Flatbed trailer types

Differences Between Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are essential equipment in the transportation and logistics industry, providing versatile solutions for hauling a wide variety of freight. They are especially favored for loads that are not suitable for standard enclosed trailers due to size, shape, or unloading requirements. However, not all flatbed trailers are created equal. Various types are designed to meet specific needs, including standard flatbeds, step deck (or drop deck) trailers, and double drop (or lowboy) trailers. Let's dive into the differences among these flatbed trailers to understand which might be suitable for particular hauling needs.

Standard Flatbed Trailers

Standard flatbed trailers are the most common type of flatbed trailer. They are essentially a flat platform without sides or a roof, making them ideal for loading and unloading goods from any direction. They typically measure 48 to 53 feet in length and are about 8.5 feet wide, which conforms to standard U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. These trailers are perfect for transporting heavy loads, building materials, and goods that are not sensitive to weather conditions. Their versatility and ease of loading and unloading make them a popular choice for many haulers.

Step Deck Trailers

Step deck trailers, also known as drop deck trailers, are similar to standard flatbeds but feature a gooseneck that drops the trailer height below the standard flatbed level. This design consists of two deck levels: an upper deck and a lower deck that 'steps down' from it, allowing for the transportation of taller items that wouldn’t fit under bridges or power lines if transported on a standard flatbed. The typical maximum height of cargo on the lower deck can be up to 10 feet. Step deck trailers are particularly useful for hauling tall machinery, equipment, and oversized items.

Double Drop Trailers

Double drop trailers, often referred to as lowboy trailers, have a design that further lowers the bed in the middle section between the front and rear axles, creating three distinct sections: the front deck, the well (or low middle section), and the rear deck. This design allows for the transportation of extremely tall or heavy items, with the well providing the capability to haul items up to 11.5 feet tall. Double drop trailers are the go-to choice for heavy equipment like bulldozers, industrial machinery, and other oversized loads that require significant ground clearance.

Extendable Flatbed Stretch Trailers

When standard flatbeds, step decks, or double drops can't accommodate particularly long loads, extendable flatbed stretch trailers come into play. These trailers can be extended to various lengths to accommodate the specific size of the load, making them ideal for transporting long pieces of lumber, steel beams, or wind turbine blades. Their adjustable nature offers unparalleled flexibility for particularly long freight.


Choosing the right flatbed trailer depends on the specific requirements of the cargo, including dimensions, weight, and the need for specialized loading and unloading processes. While standard flatbed trailers offer versatility and ease of use for a wide range of loads, step deck and double drop trailers provide solutions for taller and heavier items that require specific accommodations for safe and efficient transport. Extendable flatbed stretch trailers, meanwhile, address the needs of extremely long freight, ensuring that virtually any load can be transported securely and efficiently. Understanding these differences is crucial for logistics professionals, truckers, and anyone involved in the transportation of goods, ensuring that the right equipment is used for each unique hauling challenge.

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