4 Ways of Installing Tonneau Cover With Drop-In Bed Liner

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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?

A pick-up truck in the garage gets your multiple tasks done. Just pay attention to it. Well, you know that part already. But there’s an issue, right?

Bought a new vehicle and worried about installing a tonneau cover with a drop-in bed liner?

By the way, I don’t see any problem with the bed liner. So, it’s good news. The cooking would be an excellent combination. And, the help is near.

Read on and find out how easy the solution was!

4 Easy steps to install tonneau cover with drop-in bed liner

Before jumping into the business, we need these gears and gadgets.

  • Clamps
  • Pop rods
  • Wrench
  • Drain hose
  • Drill
  • Bulkhead seals
  • Scissors
  • Cab bumpers
  • Tape measure
  • Buckles
  • Rails

Now, let’s begin.

installing tonneau cover with drop in bed liner

Step 1: Do the measurement

You’ll have two side rails with the tonneau cover in each package. The first thing to do is set them with the truck’s bed rails. Since the truck has a drop-in bed liner, you must check if the side rails fit perfectly, especially with the tailgate.

If the length exceeds the surface of the bed liner there, mark a line. Cut the extra part of it to adjust the difference.

Step 2: Install the side rails

After you get the measurement fixed, place the side rail. Put one of them under the side rail and attach it to the cab. Tighten it with a wrench.

Setting one single clamp won’t be enough. It’s best to use at least three for each side. Attach the other two clamps at a proper distance.

Use a shim to cover the gaps between the truck and the rail. Consider using shim brackets if the gap is more than 10mm.

Repeat the same for the second rail.

Remember, the two rails have to be parallel to each other, or the installation won’t be perfect. Lose the clamps or readjust if there’s any inconsistency. Don’t hurry; take your time.

Tighten all the clamps as hard as possible when everything seems okay. Push the rails down while tightening them to make them watertight. 

Now, we are going to install the tonneau cover.

Step 3: Install the tonneau cover

The manufacturer is supposed to have added a rubber seal to the product. It is of good use to keep the structures inside waterproof. Have you got it?

Stick them over the side rails and also the driver’s side part. Take the tonneau cover. Place and press on the rail. Fold out its front hinge panel. 

Get the screws or bolts, and set the cover with the rails. Now, the tonneau cover is secured with the main structure. Unfold it and see how nicely you’ve done the job.

Step 4: Finishing up

Your setup is complete but not fully workable.

Imagine it’s a rainy day, and the rain isn’t stopping. Install the drainage tube that comes with the package and protect your cab and goods from water.

There’s a plastic plug in the back, at the driver’s side. Take it off and make a hole. Connect with the tube and set it back. I hope you made it prepared while framing the drop-in bed liner. Or you should prepare some extra work.

That’s all! How easy was that?

But, as always, get your other questions answered.

Why should you install a tonneau cover?

If anyone has questions about a tonneau cover, there’s much to say about its support. You will find hardly any alternatives mentioned below from the users’ experiences.

  • With it, you can save your cargo from dust, rain, and snow.
  • The thief will think twice about stealing from your truck.
  • The backside of the truck stays clean.
  • It prevents stains and rust.
  • Your truck gets a good look.
  • The vehicle gets aerodynamic support, and you get smooth driving.
Things you should know about tonneau covers

Things you should know about tonneau covers

According to the users’ experiences, installing a soft cover is easier. A hard tonneau cover will take more time and a little bit of hard work.

Make sure the tonneau cover is compatible with your bed liner. The clamps and rails shouldn’t conflict with the installation.

Most of the cases, it’s not a problem. But, some rail caps, like diamond plates, may create some issues.

You don’t want the cover to damage or leave a scratch on any part of the back side of the cab. 

And, not also the rail to be affected because of bumping on a bad road or hard brake. Install protective cab bumpers on the panel that will lean against the cab’s backside while being folded. 

Also, use the prop rods and make sure the cover doesn’t hit the rail.

Types of the tonneau covers

Let’s see what the most common choices are.

  • Soft roll-up covers
  • Soft folding covers
  • Hard roll-up covers
  • Hard folding covers
  • One-piece solid covers
  • Retractable covers

Are you thinking about which one we discussed earlier in the installation guide? Hard folding cover, of course!

Guess what? You’re not supposed to choose any one of them randomly. The reason behind picking one must come out through a bit of research.

What to consider before buying a tonneau cover?

What you want to carry in your cargo bed– You are installing a tonneau with some specific thoughts. So, shopping should follow that way. If the plan includes a dart bike, you better take a bit sideways away from our core discussion.

Easy to operate– It has to be easy to fold and unfold. No one likes to face problems while loading and unloading.

Security– The cover isn’t only to hide what you’ll keep under it. You better be sure that it’s not accessible to strangers.

Longevity– Think how roughly or smoothly you’ll be using your truck before buying one.

Warranty– Many brands provide lifetime warranties for their products. It also can be a point to consider.

Money– Not everything you want to buy should follow your pocket. Sometimes you have to cut your coat according to your clothes. It might work on this business as well.


Can a person install a tonneau cover alone?

Yes. With the help of the necessary hardware, any person with a basic idea can do that. Even a person can do the setup alone for some products in a couple of minutes.

What is the capacity of a tonneau cover to hold?

Its carrying capacity starts from 15lbs. But don’t be surprised. There are tonneau covers that can hold 2.000lbs. Its strength increases with the price, by the way.

Does tonneau cover save the fuel expense?

The answer will be a Yes. Tonneau covers have a positive impact on the truck’s aerodynamics. Though the overall mileage depends on the integration of the cover and the truck type, the improvement in mileage is visible.

Is the tonneau cover with the drop-in bed liner workable?

A tonneau cover is naturally a good match with any bed liner. What’s sometimes unusual is that the setup may need a slight modification. That won’t be any difficult or damaging.

Will the tonneau cover protect my cargo bed from water?

Most of the time, you can be worry-free about that. But things have a limit. There won’t be any miracle if it’s heavy rainfall and you’re still driving. Also, be careful while washing your truck, or the cargo inside will be in danger.

Final Words

Buying a pick-up truck is nothing like parking in the garage and taking a ride anytime you feel. Though you can manage your daily life chores with such a vehicle, it’s totally for a different and specific reason.

Similarly, installing a tonneau cover with a drop-in bed liner has its motive. Undoubtedly, once it’s become a part of your next ‘to do,’ the truck must have its value topped up.

After all, you have a plan for it, and that’s for the long term. We hope the discussion helps you and the setup brings a great experience.

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