person help lift the cover off the truck and set it on stands so you can reach all sides of the cover.

Step 2

Sand the tonneau cover with 600-grit sandpaper while holding a running water hose over the sandpaper. This keeps any buildup from the surface from digging into and scratching the cover. Deep scratches will show through the new paint.

Step 3

Sand the cover again using 800-grit sandpaper, which reduces the sanding scratches from the 600-grit sandpaper. Keep the 800-grit sandpaper wet while sanding. Rinse the cover and allow it to dry completely.

Step 4

Wipe the cover with a tack rag just before painting. This removes any remaining particles of dirt and dust. These small particles can be seen underneath dried paint.

Step 5

Spray a thick coat of primer over the tonneau cover and allow it to dry for 30 minutes. Once the primer is dry, apply three to five thin coats of paint. Hold the sprayer 6 to 8 inches from the surface and spray thin coats to prevent runs in the paint. Allow the paint to dry for 30 minutes.

Apply three to five coats of clear coat paint, using the same techniques as with the regular base coat paint. Let the paint dry for four or five hours before handling the tonneau cover.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • Stands
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • 800-grit sandpaper
  • Water
  • Tack rag
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Clear coat

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