Ford F150 Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
Image Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diamondbackcovers/23875560260

Ford F150 Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

By John Linden

Your Ford F-150 was made to help you take on the most strenuous and demanding tasks the planet can throw at you. The high level of engineering and ingenuity that went into your truck's development means that any addition you make to it meets a certain standard of quality and ability. The last thing you want to do is hobble the exceptional and award-winning design that went into your Ford. With that said, the right addition, such as the perfect tonneau cover for your job, can significantly benefit you and your truck’s capabilities. A good tonneau cover, especially when it comes to your Ford, needs to do more than just look the part -it needs to keep up.

Even recreational trips in the F-150 can push soft vinyl and poorly constructed tonneau covers to their limit. However, rather than limit your options, many tonneau cover producers have invested a great deal of effort in creating viable alternatives. From added security to weather resistance and cleaner storage, the possibilities in Ford tonneau covers is immense.  The end result is a selection of Ford F150 tonneau covers that can be as specialized or as broad in their purpose as your truck usage is. With Ford F-150’s getting so much usage on worksites across the country, this variety was probably inevitable. This large variety has the double-edged effect of both giving you a plethora of choices, while also making it impossible to say which tonneau cover is “best.” Instead, we have created a list that presents to you multiple fantastic options that cover a variety of needs.

At the end, you should have a good idea of what materials and styles will work for your truck, and from here you can go on to make an educated decision based on being able to focus on a few specific types of tonneau covers. This should significantly reduce the time you’ll waste sorting through all of that other noise.


Article Contents

  1. What is a Tonneau Cover?
  2. 3 Benefits of Having a Tonneau Cover on Your Ford F-150
    1. Protection from Nature
    2. Increased Security
    3. Value Retention
  3. Popular Tonneau Cover Materials
    1. Canvas
    2. Vinyl
    3. Aluminum
    4. Molded Plastic/ABS
    5. Fiberglass
  4. Popular Tonneau Cover Types for Your Ford F-150
    1. Soft Tonneau Covers
    2. Soft Folding Tonneau Covers
    3. Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
    4. Retractable Tonneau Covers
    5. ‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids
  5. Wait! Before you Buy Your Ford F150 Tonneau Cover
    1. Measure Your Truck Bed
    2. Pick a model that suits your needs and read reviews.
  6. In Conclusion

What is a Tonneau Cover?

What is a Tonneau Cover

The term “tonneau cover” is relatively widespread and understood to mean both hard and soft covers that go over an open area of a vehicle, typically a truck bed. The tarp used to preserve the uncopied passenger seats in a convertible are also tonneau covers.

But why a tonneau cover? What is a tonneau?

Simply put, a tonneau is just a term used to refer to an area of a car or truck that is open at the top. This works for both cargo and passenger areas. For our uses, we are referring to the bed of your Ford truck.

Three Benefits of Having a Tonneau Cover on Your Ford F-150

As we stated before, there is a vast variety of tonneau covers out there and almost every single one is designed with a specific feature or task in mind. Some designs are more elaborate than others and offer a more extensive variety of “benefits” -regardless, there are three significant benefits that almost every purchaser of a tonneau cover will mention.

Ford F-150
Image Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diamondbackcovers/32308835826


“A good tonneau cover, especially when it comes to your Ford F150, needs to do more than just look the part -it needs to be able to keep up with the workload.”


1.    Protection from Nature

The most common feature mentioned by tonneau cover user's is the need to reduce the amount of rain, snow, dirt, etc. that is getting into their truck bed. Usually, those that work out of their truck or have a large number of chores to accomplish it will need to haul tools, equipment or feed -none of which responds well to the elements. Increasing the protected areas of your work truck can significantly benefit the longevity of your tools’.  In cities like Seattle, it is almost a necessity if you are working out of your Ford.

2.    Increased Security

Increasing security doesn’t always merely mean bigger locks or tougher walls. Simply by limiting a thieves ability to see what is in your truck, you can greatly reduce the occurrence of theft. Of course, a solid locked fiberglass tonneau cover is going to be a whole lot safer than a vinyl snap-on cover, but they both can do their part in protecting your belongings. An extra layer of security, no matter how thin, can only help.

3.    Value Retention

By reducing the amount of sunlight beating down on your truck bed, by limiting the buildup of snow and rainwater, and reducing total dirt and grime exposure (not to mention the avoidance of break-ins) a tonneau cover does quite a bit to help your Ford retain value.

Both your vehicle and your tools will be less exposed to the elements and will, therefore, last just that much longer in good condition. This becomes an investment in your future at a certain point.


You often “get what you pay for” when it comes to Tonneau Covers, so a little investment now can really pay off a lot in the long run.


Ford_Raptor_with_bed_cover
Image Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ford_Raptor_with_bed_cover.jpg

Popular Tonneau Cover Materials

Canvas

Inexpensive and the lightest material you will want to utilize. Canvas is an excellent material for when you need a tonneau cover on rare occasions or want to be able to take it on and off and pack it away with little hassle (though the redoing all of the snaps for the snap-on tonneau covers can get pretty frustrating).

Vinyl

Vinyl is relatively lightweight, very waterproof and can still be packed away handily. This should be your choice over canvas if you are worried about inclement weather. Obviously vinyl won't give you the same overall security or protection as the solid covers, but they are a lower cost middle ground that is extremely popular.

Aluminum

Lightweight but resilient. Aluminum gives you that extra security and weather protection but without adding a whole lot of extra weight. There is some versatile tonneau covers these days that allow you to have a hard cover and still access your bed from the top or sides as well. Aluminum is always going to be worth considering for most needs.

Molded Plastic/ABS

Molded plastic and ABS tonneau covers are very durable and extremely weather resistant -while still being relatively lightweight. This material is really the best of many worlds for its ability to take an impact, ward off intruders, ignore rain and snow and really come in almost any configuration the manufacturer wants. Some also come with a top vinyl layer to give the same look as the body of your Ford.

Fiberglass

The most expensive, but also the most beautiful and true to your Ford’s original paint and body style. Fiberglass tonneau covers blend seamlessly with the rest of your Truck. Fiberglass is also very resilient against the weather and intruders. The hard material is often utilized to hold extra carrying compartments on the interior, maximizing your possible space.

Popular Tonneau Cover Types for Your Ford F-150

Soft Tonneau Covers

Price: $ - $$ (Low cost)

Soft Tonneau Covers
Image Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tonneau_on_pickup_truck.JPG

These are the least expensive option but are also the most versatile in terms of complete removal and storage. You can choose between quite a few different materials, which will typically depend on the level of weather resistance you require.

When utilized correctly, a soft tonneau cover can tackle most tasks on a short term basis - making them great in a pinch or emergency.

Most soft roll-up covers are attached by a series of snaps lining the truck bed.

An access roll-up cover is made with some extra features (this is typically proprietary) to make it more viable in harsher climates and jobs. An access cover is also referred to as an “all season cover.”

Soft Folding Tonneau Covers

Price: $$ (Low cost)

Soft folding tonneau covers are made from the same material as the soft covers, but rather than forcing you to deal with a considerable number of snaps or some other equally frustrating securing method, Soft folding tonneau covers have the material placed over sectioned panels which can be easily manipulated. This greatly enhances the speed of which you can take off your cover. Some of the more advanced versions let you use the sections in a modular fashion, such as covering only the back half of the bed.

Hard Folding Tonneau Covers

Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
Image Attribution:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/truckhardware/32921816382

Price: $$$ - $$$$ (Mid-Higher Cost)

These come in many of the same folding and modular configurations as the soft folding tonneau covers, but are instead made from a solid material like aluminum. Hard folding tonneau covers are extremely popular for those who work out of their Ford F-150 since they offer great security for your equipment, environmental protection, and can often be moved and manipulated to allow the transportation of larger equipment if needed.

 

Retractable Tonneau Covers

Price: $$$$ (Higher Cost)

Retractable tonneau covers come in at a higher price than their stationary   cousins. These covers look a lot like the metal roll-up garage doors you find in front and behind of so many warehouses and businesses. They are sturdy and can be put into place (or slid away) very quickly. Typically made from many aluminum slats placed alongside one another. The cover will usually roll up into a canister or tube placed at the cab end of the bed.

While incredibly tough and secure, these covers are not the most waterproof (research the brand ahead of time).

There are also electric or automatic versions of these tonneau covers. Security and protection at the push of a button. They are definitely more expensive, but very convenient at the same time.

‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids

Price: $$$$$ (Much Higher Cost)

‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids are extremely popular bed lids due to their great security features, near perfect weatherproofing, and their low visual profile. While the plastic can vary in weight (typically about 60lbs) the Fiberglass lids will weigh in at around 120 lbs.

While these hard cover materials may limit the way you can access your truck bed, they often have added storage compartments and shelves lining the inside which help to maximize every inch of your truck bed.

The best thing about Fiberglass lids and the reason for their popularity, even though they are more burdensome and expensive, is that they are made to look just like the rest of your Ford and therefore much more visually appealing.

Wait! Before you Buy Your Ford F150 Tonneau Cover

Wait! Before you Buy Your Ford F150 Tonneau Cover
Image Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diamondbackcovers/36773776662

Before you run out and grab that cool looking retractable tonneau cover, there are a couple more things you will have to do. One is knowing the correct size of your truck bed (and therefore which styles are available to you) and then make sure you research the specific covers each brand is putting out that meets your size and personal needs. Just because a tonneau cover claims to be waterproof or lightweight -many customers may have a much different experience.

Measure Your Truck Bed

Measure Your Truck Bed

Measure your truck bed from the bulkhead inside to the inside of the tailgate. Or stated otherwise: From far wall to wall (lengthwise).

For Ford there are quite a few possible sizes. Check your measurements against a reference chart like this one or this one to ensure accuracy.

Pick a model that suits your needs and read reviews.

Don’t simply trust the advertising. Make sure they can back up the claims. This is a significant investment for an essential tool in your life.

In Conclusion

There is no perfect tonneau cover for your Ford, but there may be on perfect for your specific needs. You often “get what you pay for” with tonneau covers, so a little investment in a better tonneau cover now can really pay off a lot in the long run.