Choosing the Right Running Boards: A Comprehensive Guide

Thursday, November 9, 2023
Choosing the Right Running Boards: A Comprehensive Guide

Running boards and step bars are popular accessories for trucks and SUVs, providing a convenient step up into the vehicle and adding a stylish touch. However, with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your vehicle. In this guide, we will break down the different types of running boards and step bars and help you make an informed decision. 

Types of Running Boards and Step Bars

There are four main types of running boards and step bars: nerf bars, hoop bars, running boards, and power running boards.

Nerf bars are the most common and are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum. They run along the length of the vehicle and provide a flat surface for stepping.

Hoop steps, also known as truck steps or truck side steps, are smaller and provide a step up into the vehicle at specific points.

Running Boards are flat boards that run the length of the vehicle. Power steps are motorized and extend out when the door is opened, making it easier to get in and out of the vehicle.

  1. Nerf Bars: These are tubular step bars with traction pads that are mounted to the underside of the truck. They are typically made from stainless steel or aluminum and provide a durable, sturdy step at a lowered height.
  2. Hoop Steps: Rather than a tubular bar with pads on top, hoop steps have a dropped stepping surface below each door.
  3. Running Boards: These are flat boards that are mounted directly to the truck's frame or rocker panel. They usually run the full length of the vehicle.
  4. Power Running Boards: These are motorized running boards that extend when the door is opened and retract when the door is closed. They are a more expensive option but provide a sleek, high-tech look.

Consider Your Needs

Before choosing a running board or step bar, consider your specific needs. Do you need a larger surface area for stepping, or do you prefer a sleeker design? Are you looking for added convenience with a power step? Also, think about the type of terrain you will be driving on. If you frequently go off-roading, you may want to consider ground clearance.

Material and Finish

Power Running Boards

The material and finish of your running boards and step bars can make a big difference in the overall look and functionality. Stainless steel is a popular choice for its durability and price point. Aluminum is also a good option, as it is lightweight, rust-resistant, and can be polished for a sleek finish. Many models let you choose from a variety of finishes, such as chrome, or black powder coated.


When choosing a running board or step bar, consider the installation process. Some options may require drilling into the vehicle, while others may have a no-drill installation. If you're not experienced with automotive installations, it's best to have a professional handle the installation to ensure that the running boards are mounted properly and securely. Professional installation can also help to prevent damage to the truck's frame or rocker panels.

Brand Reputation

Westin Running Boards

It is important to choose a reputable brand when purchasing running boards and step bars. Look for brands that have a good reputation for quality and customer satisfaction. You can also read reviews and ask for recommendations from other truck or SUV owners. Some of our favorite step bar brands are Westin, Lund, AMP Research, N-Fab, and Romik.


Running boards and step bars can range in price from roughly $499 to over $2000. Consider your budget and what features are most important to you. Keep in mind that a higher price does not always mean better quality, so do your research and compare prices before making a decision.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right running boards or step bars for your vehicle. Whether you prefer a sleek and stylish look or a more rugged and functional option, there is a running board or step bar out there for you. Happy shopping!

Browse Related Products

Westin Running Boards

Westin Running Boards

Westin manufactures high-quality and durable running boards.

Learn More
AMP Research PowerSteps

AMP Research PowerSteps

Heavy-duty, power retractable running board that deploys when needed and retracts when not in use.

Learn More
Romik Running Boards

Romik Running Boards

Romik provides exceptional quality and choice.

Learn More

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