Your F-150 is one of the best selling and customizable trucks in the world! From the factory to aftermarket, there is almost no combination of performance mods and looks that you can’t do. A very popular style you may want to do is black your truck out! Why would you not? After all, it’s like the man Henry Ford said himself about the Model T: you can have it in any color, as long as it’s black.
Thankfully we have come a long way from those days where if you wanted a different color anything on your ride, you pulled out a bucket of paint and a brush and went to town. Now we have factory options and a hefty aftermarket to black out your F-150 from bumper to bumper, inside and out.
Let’s cover some terms, and then get to the nitty gritty with some popular products that you can use to summon the color of the night on your Ford’s exterior. For the most part, we’ll be focusing on the exterior of F-150s from 2009 to 2020+. If there is a specific year in mind for something I am mentioning, I’ll make note of it!
WHAT IS IT
First off, what exactly does it mean to “blackout” your truck. In short, leave no color but black. Modern trucks feature chrome and other accents and trim that stand out from a subdued finish. Glass, plastic, chrome, and steel can all be changed in various ways either permanently or temporarily depending on your budget, commitment issues, or resale plans.
HOW TO DO IT
Sometimes the easiest and most effective way to black out a part is to simply replace it with a new one that is blacked out or tinted. With modern vehicles being pretty well suited to replacement parts, you can generally take most trim, panels, and parts off with simple tools that you have laying around. This will allow you to save your factory parts to either put back on for future resale, or sell to get some money back. Hey… If your wife is cool with it, old trim can make great wall art.
Covers and Overlays
If you don’t want to go about replacing parts, there are tinted or blacked out covers or vinyl that could be placed over some exterior and interior parts. This can either be achieved with tabs that snap over existing trim, fasteners that make use of factory holes and mounting locations in your truck, or things like glue and double sided tape.
Sprays, Dips, and Paints
Products such a Plasti Dip are a favorite product for blacking parts out on a budget. Products like Plasti Dip come in a spray can that apply a rubber coating to the part in question. The best part is that it is durable, but also easily removed. You can also go the more permanent route and use paint! While generally your most cost effective out (aside from vinyl), this can look like your most cost effective route if you don’t take your time and prep well. More on this later!
One of the first things many people choose to do is black out their windows. It’s cheap, and it can be done at a local shop near you. If you have the skills, or need a weekend project, it is even something you can do yourself. Tint comes with some great benefits: it really dresses up your ride, it protects you from the sun and keeps the interior of your truck lower, and it blocks people from easily seeing who is driving the best F-150 in town! Make sure you follow all local and federal laws regarding the amount of tint. You don’t want your investment to lead to tickets and you having to remove it!
If you do it yourself with pre-cut tint, make sure you get the tint that’s right for your model year and trim level. Be sure you are getting all of your windows covered, or at least the ones you want. If you get rolls of tint, make sure you get enough to cover the surface area of the glass that you need!
Smoked Headlights, Taillights, and Third Brake Light
Ford has been pretty bold with their headlights and tail lights on the F-150. They are loud and proud, while other manufacturers have started to go for squinty and minimal. Unfortunately this does mean a lot of red, amber, and chrome in places you may not want them. Thankfully this is easy to change in so many ways.
Important note: when talking about blacking out your lights, it is generally referred to as them being “smoked.” Smoking your lights will give you that tinted look to compliment your style.
Interchangeable parts make swapping out things like factory headlights and tail lights simple! A complete headlight swap will run you anywhere from $300 to $1000 for the pair, and tail lights from around $250 to $500. Of course since they are smaller and less “grandiose,” a third brake light can cost $30 to $80.
If you are getting full replacement units, many manufacturers are integrating LED lighting. More common with headlights, this means you could have clear lenses, but a blacked out housing.
LED lighting means you don’t have to worry about any bulbs being too dim to shine through tinted lenses, should you have them. That almost means you’re generally okay when it comes to the law. While you may want them to look cool, lighting is supposed to be seen. Going too dark could land you with a nice ticket or two. Generally speaking, aftermarket smoked/tinked replacement units should be legal where they are being sold, but always play it safe and check first.
Keep in mind that in many cases, you’re going to get more than just blacked out lights if you go full on replacement. The “in thing” to do is have sequential LEDs, daytime running lights, and other fancy things. Shop around and find what works best for you so you don’t get more than you needed.
2009-2014 Headlight and Tail Light Replacement Options
Raxiom G2 (Headlight)
These guys have been making headlights and tail lights for Fords for years. At $315, you won’t even break the bank with these. They feature projector headlights, clear lenses, and a blacked out housing.
AlphaRex Nova Series (Headlight)
No stranger to LED lighting, you’ll be getting projector headlights, sequential turning signals, and daytime running lights. More expensive at $882, but you get what you pay for.
AKKON (Tail Light)
With a smoked lens and LED tube lighting, you’ll be sure to set yourself apart with the tail lights. They do say intended for show car and off-road use only, so install with caution.
AlphaRex Pro Series (Tail Light)
Like the front, these guys bring up the rear with superior technology and design. They have multiple housing and lens options to choose from to fit the look you’re going for.
2015-2017 Headlight and Tail Light Replacement Options
Raxiom G3 (Headlight)
You get even more with G3 over the G2, but you’re paying more for it too. At $565 you get all the same goodies as the G2, but with modern LED daytime running lights that will make your truck look brand new!
AlphaRex Nova Series (Headlight)
If you want to go all out with style, power, options, and badassery, AlphaRex is here. With daytime running lights, sequentials, and multiple projectors, the whole front of your truck will be transformed, for a starting price of $1300.
RECON Fiber Optic (Tail Light)
If you want to go with something super fancy, then for $700 you can get this unique fiber optic LED tail light pair with a black housing and smoked lens.
Alpha Rex Pro Series Smoked Red (Tail Light)
If you still want the red appearance, but with a smoked look and LED lighting, these have you covered, and not for a bad price starting at $295. These fit 2015 all the way up to 2020.
2018-2020 Headlight and Tail Light Replacement Options
AlphaRex Nova Series (Headlight)
If you haven’t figured out by now, we like AlphaRex. If you also haven’t figured out by now, things get more expensive as the model years go up. Either way, AlphaRex continues to hit the ball out of the park with these for $1435.
Raxiom LED (Headlight)
If you haven’t figured out by now, your writer likes Raxiom since he has them in his Mustang. These give you all the features you’d expect, and with a clear lens and black housing. All at $920.
AmeriLite (Tail Light)
If you’re not looking to break the bank, these budget tail lights will only set you back $250. They come with a smoked lens, but they do have a chrome housing, so make sure they have as much black as you want before buying!
You can go for a much cheaper approach, but be aware that it may look cheaper, not last as long, and could cost you a lot in tickets if you do it the wrong way (I’ll get to that in a second.) There is film/vinyl available for around $60 that simply sticks over the plastic and spray coatings for around $20.
Film or vinyl covers can either come pre-cut to size, or you can use a large sheet of it, and form it to your lights yourself, and cut as needed.
While I generally encourage people to try something new and take a risk, I would suggest a complete swap of pre-tinted/smoked lights. A big reason is time. A good set of smoked lights will last the length of the truck. Film and spray coatings will shrink and become brittle with age. UV rays and incandescent bulbs will expedite the problem. When it gets that dry, it’s not the easiest or most fun thing to get off.
Now, the ticket thing. Headlights and taillights are designed to help you see what’s around you, and for other drivers to be able to see you. Remember that whole legal thing I talked about before? If you tint something yourself, you could run the risk of doing too much, and you could have to pay for it. If you get a kit out of the box, they are generally approved by the Department of Transportation (or your country’s equivalent) and safe for use. Of course, please check before buying.
Here are some kits for pre-cut tint for the different years. These are some average options.
2009-2014 Precut Tint Option
There is a shop on Etsy that has some high reviews when it comes to pre-cut tint. A quick search will lead you to see that that is not always the case. For around $25, Subject9Store can cover your front and rear! Choose between 20%, 35%, or transparent yellow or blue! For around the same price, you can have the same options for your tail lights as well!
2015-2020 Precut Tint Option
Same company, and great reviews.
Pre-cut tail light vinyl kit (2015-2020)
Pre-cut vinyl headlight kit (2015-2017)
Pre-cut vinyl headlight kit (2018-2020)
The last option would be a cover that goes over your headlight or tail light. You can get these for around $100, but they are not the most popular option. If you live in an area where tinting can get you in trouble, these are great if you take your truck to shows. You can pop them on or off. I would not recommend them for driving. For that reason, I’m going to leave the link searching to you!
You don’t want to overlook your third brake light. They are probably the easiest thing to swap out, and the subtle change they create is not something you want to pass up. The best part? They are inexpensive! Here are some options for you for under $100!
The F-150 has a few exterior badges that can really go against the feel you are looking for if you want to black out your truck. You’ll generally have the two “F-150” fender badges, and the one on the tailgate. You’ll also find the “FORD” blue oval on the front and back.
All of these badges can be easily blackout on by either getting full on replacement badges, overlays that sit over the existing badge, or by painting them, or using something like Plasti Dip on them. If you want to maintain the “FORD” in the center of the blue oval, you will have to look at a replacement badge or vinyl overlay that goes over it.
Since the badges you have can vary depending on the engine, trim, and other options you have, I’m not going to list any examples, but they are all easy to find online, and they all pretty much do the same thing!
If your truck is not black, and you want to have a unique touch, you can look into vinyl inserts for the “F-150” imprinted on the tailgate for some model years. While you can sometimes get them in various colors, black inserts will make that stand out more, but also help the blacked out look you’re going for!
Ford has a few different grilles that show the world what you’re driving. Some of them are pretty flashy chrome, and if you’re reading this, that’s not your style. Thankfully, there is a huge aftermarket to help combat the flash. Like the badges, you have a few options from full on replacement, wrapping or covering them, or using PlastiDip or paint.
There are tons of grilles out there to choose from, but here are a few to get you thinking in the right direction about ditching the chrome.
2009-2014 Grille Options
One great option would be to go for the Ford Raptor style grille. While a real one will not fit, these aftermarket ones are designed to fit your truck, and come with LED lighting as well. This one at $250 is far cheaper than a real Raptor!
If you have the chrome grille but want the lower spec black one, that is an option. You can pick them up for around $260 new, or you can find one used. For the new one linked, you will have to transfer your emblem.
2015-2017 Grille Options
OEM tends to be more expensive, but you can always get something that looks OEM, but is aftermarket. That is just the case with this grille with $145, but it even comes with some amber LEDs across the top. You need to use your FORD oval.
Mesh grilles are pretty popular for blacking out, and are usually inexpensive. This does come with chrome accent rivets, so it may not be truly blacked out, but for $180, it’s a good deal.
2018-2020 Grille Options
If you want a simple blacked out look for $206, this grill takes away all of the frills aside from some amber lights across the top. This leaves no mistaking you want a blacked out look.
I have to throw this type of grille in again. It should be obvious. No chrome, and means business. This aftermarket one for $200 could be the next grille for you.
This is where things can get a little pricey. However, it is one of the first things people see when looking at your truck. They stand out! It could be worth some investment, but let’s talk about some options.
Some of the less expensive options would be “dipping” or “wrapping.” When you “dip” your wheels, you’re referring to spraying them with something such as Plasti Dip. Matte black Plasti Dip is very popular on wheels, and there are lots of pictures and videos online of people doing it. You’ll need more than one can, but you’ll also want to have some backups for when they chip and peel over time. It’s easy to reapply!
“Wrapping” refers to covering the wheels in vinyl. While usually better looking than dipping, it’s not as easy to repair if you get curb rash or other dings. You can also get overlays for some models. They are basically form fitting “hubcaps” that will snap over your existing wheel, turning them into black wheels! Make sure you get the right ones for your wheels. Ford released quite a few different styles and sizes, and you don’t want to buy the wrong one!
Whatever you do, avoid spray paint at all costs. You will hate your wheels. It looks bad, it runs, and it will chip very fast.
While it is your most expensive option, it will be your longest lasting and best looking option: new wheels. This can get very expensive, but you can probably find some good used ones online if you look hard enough. Just make sure to inspect them. The last thing you want to do is put a bent wheel on your truck.
You may find that your F-150 has some pretty obvious chrome up front and on the back on the bumpers. Like the rest of the stuff in this article, you have options.
You can replace them with off-road bumpers. Off-road bumpers are generally all metal and all black. Aside from achieving the color in question, you of course can get a much meaner look too, if that is what you’re going for.
Bumpers also offer a lot of real estate for painting, dipping, and wrapping. If you are to go this route, I would suggest a professional paint job or vinyl wrapping. Since this is a large and flat surface, Plasti Dip and paint, if not applied correctly, will show major flaws, and it won’t last as long. This can get expensive, but it’s worth it if you want things to actually look good.
The most cost effective solution and one of the best would be covering them with BumperShellz. These guys offer covers that place directly over your bumper (front or rear) to “delete” the chrome. The good thing is that these are not a permanent modification, so you can save your chrome! For the front bumpers, you can choose if you want just the sides, just the middle, or the full set. Prices start at $200.
To sum it all up, if you want that blacked out look, you can easily achieve it with the aftermarket world, and a little bit of time and some skill. Stick around because soon I’ll be talking about how to black out the interior.
* Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.
Blacked Out F-150: Courtesy of Ferrada Wheels
Window Tint: Courtesy of F150 Forums user Golfman454ss
Headlights: Courtesy of AlphaRex
Tail Lights, Third Brake Light, and Rear Tailgate Inserts: Courtesy of AlphaRex
Badges: Courtesy of Levittown Ford Parts
Raptor Style Grille: Courtesy of F150 Forums user Drago77
Wheels: Courtesy of Forgestar
BumperShellz: Courtesy of BumperShellz