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Pick-up truck accessories can add great value and functionality to your vehicle. One of the most popular and useful accessories is the truck tonneau cover.

If you’ve recently purchased a tonneau cover or have questions on how to install it at home, you’ve come to the right place. We got you covered.

The installation process can vary between types of truck bed covers (tri fold, roll up, retractable) and even by brand or manufacturer, but most follow some basic steps. We’ll help your DIY tonneau cover installation with a simple step by step guide to get your truck ready for the road in no time.

What is a Tonneau Cover? 

A tonneau cover is a popular pickup truck accessory that covers the top of a truck bed. It’s either a top mounting or flush-lying cover that is placed over the bed of your pick-up truck, and stays in place with either a clamping / locking mechanism or additional rail system. 

A soft tonneau cover is usually constructed of a strong leather-grained vinyl material, with an aluminum or steel frame and crossbars, while a hard tonneau cover consists of a thick frame and heavy duty panels made of aluminum, steel, or fiberglass. 


Ford F150 Hard Tri fold Tonneau Cover 


What are the Benefits of a Tonneau Cover? 

A truck tonneau cover will provide security for your cargo and protect it from dust, rain, snow, and other inclement weather. By covering your truck bed, a tonneau cover will remove visibility and easy access to your truck’s cargo, helping to prevent theft when you’re not around. A hard tonneau cover provides the added benefit of a strong, solid surface that is difficult to remove or lift when your tailgate is locked, further reducing the chance of your tools or cargo from being stolen. Most truck bed covers also complement your truck’s exterior finishes with its black vinyl covering or aluminum panels, giving the truck a clean, sleek appearance.


How does a Tonneau Cover work? 

A truck bed cover generally functions by folding, rolling, or retracting to the back third of your truck bed, closest to the bulkhead. Solid one piece tonneau covers will tilt upward, starting at the tailgate. There are many truck bed cover options available on the market and we’ll go into further detail on how to install each a little later on to help you decide which option is best for you.   


Is it difficult to install a Tonneau Cover at home? 

Tonneau cover installation can vary depending on the type of truck bed cover, but generally it’s not too difficult to install one by yourself at home as many top mounting covers are fully assembled. Flush mount covers will require additional rails to be installed along the interior of the bed frame, and we’ll go into more detail a little later. 


Types of Tonneau Covers

Tri fold Tonneau Cover: 

One of the best selling truck bed cover options that offers ease of use and versatility. A tri fold tonneau cover will fold two to three times onto itself, typically starting at the tailgate, folding towards the bulkhead, allowing for access to the majority of the truck bed. Tri folds can be soft or hard top mounting covers or lay flush with the sides of the truck bed. A top mounting cover can be easily removed from the truck by unlatching the clamps, folding it up, and storing away until it’s needed again.  

Roll up Tonneau Cover: 

A roll up cover is another popular truck bed cover that lays flush with the sides of the truck bed and rolls up onto itself, usually starting from the tailgate toward the back of the truck bed. Roll up covers can be hard or soft tops, typically constructed with an aluminum or steel frame, and a leather vinyl or plastic covering. As a flush mount tonneau cover, it requires an additional rail system to be installed along the sides of the truck’s bed frame in order to roll-up, and requires additional steps in order to remove or uninstall the cover altogether.

Flush Mount Back Flipping Tonneau Cover:

A back flip hard folding truck bed cover is another option that has become popular in recent years. It functions similar to a traditional tri fold cover but includes additional hinges that allow the cover to flip up against the back window of the cabin. A back flipping truck bed cover therefore requires an additional rail system to be installed along the bed frame, and typically remains installed at all times until a replacement cover is needed. 

Top Mount Tonneau Cover Installation Guide

A fully assembled top mounting tri fold tonneau cover is typically one of the easiest truck bed covers to install at home. It does not require a suite of tools, and should only take a few minutes to complete the tonneau cover installation process. A utility knife or pair of scissors is all you should need.

Both soft folding truck bed covers and hard folding covers follow the same installation steps, but it may be easier and safer to lift and place a hard cover on top of your truck’s bed with the help of a second person.

NOTE: Toyota, Nissan, and Honda truck models may require an allen or hex key in order to install and tighten the additional metal brackets that slide into the bed’s existing side rail utility track. 

1) Apply weather strip

  • If your truck's bulkhead is lower than the side bed rails, then use the provided weather strip seal.

Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Weather Strip Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Weather Strip

  • Ensure the surface is clean and dry before applying. This will prevent water, snow and dust from entering the front gap. 
  • The seal is a simple one sided light adhesive attachment that sticks to your bulkhead. It will not damage the paint and can be removed in the future if desired.
  • Begin by slowly removing the tape at the back of the weather strip and firmly press the strip down against the bulkhead, moving slowly from one side to truck’s bulkhead to the other, ensuring it’s evenly attached. If there’s any excess strip remaining, simply cut it off with a utility knife or scissors.  
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Weather Strip Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Weather Strip
  • If you do not have a truck bed liner or spray liner but intend to add one in the near future, you’ll need to re-apply a new weather strip if the bulkhead still dips below the sides of the bed rails. 
  • NOTE: For Toyota truck models, please slide the four metal brackets provided in the packaging into the truck’s existing bed rail utility track, and secure them in the four corners of the rails where the clamping mechanism on the tonneau cover would snap into the frame. 
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Toyota Utility Track

2) Place cover on the bulkhead

  • Place the assembled cover on the bulkhead against the cab and center before you clamp down the cover.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation

3) Perform a test fit

  • Ensure that the tonneau cover is aligned by doing a quick test fit.
  • Unbuckle the safety clips and unfold the cover towards the tailgate.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Test Fit Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation
  • Ensure the corners of the cover are aligned with the corners of the truck bed.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Test Fit Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Test Fit
  • Once you're satisfied with the alignment, fold the tonneau cover back to the front without shifting the cover out of position.

4) Secure the front clamps

  • Reach underneath the cover and pull down the front clamps. Hook onto the bed rail lip to ensure a snug fit.
  • For proper fit, adjust the tension of the clamp by rotating either counterclockwise to tighten or clockwise to loosen.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Clamp Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation - Clamp
  • NOTE: If your tonneau cover has spring loaded clamps that lock into the frame, ensure the tension is tight enough to prevent the cover from shifting out of position.

5) Secure the rear clamps

  • Repeat step 4 for all clamps.
  • Unfold the cover towards the tailgate and secure the rear clamps.
  • Close the tailgate to complete the installation.
GMC Sierra Soft Tri fold Tonneau Cover

6) Accessing the truck bed

  • To use the cover in the folded position start by opening the tailgate door.
  • Release the rear clamps.
  • Fold the cover forward, and secure them in the storage position.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation
  • And fasten both safety buckles.
  • Now you’re ready to drive with the tonneau cover open in a secure position.
Tri fold Tonneau Cover Installation GMC Sierra Soft Tri fold Tonneau Cover

Summary of steps to install a top mounting tonneau cover:

  1. Apply the weather strip seal;
  2. Place the cover on the bulkhead;
  3. Perform a test fit;
  4. Secure the front clamps;
  5. Secure the rear clamps;
  6. Accessing the truck bed
It's that easy to install a top mounting truck bed cover on your vehicle at home in under 10 minutes.

Flush Mount Tonneau Cover Installation Guide

Most flush mount tonneau covers will require you to install an additional rail system along the interior sides of your truck bed, with some covers requiring you to drill as well.

Required Tools for Installation

Flush mount truck bed covers will require most or all of the following hand held tools in order to complete the installation process:
  • impact gun
  • ratchet
  • wrench
  • deep socket
  • vice grips
  • hex key or allen key
  • utility knife or scissors
Lay out all the parts and pieces provided in the delivered package, and pull out the recommended tools for installation.

1) Install Bed Rails

  • Mount the provided left bed rail on the driver’s side of the interior truck bed, and ensure the metal brace is facing the middle of the truck box.  
  • Install and tighten the provided clamps on both ends of the rail; if a third clamp is available, firmly attach it to the middle point of the rail as well.
  • You’ll need your socket and impact gun, or wrench to tighten the clamps.
  • Repeat Step 1 and mount the right bed rail on the passenger side of the truck bed. 

2) Install Bed Cover  

Tri fold tonneau covers are typically fully assembled and require the following to be set in place and locked into the rail system:

  • Place the folded cover along the bulkhead within the bed rails and align the panels and mounting slots with the metal brackets.
  • Hook the metal brackets underneath the folded cover and slide them into the slots connected to both sides of the bed rails.
  • Most folding covers will include four metal brackets, with two for each side of the cover.
  • Twist and tighten the brackets to secure the cover against the bed rails.

3) Install Drain Tubes

  • Most flush mount covers will include flexible plastic drain tubes to allow excess water and condensation that accumulates along the bed rails to drain out of your truck. 
  • Attach one side of the drain tube to the plastic or metal fitting located in the back corner of the bed rail, and feed the other end through the factory pre-cut holes in the truck bed to allow the water to escape.
  • If your truck has a bed liner that is blocking access to the holes, you will need to drill through the bed liner in order to feed the drainage tube.
  • Ensure the tube is angled downward to allow for proper drainage.
  • Repeat step 3 on the other side of the truck bed rail

4) Close the Bed Cover

  • Starting at the bulkhead, unlatch both sides of tonneau cover.
  • Unfold the cover, allowing the middle panel to click into place
  • Unfold once more towards the tailgate to allow the flatten cover to latch into place.
  • Once secure, close your tailgate and you're ready to go. 

Advantages of a Black Series Tri fold Tonneau Cover

Not all truck bed covers are constructed with the same standards of quality and durability. Higher quality tonneau covers such as Black Series tri fold covers also include weather-tight Q-seal gasket and front flaps around the base of the cover to keep it dry and prevent moisture and dirt from entering the box. A weather-strip seal for the bulkhead is also included for added protection.
A Black Series hard tri fold tonneau cover will also include weather-tight seals on all sides and hinges to provide protection from all weather conditions. It’s constructed with a 1″ thick aluminum frame and heavy-duty aluminum panels for superior strength, durability, and maximum protection for your cargo and belongings.
As a top mounting tonneau cover, installation is easy. Black Series comes fully assembled with easy lock and release safety clamps that provide quick access and security for your truck box year round.

Black Series Hard Tri fold Tonneau Cover Features GMC Sierra Hard Tri fold Tonneau Cover

We hope this step by step DIY guide was helpful to get your truck road ready with the comfort and security of a properly installed tonneau cover.
For further details on how to install a Black Series tri fold tonneau cover at home, please reference the installation video guide found at the links below.