Skip to Content

Can You Paint a Tonneau Cover?

Cropped photo of a white truck with paint at the side.

I once bought a fiberglass tonneau cover for my truck, but it wasn’t in the best condition. Well, the good thing is it has some primer on it, so it didn’t look that bad. However, I really didn’t appreciate how the primer was applied, so all I wanted was to sand everything down and start from scratch.

During those days, I had never really painted anything on my own, so I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that I would do a good job. So, one thing I discovered then was it is possible to paint a tonneau cover. In fact, if you do it well, you will get some impressive results.

You can either paint to match your tonneau cover, or you can use a different color altogether. Before we get to how you can paint your tonneau cover, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why one might start considering painting their tonneau cover, to begin with.

Why Might You Want to Paint Your Tonneau Cover?

The purpose of having a tonneau cover is so that you can protect and cover your truck’s open bed. Well, at least that’s why many people get them. The cover will effectively protect the truck’s open bed and anything in the truck.

Did you also know that tonneau covers aid with aerodynamics, which improves your gas mileage? Here are the reasons why you might want to paint your tonneau cover.

The Cover is Faded 

Cropped photo of red car at the parking lot outside.

Due to their position, you will find that the tonneau cover is almost always exposed to direct sunlight. This makes them highly prone to fading due to overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. It’s easier for the sun to attack the tonneau cover since it’s placed flat and covers a huge area.

This is why the damaged paint on the tonneau cover is almost always highlighted easily. The good news is that if the paint on your tonneau cover gets damaged, you can repair it. All you need to do is find the right supplies and a guide to help you do the painting project on your own.

The Tonneau Cover Color Doesn’t Match the Rest of the Car.

Maybe you just got the deal of the century on a tonneau cover for your truck, but it came in a different color than the rest of your truck. It would look better if the tonneau cover matched the rest of the truck. This can be a valid reason for painting the tonneau cover.

By painting your tonneau cover, you can ensure that everything on your truck matches.

How to Paint the Tonneau Cover

Close up photo of a car body painter preparing varnish with a sandpaper.

The first thing you need to do if you are planning to paint your tonneau cover is to gather the supplies you will need. This includes things like a ratchet, socket, and sandpaper( 120, 320, and 600 grit). You will also need a tack rag. 

The Preparation

Before you can paint, you will need to prepare your tonneau cover for painting. First, sand the fiberglass down using an orbital sander. Do this until everything is smooth. You can start with 120 grit. Once you are satisfied, you can then move to 320 and then finish with 600.

This will ensure that all the scratches are smoothed. However, don’t take it too far. If it didn’t have a lot of scratches, you could even start with 600 grit.


A photo of hands holding sanding primer for car ready to repaint.

No special primer is needed for your tonneau cover. You should, however, use a good-quality primer. Never use a spray can to prime the cover, as this won’t give you the results you want. If you aren’t sure what primer to use, you can ask your local paint shop.

They should recommend the proper primer for your project. For the best results, apply three coats of primer and then sand using 800 grit sandpaper. As you are sanding, you should use water and a bit of detergent in a bucket.

The Base and Actual Paint

Once you are done sanding the primer, it will be time to apply the clear base coat. A two-stage clear coat would be perfect for this. Again, if you don’t understand what this is, the local paint shop should know what to give you as long as you tell them what you are doing.

When it comes to the actual paint, the number of coats will depend on the product you use. You should do well with three coats of paint and four coats of clear coat. 

After your final coat of clear coat, you should wet sand and buff. You will need 2,000 grit sandpaper and a foam rubber block that you can use to sand in one direction. Ideally, you should start from front to back. After the whole tonneau cover is dull, you can then buff it out. 

What About the Paint and Gun?

A photo of car painter in protective clothes and mask painting automobile.

When it comes to choosing the paint and gun to use, always keep in mind that you get what you pay for. It’s a good idea to get a top feed spray gun. Once you get the gun, you should go over the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to air pressure.

When painting, always keep the gun at least six inches away from the surface. The gun should also be parallel to the surface you will be painting. If you can afford a better gun, then you will probably have better results. 

Benefits of Painting Your Tonneau Cover

So why would you bother painting your tonneau cover? For starters, that will improve the appearance and value of your car. If your tonneau cover looks old, you might not want to move around with it on your truck, and that will stop you from enjoying all the benefits that come with a tonneau cover.

For instance, we already mentioned that a tonneau cover protects your truck bed and the content from excessive UV exposure and harsh weather as well. Apart from that, it can help you save on gas. 

To enjoy all these benefits, you need to have no reservations when it comes to throwing your tonneau cover on your truck each time you go out. After painting, your cover will look good as new, and you will want to have it on the truck at all times.

If you later decide to sell your truck, you will be able to sell it for a better price since the bed will be in good condition, as opposed to it being exposed to the elements and damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tonneau Cover Painting

How Expensive is it to Paint a Tonneau Cover?

Cropped photo of a truck and its opened truck bed cover.

There is really no fixed cost when it comes to painting a tonneau cover. It all depends on the materials you buy. It can cost anywhere from $99 to $500. The cost largely depends on the quality of paint you buy. Your local paint shop should be able to give you an estimate of how much it will likely cost you to paint your cover.

Is There a Special Kind of Primer For Fiberglass?

You need to be a bit careful when painting fiberglass. However, as long as you prepare it properly and use primer properly, you should do well with the regular primer. All you need to ensure is that the top coats can adhere properly to the primed surface.

You can ask your local paint shop if they have a specific primer for fiberglass; otherwise, you can do well with the regular primer as long as it provides a perfect key for your topcoats.

Where Can One Get all the Supplies Needed to Paint a Tonneau Cover?

Most local paint shops will have all the supplies you need to paint your tonneau cover. When you are buying your paint, just tell the guys at the local paint shop what you want to do, and they should give you everything you need. Apart from the paint, they can set you up with supplies like the primer, reducers, clear, and hardeners.

They should also recommend the best items for the temperature in your area. Keep in mind that temperature plays a big role in tonneau cover painting or any other type of painting.