Proper Finish for wood rack to keep in truck bed?

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Forum topic by scottkeen posted 04-12-2021 02:14 PM 321 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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64 posts in 2008 days

04-12-2021 02:14 PM

I built a wood rack out of cheap pine (probably should have used teak for outdoor exposure), to hold the fuel jerry cans in my truck bed. I designed it in Sketchup 2016.

The truck bed is covered with a vinyl tonneau cover which keeps out the rain, but maybe not the humidity. Actually traps humidity and steams up pretty good under the black cover. When I’m towing my RV trailer, the tonneau is rolled back exposing the truck bed.

My question: What is the appropriate finish for my wood jerry can rack to protect it from mildew and rot?

At first, I was thinking clear lacquer or polyurethane or even marine spar varnish. Now I’m thinking of spraying it with black truck bed liner like Line-X or Rhino, or some rubberized spray like Plasti-Dip. I like seeing the wood grain, but it’s just pine. I just want what’s best to protect it from exposure, scratches, etc.


EDIT: Note that I rubbed it with 3 coats of Danish Oil as my first attempt to protect it. That didn’t work out so well, the wood has a moist tacky feel when it’s hot and humid outside, so bear in mind it has oil in the wood now.

7 replies so far

View Sycamoray's profile


78 posts in 322 days

#1 posted 04-12-2021 02:29 PM

If the bed liner spray is formulated for wood, I’d go with that.

I would also suggest attaching rubber or plastic wear strips on the bottom and at each corner. Stuff rattling around in my truck bed wears fastest at those locations, and any finish will eventually give up there.

View SMP's profile


3975 posts in 987 days

#2 posted 04-12-2021 02:29 PM

I guess it depends on how long you want it to last. If you use an exterior oil based stain, like a semi transparent BEHR premium etc, it will last many years, but ypu will need to recoat it every year, which is pretty easy to do. If you want it to outlast the truck and no maintenance then rhino lining or other rubberized coatings will work.

View scottkeen's profile


64 posts in 2008 days

#3 posted 04-12-2021 02:36 PM

Thank you for the replies. I want: A) Durable, last as long as possible, and B) Little to no maintenance.

I’ll attach some rubber or plastic feet to the bottom of the rack. Maybe hammer in some of those plastic furniture slider feet. The rack isn’t going anywhere with over 100 lbs of fuel in the cans. There’s no bottom on the rack, the rack just keeps the cans from flopping over.

I also bought some felt self-adhesive pads to line each bay for each can to keep the cans from jiggling and rubbing against the rack. There’s about 1/4” space around each can in each bay, so I’m lining each bay with 1/4” thick felt pads after I apply the finish.

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64 posts in 2008 days

#4 posted 04-12-2021 02:37 PM

Can I apply the spray-on bed liner or rubberized coating, even after I’ve already coated the wood with Danish Oil?

View LesB's profile


2985 posts in 4524 days

#5 posted 04-12-2021 03:28 PM

Answer to last question is yes as long as it has had a few days to dry. If you are still concerned put a coat of dewaxed shellac on first. Zinssers seal coat would do for that.

Sounds like you have it worked out. I would be a little concerned about the cans setting on the truck bed and wearing through the protective coating. You might add some cross members for the cans to set on.

-- Les B, Oregon

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64 posts in 2008 days

#6 posted 04-12-2021 03:39 PM

Hmmm, good point about the cans directly on the truck bed. I’d have to fasten something thin along the bottom of the rack as the clearance from the top of the cans to the tonneau cover is very little, maybe 1” or less. I think I may have a 1/2” thick rubber mat I could put under everything, the rack and cans both.

View scottkeen's profile


64 posts in 2008 days

#7 posted 04-19-2021 11:57 PM

I couldn’t bring myself to Plasti-Dipping or Rhino-Lining my wood rack that I built. So I gave it 3 coats of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane (for wood boats?)

I also attached some felt pads to keep the jerry cans from banging into the sides. The cans fit really snug.

Project is done!

(Still want to add some kind of plastic or rubber strip to the bottom. I was thinking of taking a 1/2” thick plastic HDPE cutting board and ripping strips on the table saw to attach to the bottom of the rack)

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