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Durabak: Bedliner In A Can

Posted in How To on March 1, 1999
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Given the abuse Jeeps sustain not only under extreme trail conditions but also when performing daily driving tasks, we owners welcome anything that can provide our treasured 4x4s with a little extra protection from wear and tear.

Spray-on body coatings offer such protection. Originally developed for pickup bed applications, spray-on bedliners have become a popular addition to short-wheelbase Jeep tub bottoms and interiors. The linings' rubberized coatings provide a slip-proof finish for improved cargo stability, and the full-coverage sheetmetal protection and easy clean-up are obvious benefits.

However, it's not all sunshine and fair weather with traditional spray-on bedliners. One problem is that they must be applied by franchise technicians, who use special equipment. You can't do it yourself, which puts the cost out of reach for a lot of folks. Another detraction is logistics. If you live in the boonies, getting your Jeep to a qualified applicator can be difficult.

Your Durabak order will include a paint brush, a special stippled roller, and instructions. You must use only this roller, since other stippled rollers will not pick up and evenly spread Durabak. Rollers are available in 9- and 4-inch sizes. We recommend the 4-inch because it's easier to maneuver over uneven sheetmetal.

Fortunately, there's a cost-effective alternative in the form of a paint-on lining. Durabak is a one-step polyurethane coating that includes suspended recycled rubber granules to provide an abrasion-, chemical-, and heat-resistant nonskid coating to a steel or fiberglass body. The coating is anticorrosive and water-resistant, making it ideal for bedliners and Jeep tub interiors. Its resistance to saltwater and other harmful contaminants make it an optimum undercoating for people who frequently drive on salted roads.

And it's not just for tubs and bedliners. Durabak makes an excellent coating for toolbox exteriors and interiors, bumpers, rocker panels, and wheelwells. The coating comes in 12 colors (black, dark-gray, light-gray, dark-blue, light-blue, forest green, red, dark-red, yellow, orange, tan, brown, cream, and white) and can be applied by brush, spray gun, or a special stippled roller that's available from the manufacturer or a Durabak dealer.

Durabak comes in gallons and quarts, and, it cost $35 for 1 quart of black or $38 per quart of color at press time. Gallons are $135 for black and $145 for color. This may sound a bit steep, but understand that applications for a fullsize pickup bed, such as the J-10 shown here, require 1 1/2 gallons or less (ours actually took just under a gallon). That's 1-1 1/2 gallons max for a CJ tub interior. Weigh that against the cost and logistics of professionally applied bedliner material, and the budget advantage quickly becomes evident.

Prepare your bed or tub for application by first removing all dirt, debris, loose paint, oil, wax, seam sealer, and other contaminants that can prevent proper adhesion. Also remove any drain plugs. Painted surfaces need not be stripped, though loose paint should be removed, and highly oxidized paint should be sanded down. A good 80-grit sandpaper will do the job. Also, all smooth metal should be aggressively roughened and primed to ensure adhesion.

What's more, Durabak is easy to apply. Simply clean the surface to be treated of all grease, wax, and other substances, scuff any existing paint, apply a thin primer coat followed by a final coat, and you're done. No complicated mixing, heating, or other special application is required. Depending on what you're applying the Durabak to, you can be finished in a day.

We had heard of Durabak for sometime and wanted to get a first-hand look at this amazing product. To get a sample for our J-10 bed, we went to J&H Distributing of Thornton, Colorado. Owner Jack Jacoby gave us the full rundown on Durabak and its application. Jacoby is well known in the Rocky Mountain region as the premier proponent of Durabak. He's a Jeep enthusiast, and his products have withstood the rigors of all the major trails in that part of the country. Jack suggested that 1 1/2 gallons would be sufficient for our needs, so with much enthusiasm and all the necessary materials in hand, we went to work.

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