What is a Flatbed Truck

Posted On 30th July 2019

The undisputed people’s champion of fleet operations, flatbed trucks are an invaluable asset to a myriad of industries.

Flat bed trucks are fantastic for large cargo and oversized items that a standard shipping container will not carry. With an open, flat design, you can transport almost any thing think of by simply securing it to the platform.

What is a Flatbed Truck

Curious about flatbed trucks and looking for answers to specific questions?

You have come to the right place. Inside this article, you’ll learn everything you would want to know about flatbed trucks.

We’ll explain to you:

  • Flatbed Meaning
  • How Long is a Flatbed Trailer?
  • Flatbed Truck Dimensions
  • Flatbed Truck Capacity

Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions about flatbed trucks!

Flatbed Meaning

A flatbed truck is a truck that carries a flat trailer which is used to transport oversized and oddly shaped cargo. The flatbed meaning is a vehicle with a flat load-carrying area.

Flatbed truck sizes can vary in how big the cab and engine of the truck are, but what always stays the same is the flat trailer in tow which acts as a bed for large cargo.

Flatbed vs Regular Bed

There are two main types of beds for trucks: flatbeds and regular beds. Flatbeds are typically used for hauling large, bulky loads that wouldn't fit well on a regular bed. Regular beds, on the other hand, are better suited for smaller loads or items that need to be securely fastened down.

When deciding which type of bed is right for your needs, it's important to consider what you'll be transporting and how you'll need to transport it. For example, if you're hauling a load of lumber, a flatbed would be the best option since the lumber can just be placed on the bed without having to worry about securing it. However, if you're transporting a load of stones, a regular bed would be better since the stones would need to be securely fastened down so they don't shift during transport.

Another thing to consider is how easy it is to load and unload your truck. If you're regularly transporting heavy loads, a flatbed might be a better option since it's typically easier to load and unload than a regular bed. However, if you don't mind spending a little extra time securing your load, a regular bed can still work well for your needs.

Flatbed Trucks Dimensions

  • Length: 48'
  • Width: 8' 6"
  • Height: 5'
  • Load Height: 8' 6"
  • Total Height Limit with Cargo: 13' 6"

How Long is a Flatbed Trailer?

A flatbed is typically 48' long and can be up to 53' long. Regular flatbeds for trucks are 48' in length, while the 53-foot varieties are less common. There are also stretch flatbeds.

How Wide is a Flatbed Truck

The maximum legal flatbed truck width is 102 inches (8' 6"). Any larger width would most likely be considered a wide load in the United States and would require a permit.

Weight Limits for Flatbed Trucks

The flatbed weight limit varies by state.  Typically, the gross weight of the trailer, cab and cargo cannot be more than 80,000 pounds without a permit.  This means the cargo weight limit of flatbeds for trucks is about 48,000 pounds.

Benefits of Flatbed Freight Shipping

Flatbed shipping gives you the freedom to ship whatever you want. The simplicity of flatbeds for trucks is what makes them versatile and valuable.

You can place oddly shaped items, oversized items, or items that need to be securely strapped to a trailer.

Benefit #1: Easy Access

When your cargo arrives at its location, you can access it from all angles.

If you'd like to use a ramp from the rear, use a crane from overhead, or want to access your cargo from the side, the choice is yours to make.

Benefit #2: No Spatial Constrictions

With a flatbed truck, your cargo doesn’t have the spatial constrictions that it would in a four-walled truck.

The flatbed allows for cargo to hang over the edges (restrictions apply) and doesn’t discriminate by shape.

Benefit #3: Ability to Strap Down Cargo

In a four-walled truck, items aren’t as easy to secure in place.

With a flatbed trailer, you can securely strap everything down to the bed and know that your cargo is safe and secure.

What Do Flatbed Trucks Carry & Common Uses of Flatbed Trucks

  • Moving Building Materials
  • Moving Heavy Equipment
  • Scrap Metal Removal
  • Transporting Tire Bales
  • Shipping Super Sacks
  • Tow Trucks
  • Logging Trucks

Transporting Building Materials

Building material transportation may be the number one use of flatbed trucks.

Hauling building materials to and from a job site is the perfect task for a flatbed because cranes can easily load and remove materials from the bed.

Flat bet trucks make transporting building materials efficient and on time.

Shipping Super Sacks

A “super sack” is another term for flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC).

They are also sometimes referred to as bulk bags or big bags, but neither of those terms have much of a ring to them, so many refer to these bulk containers as super sacks. FIBC’s are used to transport grains, seeds, fertilizer, sand, peanuts, etc.

Super sacks are easy to transport on a flat bed truck because of how easy it is to load and remove cargo.

Scrap Metal Removal

Just as with the super sacks, flatbeds make it incredibly simple to load and remove materials, and scrap metal is no different.

Construction companies will often have leftover scrap metal that needs to be hauled away from a job site, and often flatbed trucks are the primary solution.

Transporting Tire Bales

While cars come and go, tires pile up creating fire hazards and homes for critters and insects. In order to cut down on waste and prevent fires from starting, tires are baled together to be reduced, reused, and recycled throughout the world.

One bale of tires weighs as much as one ton, which is where the truck comes in.

These tires can weigh as much as 2000 pounds and must be transported with heavy machinery, which is no problem if you have a wide-open flat bed truck ready for transport.

Hauling Heavy Equipment

Farm equipment is commonly transported on flatbeds. Military equipment is also moved across the country on flatbed trailers.

Other significant parts that may be strangely shaped or oversized are also frequent cargo on flat bed trucks.

Tow Trucks

Tow trucks are a special kind of truck that use flatbeds with a cable and ramp to haul cars and trucks onto the bed.

Logging Trucks

Another specialized type of flatbed, logging trucks are one of the original flatbeds.

There are two different types of logging trucks: those that are used off-road where the trees are cut down, and those that are used on the highway and roads.

Types of Flatbed Trailers

  • Standard Flatbed
  • Single Drop Trailers (Stepdeck)
  • Double Drop Trailers
  • Double Drop with Detachable Deck (Lowboy)
  • Stretch Flatbeds
  • Stretch Single-Drop
  • Stretch Double-Drop

Different types of flatbed trailers each come with different dimensions and maximums.

Stepdeck Trailer

  • Bottom Deck Length: 37'
  • Upper Deck Length: 11'
  • Total: 4'
  • Width: 8' 6"
  • Load Height: 10'
  • Weight Limit: 46,000 pounds

Double Drop Trailer

  • Bottom Well Length: 28 feet long
  • Total Length: 48 feet
  • Width: 8 feet, 6 inches
  • Load Height: 11' 8"
  • Weight Limit: 42,000 pounds

Double Drop Trailer with Detachable Deck

  • Main Deck Length: 29'
  • Front Deck Length: 10'
  • Rear Deck Length: 9'
  • Total Length: 48 feet
  • Width: 8' 6"
  • Load Height: 12'
  • Weight Limit: 44,000 pounds

Stretch Flatbed

  • Length: 45' to 80'
  • Width: 8'
  • Height: 8' 6"
  • Weight Limit: 45,000 pounds

Stretch Single-Drop Trailer

  • Main Deck Length: 38' to 63'
  • Front Deck Length: 10'
  • Total Length: 48' to 73'
  • Width: 8'
  • Weight Limit: 43,000 pounds

Stretch Double-Drop Trailer

  • Main Deck Length: 29' to 50'
  • Front Deck Length: 10'
  • Rear Deck Length: 9'
  • Width: 8' 6"
  • Weight Limit: 40,000 pounds