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Hard One Piece Tonneau Covers: Durable, Paintable and Sturdy!
One-piece tonneau covers are among the original tonneau covers. They’re typically made from fiberglass or plastic and are among the sturdiest covers on the market today. One piece or tilt up covers as they’re sometimes called, attach to the truck at the front of the bed and tilt up from the rear using struts to hold the cover open.
They typically feature their own lock and latch system, so you’ll have double the security if your tailgate locks. Most fiberglass models are paintable, so you match the cover to the exact paint code of your truck for a finished OEM look.
Advantages of a One-Piece Tonneau Cover
Using a one-piece tonneau cover has a lot of advantages. First, it offers secure storage and protection for your truck bed. One-piece tonneau covers are typically constructed of fiberglass or plastic which can’t be cut into like a soft cover.
Another advantage is that many models can be painted to match your truck or even ordered with a factory color already on the cover. Most of the plastic models are only available in black though.
Durability is among the biggest pluses with the tilt up covers. They’re virtually indestructible so if you’re in and out of your truck bed a lot a tilt up cover might be the right option for you. Some models are so sturdy multiple people can stand on the cover at the same time.
Disadvantages of a One-Piece Tonneau Cover
As with any tonneau cover on the market they have their advantages and their disadvantages. There are a couple of disadvantages to one-piece covers that could be deal breakers for some people and no big deal for others.
The major disadvantage to a tilt up truck bed cover is the height restrictions. One-piece covers can only tilt so far before reaching their limit. If you’re hauling large items that could be a huge problem and leads us to our next disadvantage…removing the cover.
Most one-piece covers can be removed without tools which is nice. They typically have quick release clips on the struts that allow them to be removed easily. And the hinges usually also have some kind of quick release pin system. The problem comes when you actually have to remove the cover. Tilt up covers are bulkier and heavier than most other models, so it requires two people to remove the cover—if you’ve only got yourself you could be stuck.
What Features Should You Look for in a One-Piece Cover?
One-piece tonneau covers offer many features that other tonneau cover models don’t. Here are some things to look for:
Paint Match – If you’re looking for a paint match cover try to find one that already comes pre-painted to match the paint code on your truck. Getting the cover painted yourself can be costly and time intensive.
Lighting – Many tilt up tonneau covers feature batter powered LED lighting system. Some models like the UnderCover Elite LX even come with a removable LED light.
Headliner – If you like a nice, finished look on the underside of your tonneau cover, many models feature outdoor-rated carpeting which provides a clean, OEM look.
Storage – If you remove your tonneau cover often it’s nice to have a way to store it where the cover won’t get damaged. Some covers come with wall mount kits to keep your cover protected and out of the way.
Locking – Make sure the cover you choose has its own locking system to keep your gear secure.
Removable – If you’re planning on carrying tall cargo you’ll need to remove your one-piece cover. Make sure it has a quick release feature on the struts and hinges.
Weather Resistance – Most quality tilt up tonneau covers will feature a full perimeter weather seal to prevent moisture from getting in your bed. The seal will also protect the cover from rubbing against your paint.
Easy Installation – Installation on the one-piece cover you choose should be easy and not require drilling or modifying your truck bed in any way.
How Do I Find the Paint Code for My Truck?
If you’re buying a pre-painted one-piece tonneau cover or looking to have one painted yourself you’ll need the paint code for your truck. The process is not difficult. But it is important to remember that the wrong paint code can result in the wrong color.
There are different locations on your vehicle where you can find the paint code. Typically, you will find it inside your door jamb on the driver's side. The paint color code will be a mixture of letters and numbers. Some vehicles will also have the paint code on a sticker inside the glove box.
If you are not sure how to find the paint code for your truck, the best place to start is your vehicle's manual. Most vehicle manufacturers use the same format when it comes to paint codes. Some models will have a two-tone finish, so the color code will be separated into the body color and trim color.
If the sticker is missing or damaged and you can’t find the paint code elsewhere, you can also call your local dealer or auto parts store. The dealership can confirm the color of your truck based on the vehicle’s VIN number which is located on the driver's side dash at the bottom of the windshield.
Are One-Piece Tonneau Covers Difficult to Install?
The short answer is no. You’ll need some basic hand tools and an hour so of your time. The following steps are based off the installation instructions for an UnderCover SE tilt up cover, but other models should be very similar.
Unboxing – When installing a new tonneau cover it’s important to make sure all the correct hardware and parts are included. It’s rare, but sometimes the manufacturer will miss things. For the UnderCover SE you should have 2 rear mounting brackets, 2 hydraulic struts, 2 front mounting brackets, 8 aluminum clams with hardware, 4 bar hinge twist knobs and 2 j-hooks with hardware for the included wall mount.
Rear Mounting Bracket – Install the rear mounting bracket to the bed rail near the tailgate. Each truck is different so refer to the model guide for exact placement. The rear bracket requires 2 clamps per side.
Front Mounting Bracket – Install the front mounting bracket to the bed rail near the bulkhead. Again, each truck is different so refer to the model guide for exact placement. The rear bracket requires 2 clamps per side.
Install the Cover – Grab a buddy and set the cover on the truck bed. Align the slots in the bar hinges and push the cover forward to lock it in place. Lift the cover from the rear and tighten the twist knobs. Install the hydraulic struts and test the cover for proper functionality.
Check out our list of the top rated one-piece tonneau covers below!
1. UnderCover Elite LX Tonneau Cover
Designed to fit virtually every truck bed, the UnderCover Elite LX is a luxury tonneau cover that features a custom-fit design and is made from ABS composite material, which is a stronger and more durable material than fiberglass. The UnderCover Elite LX comes in a wide variety of OE-matching finishes. You can choose from 80 different colors to match your truck's paint job exactly. You can also customize your cover with the help of UnderCover's paint department.
This cover features UnderCover’s X-Effect structure design, which helps the cover to be structurally sound. The cover is also made with a full perimeter seal, which helps it keep out rain and other forms of weather.
The UnderCover Elite LX features a new handle design that is ergonomically correct and matches the design of newer trucks. It also comes with a cargo retriever that allows you to reach the end of your truck bed. The cargo retriever stores away conveniently in the cover when not in use.
Another feature we like is the included LED light system. The light is removable and features magnets so you can stick it on to metal objects and feet so it can stand up by itself. Other perks we like include the premium carpet headliner for a finished, OEM look and the included wall mounting kit that allows you to store your cover out of the way if you need to remove it.
2. UnderCover SE Tonneau Cover
UnderCover is the clear-cut industry leader when it comes to one-piece tonneau covers. They’ve been doing it longer than everyone else, so their design, functionality and durability are second to none.
That’s also the case with the UnderCover SE. The SE uses a proprietary blend of polymers combined with their patented X-Effect infrastructure to create a lightweight, durable, and strong cover. This polymer top surface is more durable and heat-resistant than metal panels and provides additional protection against scratches. The SE isn’t available in color match options, but it comes with an easy-to-clean, textured black surface that matches with virtually any truck.
The UnderCover SE Tonneau Cover features an aerodynamic design with sleek ribs and a curved spoiler. It also includes a center-point Twist-Lock that controls both locking hinges for the ultimate in security and convenience. This model also comes with quick-release hardware so removing the cover completely for hauling tall items isn’t a tall task. And at just 58 lbs. it doesn’t take a feat of strength to move around.
Other features we like are the included wall mount hardware that gives you a safe and secure way to store your tonneau cover when you’re not using it. The SE also features a convenient removable LED light for added convenience and full 3-year warranty on the cover’s structure and a 1-year warranty on parts and hardware.
3. UnderCover Lux Tonneau Cover
If you’re looking for a one-piece tonneau cover for your truck, the Undercover LUX Tonneau Cover is a perfect fit. This cover is made from the highest quality material and has a unique look that will last for years. The LUX is water-tight and has a secure, one-point locking system, which controls both hinges with a single twist and helps protect your cargo against theft. It also has a spoiler-styled feature, which looks great and blends well with today's truck styling.
The UnderCover LUX Tonneau Cover is built from ABS polymer material with UnderCover’s patented "X-Effect" structure, which provides strength and rigidity. The structure also helps to protect your cover from weather damage. The ABS polymer makes it light and durable so the cover is easy to remove and store.
Removing the cover is as simple as 3 easy steps, first, release the strut rom the ball studs. Second turn the twist knobs until they release. Lastly, pull the cover toward the tailgate to release the hinge from the mounting bracket. The cover is now free from the brackets and can be lifted off completely.
The Undercover Lux one-piece tonneau cover comes from the manufacturer painted to match your truck’s unique paint code, so you’ll have a clean, OEM look. UnderCover offers over 80 different colors to match the most common paint codes from the major truck manufacturers. They also have a paint department that can match custom colors.
Other featues we like include the lift assist system, which uses hydraulic struts to help you raise and lower the cover smoothly and safely. You will also find a built-in LED light, which provides ample illumination inside your truck bed at night.
The UnderCover LUX tonneau cover is made in the USA and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty on the paint and structure and a 1-year warranty on parts and hardware.
4. UnderCover Elite Tonneau Cover
If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re correct. Every cover in our top four is made by Undercover…they’re just that good. The UnderCover Elite is no exception either. Unlike a traditional one-piece tonneau cover, the UnderCover Elite One-Piece Tilt Up Tonneau Cover comes with a full perimeter double seal system that is designed to keep your cargo safe and dry. It’s made of UV protected ABS composite and reinforced with patented "X-Effect" structure that adds strength to the cover.
We really like the extras included with Undercover Elite. The cover features a surprising bright LED light that’s full removable for extra versatility. There’s also a cargo retrieval tool that allows you to reach stubborn cargo at the front of the truck bed. When you’re done with it, the retrieval tool stores conveniently away in the cover.
Installing the Undercover Elite is simple and straightforward. There are two brackets in the back and two in the front. They attach to your truck bed with included clamps so there’s no drilling or other permanent damage to your truck bed. Then simply lift the cover on the truck, align the cover with the front hinge and clip in the struts on both driver and passenger sides. The entire install takes 30 minutes and requires only basic hand tools.
If you’re hauling large items and need to remove the cover, simply unclip the struts at the rear of the cover and detach from the front hinge system. The entire process takes minutes. And since Undercover includes a handy wall mount hardware kit, you can store the cover safely and securely on any wall.
The UnderCover Elite one-piece tonneau cover is made in the USA and features a 3-year warranty on the cover’s structure and a 1-year warranty on parts and hardware.