Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers: What Is The Difference?

Tonneau covers are an essential accessory for any truck owner looking to protect the bed of their vehicle from inclement weather and theft, but with two main materials on the market– polycarbonate and aluminum — it can be difficult to determine which one is right for You.

In this blog post, we’ll compare the two materials – polycarbonate vs aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers to help you make an informed decision on what type of cover is best suited for your particular situation.

Below is a comprehensive comparison table showcasing the distinctions between Polycarbonate and Aluminum Retrax tonneau covers:

Feature Polycarbonate Retrax Tonneau Covers Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers
Material Composition One-piece rigid polycarbonate sheet Industrial-strength aluminum slats
Load Carrying Capacity Up to 200 pounds up p to 500 pounds
Durability Scratch-resistant, impact-resistant, UV-resistant highly y durable, heavy-duty construction
Weight Lightweight Slightly heavier than polycarbonate
Cost Generally more budget-friendly Usually higher initial investment weather
r Resistance Provides good protection from weather conditions Highly resistant to wear and tear
Appearance Sleek and glossy Rugged and robust
Ideal for Light to moderate load-carrying tasks Heavy-duty tasks and challenging weather conditions

Overview of Different Retrax Tonneau Covers – Polycarbonate & Aluminum

About Polycarbonate Retrax Tonneau Covers

Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers
Polycarbonate Retrax Tonneau Covers (Source: Internet)

Made from polyester, a sought-after material for tonneau covers, this material stands apart from plastic due to its exceptional impact resistance. So much so, it is employed in fabricating bulletproof windows for automobiles, as well as various everyday items like soda bottles, food storage containers, eyeglass lenses, and shower doors.

Notably, this material boasts remarkable heat resistance, effortlessly enduring even the most extreme temperatures Mother Nature may unleash. Weighing lighter than aluminum, it offers ease of handling, along with the added benefit of reducing gas consumption when compared to heavier aluminum covers. Furthermore, its eco-friendly nature allows for easy recycling, making it an environmentally safe choice.

Given its durability, lightweight, and eco-conscious attributes, it comes as no surprise that it is rapidly emerging as one of the most favored materials for truck bed covers, including the one in question.

About Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers

Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers
Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers (Source: Internet)

Aluminum, a silver/grey-colored lightweight metal, possesses various favorable characteristics. It boasts weldable properties, being soft and malleable, allowing for easy manipulation during fabrication. Additionally, it can be powder-coated, plated, or anodized, providing effective protection against corrosion. When compared with polycarbonate, aluminum emerges as a more cost-effective option, making it the preferred choice.

With excellent weather resistance, aluminum ensures commendable protection against the elements. Maintaining it is relatively straightforward, only requiring regular cleaning and protective applications. These advantages make aluminum the most prevalent material for truck bed covers, as it offers a winning combination of toughness, lightweight construction, and cost-effectiveness.

Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers: What Is The Difference?

Retrax tonneau covers are crafted with two distinct materials, each with exceptional qualities: robust aluminum slats and rigid polycarbonate. These materials, carefully chosen, contribute to the superior construction and durability of our covers.

Both these materials share exceptional attributes, including high durability, strength, and lightweight construction, making the covers easy to install, operate, and remove.

However, it is crucial to differentiate between the two, as purchasing a Retrax tonneau cover made of one material does not necessarily mean it will be the same as the other.

Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers: What Is The Different?
Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers: What Is The Different? (Source: Internet)

Let’s examine the Retrax series, which includes models made of both polycarbonate and aluminum:

Polycarbonate Series

Aluminum Series

RetraxONE MX

RetraxPRO MX

PowertraxONE MX

RetraxPRO MX

RetraxONE XR

PowertraxPRO XR

PowertraxONE XR

PowertraxPRO XR

1. Weight

Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate tonneau covers offer the advantage of being lightweight, ensuring effortless handling and installation.

Aluminum: Aluminum covers are slightly heavier than polycarbonate, but their robust construction offers exceptional load-carrying capabilities.

2. Durability

In the quest for selecting the ideal tonneau cover material, durability plays a pivotal role. Let’s examine the durability aspects of both polycarbonate and aluminum-made Retrax tonneau covers.

For polycarbonate Retrax covers, their one-piece sheet design ensures seamless retraction without the presence of hinges or joints. By incorporating this feature, it effectively safeguards against the build-up of dust and minimizes wear, thus ensuring the durability and longevity of the cover. Moreover, this tonneau remains unaffected by freezing conditions caused by heavy rain or snowfall.

Additionally, polycarbonate Retrax truck bed covers exhibit scratch resistance, maintaining their stylish appearance for an extended period. These covers also showcase impressive impact and UV resistance, making them resilient in various climates.

On the other hand, the aluminum-made Retrax tonneau also boasts scratch resistance and a dust-free retraction mechanism. However, it stands out with its higher level of durability and heavy-duty construction compared to its polycarbonate counterpart.

In conclusion, both polycarbonate and aluminum Retrax tonneau cover showcase excellent durability and resilience. However, if you prioritize a material with higher durability and a robust build, the aluminum option would be the ideal choice.

3. Load Carrying Capacity

In comparing Retrax polycarbonate and aluminum tonneau covers, a significant difference lies in their load-holding capabilities.

The Retrax polycarbonate truck bed cover exhibits a load capacity of up to 200 pounds, while its aluminum counterpart can handle a maximum weight of 500 pounds.

If your requirements involve frequently transporting heavy loads or cargo, or if you often drive under snowy conditions, opting for the aluminum-made cover would be the ideal choice. Its higher load-carrying capacity ensures enhanced suitability for such tasks.

4. Cost

The price range of Retrax tonneau covers made of polycarbonate and aluminum can vary depending on factors such as the particular model, size, brand, and additional features. Generally, polycarbonate tonneau covers tend to be more budget-friendly compared to aluminum covers. Here is a rough estimation of the price range for each type:

Polycarbonate Retrax Tonneau Covers:

  • The price for polycarbonate tonneau covers typically ranges from around $700 to USD 1,300, depending on the size and model.
  • Basic models with standard features will be at the lower end of the price range, while premium options with additional functionalities may fall on the higher end.

Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers:

  • Aluminum tonneau covers are usually more expensive than polycarbonate covers due to their heavy-duty construction and higher load-carrying capacity.
  • The price for aluminum tonneau covers typically ranges from approximately $1,000 to $2,500.
  • Entry-level aluminum covers with fewer features will be closer to the lower end of the price range, while premium models with advanced functionalities can be found at the higher end.

It’s important to note that prices can vary between different brands and retailers, so it’s recommended to compare options from various sources to find the best deal that meets your requirements and budget. Additionally, some manufacturers may offer promotions, discounts, or package deals that could influence the final price. 

Benefits of Polycarbonate Retrax Tonneau Covers

Polycarbonate tonneau covers outshine their aluminum counterparts in terms of weight, being notably lighter. Moreover, they exhibit remarkable resistance against scratches, cuts, and breaks, making them exceptionally durable.

With their ability to withstand impact and endure heavy abuse, polycarbonate truck bed covers offer unparalleled protection for your cargo.

In addition to their resilience, polycarbonate covers boast an aesthetically pleasing appeal, exuding a glossy appearance thanks to their stable color.

When compared to aluminum, polycarbonate covers excel in safeguarding cargo from moisture, effectively preventing mold and mildew build-up.

Benefits of Aluminum Retrax Tonneau Covers

Aluminum tonneau covers enjoy widespread popularity, primarily owing to their user-friendly nature. The lightweight characteristic of this material not only contributes to the ease of handling but also translates into cost-effective products. Moreover, aluminum tonneau covers come in a diverse range of styles, finishes, and colors, allowing truck owners to choose according to their preferences.

In addition to their versatility, these covers boast impressive rigidity and strength, on par with other materials. The inherent corrosion resistance of aluminum ensures that the cargo remains safeguarded from both harsh weather conditions and potential theft. Consequently, the Retrax Pro MX, constructed from aluminum, has garnered immense popularity among pickup truck owners.

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Which is Better – Polycarbonate or Aluminum Tonneau Covers

Tonneau Covers possess both rigidity and toughness. While polycarbonate may be slightly less rigid, it still withstands daily use and severe weather admirably. On the other hand, aluminum, although solid, is prone to easy scratching and denting, with scratches standing out more prominently.

Polycarbonate covers are not immune to scratches, but they exhibit greater resistance. Furthermore, when dyed completely, any scratches will become less conspicuous. Rest assured, truck bed covers made from either material can endure heavy usage and continue performing admirably.

Both materials exhibit similar characteristics in terms of weight and strength, rendering the decision between them a matter of individual preference and budgetary considerations. Polycarbonate sets itself apart from plastic as it stands strong against harsh elements like sunlight and salt, avoiding quick fading, a common issue with painted surfaces.

Aluminum tonneau covers are highly favored for their ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and lightweight nature. These covers offer great convenience, affordability, and a featherlight design, making them a popular choice. Requiring fewer supports, they maintain a rigid structure. With a vast selection of colors, finishes, and styles, these options are highly sought after for their affordability, durability, and robustness. Their rigidity makes them highly effective at securing cargo against theft and the elements, yet some users seek lighter-weight options to reduce the additional burden on their trucks.

Aluminum, in its essence, stands out as an exceptional option for truck bed covers. It not only provides a cost-effective solution but also boasts remarkable durability and corrosion resistance. Choose aluminum for truck bed covers that combine affordability with long-lasting performance. A prime example of a popular aluminum cover is the Retrax Pro MX.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing the Perfect Cover for Your Truck

Selecting the right cover for your truck bed is crucial to ensure proper protection and functionality. Before coming to a decision, it is crucial to take into account several vital factors:

  • Material: Tonneau covers are available in a range of materials, including aluminum, polycarbonate, vinyl, and fiberglass. These diverse options provide customers with a variety of choices to suit their needs. Each material has its unique characteristics, including durability, weight, and weather resistance. Determine which material aligns best with your specific needs and preferences.
  • Purpose: Take into account your intended use for the truck bed cover. Are you primarily looking for protection against weather elements, security for your cargo, or improved gas mileage? Different covers serve different purposes, so it is crucial to discern your specific requirements to make an informed choice.
  • Style: Tonneau covers are available in different styles, such as roll-up, folding, retractable, hinged, and tri-fold. Each style offers distinct advantages in terms of accessibility, ease of use, and appearance. 
  • Installation and Removal: Certain covers offer greater ease of installation and removal compared to others. Consider whether you require a cover that can be easily taken off to accommodate larger cargo or if you prefer a fixed, permanent solution.
  • Security Features: If security is of utmost importance, seek out covers equipped with advanced locking systems, reinforced panels, or integrated tailgate locks. These exceptional features offer additional safeguarding for your truck bed and its valuable cargo.
  • Budget: Set a budget before shopping for a tonneau cover. Prices can vary significantly based on material, style, and brand. Determine what you are willing to invest, keeping in mind that high-quality covers often offer better long-term value.
  • Weather Resistance: Assess the cover’s ability to withstand various weather conditions. Look for features such as water-resistant seals, UV protection, and rust-resistant components to ensure the cover can endure different climates.
  • Maintenance: Consider the maintenance requirements of the cover. Certain may require regular cleaning and conditioning, whereas others are low-maintenance and effortless to keep clean.
  • Warranty: Look for covers that come with a warranty, as it provides added assurance of the product’s quality and reliability.

See more in this video:


Q: Are aluminum tonneau covers a good choice?

The AlloyCover is the perfect solution for truck owners who prioritize cargo security. With its robust aluminum panels and reinforced vinyl-coated hinges, it ensures that your valuable items are protected against unauthorized access and vulnerabilities. Choose the AlloyCover for peace of mind and reliable transportation of your belongings.

Q: What’s the best way to clean aluminum sheets effectively?

To clean, mix a small amount of gentle detergent, like dish detergent, with warm water. Apply the solution using a non-abrasive sponge or soft cloth to prevent scratching the aluminum surface. Rinse thoroughly for best results.

Q: When comes to truck bed covers, which option is superior: soft or hard?

If security is the paramount consideration when buying a tonneau cover, then opting for a hard tonneau cover is the optimal choice. While both hard and soft tonneau covers ensure the concealment of your belongings, hardcovers elevate security to a whole new level.

Q: Do aluminum trucks outperform steel trucks?

The rust resistance of aluminum enhances the longevity of a truck’s body and cab, resulting in longer fleet retention and reduced frequency of new truck acquisitions. Pound for pound, aluminum exhibits superior strength compared to steel and can be further fortified with custom, heavy-duty extrusions, thereby enhancing vehicle safety.

Q: When comes to truck bed covers, which option is superior: soft or hard?

If security is the paramount consideration when buying a tonneau cover, then opting for a hard tonneau cover is the optimal choice. While both hard and soft tonneau covers ensure the concealment of your belongings, hardcovers elevate security to a whole new level.

Q: Do aluminum trucks outperform steel trucks?

The rust resistance of aluminum enhances the longevity of a truck’s body and cab, resulting in longer fleet retention and reduced frequency of new truck acquisitions. Pound for pound, aluminum exhibits superior strength compared to steel and can be further fortified with custom, heavy-duty extrusions, thereby enhancing vehicle safety.

Q: What are the drawbacks of using polycarbonate sheets?

An inherent drawback of polycarbonate sheets is their susceptibility to scratches and dents. Without proper caution and care, the surface may easily be marred.

Q: When comparing polycarbonate and aluminum, which material is superior?

Aluminum, though pricier, is renowned for its exceptional durability. It resists corrosion and fading even in the harshest weather conditions. On the other hand, polycarbonate offers a more affordable alternative but lacks the same level of durability as aluminum. It may not withstand severe weather conditions as effectively.

Q: Does polycarbonate have a tendency to crack easily?

Polycarbonate, an amorphous and glass-like thermoplastic material, is prone to cracking or crazing when subjected to stress and exposed to certain chemicals. In the realm of medical devices, a significant portion of polycarbonate is molded in a way that it either comes into contact with or is affixed to flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Q: Is polycarbonate more cost-effective compared to aluminum?

In terms of cost, polycarbonate panels generally have a higher price tag compared to aluminum composite panels. This can be attributed to their higher production costs. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that polycarbonate panels are also lighter in weight, which means they may require less structural support. This factor can potentially mitigate some of the cost disparity.

Final Thoughts

Tonneau covers offer a cost-effective and efficient solution to safeguarding items in your truck bed while also elevating its visual appeal.

There is a significant distinction between the two materials. Polycarbonate tends to be more budget-friendly, while aluminum boasts superior longevity compared to polycarbonate. Assessing cost versus durability will help you determine the ideal material that aligns with your specific requirements.

We hope you found this article enlightening, and it has provided the answer to your query: ” Polycarbonate vs Aluminum Tonneau Covers: What Is The Different?“.

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