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Find answers to common freight questions.

What is a Flatbed Trailer?

A flatbed trailer is a trailer with a freight hauling platform. These trailers start with no sides or roof, but can be added on if need be. The benefit of a flatbed trailer is the ability to load freight from all sides. As a result, they are primarily used for shipments that can’t fit or be loaded into a dry van trailer. Therefore, flatbed trailers are perfect for building materials, steel, lumber, machinery, and other open-air commodities. The length of a flatbed trailer ranges between 48 and 53 feet.

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The Purpose of a Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed Trailers load and unload from all sides. This makes them a great option when hauling larger than normal items. Flatbed trailers typically handle wide loads, oversized equipment, machinery, and bulk cargo. For example, you can use flatbed trailers to haul machinery out to your next roadwork assignment. Similarly, you can use these trailers when hauling construction parts.

Flatbed Trailer Accessories

Rolling Tarp Systems

Does your shipment involve steel, wiring, or weather-sensitive machinery? When a flatbed is needed due to loading constraints, but the load still needs to be protected from the weather, rolling tarp systems are a perfect solution.


Due to their retractable and extendable nature, rolling tarp systems give side and overhead loading access. This allows them to attach to the flatbed to enclose and protect your shipment in transit.

Flatbed Trailer Curtain Sides

One of the most popular and versatile types of trailers is the flatbed trailer with sliding side curtains. These trailers are equipped with metal roofs and side curtains that can be opened and closed to protect your shipment from outside elements. The side curtains also provide both dock and forklift access for loading and unloading. Flatbed trailers with sliding side curtains are perfect for carrying lumber and other building materials, as well as produce. So just like protecting your room from sunlight coming in, you can protect your shipments from falling out.

Different Types of Flatbed Trailers

Step Deck (Drop Deck)

Dual hauling platforms of different heights give this flatbed trailer its name. The Step Deck provides the necessary steps needed to get taller freight shipments moving. Doing so removes the need to obtain permits for cargo that exceeds the legal height limit. The name drop deck comes from the ease of moving your freight from low to high within the trailer. In addition, the main bed is the longest and the lowest of the two within the flatbed trailer.

If your freight exceeds 8′ 6” tall, a step deck trailer will serve your needs best. Step Deck trailers can handle 48,000 lbs.

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Double Drop (Lowboy)

Lowboy trailers directly reflect their name. These trailers are low to the ground, allowing carriers the ability to haul tall or bulky items with ease. Lowboys specialize in transporting goods that exceed regular height restrictions when placed on a traditional flatbed trailer. Lowboys can be loaded by crane or from the sides. This is thanks to its height and physical design. Lowboy trailers can handle up to 40,000 pounds and a max of 80,000 pounds, depending on the number of axles used. Examples of machinery transported on these trailers include:

  • Heavy Vehicles
  • Rail Vehicles
  • Mining Machinery
  • Forestry Machinery
  • Agricultural Machinery
  • Construction Machinery

Removable Gooseneck (RGN)

You have an additional unique option with this flatbed. This is due in part to the RGN having a removable neck. You can use this to convert the front of the trailer into a ramp. This allows easy loading of equipment for things such as construction and farm equipment. The versatility and added features of these trailers offer convenience but can also lead to higher costs. But in the end, they create very easy loading and unloading, saving you a lot of time. The maximum weight for these trailers is 42,000 lbs.

Extendable (Stretch)

As the name implies, an extendable trailer can be lengthened as needed. Stretch trailers come in multiple options. These options include:

  • Standard
  • Drop deck
  • Double drop
  • RGN

Stretch trailers can be extended with up to 20 axles to increase weight capacity. However, this does depend on the length and weight of the shipment. The starting weight is 45,000 lbs.

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Why Choose a Flatbed Trailer?

Are you needing a large shipment immediately delivered to its next destination? If so, you should consider using a flatbed trailer. Carriers who deploy flatbed truck drivers will ensure necessary safety equipment such as harnesses, nets, and safety ladders are used to keep both themselves and your shipments safe. Flatbed trailers can assist those needing to ship large and oversized items. Whether its a quick shipment from Florida to Georgia, or a long-distance haul from Illinois to Arizona.

Partner with a 3PL to Ship Using a Flatbed

When looking to ship via a flatbed trailer, the best thing to do is to partner with a third-party logistics company (3PL). 3PLs, like FreightCenter, will do all the hard work for you, including finding the best carrier, getting the best rate, and booking dates for your freight. They also have the expertise to guide you on the best ways and times to make your shipment. This will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

FreightCenter is an independent 3PL. We work to provide you with the best rates and carriers available. Does FreightCenter have any ownership interests in trucks, warehouses, or terminals? We do not. Therefore, we work solely as a broker and provide suggestions that are in the customers’ best interest. We assist online and over the phone, so please feel free to call us at 1(844) 212-7447.

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