Every truck has a grille. They act as a screen allowing outside air to cool off your radiator and engine. But, they are also ornamental. Upgrading your grille can have a dramatic impact on your truck’s attitude and help you stand apart from the crowd... Maybe you want a wider looking stance, minimal lines, more curvature, or perhaps you just want to ditch the chrome for a more sinister black grille. If you’re in the market for a more stunning grille, this guide will help explain the different types of billet grilles available.
An OE grille is almost always made out of ABS (a heavy-duty plastic) and as the name implies, comes standard with your rig. Billet is neither a brand nor a style; it’s actually a method of fabrication. When an auto accessory includes “billet” in the title, it usually means that the core of the accessory was machined from a single, solid block of material - generally aluminum or steel. So, it’s no surprise that these accessories are usually high strength. That said, the metal can still be coated or covered with other materials such as a black powder coat or chrome finish. Aftermarket grilles replace part or all of your original grille or can act as an overlay to your OE grille. They come in a variety of styles (explained below) and are constructed from ABS, aluminum, steel, or stainless steel. There are plenty of finishes to choose from as well, including matte black, polished aluminum, chrome, polished stainless steel, and more.
Horizontal Bar Billet Grille
This is an old school, yet still popular style of grille. Bar billet grilles are generally characterized by prominent, parallel metal bars across the grille that are typically aligned horizontally. This creates a wide vented look as the metal bars extend from one end of the grille to the other. This type of grille can be crafted from a number of materials like aircraft grade aluminum, ABS, steel, or stainless steel. It’s best suited for those who want a wider, broader looking stance.
A vertical bar billet grille has a prominent grate of metal lines that are parallel and attached to the top and bottom of the grille. While there can be a few support strips that align to the left and right, if the majority of these lines go from top to bottom (vertically) then this is a vertical model of grille. Now you can probably guess what a horizontal style of grille is. Just as the vertical style has prominent lines going from top to bottom, the horizontal style has the same thing, but from left to right. Now that we’ve covered some background info, let’s dig into the different types of billet grilles: bar billet, LED, mesh, and punch.
Mesh is a very popular style of grille. When it comes to mesh grilles you can throw out anything we’ve mentioned about vertical or horizontal bar positioning. Mesh is where the metal bars are thin and criss-cross like a series of Xs or in some cases a checkered pattern. There is no distinct advantage nor disadvantage of having a mesh grille over another type of grille. However, as far as style, some feel these give a sturdier, guarded, and intense look.
Alas, this type of grill does not beat up the other truck grilles. Instead of metal bars going across the frame or a screen-like mesh, the grille consists of a metal sheet that has a pattern of small, circles, octagons or other honeycomb-like shapes that are punched through a sheet of metal. This style is popular for those who like the look of a mesh grille, but want something even more unique.We may argue that these are the most unique looking grilles as they are not terribly common to see on the road. So when you do see them, they stand out as an excellent contrast to the everyday, boring grilles our trucks are equipped with from the factory.
Grille with LEDs
An LED grille looks amazingly fierce on the road. These are probably the most eye-catching accessory you can have. Going down the road, some may even wonder if your ride is the Batmobile in truck form. The advantage of this grille type is the brightness it brings to the road - especially off-road. But, it’s more than just lights, they are integrated into the design of the grille. An LED grille can be mesh, punch, or any style really - but with the addition of an LED light bar generally. LEDs actually last so long it would take over half a decade of them running day and night before they had a chance at running out.
Bumper grilles are completely different from all of the grilles we’ve talked about so far. The biggest difference is that instead of mounting to your ride’s hood, they are smaller and incorporated into the front bumper. They come in bar billet, mesh, punch, and even LED and are the perfect companion to the main grille of your choice. A bumper grille could also be used by itself to fill an unsightly void in your bumper with something better. Due to their size, they are generally easier to install and usually have a significantly lower price tag.
Often times billet grilles have no-drill installation since they replace or install in front of your existing grille. This makes set up time is pretty minimal and you can do it right in your own garage or driveway. However, installation varies significantly depending on your application and type of grilles. For the easiest installation, try an overlay. They simply cover your OE grille instead of replacing it. A grille insert can also be easy because they fill or replace grille openings. But, for the biggest aesthetic effect, you’ll want to completely replace your OE grille. Sure, it takes the most time and costs more, but it also pays off the most when it comes to style.