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Are Tonneau Covers Waterproof?

Are Tonneau Covers Waterproof?

By PattyKay Lilley

As the weather gets colder and rainfall becomes more frequent, you may be wondering whether or not investing in a tonneau cover for your truck is worth it. Tonneau covers provide an extra layer of protection for your valuable cargo while also giving your truck an appealing aesthetic boost– but are they truly waterproof?

This blog post will answer that question and discuss the potency of tonneau covers’ water-resistant features. There’s no denying that a well-built cover can certainly help protect against the elements, but what does data tell us about their overall ability to keep liquids out?

Read on to learn why tonneau covers give you reliable protection from water as well as other benefits besides.

Are Tonneau Covers Waterproof?

The hard truth is that no tonneau cover can keep your truck bed 100% dry in rainfall. For that reason, they cannot be considered truly waterproof. However, they are significantly water-resistant and during rainstorms, they will undoubtedly protect your cargo from most of the water.

That being said, your truck bed may not be completely dry afterward. You may still find a small amount of water has seeped in, depending on the severity of the rain and whether your tonneau cover is equipped with weather gaskets.

While this slight moisture is not something to lose sleep over, it’s worth noting as it is usually minimal and unlikely to cause any significant damage to your cargo. Moreover, the presence of weather gaskets on your tonneau cover further reduces this risk.

It’s also important to note that the level of water resistance is not the same for all tonneau covers. It varies significantly among the various categories of truck bed covers.

See more: How to Buy Tonneau Covers

Varieties of Tonneau Covers and Their Water Resistance

Varieties of Tonneau Covers and Their Water Resistance

Let’s delve into the different types of tonneau covers and their respective levels of water resistance.

1. Hinged Tonneau Covers

Hinged tonneau covers stand as one of the most water-resistant options on the market. These covers are typically constructed from one-piece fiberglass, ABS plastic, or ABS composite, and are not divided into panels and then attached together like other covers. This is one of the key reasons why they offer high water resistance.

Most other truck bed covers are made from panels that are joined together, and though these gaps may close off completely, there are instances where water may seep through into the truck bed.

A crucial factor that further enhances the water resistance of hinged tonneau covers is their installation method. When installed, they overlap the tailgate and bed rails, practically covering the entire truck bed, including the sides.

This leaves only the rear hinges slightly exposed, making it difficult for water to flow back into the pickup truck bed through the rails. This comprehensive coverage also protects against other elements like dust and debris.

2. Retractable Tonneau Covers

Another tonneau cover type with a high water resistance is the retractable tonneau cover. Retractable tonneau covers are popular for their convenience, low profile, toughness, and functionality. They are designed with a canister, mounted at the truck’s bulkhead. When opened, the cover will retract into the canister, getting completely out of your way with full access to the truck bed.

The most common materials used in the construction of retractable covers are aluminum, padded polymers, and polypropylene. These materials usually come in the design of slats. Given that they are not one piece, it would be reasonable to expect that they might let in water through the joints. However, their design ensures that this is not the case.

The slats are combined together with absolutely no space in between them. This ensures that no water can creep in through the joints. To make retractable bed covers even more water-tight, they are fitted with compression seals at the tailgate.

The tailgate and rails are usually the most vulnerable points for water ingress. Therefore, the compression seal is always included at the tailgate, to minimize the amount of water that may get in.

As for the rails, they are designed in such a way that they channel water into the gutter system. The water is then directed into the drainage system and poured out of the vehicle, effectively minimizing water exposure to your truck bed’s contents.

3. Hard-Folding Tonneau Covers

Hard-folding tonneau covers, often referred to as the security jargons, are typically available in tri-fold or quad-fold formats. While they do not match the water resistance offered by hinged tonneau covers, they still provide a commendable level of water resistance. For practical purposes, a well-built hard-folding tonneau cover will effectively resist most water leakage.

Hard truck bed covers are typically crafted from sturdy aluminum panels. However, you can also find some that are constructed from fiberglass or hardened plastic. These materials’ durability makes it extremely challenging for thieves to cut through, enhancing the safety of your cargo.

Similarly, these materials also prevent water from penetrating into the truck bed, except at particularly vulnerable locations such as the rails, tailgate, and joining points. To mitigate this, manufacturers usually incorporate watertight seals along the rails. Furthermore, most hard-folding covers come with drainage tubes that effectively channel water away from the vehicle, ensuring your cargo remains dry.

In a bid to further enhance water resistance, some manufacturers include a vinyl lining across the top of the tonneau covers. This added feature significantly improves the tonneau’s resistance to water, providing an extra layer of protection against potential water damage.

4. Hard Roll-Up Tonneau Covers

Hard roll-up tonneau covers are a favorite among truck owners, primarily because they seamlessly combine the best of both worlds. They offer the sleekness and easy operation characteristic of a soft rolling tonneau cover, whilst being robust and providing nearly as much protection and security as the hard covers. Notably, these tonneau covers exhibit exceptional water resistance.

Their construction typically involves a series of interlocking aluminum panels, topped with either a canvas or vinyl lining. This lining serves to cover any potential gaps between the interlocking panels, bolstering the cover’s water resistance.

Furthermore, these tonneau covers are equipped with weather seals along the rails, which effectively keeps water out. As a result, only a minute quantity of water might find its way into the truck bed, thereby maintaining your cargo’s safety and dryness.

5. Soft-Folding Tonneau Covers

Soft-fold tonneau covers are designed similarly to their hard-fold counterparts, with the main distinction being their construction materials. These covers typically consist of an aluminum frame coupled with a canvas or vinyl tarp, making them notably lighter and less robust than hard-folding covers. Nevertheless, these covers are favored for their affordability, as well as their ease of installation and removal.

Despite their many advantages, soft-fold tonneau covers do not offer the same level of water resistance as other tonneau cover types. However, the degree of water resistance can vary significantly between manufacturers. Some producers incorporate advanced watertight seals into their designs, while others do not, resulting in this discrepancy.

That said, it’s important to note that soft-folding tonneau covers are not entirely devoid of water resistance. When installed, these covers sit atop the truck bed, leading to most water simply flowing down the sides of the cover. Therefore, only a minimal amount of water may seep into the truck bed through the hinges, demonstrating the covers’ partial water resistance.

6. Snap-On Tonneau Covers

Snap-on tonneau covers, although not very common, are among the oldest in the market. They share the design of a soft rolling cover, but instead of using Velcro, these covers employ snaps as the sealants. A snapping truck bed cover is constructed from a vinyl tarp and a framework of hardened plastic bows and rails.

Given their pioneering status in the industry, these covers are not as advanced. Their level of water resistance is comparatively lower, rendering them not the best choice for areas prone to frequent rain and snow.

The main selling points of the snap-on bed cover are its affordability, lightweight nature, and easy storability, making it a suitable choice for budget-conscious buyers who dwell in regions with a drier climate.

Tips to improve the water-resistance of tonneau cover

Even though tonneau covers are designed with water resistance in mind, there are a few tips that can help enhance their water-resistance. One such measure is the regular application of a good quality sealant on the cover. This not only increases the cover’s water resistance but also extends its lifespan, as it protects against harsh weather and UV rays.

Another practical approach is to ensure that the tonneau cover is correctly installed. An improperly fitted cover can leave gaps, allowing water to seep through. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation or consider professional assistance to ensure a watertight fit.

Periodic maintenance is also crucial. Regularly inspect the tonneau cover for any signs of wear and tear, especially around the seals. If the seals appear to be damaged or worn, they should be replaced promptly. Damaged seals are a common cause of water leakage in tonneau covers.

Lastly, consider using a bed liner in conjunction with your tonneau cover. A bed liner can provide an additional layer of protection against water, especially if it’s a spray-on liner. It seals off the bed, preventing any water that manages to bypass the tonneau cover from reaching the truck bed.

Final Thought

In conclusion, the question of whether tonneau covers are waterproof largely depends on the type of tonneau cover in question and the specific manufacturing features. Generally, most tonneau covers are designed to offer significant water resistance and protect your cargo from the elements.

Hard-fold and hard roll-up covers, constructed of sturdy materials like aluminum, tend to provide superior water resistance. They often incorporate advanced features like weather seals and drainage tubes, offering an additional layer of protection against water seepage.

On the other hand, soft-fold and snap-on tonneau covers, while still providing a degree of water resistance, may not offer the same level of protection as their harder counterparts. However, for truck owners living in drier climates, these options can often serve their needs effectively and affordably.

Regardless of the type of tonneau cover you choose, remember that proper installation, regular maintenance, and the use of sealants can significantly enhance its water resistance. That way, you can optimize the performance of your tonneau cover to protect your cargo, enhancing both its longevity and functionality.

In the end, the most important thing is to choose a tonneau cover that suits your needs and preferences, considering factors like your local climate, budget, and the specific usage of the truck.

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