Running Boards for GMC Sierra: Materials, Styles, and Installation Complete Guide

Are you looking for a way to upgrade your GMC Sierra? Running boards are a great way to not only access your vehicle more easily, but also to add a touch of style.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about running board materials, styles and installation – all in one complete guide. Let’s discover how running boards can make your GMC Sierra look and perform at its best!

Bolting on running boards is the best way to add both style and safety to trucks such as the GMC Sierra. In this guide, we look at the different materials used for running boards and their respective strengths, styles available and proper installation techniques.

With all these points taken into account you can make an educated decision about how you want to equip your GMC Sierra with running boards that can make it look more stylish without compromising its functions.

Brief overview of running boards for GMC Sierra

Running boards for GMC Sierra are an easy way to enhance the style of your pickup truck while providing step support when entering or exiting cab. Available in a variety of styles and materials, running boards can be used to complement the existing design of your vehicle while helping to provide added protection from dirt and debris. Running boards offer a great way to add an individualized touch to the exterior of your Sierra.

It’s important to know the proper materials, styles, and installation processes for running boards before making a purchase. Here we will take you through some key points for selecting running boards for GMC Sierra that are right for you and your vehicle. With these tips in hand, it will be much easier to find the perfect solution for your needs.


When selecting running boards for a GMC Sierra, it is important to consider the material from which they are made. Running boards are available in a variety of materials, all of which provide a mix of strength and durability with different price points. The most commonly used materials for GMC Sierra running boards include aluminum, plastic, and steel.

Aluminum: Aluminum running boards are lightweight and strong, making them an ideal choice for those who don’t need the extra protection that steel offers. Aluminum is also less expensive than other materials, making them a great choice for budgetary reasons. However, aluminum is more susceptible to corrosion than other materials and can be sanded down to reveal rust underneath the paint coating if not properly treated.

Plastic: Plastic running boards tend to be less expensive than their metal counterparts while still offering adequate protection against small amounts of impacts or bumps. Such protection comes with added weight as plastic running boards are generally heavier than aluminum ones but still lighter than steel ones. Most importantly plastic won’t corrode or rust like metal so it provides longer lasting protection if taken care of properly..

Steel: Steel running boards offer the best level of protection among available options due to its high strength-to-weight ration and resistance to impact damage or scratches. Steel requires least maintenance out of any option but also carries the highest price tag due to its heavy weight and hardiness over time.


Aluminum running boards are usually the lightweight, durable choice for most GMC Sierras. They often come in black or silver finish and require a simple installation. Most styles feature raised ribs to help prevent slipping, increase vehicle aerodynamics and give your Sierra a sporty look.

Additionally, aluminum boards provide maximum corrosion resistance and can often be installed with no drilling for a hassle free set up. As an added bonus, many aluminum running boards are custom-made to fit your Sierra specifically and available at competitive prices.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel running boards are extremely durable, and they offer an attractive chrome-like finish that is aesthetically pleasing. They also add additional grip to your stepping surface so you can get in and out of your vehicle with ease. Additionally, stainless steel components are Rust and Corrosion resistant compared to other materials.

When considering Stainless Steel running boards for your GMC Sierra, there are a few different styles available, including bent abrasive plates, no slip punch plated treads, or diamond pattern treads. Each style adds its own aesthetic to the final look of your truck as well as providing a safe stepping surface for getting in and out.

When it comes time to install these boards on your GMC Sierra truck, keep in mind that proper grounding of the metal is essential for safety reasons. It’s important to refer to any included installation instructions when attaching running boards onto any vehicle; however stainless steel running board installation typically requires:

  • Drill
  • Hex Wrench
  • Safety glasses
  • A Phillips head screwdriver and corresponding screws
  • Steel bolts or drive screws (stainless steel)

Additionally, adhesives may be required if you prefer that option over drilling holes into the body of the vehicle when mounting hardware isn’t accessible. Carefully making sure all parts are properly installed helps ensure the best possible performance from your Stainless Steel running boards for many years of dependability!

ABS Plastic

ABS plastic running boards are popular because of their lightweight, durable and weatherproof construction. They have the look of real wood but can withstand many more elements than their heavier, wooden counterparts.

Installation is usually easy when you use the right kind of fasteners and mounting hardware, depending on your GMC Sierra model. ABS plastic running boards come in an array of colors that closely match the paint of your vehicle and they may include built-in lighting systems to provide extra visibility during nighttime driving.

Some models are also designed to be textured for extra foot traction, providing increased safety when making entries or exits. These running boards also require minimal maintenance — just wipe them down with soap and water for a thorough cleaning once in awhile.

ABS plastic running boards are built to last, offering a long-lasting quality that makes them well worth the investment!


When it comes to running boards, there are several different styles to choose from, each offering its own unique look and features. To help you find the perfect running board for your GMC Sierra, we have put together a rundown of some of the highlights and features of each style.

A-Bar Style Running Boards: These are the classic “wing” style running boards, designed to create a bold look and blend seamlessly with the Sierra’s lines. A-Bar running boards feature stepped sideplates and multiple installation options, making them suitable for both long and short side beds.

Round Tube Running Boards: The metal framework gives these boards a contemporary look, with no straight sides or sharp edges that could potentially snag clothing or otherwise interfere with getting in or out of your truck. Round tube running boards also come in multiple lengths for added versatility.

Stainless Steel Running Boards: Truly unrivaled when it comes to form and function, stainless steel running boards offer superior corrosion resistance due to their triple chrome plated finish. With these beautiful yet tough running boards installed on your truck, you can worry less about maintenance and enjoy more time cruising outdoors!

Cab-length running boards

Cab-length running boards are the most common type of running board and are designed to fit the length of your truck’s cab and door frame. They generally run along both sides of the truck, from front to back doors. Most are designed with an angled cut-out at the rear wheel wells, allowing them to fit snugly around your GMC Sierra’s frame.

Cab-length boards come in a variety of materials and styles, ranging from ABS plastic to molded aluminum. Most also come with heavy-duty brackets that attach firmly to varying mounting points on your vehicle for secure installation. Some cab-length running boards also feature extra cushioning, making them ideal for all weather conditions and helping prevent dirt from collecting underneath them when traversing unpaved or rocky roads.

ONINE 6 Inch Black Running Boards Custom Fit 2020-2023 Chevy Silverado/Gmc  Sierra 1500 2500HD 3500HD Double Cab Extended Cab Side Step Nerf bar (Excl.  Silverado LD/Sierra Limited)

Wheel-to-wheel running boards

Wheel-to-wheel running boards are round, straight, or curved boards that go from the wheel well to wheel well on the GMC Sierra. They can provide a more finished look than other types of running boards, and are typically the longer of the two styles. Most have a padded step surface for ease of use and come in multiple sizes to meet the exact wheelbase of your truck.

Wheel-to-wheel running boards can be made from aluminum, stainless steel or fiberglass, though fiberglass is usually only seen on higher end models. Some even come with built-in lights or have additional accessories like steps with illumination.

Installation is relatively easy as it only requires mounting brackets to usually (but not always) already existing holes in the factory frame rails and attaching them to the rocker panels directly below with clips provided in the box.

Nerf bars

Nerf bars, sometimes referred to as “step bars,” are a type of running board designed with horizontal bars spaced evenly apart that can provide an easy and safe step up while entering and exiting the vehicle. They add a unique touch of style to any vehicle while still providing a secure point of entry.

Many nerf bars are made from strong powder-coated steel, and they come in many different shapes and sizes. When installed correctly, nerf bars offer superior strength and reliability, no matter what conditions you may face.

Depending on your GMC Sierra model, dedicated brackets or universal brackets may be required for installation; however, installation instructions are usually included in the package and can guide you through each step.


Installing running boards for GMC Sierra can be done without help from a professional — though you may opt to have a service center or auto shop assist for convenience. The process, in most cases, is relatively straightforward and includes the following simple steps:

  1. Carefully remove all packing materials and inspect the running board for damage with a close eye. If it appears that the board is faulty in any way, return it to your retailer immediately.
  2. Prepare your truck by placing it in park or neutral (if applicable) and engaging the parking brake. Then, use safety jacks two jack stands to prop up your vehicle to an appropriate height so that you can access its underside easily. Make sure the truck remains significantly stabilized while you work on the board installation.
  3. Check if your model Sierra is equipped with a plastic interior liner covering underneath its fenders which will need to be removed prior to installation of your running boards — be extra careful when removing these liners as they are very fragile and prone to breakage easily!
  4. Crawl underneath your GMC Sierra’s cabin and find its factory mounting points where you can apply fasteners/clips included with your product package before securing them tightly using appropriate tools (wrenches/screwdrivers).
  5. Connect any LED lighting components such as LED strip lights or patterned lighting strips via their wiring harnesses at those same mounting locations according to the instructions indicated on their packaging material – please bear in mind that not all running boards are built with electrical connections so some illumination accessories might require separate wiring for proper performance should this feature come available on one’s product package then do take extra precaution during connection! **Always double check connections when handling power instructions**

6 Lastly, hang up all final hardware pieces onto their respective bolts/screws ensuring secure mounting accuracy before lowering down vehicle off its props and use a torque wrench set into 15ft-lbs according tension specifications (often provided on product manuals if given)– make sure nothing else needs added prior driving off again though!

DIY installation

In addition to deciding which running boards to install on your GMC Sierra, you will also need to consider if you’d like to install them yourself. It can be a cost-effective solution and help ensure that the parts are installed correctly on your truck. The following guide outlines some of the steps involved with a DIY installation of running boards.

Before you begin, make sure that all necessary parts are included and that no damage has occurred during shipping or handling. Once the package is open, then check all instructions that accompany the product for clarification before getting started with installation.

Once the instructions have been read over and thoroughly reviewed for any special requirements, then it’s time to begin taking measurements for proper placement of the running boards on your GMC Sierra. This will require measuring between specific body panel points such as door frames, rocker panels and rear fenders as outlined in each product’s instruction manual.

Next, drill holes into predetermined areas according to instructions using an electric drill with a carbide bit. Also, check if any other tools are required such as cutting pliers or snips in order to adjust brackets or carriers shapes to fit onto vehicle specifications.

Install anchors onto mounting surface by using specialized screws provided with mounting kit in order secure various parts together at predetermined locations so runners attach at specified heights beneath GMC Sierra’s side body panel lines while providing clearance underneath larger passenger doors and rear tailgates.

Finally try out newly installed boards by stepping on them periodically to make sure everything is tight and looking good before hitting the road for your first test ride!

Professional installation

If you want to deck out your GMC Sierra truck, then professional installation of running boards is one way to go about it. With a professional installation, you can be sure that your running boards are installed correctly and securely, and that your truck retains its original look and feel. Professional installations are often done by a qualified mechanic who works at the dealer or at a body shop and they have extensive knowledge to make sure your Sierra looks great and runs optimally.

These professionals will know exactly how to handle the materials used in running board construction, such as steel or aluminum, so that they are correctly mounted on the frame of your vehicle. They can also help you choose the right style of running boards for your specific year model, given the vast variety available in today’s market. For instance, raised side step designs provide good traction while still blending in with the overall look of a classic GMC Sierra.

Moreover, with professional installation you can rest assured that all bolts and mounting brackets used on the running boards are properly fastened without any gaps or obstructions. Professionals will also make use of additional security measures such as nuts and bolts for extra sturdiness where needed. Furthermore, all wiring harnesses will be checked for completeness before being connected and tested for accuracy.

ONINE 7" Running Boards Custom Fit 2019-2023 Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500,  2020-2023 Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500HD/3500HD Crew Cab Side Steps Nerf  Bars, 7” Textured Black, Tubular Series


Choosing the right running boards for GMC Sierra is an important decision as it will not only affect the look of your truck, but also its performance and safety. Consider the styles and materials carefully based on your individual needs and preferences. Whichever option you choose, make sure to have it properly installed for optimum results. Most car repair shops can assist with this so you may want to consider professional installation if possible.

With the right running boards, your GMC Sierra will be running smoothly and looking great in no time.


What are truck running boards made of?

Truck running boards are typically made of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, or PVC.

How are running boards installed?

Running boards are typically installed using brackets and bolts that attach to the underside of the vehicle’s frame.

What tools do I need to install running boards?

The tools needed to install running boards may vary, but typically include a socket wrench, screwdriver, and possibly a drill.

Which is better aluminum or stainless steel running boards?

Both aluminum and stainless steel running boards have their advantages and disadvantages, so the best choice depends on the specific needs of the user.

Which is more durable PVC or aluminum?

Aluminum is generally more durable than PVC, as it is stronger and more resistant to impact and weather damage.

What is more expensive stainless steel or aluminium?

Stainless steel is generally more expensive than aluminum due to its higher material cost and manufacturing process.

What lasts longer stainless steel or aluminum?

Stainless steel is generally more resistant to rust and corrosion than aluminum, so it may last longer in certain environments.

What are the disadvantages of running boards?

Some of the disadvantages of running boards include reduced ground clearance, potential for rust and corrosion, and potential for damage from debris and obstacles.

Which is better carbon steel or aluminum?

Carbon steel is typically stronger than aluminum, but also more prone to rust and corrosion, so the better choice depends on the specific needs of the user.

Which is better polycarbonate or stainless steel?

Polycarbonate is generally lighter and more impact-resistant than stainless steel, but may not be as durable in certain environments. The better choice depends on the specific needs of the user.

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