How Install a Tonneau Cover in 5 Easy Steps

Learn how to install a tonneau cover on your truck using only a few steps and without the need for any special tools.

Vinyl tonneau cover installation
Vinyl tonneau cover installation

Fitting a truck bed cover need not scare you. Here, we will show you how to install a tonneau cover in a few, simple steps. This should save you some dollars, in addition to providing you an opportunity to pamper your truck. Without further ado, let’s delve into the tonneau cover installation guide.

How to Install a Tonneau Cover

Tonneau covers are designed to fit on the bed of trucks and may be made from a soft material like vinyl or hard material such as ABS plastic. They also carry a few accessories depending on the cover style. Installing them is quite easy. That said, here is a step by step guide on how to install a tonneau cover.

Basic tools required for tonneau cover installation:

  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Wrenches
  • Extra clamps

Start by cleaning the bed of your truck. You do not want to install a tonneau cover on a dusty bed. Open the tail gate, too, so you can easily carry out the cover installation without any interference. Then, follow these 5 steps.

Tonneau cover installation kit
Tonneau cover installation kit

Step 1 Confirm Tonneau Cover Compatibility

Unbox the contents of your tonneau cover package and lay out all parts in front of you. The typical parts of a tonneau cover assembly include rails, snaps or clips, clamps, roll bar covers, and side support brackets. Confirm that the tonneau cover is compatible to your type of truck or model. An incompatible cover will not fit or install correctly.

Step 2 Attach Tonneau Cover Rails

Identify the tonneau cover rails. These attach to the truck bed to hold the cover. Position the rails on the truck bed, making sure they’re properly centered above it. Secure the rails with clamps. The bed liner may come in the way of the clamps. If such a situation arises, we recommend cutting notches in the liner to allow the installation of clamps.

Step 3 Install Tonneau Cover Seals

Some covers come with the seals as separate pieces. If that’s your case, install them before proceeding. Tonneau cover seals help to make the cover weatherproof and prevent water from leaking into the truck bed. Clean the installation surface using rubbing alcohol then carefully apply the seal. Be sure to keep the length of the seal straight and perfectly pressed down. Use a pair of scissors to cut off the unused ends of the seal.

Step 4 Install Tonneau Cover

Position the cover on the rails. Make sure the cover is properly aligned with the rails. If it isn’t, make the necessary adjustments before moving to the next step. Proceed to attach the tonneau cover using the provided installation instructions. Depending on the type of cover or brand, it may attach using bolts or just snap into position. Install, also, the tonneau cover adjusters.

Step 5 Attach Tonneau Cover Fittings

Next, install the remaining tonneau cover parts and accessories. Depending on the type of cover, these may include the following: shocks, rainwater channels or tubes, and struts. Lastly, check to see that everything is correctly installed, and that there are no loose or misaligned components.

Congratulations! That’s pretty much it on how to install a tonneau cover on your truck bed. If you have any problems with the installation or bought a tonneau cover that requires a different installation process, you may want to consult a professional for help.

Tonneau cover installation steps
Tonneau cover installation steps

Useful Tips on How to Install a Tonneau Cover

Tonneau cover installation is, most of the time, a straightforward procedure. Unless it’s a heavy or hard cover type, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. You’re now familiar with the steps that explain how to install a tonneau cover, but how do you ensure a smooth process all through? Take note of these tips

1. Make sure that you have purchased the right tonneau cover. There are many types available in the market, some designed for certain models of trucks such as Chevrolet, Ford or Dodge.

2. Check if there are any specific manufacturer guidelines for your truck model. Tonneau cover installation instructions may vary when it comes to installation and differ from those used in this guide.

3. Inspect the contents of the package very well before you open them up. The package should include all the tonneau cover accessories required for complete cover installation.

4. Be sure to test the tonneau cover fit by checking if it properly covers your truck bed from one side to the other without any gaps or openings, especially along the length between your truck’s bed and the seal of the tonneau cover.

5. Tighten all the tonneau cover mounting hardware (bolts and nuts or screws, and clamps or brackets) to make them as secure as possible. This will avoid having a loose covers that might fling off during high speed turns.

6. Make sure that all tonneau cover clamps are properly secured at each end of your tonneau cover’s rail just like the brackets and bolts:

7. Also, check whether or not your tonneau cover is installed parallel with the length of your truck bed so it does not incline to one side, which would reduce its aerodynamic capabilities. If there are any problems along these areas, ask for professional help.

8. Hard or hinged tonneau covers normally need more than one person to install. Have that in mind if yours is that type and have a friend help you with the task. Alternatively, you may seek professional tonneau cover installation services.

9. Now that you have successfully carried out a tonneau cover installation on your truck bed, make sure to take good care of it. Do so by checking on it regularly to see if there are any loose bolts or clamps, whether the rails need replacement, and other parts that you might need to replace over time.

Tonneau Cover Installation Cost

What if you cannot install your cover? There are many reasons why you may not be able to install a bed cover on your ruck such as time limits, complexity of the installation process, and so on. In that case, you would need to take your truck to a dealer.

The tonneau cover installation covers starts at $100 going up. Many factors will come into play to determine how much you pay for the service: your locality, type of cover and truck model. Soft tonneau covers install easily and take between 30 and 60 minutes to attach. Hard covers are may take an hour or so to install.


Truck bed covers are useful accessories that you can install onto your truck. It serves to protect your cargo from the elements as well as from prying eyes of thieves or vandals. Now that you know how to install a tonneau cover on your truck, you may go ahead and purchase one. Tonneau covers are not only convenient to use, but also come in different designs to fit your own preferences and needs. You only need to know what you’re looking for.

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