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How to Choose Side Steps & Running Boards for Your F-250

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Table of Contents
  1. What is a Running Board & What is a Side Step?
  2. Major Running Board/Sidestep Features & Construction
  3. Power Running Boards
  4. How to Pick the Correct Board Length
  5. How Durable are Side Steps?
  6. Steps are Not Rocker Guards
  7. Installation
Shop F250 SIde Steps

Side steps are quality piece of equipment for your F250 once you consider the environments you'll have your truck in and/or if you have a lifted truck. Side steps and running boards provide a solid surface for your muddy boots as well as an easier way to get in and out of your truck.

F250 Side Step

There’s no getting around that F-250s are big trucks. Even before you add a lift kit, getting in and out of an F-250 can be a bit of a chore. Throw in that these are trucks you will find on the job site and your feet will be covered in mud and suddenly, climbing in or out can be borderline dangerous. When we talk about a truck like the F-250, side steps and running boards begin to flow from a desirable accessory to a downright necessity.2011-2016-f250-with-roof-lighting-and-side-steps.JPG

What is a Running Board & What is a Side Step?

When beginning the search for the boards or side steps, you need to take the time to understand the difference between the two.

Running Boards: Running boards differ from side steps as they fit flush to the rocker of the truck. This step type is also flat by design. Their construction gives them a more OE style appearance. These are often the choice for vehicle owners who want an authentic Ford feeling for trucks at stock ride heights.

Side Steps: Side steps come in a wide variety of configurations and offer a very aftermarket feel. All side steps will be tubular or hexagonal in shape. They also extend out further from the rocker panel and are often the choice for lowered trucks.

Major Running Board/Sidestep Features & Construction

An understanding of the difference between the two types of running boards/steps is enough to keep your browsing for a time. However, unless you make an impulse decision you will find yourself comparing features. The design features of running boards and side steps should be taken seriously as they are specifically put in place for scenarios you may find yourself in.

Drop Steps: Drop steps are a very attractive feature for many. These are additional stepping platforms that extend below the running board or side step itself. Those who are having a considerable amount of trouble getting in or out of their truck will want to consider this feature.

Board Width: Having to deal with a narrow step can be dangerous especially if your boots are covered in mud. Boards and side steps come in a variety of widths and you will want to take the time to find the right choice for your personal vehicle.

Step Pad Construction: Running boards and side steps will often have a variety of step pad or stepping area constructions. For a work truck or a vehicle that will be in mud or snow, you will want to make sure you have a good, non-slip surface to prevent yourself from tumbling and/or busting your leg.

Materials: The material used is a big deal especially for work vehicles. You will want a solid material that’s less likely to corrode such as aluminum or stainless steel. Also, take into consideration the finish. Powder coating thrown in the mix will ensure a healthy life for your boards.

Power Running Boards

Power running boards are very desirable pieces of equipment. These boards are designed to tuck away into the body of the vehicle when not in use but lower automatically by either a sensor or remote control. This means when they are not in use, they do not protrude from the vehicle's body, making for a very streamlined appearance. The major issue is these boards cost a lot more than the run of the mill boards and steps. It also makes for a complicated install.


  • Hideaway on command
  • Streamline appearance


  • High Cost
  • Complicated Install

How to Pick the Correct Board Length

Picking out the correct board will require an additional step, which is picking the right length. Often times, cab length can be a bit difficult to identify so you will need to familiarize yourself with the nomenclature to ensure you walk away with the right boards for your truck. Luckily, even up to modern date, the F-250 has kept things simple in terms of design.

Single Cab: This is your standard cab option. The cab will feature a single row of seating as it is the shortest cab length available.

Super Cab: Super Cabs are the next in line in terms of length. These trucks feature two rows of seating. The rear seating is much tighter and accessing the rear of the cab is done with two half-doors.

Crew Cab: A Crew Cab is the longest in length. These cabs feature two full rows of seating and two full-length doors.

How Durable are Side Steps?

As you consider your options, it’s natural to consider the amount of abuse boards can take. The first thing you’ll wonder is how much weight can a running board or side step support.

The amount of weight they can support does fall back on where they mount. Most boards and step bars will mount to the rocker panels, which mean they can support roughly up to 300 lbs. - a good amount. If mounted to the frame, they can hold quite a bit more on account of their sturdier base. A good round number to assume frame mounted steps could support is around 500 lbs. These are just rough estimates, and you will want to double check the boards you are considering for actual numbers.

Steps are Not Rocker Guards

This is a warning regarding relying on side steps or running boards as rocker guards. These are not designed to handle any heavy blows and doing so may result in serious damage to the product along with the vehicle itself.


Professional installation of running boards or side steps is definitely recommended, but not required. The process can vary depending on the manufacturer; the biggest difference being between drill and no-drill installation.

No drill running boards will use factory mounting locations and will require nothing more than simple hand tools for assembly. Drill applications will require the same hand tools along with a drill and the appropriate bits along with tools for taking measurements. Even with a drill application, the whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Fitment includes: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited