How to transport lumber

Posted On 12th April 2019

Lumber is a very common item that needs to be transported. So, naturally, we get a lot of people asking us how is wood transported, or how to transport lumber. Because of its length, lumber can sometimes be awkward to haul. But with the right knowledge and precautions, it’s actually not that difficult.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to transport lumber.

How to Haul Lumber in a Pickup

How to transport lumberWhen it comes to transporting lumber, perhaps the most common thing people ask us is how to haul long lumber in a truck. For most people, a pickup truck is the most common way they’re going to haul things. But more often than not, the lumber is going to be longer than the truck bed, which can be a problem.

The first step is to assess the weight of your load. If it’s a relatively small load and under 250 lbs you can leave the tailgate up. Bundle your lumber together at both ends with straps to keep it together and stop it from moving around too much. You can also add additional support by securing it to a ladder. Lay the lumber in your truck bed so one end is against the cab and the other end is resting on the tailgate.

If your load is over 250 lbs you’ll need to lower your tailgate. This serves two purposes. First, it extends your truck bed providing additional support for the lumber. And second, it saves your tailgate, as it's not designed to carry a load this heavy. If you’d like to make your bed even longer you might want to think about purchasing a tailgate extender.

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How to Tie Down Lumber Before Transportation

How to Tie Down Lumber Before TransportationOnce you have your load in your truck bed you’ll need to learn how to tie down lumber in a pickup truck. If any of your load falls out during transport and damages another vehicle you’ll be at fault, so take the time to ensure you do things right.

To start, you’ll need the right equipment. Don’t make the mistake of using rope or bungee cords, as they’re not manufactured to endure that kind of stress and could snap when put under pressure. The safest way to secure your lumber is with ratchet straps that are rated for a 1000 lb. load limit and 3000 lb. break strength. You’ll also need to have some strong anchor points to attach your straps to.

If you have a small load of lumber then you won’t have to do anything complicated. Attach a ratchet strap to a rear anchor point on one side of the bed and lay it across the end of the bundle to the rear anchor on the other side. Then secure the strap and tension it down to keep the load in place.

If you’re hauling a heavier load of lumber with your tailgate down, lay your first ratchet strap down on the tailgate and your second strap on the floor of your truck bed. The first strap should be about a foot behind the rear anchors, and you'll want the second strap to be about a foot behind the front anchors.

Lay down your load on top of the ratchet straps. Wrap the straps around the lumber and attach them to the anchor points on the opposite sides of the truck. Tension down the straps to secure the boards and keep them in place. By placing your straps a foot behind the anchors it should pull the load towards the front of the truck.

How to Transport Lumber in a Car

Pickup trucks are designed for hauling things, but not everyone has access to one. So, how do you transport lumber in a car?

If you’re dealing with eight-foot lumber, you might be able to transport it inside your car if you lay down your back seats. Even if you’re hauling lumber inside your vehicle make sure to bundle it together with straps so it doesn’t cause any damage, or harm you during transport.

Your next option is to buy a roof rack and secure the lumber to that. The method you use to secure the lumber will depend on what kind of roof rack you have. Just make sure to follow the same basic principles outlined above.

Use ratchet straps that can handle the weight of your load, and check that the roof rack is secure enough to provide a proper anchor. Once your lumber is secured to your roof rack, test it out before heading out on the road so you know the load will stay put during transport.

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How Far Can Lumber Hang Out of a Truck

People often want to know how to transport specific lengths of lumber. We get asked a lot about how to haul 12-foot lumber, or how to transport 16-foot lumber. The truth is, no matter what type of lumber you’re transporting the process is the same. However, you do need to be aware of how far you load is hanging out of your vehicle.

Lumber can hang out three feet in front of your vehicle, four inches to the side, and four feet behind your vehicle per DOT regulations. If the lumber extends any more than this it needs to be properly marked to warn other drivers. Keep in mind that if you follow these regulations strictly, you may still be fined if the lumber shifts during transport and, in any case, if there is an accident you will be held liable probably for negligence even if your packing and marking job met regulations. Much better to mark with red flags and other visible markings ANY lumber that extends out of your vehicle in ANY direction, and try to avoid lumber extending side-wise in any direction.

Any load that exceeds the legal limits must be marked along the side with red marker lamps. These lamps are mounted to the side of the vehicle at the front and back, illuminating the sides and letting people see the total length of the vehicle. There must also be two lamps at the back of the vehicle illuminating the longest overhang point, and two red reflectors to let other drivers know the rear maximum width. Best to call the State Police with any questions and if you are transporting a large shipment to consider renting a truck or hiring a professional with a full Liability policy. Again, even if you are strictly legal, you will be personally liable if there is an accident.

Commercial vehicles carrying lumber that extends over the limits are also required to use red or orange fluorescent flags to mark the load’s longest point.


Hauling lumber in a truck or a car may seem intimidating, but if you take the right safety precautions it’s really not a big deal.

As long as you use the right equipment and follow our instructions above you should have no trouble transporting your lumber to wherever it needs to go.