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How To Measure For a Tonneau Cover

Ready to buy a tonneau cover, but not sure about the size of your truck bed? It just takes a few minutes and a measuring tape to find out. We’ll go over how to measure your pickup truck for a tonneau cover.

Truck bed covers are designed to have a snug fit. That’s the whole point of using a tonneau: to protect your truck bed and the cargo inside. Getting the right fit is why it’s important to know the length of your truck bed.

Tonneau Cover Flat

Measuring your truck bed for a tonneau

First, grab a measuring tape at least 8 – 10 feet long and something to write down the measurements. 

Then, follow these simple steps to measure your truck bed for a tonneau cover:
  1. Lower the tailgate and stand behind your truck
  2. Extend your measuring tape along the floor of the bed to the bulkhead wall (right behind the cab)
  3. Take your measurement at the end of the floor of the bed where the gap is located
  4. Divide by 12 to convert your measurement from inches to feet (this is usually how tonneau covers will be listed)

Tonneau manufacturers usually round off the length of the tonneau to an even number. You should be within a few inches of that. It’s fine if your measurement isn’t an exact match to what you see when shopping for a tonneau. Most manufacturers standardize their tonneau sizes to fit your make and model pickup truck.

Other ways to check your truck bed length

If you’re buying a Sawtooth STRETCH tonneau, just select your truck make, model, and year to see which tonneau you should buy.

You may already know your truck bed length from when you purchased your truck. It’s easy to look up your make and model and find the length of your truck bed. 

But even if you know the factory specs of your truck bed, it won’t hurt to double-check the measurements. Plus, if you have a bed liner or other added accessories you will need to measure it for yourself. 

Unfortunately, truck manufacturers don’t have standardized sizes between manufacturers. Some truck manufacturers list truck bed lengths in feet and others list them in inches. Sometimes truck beds are referred to as “short bed,” “standard bed,” and “long bed,” but those terms mean different things for different truck makes.

Like we said before, you just need a measurement within an inch or two of what the tonneau is listed as, so don’t stress too much. 

Things to consider when measuring for a tonneau

Once you have your measurements, there are a few things you should think about before choosing a tonneau cover.

Since you don’t want to deal with returning a tonneau that doesn’t fit, make sure you have the right measurements. See if these situations apply to your truck and keep them in mind while shopping.

Do you already have accessories on your truck bed?

If your truck has built-in or after-market accessories, you may need to choose a specific tonneau cover. For example, if you drive a Ram and have a RamBox, many manufacturers have tonneau models that are built for that. Other examples are the Cargo Management System for Silverado or Sierra owners, or Deck Rail System for Tacoma or Tundra owners. You’ll want to check that the cover you choose can fit those accessories. Some pickup truck accessories are so bulky that they prevent the addition of a tonneau cover. For Example, many truck bed roll bars are mounted within the bed and prevent the proper installation and function of a tonneau cover. 

Do you have a bed liner?

A bed liner may impact the space that your tonneau needs to cover. Be sure to measure the space inside the bed liner, instead of measuring over the bed liner. When you install your tonneau cover, you may need to drill or cut through the bed liner when attaching the bed rails.

Choosing the right tonneau cover for your truck

Now you’re all measured up and ready to shop for tonneau covers. Next, you’ll need to choose the one that best meets your needs. There are lots of great options out there that fit every preference.

1. What’s your budget? 

Consider how much you want to spend on your tonneau. Fiberglass hard-top tonneaus start around $1,500 and go up from there, with other hard covers costing less. Soft tonneaus usually fall in the $200 - $900 price range. Truck bed covers on the lower end of that range are usually cheaply made outside of the United States. They may not last long or provide much security. 

No matter what your budget is, you’ll be able to find a truck bed cover that helps you get more out of your truck.

2. What style and material do you want?

The second thing you’ll want to consider is the tonneau material and style.  You have two main options:

Soft tonneau covers

Soft tonneau covers are the most popular category. They tend to be more affordable and there are lots of styles on the market, giving you flexibility. Soft covers are also much lighter and easier to install. 

Soft tonneau covers come in a wide range of styles: rolling, retractable, expandable, and more. Some people choose not to use soft tonneau covers because they believe the soft material is more easily cut and less secure. This is not necessarily true. As for Sawtooth’s soft tonneau material, it is 7 times thicker than our nearest competitors. 

Hard tonneau covers

Hard tonneau covers are typically made of aluminum, fiberglass, or hard plastic. They are more expensive, making them less popular. These covers are heavier and may require more than one person to install (or even a forklift or small overhead crane). 

Styles range from single piece hinged tonneaus to tri-fold or quad-fold covers. Folding models allow you to use a portion of the truck bed for tall cargo when the folding tonneau is folded out of the way. Hard tonneau covers can usually be locked and offer slightly better security than a soft cover. 

If you’re not sure what tonneau cover to choose you can check out our guide to picking the best tonneau cover for your pickup truck.

3. What else should you consider?

There are a few things people prioritize when shopping for tonneau covers. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind while looking at your options:

  • Ability to fit different sizes of cargo
  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Appearance
  • Ease of use and installation
  • Security
  • Water-resistance 

What’s next?

Once you’ve bought a tonneau cover, it’s time to install it. Read about “How to install a tonneau cover”, and check out our Sawtooth STRETCH tonneau installation instructions video.

If you’ve measured your truck and are starting to shop for a truck bed cover, check out the Sawtooth STRETCH Tonneau. It’s the only tonneau that expands to protect large and tall cargo. It lays flat when not in use, can support snow loads, and uses patented STRETCH & HOLD technology to protect large cargo and keep it in place.