Here’s What Kind of Paint You Need for Running Boards

When your running boards look rough and need a refresh, it’s good to paint them. While you can’t use just any paint, there are some options that will give you a durable, nice-looking surface. You can choose a textured or smooth paint depending on how you want the final finish to look.  

While there are several paint types for running boards, the most common are bed liner, chrome, and wheel paint. Each paint type has advantages, but most of the time, the paint choice comes down to personal preference. 

When you are ready to change the color or texture of your running boards, you need a durable, heavy-duty paint that will stand up to the road conditions well. Keep reading to see how to repaint running boards with three paint types for a fresh, new appearance and better protection from the elements. 

Red pick-up
Red pick-up

Paint Types for Running Boards

The cost and application of various paints for refreshing your running boards are part of the decision you must make. Do you want a shiny surface to match the car body paint, or is a matte surface more your style? Here are some options.

Bed Liner Paint

Bed liner paint is ideal for a truck bed and works just as well on the running boards. This paint type will match the undercarriage black, so the entire bottom of the vehicle is the same color tone. Here are the advantages of choosing bed liner paint for your running boards. 

  • Bed liner paint protects the running boards from scratches and will stand up to the shoes stepping on the surface. 
  • Bed liner paint resists the weather effects by sealing the running boards from moisture, UV rays, and road dirt.
  • You can choose between a matte or glossy bed liner paint finish.
  • Bed liner paint is an economical choice. 

Applying Bed Liner Paint to the Running Boards

The key to any lasting paint job is to do a thorough preparation of the running boards before applying the paint. This is an inexpensive way to protect your running boards from rocks, road dirt, and weather elements. You can paint the running boards attached to the vehicle or remove them. Follow these steps to apply bed liner paint to running boards. 

  1. Clean the running boards with Comet cleanser and water to remove road dirt and other substances from the surface. 
  2. Allow to air dry until no moisture is left.
  3. Sand the running boards with 80 grit sandpaper. 
  4. Mask off areas where overspray could reach. 
  5. Wear protective eyewear, work in a ventilated space, and wear gloves.
  6. Mix the bed liner according to the directions. 
  7. Apply with a small roller or paintbrush. 
  8. Apply a second coat when the first coat is “tacky” (about 15-20 minutes).
  9. Let the paint dry completely. 

Watch this Youtube video to gain a better understanding of applying bed liner paint to running boards: 

Chrome Paint for Running Boards

If you have chrome running boards and want to keep the shiny look of chrome paint, you can paint chrome over chrome. As with any painting project, wear protective eyewear, clothing, and gloves. Here is how to paint chrome over chrome running boards.

  1. Clean the chrome running boards with acetone to remove road dirt, oils, and grease.
  2. Use a rust remover if needed to ensure the surface is clean.
  3. Rough up the surface well with a scuffing pad.
  4. Wipe dusty residue away with a clean cloth.
  5. Spray twice with self-etching primer to ensure the chrome paint adheres to the metal surface. 
  6. Spray two or three coats of automotive-grade chrome paint on the running boards once the primer is dry. 

Wheel Paint for Running Boards

Some people swear by automotive-grade wheel paint for running boards. Wheel paint is durable, resists harsh weather, and protects the underlying surface. So, if you want to use wheel paint for running boards, here are the steps:  

  1. Clean the running boards with Comet cleanser and rinse well.
  2. Let it dry completely.
  3. Spray undercoat primer according to the manufacturer’s directions, and let it dry.
  4. Spray the base coat with your color choice and let it dry. 
  5. Apply a clear coat to protect the paint from rust, corrosion, and dings. 

Here is a Youtube video on using wheel paint for running boards:  

Paint Considerations for Running Boards 

While you will find several options for running board paint, some factors can influence your final selection. Of course, you want durable paint that also improves the appearance of your vehicle because the last thing you want is to repaint again next year. Here are some factors to consider before you make a definite choice: 

  • The final look you strive for will help you choose the right paint. You need to decide if you want a shiny surface or a rough, textured finish for the running boards. 
  • Many people paint the running boards the same color as the undercarriage. This creates a seamless appearance, and the running boards don’t stand out from the rest of the truck. 
  • Some paint types are more challenging to apply than others. You should consider how much preparation and effort you want to put into repainting the running boards.
  • Most paints need good ventilation. Be sure you have a space that will protect the paint as it dries but offers plenty of ventilation as you apply the paint.
  • The paint cost also factors into your ultimate selection. You can spend as much as you want repainting the running boards, so decide how much you can afford to spend before purchasing paint. 
Royal blue pickup truck - studio shot

Final Thoughts 

There are multiple options when you want to repaint the same color or change the texture and color of your running boards. Most people seem to lean toward using bed liner, chrome, or wheel paint for long-lasting, nice-looking results. 

The paint you choose is a matter of personal preference, so you really can’t go wrong. Just be sure to use paint that repels moisture, road dirt, and the environmental effects of harsh weather.