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> Running Boards: Design, Fit, and Finish

Running Boards: Design, Fit, and Finish

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As trucks and SUVs have gotten taller, one accessory has gone from being optional to almost necessary: the running board. Running boards install underneath the doors of your vehicle to reduce the step distance to your cab. This helps prevent wear and tear to both your vehicle’s seat upholstery and your own body. To pick the right running board for your vehicle, it’s important to first understand some key terms associated with this important accessory.


Image of Molded ABS, Steel, and aluminum running boards
Pictured from top to bottom: molded ABS, steel, and aluminum running boards

A variety of materials are used in the construction of running boards. The material used to build a running board dictates its design as well as its available finishes.

Aluminum: A common sight on older pickup trucks, aluminum running boards are lightweight, sturdy, and essentially rust proof. Available finishes include diamond plate, brushed, and black.

Molded ABS: Durable and affordable, ABS plastic boards are made in a number of styles from the simple Factory Style board to the eye-catching Chrome Railway board. These boards are usually mounted on an aluminum frame.

Steel: Available in both black and polished stainless varieties, steel running boards are perhaps the most durable style available. Popular steel running boards include the Iron Cross Patriot and the Ionic Stainless Board.

Fiberglass: If you’re looking for a running board painted to match your vehicle, a fiberglass board may be your best option. Fiberglass boards are also sometimes available in a full flare style which goes over the wheel well of your vehicle creating a completed custom appearance.


The fitment of a running board is defined by what section or sections of the vehicle it covers.

Image of Ionic Voyager running boards
Cab length Ionic Voyager running boards in chrome

Cab Length: Just as the name implies, a cab length board runs the length of your cab, making it easier to get into and out of your vehicle.

Image of chrome W2W running boards
Chrome W2W running boards

Wheel to Wheel: Great for trucks equipped with tool boxes, wheel to wheel running boards run past the cab to the front of your truck’s bed. This allows you to access cargo in your bed easily. Wheel to wheel boards are offered as continuous pieces or segmented into separate cab and bed portions.

Image of an AMP Research Bedstep
AMP Research's Bedstep which folds up when not in use

Bed Step: Manufacturers such as AMP Research offer steps that install at either the side or rear end of your bed. These steps fold out of the way when not in use. These steps are a great choice if you already have running boards and want to access items in your bed more easily.

Powered Running Board

Image of the AMP Research Powerstep
The AMP Research Powerstep in the deployed position

Speaking of AMP Research, their Powerstep running boards bear special mention. These boards fold down automatically when you open your door, and fold back into place once your door is shut. Aside from the obvious wow factor of a retractable board, there are also practical benefits. Since the board folds out of the way when not in use, it doesn’t impact ground clearance. That means the powered running board can provide a much lower step than a traditional design. Where standard running boards usually offer a 2-inch to 3-inch drop below the pinch weld of a vehicle, Powerstep boards come down as much as 8 inches.

Image of Ionic running board brackets
Ionic running board brackets


Our running boards ship with the brackets and hardware necessary to install them on your vehicle. Most of the time, no drilling is required and the boards can be installed in about an hour with basic hand tools. Powered running boards may require some wiring and for this reason, we recommend that you have them installed professionally.

If you have questions about running boards for your vehicle, contact our expert staff today. They have the knowledge and experience to help you take the next step in accessorizing your truck.