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  • Nerf Bars and Running Boards Comparison Guide

    The difference between running boards and nerf bars may seem very small at first glance.  But when you start to break down the nuts and bolts of each truck accessory, you start to realize there’s a world of differences that set these upgrades for your pickup apart.Running Boards on a TruckThe function of a nerf bar or a running board is to make it easier for you to get in and out of your truck, SUV, CUV or even your van.  People have been adding them as upgrades since the first truck rolled off the production line.  Thanks, Henry Ford!  Both have specially molded surfaces that provide a non-slip gripping area for you to put your foot.  It’s the perfect solution for clearance issues as well as dealing with the elements such as ice, snow, mud, and water.Read our Nerf Bars Resource Guide and Running Boards Resource Guide separately to get the full story!


    First, let’s talk about the lengths you can buy in both nerf bars and running boards.
    • Cab Length – this means the accessory runs the length of your cab only.  It stops right at or close to the beginning of your truck bed.
    • Wheel to Wheel – the part will go from the rear of your front wheel to the front of your rear wheel.  The step will cover the entire length of your truck or SUV.
    • Bed Length – these are available only in select running board styles.  They match current cab length running boards and fit the gap between the cab and the rear wheel to complete the look.  It gives you the full wheel to wheel appearance with two pieces.


    Nerf Bar Finishes

    Each size is available in different finish options with many brands RealTruck carries.

    Size is the second largest factor when determining the difference between nerfs and boards.  It’s super easy to distinguish size differences in nerf bars.  They come in easy to understand shapes and inch diameter options.  You can choose from oval or round.  Both offer diameter options in inches: Oval nerfs offer the largest diameter options with sizes reaching up to 6 inches.  Whereas round offers the smallest, most minimalistic styles with 2 inch options.Running boards aren’t normally offered in size increments, but do provide for a wide stepping base.  They start at a minimum of around 4 inches wide and get up to around 7 inches or even larger on some select styles.  Because they are custom fit to the year, make, and model of your pickup truck, some sizing may vary from product to product.The biggest difference when it comes to size between nerfs and running boards is the shape.  Nerfs are tubular and running boards are flat and most often rectangular.  Some running boards do have rounded edges, giving them a more “tube-like” look, but because of their rectangular and flat construction, they’re classified and side step boards.

    Materials and Finishes

    Running Board Finishes

    Material and finish options can drastically alter the look of a running board. It opens the doors to many different options when it comes to upgrading your truck’s look!

    Both are constructed with almost identical materials that hold many of the same properties.  However, running boards do allow for more finish options than nerf bars.Nerf bars can be purchased in the following finishes: Running boards have a wider selection of options: Because running boards have more options, folks sometimes feel they can add more flash and style to their trucks or sport utility vehicles.  Don’t let the idea of a small finish selection fool you.  Nerf bar product selection varies greatly between brands, especially on  So take some extra time to click through and see what you might like when it comes to looks as well as functionality.