Nerf Bars vs. Running Boards: Choosing the Right One for You

For autos higher off the ground, entering the cabin can prove an uphill task. This is where nerf bars and running boards come in to provide a suitable stepping platform.

While they may look similar in appearance and function, they are not and so, therefore, not what you can call interchangeable.

Nerf bars and running boards, not sure which to buy? There are a few things you need to consider before making your decision.

Running boards come as a standard from the manufacturer and have a bit of a rough personality.  Nerf bars are narrower and come in handy. Nerf bars provide extra protection from bumps and scrapes along the side of the car. 

In this article, we go deeper into the nerf board vs running board debate below.

What Are Nerf Bars?

Nerf bars or side steps are an upgrade to your truck, car, or SUV that provides easier cabin access and a boost in style.

Traditionally, nerf bars were made of metal tubing and attached to the vehicle’s frame. Modern nerf bars are made from various materials, including aluminum, steel, and plastic, and come in a hotchpotch of sizes and styles to suit any make or model of vehicle. Some even come with LED lights for a little extra flair.

Pros & Cons

You cannot answer the question, ‘what is a nerf bar’ without underscoring its benefits to the vehicle. For example, nerf bars make getting in and out of a vehicle easier and can help protect your vehicle’s body. This is from scrapes and dings from the small rocks coming from the ground – the best option for offroading.

Some pickup truck owners will add a nerf bar for an added rugged or more streamlined appearance, depending on your taste.

However, nerf bars can also be slippery when wet and must be wiped down frequently. They also have a narrower stepping surface based on their tubular shape.

What Are Running Boards?

You’ll need to have the side step vs running board or running boards vs nerf bars information on your fingertips when thinking about a suitable side-stepping platform for your four-by-four. 

Running boards are a type of vehicle modification once popular among farmers and ranchers who needed a way to get in and out of their trucks easily. The boards were typically made from wood or metal, extending the truck’s door length.

Today, running boards are still used by many who need a little extra help getting in and out of their vehicles. They’re popular among those who like their looks – which go both ways in running boards vs step bars.

 Running boards can give a vehicle more ground clearance and a larger stepping area (larger than nerf boards).

Pros & Cons

Running boards make it a breeze to get in and out of your vehicle. They can protect your paint job from scuffs and scratches and improve your vehicle’s resale value.

Running boards have a wider and flatter stepping surface for more secure footing and provide a foot rubbing surface to promote cleaner interiors. They can be retractable in some vehicles. And similar to nerf bars, running boards are available in various sizes and styles.

Potential drawbacks include serving as a magnet for dirt and mud. They can also make your vehicle more difficult to park in tight spaces. Running boards are not ideal for offroaders.

Nerf Bars vs Running Boards: What’s the Difference?

Nerf bars and running boards serve similar purposes, but there are some key differences to keep in mind.

Nerf bars are typically made from thick-walled chrome or stainless steel and typically extend from the front wheel well to the back wheel. They often have a powder-coated or polished finish and are narrower and tubular to provide a stable step for getting in and out of your vehicle.

So what are nerf bars for?

Nerfs offer some protection from being sideswiped by other vehicles on the road and door protection from flying stones – an important consideration in the running boards vs side steps debate.

While running boards are similar in appearance to nerf bars, they provide a wider and better stepping surface for getting in and out of your vehicle. The accessory uses a high-strength plastic backed by an aluminum frame and is often in dark gray or matte black color.  

Running boards are mounted flush to the vehicle’s body and may have molded tread patterns or added step pads with a non-slip surface.

Which is Right For You? Nerf Bars or Running Boards?

Deciding between a nerf bar vs running board for your truck or SUV can be a tough decision. Both have their pros and cons. Nerf bars are sportier and more suited for offroading.

They offer more protection than running boards but can be more challenging to clean. Nerf bars are narrower and can be slippery during snowy and wet weather.

However, running boards have a lot more stepping surfaces and are more comfortable to use.

So, which is right for you? Only you can decide the winner in the nerf bars vs side steps debate. But whichever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the added style and function that either option provides. Just make sure you seek professional installation. 

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