A General Guide to Flatbed Trucking

Flatbed trucking is the pinnacle of heavy-load transportation. Whether you need to haul lumber, pallets, steel, materials for construction, or equipment, a flatbed truck can be your answer. Flatbeds trucking services offer tremendous versatility to a moving operation; let’s explore what makes flatbeds so versatile, the items you can and can’t haul on a flatbed, and how to hire your own flatbed.

What is a Flatbed?

A flatbed is a long, open deck platform with no sides or roof. Due to the lack of a physical structure around the trailer, a wide range of goods from big to small can easily be loaded and hauled. This is why flatbeds have gained the reputation for being versatile, because almost anything at any quantity can be loaded and hauled. Standard specifications for a flatbed give a 48,000 pound weight capacity along the standard 48 foot-long bed; a lot can be hauled with these specifications. Please note that there are state and federal regulations for how much weight can be hauled. For example, federal law states that the weight limit on a single axle cannot exceed 20,000 lbs.

The lack of sides and a roof give plenty of room to load large cargo, but also introduce the need to have all cargo restrained by straps or chains to keep all cargo on the flatbed for the duration of transportation. No roof naturally means that anything on the flatbed is exposed to the environment outside too, but haulers will use a tarp over the cargo to provide some protection.

What Loads Can a Flatbed Haul?

There is a diverse list of equipment and materials that work well loaded on the bed of a flatbed truck. With such high hauler capacities, which we just outlined, and the lack of space restraints, there are plenty of possibilities. Here are some common loads seen on flatbeds:


Various forms of lumber are a staple of flatbed transportation. Whether the lumber is commercial or residential, a flatbed is a great option because not only can it handle the massive weight load that lumber requires, but a flatbed can also deal with the irregular shapes that you encounter when hauling trees. The open carriage makes loading the timber easy and you can fit a lot of trees on a single flatbed.

Farm Feed

Every farm needs grain and feed for the animals, but if you’re working with massive quantities of food, having a flatbed is essential to make an efficient delivery. Regular trucks are good for small quantities of feed, but when you have multiple huge grain bags, a flatbed is the better option for transportation. What’s more, a flatbed truck will be capable of handling some rough terrain and sloppy conditions that can be found around some farms, which may deter other vehicles from making the trip.

Farm Equipment

Besides just the grain, farming equipment can also be hauled on a flatbed to a farming facility. This includes equipment like some small tractors, small plows, and other various small farming equipment. Some of the larger tractors and backhoes would be considered an oversized load and would be better served on a different truck bed.


Flatbeds are fantastic for moving large quantities of premade cement structures or cement bags for various construction projects. Due to the large load quantity that a flatbed can handle, they excel at moving high amounts of cement for construction.

Along with the above-mentioned freight, flatbed trucks are a great option for moving large quantities of landscaping stone, such as river rock, flagstone rock, or lava rock. These stones can be easily transported in large wire baskets on a flatbed truck.

Loads That Are Not Suited for a Flatbed

As was previously stated, there are some loads that a flatbed is not the correct tool for. Most of these large, oversized loads would be better served on a heavy haul trailer, which resembles a flatbed, but has a lower bed that specializes in moving oversized loads. These oversized loads usually require a permit and a road escort. Here are some examples of equipment that are too large for just a flatbed:


Most cranes are simply too big and awkwardly shaped for them to be appropriate for a regular flatbed. Cranes require a heavy haul trailer, an escort, and a permit because they are so large and oversized.


As previously mentioned, some tractors are too big and cumbersome for a regular flatbed to handle transportation. Again, a heavy haul trailer or something of this nature would be more optimal if you need to get a tractor to your facility.


Bulldozers follow the theme that is being established for equipment that shouldn’t be transported via flatbed. Bulldozers are simply too large and awkwardly shaped for them to be safely transported on roads utilizing a flatbed.

Meanwhile, some loads that need to be carried are better served by a set up that some may consider less than a flatbed. For example, if you have small quantities of grain to move for your farm, you can utilize a regular pick-up truck, maybe even with a small trailer attached. Flatbeds can move a large quantity of weight, but if you can get the job done with a less bulky machine, then that would be the safest and most cost effective option for transportation.

How to Hire

There are plenty of companies all over the country that can help you start your flatbed journey; you can get quotes from each and see what the most competitive offer is. Keep in mind, most flatbeds require a commercial driver license (CDL) to operate the truck, so think about whether you can legally drive the machine or if you need a driver to. Some renting options come with the driver, but that will usually make for a more expensive agreement.

Also, be sure to look into state and federal regulations regarding the amount being hauled, the shape of the haul, and where the haul is going. There are special rules for interstate travel, so if that is on your agenda, look into the regulations and make sure your driver understands the legal parameters as well.

A flatbed can be extremely advantageous if proper precautions are followed and loads are properly loaded. The potential for the amount of weight that can be moved is tremendous! A flatbed will make any large haul project that much more achievable and efficient.