Do Tonneau Covers Stretch? If YES, Which Type Can Be Stretched?

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Tonneau covers are produced from different materials such as vinyl, fibreglass and aluminium and they can also be described as either soft or hard. Your choice of which one to buy depends on what use you plan to have for them. There is the problem of tonneau covers, particularly the soft variety, shrinking after some time.

The issue then becomes that of getting them to fit onto your truck bed if they happen to be shrunken. It is obvious why the soft ones are more susceptible to shrinking than all others because they have soft and easily compliant fabrics.

If tonneau covers become shrunken, do we have any hope of stretching them? We shall see about the answer to that question, and indeed other similar ones, in due course.

Do tonneau covers stretch? The answer is Yes, tonneau covers do stretch albeit with different approaches involved in getting it done.

Sometimes a truck bed cover may shrink especially when it has been removed from the vehicle and kept for long periods. When this happens, are there ways or means by which we can remedy the process? Of course, there is.

However, the soft vinyl type of tonneau covers stretch a lot more easily and faster than the hard type truck covers. So, yes, tonneau covers do stretch very well.

Read Also: Will A Dodge Tonneau Cover Fit A Ford?

Which Type Of Tonneau Covers Can Be Stretched?

Generally speaking, most tonneau covers can be stretched,  if the right conditions prevail, but basically the soft type of tonneau covers and those made of vinyl or cloth are more easy and more ready to stretch than other types.

This can be readily understood because they are softer and more pliable. Fibreglass and aluminium covers are, on the other hand, more difficult to stretch.

How Long Does It Take For Tonneau Covers To Be Stretched?

How long it takes for a tonneau cover to be fully stretched depends on the tonneau cover itself, the quality of materials you are using and how sunny or hot the day is. Taking everything into consideration, however, a tonneau cover takes anything between one to three hours for a full stretch.

At What Temperatures Do Tonneau Covers Stretch?

It is generally known that tonneau covers require high temperatures to get their fabrics softened enough to respond to any stretching.

Despite this, care must always be taken to make sure that they are not harmed in the process by not applying too much temperature.

It is best to simply put them out in the sun outside for some minutes, in order to soften them. Therefore, temperatures not exceeding  30 to 40 degrees are regarded as most suitable to accomplish that.

How Do You Stretch A Tonneau Cover? step by step guide

In order to stretch your tonneau cover, you should exercise enough care to make sure that you get the best possible result without subjecting it to undue harm. You should go about the entire process according to the following steps.

Step 1

Before you start anything, swipe the truck bed cover with a clean piece of cloth to rid it of dust particles and any other debris.

Step 2

You should thereafter spray water on it gently or alternatively, rub it with a good vinyl shiner to soften up its material. Ensure that all its surface is covered evenly with either water or the cleaner, whichever of them you are using.

Step 3

Thereafter, spread it in the sun and allow the shiner oil or water to seep into its fabric in the heat.

Step 4

Finally, re-mount the truck cover onto the truck. The whole process is as simple as that. You will observe that the previously shrunken truck cover will now stretch enough to fit neatly onto the truck.

Read Also: Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas Mythbusters?

Do Tonneau Covers Shrink?

Yes, truck bed covers can in fact shrink to a size much less than that which they had before. This usually happens when they are taken off the truck and allowed to stay off for long periods. In the course of keeping them this way, they are found to shrink in most instances. So, yes, tonneau covers do in fact shrink.

What Causes A Tonneau Covers To Shrink?

Tonneau covers shrink mainly when they are taken off the truck and kept without being used for some time. This is possibly due to the desiccation they are bound to undergo when kept this way, especially when kept for so long.

Desiccation is simply the loss of moisture which in most cases will be associated with rigidity and strengthening of its fabric. Another possible explanation for the shrinking of truck bed covers is the non-application of shiners regularly, which is likely accompanied by loss of tensile ability in its material.

Will My Tonneau Cover Expand If I Keep It In The Sun?

Definitely, your tonneau cover is bound to expand if you keep it in the sun, particularly when it stays like that for a long period of time.

This is simply logical and also supported with sound scientific reasons. It is known that whenever any substance is heated, its particles move more freely and hence it becomes softer and easily stretchable.

For this reason, when you leave your truck bed cover outside in the sun, especially for long periods,  it becomes un-avoidably stretched.

How Do I Stop My Tonneau Cover From Stretching?

Since increased temperature is known to be behind the stretching of truck bed covers, it means that as much as possible, we should avoid exposing them to high temperatures by parking our vehicles in the sun for long periods.

Additionally, we should avoid standing on them or placing heavy objects on them too The user manual will give you more information on what weight is normal to place on them or none at all.

How Do You Fix A Small Tear In A Tonneau Cover?

Since most tonneau covers are made of vinyl, a soft material with great aesthetic value, wear and tear cannot be easily avoided even with the greatest of care. (Read Also: How To Fix Sagging Tonneau Covers With Steps In 2021)

When they are not properly cared for, they dry up which makes it possible for them to develop cracks and tears easily. In such situations, you have the option of using a leather and vinyl repair kit to fix it the tear.

Though the site of the tear may not look good, it will at least prevent it from getting any bigger, which will worsen the problem. Here are the steps for the repair:

Step 1

Clean the site of the tear thoroughly to rid it of any dirt and any other substance that may likely stop the vinyl from bonding well with the repair chemical agent. To accomplish this properly, use soap and water first before you swab with alcohol.

Step 2

Trim any rough edges from the torn area with any razor blade, pair of scissors or even a scalpel. This will enable the torn site to lie flat.

Step 3

Insert a piece of canvas cloth backing, which is usually supplied in a vinyl and leather repair kit. Some kits may require you to apply glue between the vinyl and the canvas. After this, press them together to effect proper sealing. There are instances where you may have to apply heat with either a pressing iron or any other special equipment.

Step 4

This is the final stage and where you will mix the pigments in the repair kit so that they will blend with the colour of the truck bed cover as closely as possible.

The mixing should be done with a filter from the repair kit. Then proceed to fill the tear with the filler material in the kit. Do so by applying it in several thin layers instead of one thick layer in a single attempt.

Thereafter,  press the embossing stamp, which is most likely going to resemble the colour of the truck bed cover under repair to the final layer of the filter material.

How To Install A Tonneau Cover

We have spoken at length on how to do everything with regards to the proper purchase, use, maintenance and repair of a truck bed cover.

It is now highly expected that we should discuss how to install them properly after purchase. How you do this is of paramount importance, since if you don’t do it properly, you run the risk of damaging the object, and you know that tonneau covers do not come cheap. So, do this right.

Tonneau covers are produced in different sizes, designs and models, but there is a universal approach to their installation.

However, if you eventually get landed with an unusual truck bed cover that defies our approach, be kind enough to reach out to the manufacturers on its installation, though this explanation will certainly work for most truck bed covers.

Soft tonneau truck covers are a lot easier to install than their hard counterparts, even by non-specialists in about just one hour. On the other hand, hard truck bed covers are both difficult to install and really heavy, for that, you might want to ask a friend to help out.

1. Installing The Cover Rails

Before anything, ensure that the cover is compatible with all other parts supplied along with it, such as the bed rail caps, bed liners and all others.

Follow the basic rule that, if a bed liner gets in the way during installation, cut a notch where you will fix a clamp or other parts.

Also, if the liner wraps across the rails, and possibly your tonneau cover lies between the rails instead of above them, the two parts might not fit your truck. Most bed rail caps do not interfere with installation. However, the diamond plate bed rail caps may prevent some of the covers from either fitting or forming a weather-tight seal.

2. Opening The Tailgate

You have to open the tailgate because a closed tailgate is likely to interfere with truck cover installation. (Read Also: How Do You Open A Tonneau Cover When Tailgate Won’t Open? )

This is the stage where you place a side rail loosely onto the rail. The two-bed rails that are supplied with most tonneau covers should fit onto the top or side of the truck’s bed rails.

You should endeavour to place a side rail flush to the front of the bed rail next to the cab. Maintain it temporarily in place using a spring clamp or get someone to help you hold it.

Note that, if your truck cover does not come with rails, the cover ought to have clamps that will swing down from the underside the moment the cover is in place.

It is known that these covers are not very stable or even waterproof, but are easy to both install and remove. With a retractable tonneau, which usually comes in a canister, you may have to put this in position before you place the rails.

Place the canister on the edge of the bed rails, beside the cab. Position it perfectly before you attach the rails to the canister.

3. Clamp The Side Rail In Place Beside The Cab

Clamp the side rail in position beside the cab. The supplied installation kit should be provided with several toothed clamps. Using one of these, fit t onto the underside of the side rail beside the cap.

Arrange the teeth of the clamp with the grooves, before you tighten by hand. Tighten further with a wrench or a socket wrench,  just enough to feel it pressing against the bed rail.

Read Also: Can I Use Tire Shine On Tonneau Covers?

4. Use Shims Where Necessary

Check beneath the rail and if there is any space between the truck, put shims evenly along the bed rail to eliminate the gap.

These are either rubber or plastic spacers that align directly onto the bed rail. For s large gap of more than 10 mm, you might require shim brackets instead.

Dismantle the rail, slide the shim brackets onto the end and space them evenly before you re-install it. Your kit may not come with shim brackets that attach with a different design.

5. Use Additional Clamps

Many installation kits are provided with eight clamps( four on each side). However, a short bed may need only six( three on each side).

Attach them the same way you did with the first while spacing them evenly alongside the rails. Some truck bed covers have instructions that recommend skipping this step to the end, to enable you to affect final adjustments easily.

Do not try this method with a hardcover truck bed cover since it is harder.

6. Do The Same With The Second Rail

Proceed to install the second rail just like you did the first one.

7. Adjust Rails Until They Are Central And Flat

Adjust the rails until they are centrally positioned and flat in such a way that the two rails are perfectly balanced and parallel with each other. They should be in line with the bed rails and as far behind as they can possibly move.

If it becomes necessary,  loosen the clamp a little and adjust the rails before you re-clamp again. For a tilted rail,  lower or raise the position of the clamp or even push down on the raised end of the rail when tightening the clamp.

8. Tighten The Clamps Fully

When the rails are properly tightened,  tighten the front clamp of each rail using a wrench. Do the same with the other clamps while moving towards the door of the truck.

Do Tonneau Covers Stretch – Conclusion

We have said all that we should on truck bed cover choices,  maintenance and almost everything else that is of any significance. Use this information carefully, along with any additional you may get from the manufacturers, and you will have few or no complaints with truck bed cover uses.

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