When choosing a shipping solution, many may not realize the wealth of choice available to them. The numerous options available tend to different types of cargo, so it is essential to research and find what best suits your business’s needs. 

When it comes to large, heavy cargo, flatbed and step deck trailers are often the more popular options available. While there are many similarities between the two trailers, they have distinct differences that make each more suitable for particular jobs. 

Throughout this article, we cover step deck trailers, flatbed trailers, the most standard freight transported by each, and their differences. 

What is a Step Deck Trailer?

Step deck trailers are semi-trailers with two levels, one lower position in the front and one higher in the back. These trailers also have no roof, doors, or sides. The more elevated deck of the trailer is designed to load machinery like tractors safely, but the platform can also be lowered when towing taller items. 

Step deck trailers’ most significant benefit is that you can tow various forms of equipment with one trailer type. These trailer types are also ideal for shipping construction equipment as the platform lends itself to transporting oddly shaped machinery.

Standard Freight for Step Deck Trailers

Due to the large size of step deck trailers, they are often used to transport heavy freight, such as machinery. While each province has different regulations regarding the maximum size you can store on these trailers, the most common height is around 14 feet - this is usually to ensure that freight can be safely shipped and clear bridges. 

Here is a list of some of the most common freight that is transported on a step deck trailer:

  • Construction equipment
  • Heavy machinery 
  • Tractors
  • Excavation equipment
  • Building & Agricultural Materials

What is a Flatbed Trailer?

Like step deck trailers, flatbed trailers have no sides or roofs, but unlike step decks, flatbeds are typically used for standard-size loads. Additional axles can be added to flatbed trailers for larger loads to ensure it can be safely transported. 

Flatbed trailers are often used to transport large or wide cargo such as tools, construction equipment, or hauling machinery that requires a forklift to load. However, flatbed trailers have some limitations and cannot handle extremely heavy loads. For more oversized loads, you will need to use a step deck trailer. 

Standard Freight for Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are common used for carrying various types of freight. These trailers often transport many heavy items in one trip, aren’t suited for taller cargo, and have limited loading and unloading capabilities. Many flatbeds are around 48 to 53 feet long, meaning they cannot transport more than 48,000 pounds.

Here is a list of some of the most common freight that is shipped on a flatbed trailer:

  • Hauling machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Construction supplies equipment
  • Tools
  • Concrete
  • Raw materials
  • Lumber
  • Heating and cooling units

Flatbed Trailer Vs. Step Deck Trailer

The main difference between step deck and flatbed trailers is the amount of height that can be transported on each. 

Step deck trailers allow for taller cargo to be transported thanks to the lowered deck. With flatbed trailers, the width of your cargo cannot exceed 8 feet and 6 inches. With step deck trailers, the maximum height is 20 inches taller more than a flatbed trailer. 

However, their similarities come from their versatility as both flatbed and step deck trailers allow for easy loading and unloading cargo and equipment due to their lack of roofs and sides. 

At FlexSpace Logistics, we offer flatbed and step deck trailers at many of our facilities across Canada, so regardless of the location of your business, we will have the resources to accommodate. We will handle your shipping and logistic needs with care so you can get back to the more pertinent aspects of your business. 

If you’d like to get started, get a quote today, or contact one of our FlexSpace Logistics advisors to find the right solution for your business at 1-844-985-3539.