Are Tonneau Covers Waterproof?

Access Cover WetA tonneau cover is not a miracle worker. It’s a great addition to your truck if you frequently carry cargo that needs to be safely contained. It keeps your gear out of the weather, and under lock and key, and out of sight from petty thieves. But a tonneau cover doesn’t make your truck bed completely waterproof, no matter what anyone tells you. That’s crazy talk.

Water creeps in though places you didn’t even know were there. Like across the front of the bed. If you’ve never noticed, the corner where the front of the bed meets the sides of the bed in the corners has a little space. Just a teeny tiny little space that may even look level to the naked eye, but water can and will get through here, including under your tonneau cover.

Another place that’s great for water but bad for you is around the tailgate. The seams along the sides of the tailgate are pretty wide when it comes to allowing water and dust pass through. The great thing about that is we’ve got tailgate seal kits from Access, Extang and TruXedo. These kits act like a gasket around your tailgate to seal it up really good, blocking the water and dust from sneaking it.  And there is usually a little extra material left over that you can use to plug areas in other spots

There is a BIG difference between water PROOF and water RESISTANT.

Water proof means water won’t penetrate. Water resistant means it resists water, but won’t totally block all water. If you want a complete water proof truck bed you’ll have to get a large metal plate and weld your bed and tailgate shut. No water is getting into that, but the only downside is you can’t get into it either. So if you want a tonneau cover, the best thing to do is, first, figure out what you’ll be using your bed for, and second, find a tonneau that’ll fit those needs.

A tonneau cover WILL keep water out of your bed…

…About 98-99 percent of the time, in normal conditions. But nothing in life is perfect, right? And the better suited your tonneau cover is to fit your needs, the more likely it will live up to your expectations. What we’re saying is, if you haul old lumber around and don’t really care if it gets damp on occasion, get whatever truck bed cover you want. If you have stuff in your truck bed that’ll melt or explode or otherwise be ruined if it gets wet, then you may need to look into a hard tonneau that wraps over the edge and tailgate of your truck bed. Unless you like living on the edge, of course.

The thing is, most tonneau covers will keep your cargo dry most of the time. Decent covers that seal along the edges of your truck bed will deflect most water, even rain, from getting inside. Heavy torrential rains, driving down the highway in the rain and washing your truck will put your cargo in danger of getting wet. The best thing is realizing your truck bed is full of water even though you’ve got a tonneau cover and realizing you just washed it at the car wash, holding that 150psi pressure washer just a few inches from where the cover meets the bed of the truck. Common sense will tell you that type of pressure behind the water is going to win over any foam or rubber seal.  Of course that’s going to force water through the cracks like wind through a screen door. But tonneau covers were designed to handle the basic elements like rain falling down vertically, not water being forced in under 150psi from a few inches away.  Use your truck bed cover like it was designed, don’t expect miracles when you only pay a couple hundred dollars, and you’ll live worry a lot less about the tiny amount that may seep in.

The best part about a truck bed cover of any kind is…

It’ll still protect your gear from bad stuff other than rain. We’ve still got snow, ice, sleet, dust and harmful UV rays on this earth that’ll beat your cargo up every chance it gets. Any truck bed cover we’ve got here at Chux will keep those things out of your truck bed. Fiberglass covers, hard covers and even soft roll up covers will work if that’s all you’re worried about.

If you want even more protection from possible water or even dust getting in underneath the tonneau cover, we sell tailgate and bed seal kits that seal up the seams like a gasket. This helps keep a lot of that junk out without you worrying at all. Again, these tailgate seal kits are made by awesome tonneau companies like Access, TruXedo and Extang, so they’re fully informed of how tonneau covers work.Tailgate seal

And then there are the gas savings.

All truck bed covers can save fuel when it comes to highway mileage. Why? Because of the way the wind blows. When driving down the highway the wind goes over the top of your cab and dips down into the bed. It’s blocked by the tailgate (like a small parachute) and that slows you down ever so slightly, making your truck work just a little harder and drink more gas. With a truck bed cover that wind glides right off the cover without slowing anything. You’re welcome.

What kind of tonneau cover do you need?

There are several different types of truck bed covers, all made for different purposes. Choose what best fits your needs. Don’t settle for a cheap tonneau cover that doesn’t fit your needs!  Most cheap tonneau covers are cheap for a reason (common sense, right?).  The reason they are less expensive is they either are missing some important or desirable features, they use lighter weight components that may not hold up as well over time (like the seals), or both!  Focus on your needs, and then find the cover that fills that need.  Most soft tonneaus are great if you’re looking for a sturdy, water resistant way to lock your bed and keep your gear dry and safe. Then again, if you’re only looking for a way to keep the sun off of the stack of firewood you haul around, you won’t need to go for the expensive hard locking tops.

Soft tonneau covers roll up, fold up on frames, snap, peel or Velcro closed and some are hinged to open in one piece. These are usually easy to install, easy to remove and are more affordable than hard covers. Most of these require you to drop your tailgate to open, so if you have a lock on your tailgate, you have a reasonable amount of security.

Hard covers keep water and thieves out more than soft covers do. Hard covers fold or flip up on hinges. They can be painted to match your truck and look like a higher end product than the soft covers. Some are lightweight and can be installed easily while others are more permanent, require more tools and time to do a complete install and adjust them properly to keep them from rubbing on your paint.

We carry a ton of different styles and brands of tonneau covers right here at Chux. If you have any questions about truck bed covers don’t be scared to give us a call or send us an email. We can even give you more tips on how to best seal your truck bed to get it close to being water proof.

We’d love to hear from you in the comment section. Drop us a line, hit us up, give us a ring (or a type?) and give us your thoughts and opinions.  

  • Posted on   03/12/14 at 10:42:30 AM   by Chris  | 
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Reader Comments (1)

Ried 11/18/17 07:12:39 PM

This would be incredibly useful during those winter months when It rains pretty good out here where I live. Gotta protect my tools in my truck with my mobile RV repair in San Luis Obispo. People call up as soon as the first winter rains show and it when I got to head out and leave my tools exposed.

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