Do Tonneau Covers Shrink? [Yes, 3 Reasons and Solutions

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Written By Waylon Joe

Hey, It’s Waylon “Joe” Kite here. I am a West Virginia native and a die-hard pickup truck fan. My story with trucks started with my dad’s 1989 Ford F-150, and it's still going on. I'll share all my trucking experiences (both great and gross ones) with you. I have a garage full of tools to fix and renovate trucks and a freezer full of ales. Do you want to join me?

Most tonneau covers are the best products that offer long-lasting protection to your truck bed. However, you need to keep an eye on the cover so that it can serve properly.

Ensure you keep the covers from wear, tear, or shrinkage. Wait, what? Do the tonneau covers shrink?

Tonneau covers shrink firstly due to excessive washing. Extreme temperatures also influence cover shrinking significantly if the product depreciates over time. A warm water rinsing solution may also make the material stretch. Some preventive measures will keep the covers in shape.

It is good that you scroll down smoothly for a thorough reading. Some straightforward indications will help you work with the problem effectively.

3 Reasons Why Tonneau Covers Shrink

There are 3 main reasons why tonneau covers may shrink. Primarily, one reason is often connected to another. In such a case, you must be careful with the maintenance process.

There are a few tricks you can apply for the material to stretch. However, a proper prevention scenario is also good to adhere to. This is to ensure that it does not happen again.

Let me help you outline those distinct reasons and ways to solve them.

Excessive Washing

For the tonneau covers to stay in fine shape and look, you may have applied chemical solutions with water. They ensure a polished surface. However, using water directly to the cover can be damaging.

Some little bit of water may not harm both the interiors and exteriors. But, if too much, the material may get soaked and shrink.

It often happens when cleaning chemicals and cold water solutions are applied. The solution shrinks the fabrics between aluminum slats, eventually shortening the tonneau cover dimension.

Things may get worse when you try to dry the exterior.


If the shrinkage is minor, pour some hot water on the surface. But don’t put in too much water. It may turn things in the opposite direction.

Evenly pour the water all over the surface area. Take a soft towel to rinse and slightly rub the surfaces. This will help the fabric to release the already trapped chemicals in the pores.

In a few minutes, the inner fabric will start stretching.

Nevertheless, if the cover has shrunk too much and is not responding to warm water baths. It’s better to replace it with a new cover.

Extreme Temperatures

The shrinkage of the material also depends on environmental factors like temperature.

Sometimes you may dry your truck bed cover outside after a complete car wash is done.

As the cover dries down, the weaved slat material will contract due to extreme heating of the trapped solution.

The same can happen in freezing weather too. When it is snowing, it may form clusters all around the surface. The melting snow will penetrate the material when the temperature rises a bit.

The cover fabrics will shrink upon drying, and they will repeat almost every season.


The solution is almost the same as the first problem. You should use some warm water to spread through the material. This is to make the cover eliminate the cold condensation from the weather.

Besides, do not depend entirely on sun exposure for drying and keep the truck outside for too long.

You can install some portable fans, or perhaps you can work on ventilating the garage.

Depreciated Materials

The longevity of the best quality tonneau covers is usually around 10 years. However, amongst all the popular reviews, during the 8th year, facing complications is pretty common.

As the materials get aged, they become more sensitive to external elements. This means almost any water or chemical solution will simply compress the cover.

The sensitivity also appears while dealing with environmental factors.

Heat, cold, dryness, and moisture also depreciate the cover quality. Even when you are doing regular maintenance, you won’t be able to reverse it.

A degradation of product quality allows the inner layerings to tear out. This means a lot of stretching and compressing more frequently. The fluctuating behavior of the material shrinks the cover with ease.


The solution again comes down to the usage of warmer water. However, you can use some kind of simple dish soap for cleaning. Do not introduce any chemicals when the cover is cold.

Read also: Bakflip Mx4 Problems

Tonneau Covers Shrink Prevention Guide

The best way to keep the covers from shrinking is regular maintenance sung proper chemicals and tools. The use of professional help can be handy too.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly.
  • Do not put or store any cargo on top of the tonneau cover. This may cause structural damage to the material, causing it to shrink after a wash.
  • If snow and ice cover up the cover top, apply a gentle removal process. Scrubbing aggressively will degrade the quality. This will be handy when you are doing warm water cleaning.
  • Spraying protectants regularly is a good idea. But never over-spray on the material.
  • When allowing the spray solution to evaporate from the surface, stay there. Gently wipe the surface with wet warm water.
  • Avoid any types of harmful silicones.
  • Be careful if you apply silicone cleaning to the rims and latches. You have to make sure that it does not reach the cover.
  • Always use expert hands while working with the maintenance. Certified people do the best jobs and provide the best advice.

These helpful shrinking prevention guides can come in handy. This is to ensure better durability for the product.

This is also to prevent the cover from not getting framed securely on the edges. It is a typical case when the materials get shrunk. Such measures will not let it happen.

Read Also: 5 Common Retrax Bed Cover Problems


How tight should my tonneau cover be?

It should not be too tight and also should not be too loose either. It should adjust adequately to fit into the edges. If too tight, loosen it by changing the space between the rims and the cover edges.

Do soft covers shrink more than harder covers?

Softer covers are more sensitive, and the inner fabrics compress easily. It is good to be more gentle with the smooth cover maintenance. Do not put too much pressure on the material.

What are the disadvantages of a shrunk cover?

A shrunk cover, if not treated promptly, may not last long. For example, it may just decrease your gas mileage. This is because it will not stay adequately sealed.

Read also: How To Patch A Hole In A Tonneau Cover?


The most highly rated covers do not shrink easily. This is especially the case when the product is fresh and new.

It is good to stay alert to unpredictable situations from time to time. With such attention, you can invest in the correct procedure for shrink prevention.

I sincerely hope you get the most benefits after reading this article. The clear insights provided here should come into good use.

By wishing you all the best; I am signing off.


Read also: Best tonneau cover for snow and ice

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