What Are the Differences Between Step Deck and Flatbed Trailer?

When it comes to over-dimensional trucking, the choice of a suitable vehicle is crucial. It largely depends on the type, dimensions, and weight of the freight. However, you cannot decide anything if you do not have the basic information about the trucks used by trucking companies in Canada or elsewhere. For example, a step-deck and a flatbed trailer are widely used in over-dimensional trucking. Here are some key differences between the two trucks to help you decide which one is best for you.

What Is The Step Deck Trailer?

The alternative names for the step-deck trailer are the drop deck and lowboy trailer. You may opt for this type of trailer if the load you are transporting exceeds a certain height. There are some laws in place if you want to transport freight on a step-deck trailer. If your freight is taller than the legal limits, you will not be allowed to use the step-deck trailer.

As the name indicates, the step-deck trailer has a double deck with a stepper. Although not all of them come with a step, some models also present a ramp. The ramp allows much easier loading as compared to the stepper. Other sub-types are:

  • Fixed-neck
  • Removable Gooseneck
  • Gooseneck

These options allow different levels of the convenience of loading and unloading the goods. Trucking companies in Ontario essentially have step-deck trailers because of their frequent use in heavy hauling. You can also find a professional trucking company in your area.

Types of Freight transported through step deck trailer

Step-deck trailers are essentially used in over-dimensional trucking. However, you have to check the local rules and regulations of the host state for a specific cargo. The general rule of thumb is, a load less than 13.6feet to 14feet can be transported on a step-deck trailer. You do not even need to have a permit for a cargo that falls under these dimensional limits. The limitations are in place to ensure the safety of goods and driver’s life.

The most commonly transported equipment on a step-deck trailer include:

  • Excavators
  • Machinery
  • Building materials
  • Agricultural equipment
  • Tractors

Double drop deck trailers

Since the industrial machinery may be extra-heavy, we need to have even stronger trailers. For that purpose, trucking companies in Canada prefer double-drop deck trailers. You can ask the service providers in your area if they have a double-drop deck trailer to fulfill your heavy hauling needs. It has two decks instead of one attached on the front and backside of the trailer. The rear deck is placed on a lower level and is usually called the “Well.”

Unlike the single-step deck trailer, this type of trailer can carry heavier and even taller cargo. If you do not need both decks, your driver can simply flip the axle, and you are good to go. However, you need to abide by local laws when it comes to the number of axles, depending upon the weight of goods. You may not need additional permits if you opt for the double-step deck trailer with extra axles. Your heavy hauling company will take care of these permits and regulations, but you still need to understand the process.

What Is Flatbed Trailer?

A flatbed trailer is one without a roof and sides. This type of trailer makes the best choice if your freight is of standard size and weight. According to the local legal requirements, you may opt for extra axles that can be attached if needed for heavier freight. In fact, when you add extra axles, it is just similar to the step deck and drops deck trailers. A flatbed trailer can carry goods up to a maximum of 8.6 feet. Trucking companies in Ontario often have the following sub-types of the flatbed trailer:

  • Curtain sided walls
  • Multilevel decks (drop deck)
  • Extendable deck

Types of freight transported

The trailer is best suitable for standard-size heavy hauling but not for very tall cargo. Since it has limited loading and unloading options, you may use it to transport the following freight.

  • Construction materials and machinery
  • Raw materials
  • Heating and cooling machines
  • Lumber
  • Vehicles
  • Formed concrete

Step deck or Flatbed trailer; which one to choose?

The primary thing to consider before you make a decision is the dimensions and weight of the freight. Generally speaking, a flatbed trailer will serve the purpose if you have a standard cargo. But if the height is more than 8.6 feet, you must go for a step-deck trailer. Once you are clear about your cargo’s dimensions, nature, and weight, it will be easier for you to decide between a flatbed or a step-deck trailer. You can also ask your over-dimensional trucking company to assist you in this regard.


Over-dimensional trucking has become an essential component of many industries. If you want safe, affordable, and efficient freight transportation, you must choose a professional trucking company in Canada or wherever you live. The two most famous types of trailers used in heavy hauling are step-deck and flatbed trailers. The choice of the trailer will depend upon the size, type, and weight of your freight.