How to Safely Transport Lumber in Your Truck Bed - GoShare blank

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How to Safely Transport Lumber in Your Truck Bed

Need to carry a large load of lumber in your pickup truck? If you are carrying lumber or other cargo that exceeds the length of the truck, you may have some questions. Is it safe to have these items overhanging the gate of my truck? How far can lumber sick out of a truck bed? Is it legal? 

Take a look below at our guidelines on how to safely transport lumber on the back of your pickup truck.

If you own a small truck with a suboptimal truck bed for heavy lumber hauling, we suggest hiring delivery professionals that will take care of the hard work for you. Otherwise, follow our tips to help minimize risk and ensure that your pickup truck is prepared for your lumber needs.

Required Length of Lumber to Fit on Your Truck Bed

Fitting a long piece of lumber onto the bed of your pickup truck is a demanding task that requires a bit of forethought. Traffic safety is a valid concern when hauling long lumber, so you should always be wary of how much lumber can stick out of your truck. 

According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Size Regulation law, lumber is allowed to extend 3 feet in front of the vehicle, 4 inches on the side, and 4 feet in the rear. If you’re dealing with lumber of considerable size that overhangs past these maximum length requirements, you must properly mark the load with warning flags, lamps, and reflectors. This is an important responsibility that helps convey your load’s length limit to other drivers on the road. Failure to attach these indicators may result in a traffic ticket and fine. 

Equipment Needed to Secure the Lumber on Your Truck Bed

Once you have determined that the lumber appropriately fits on your truck bed, the next step is to figure out how to adequately secure the lumber. 

Firstly, make sure that the lumber lies flat and rests on the lowered tailgate so that your rear-view isn’t hindered while driving. This also makes it much easier to fasten the lumber from top to bottom evenly. Next, it’s time to make use of sturdy ratchet straps to tie the lumber down. 

Four 15 feet heavy-duty ratchet straps with a minimum load limit of 1,000 pounds and a break strength of 3,000 pounds are sufficient enough to hold down the lumber. If you don’t have access to ratchet straps, an alternative is to use a rope and twine. Please note that twine has a lower break strength than ratchet straps, and so may require more tie-down points. Do not use bungee cords, which will stretch, allowing lumber to possibly slide out of the back of your vehicle.  

Additional Accessories for Easier Hauling of Lumber

If you are looking for additional support for hauling lumber on a day-to-day basis, it’s wise to invest in a collection of truck accessories that will help make your job much easier. Check out our recommendations below on three handy equipment pieces to outfit your pickup truck with.

Bed Extender

Truck with Bed Extender, Truck Bed Has a Ladder and Lumber

Instead of purchasing a new or used pickup truck with a longer bed length, equip your current one with a bed extender and keep its tailgate down so that long lumber can easily be stored without fear of falling out. 

Installing a bed extender is one of the best ways to transform your truck into a highly functional workhorse. The ability to extend your truck bed by 2-3 feet allows you to carry and transport oversized items that otherwise wouldn’t fit. Pictured above is a classic u-shaped extender that creates an additional two feet of enclosed cargo space when installed on a pickup truck tailgate. Find it on Amazon here.

Bed Rack 

Truck with a Bed Rack Installed

A bed rack, sometimes called a ladder rack, is a versatile tool that can be placed on the top of your truck bed for extra room and carrying capacity. This extends the length of lumber you can safely transport, by allowing you to take advantage of overhang limits in the front and rear of the vehicle. In addition to being able to hang four feet out the back, you also have the length of the cab plus an additional three feet over the front of the truck. The bed rack keeps the lumber lifted so it does not impede your ability to see or navigate on the road. In addition, a bed rack presents more space to fit an additional piece of lumber or two. Instead of taking two trips to the store to fetch the remaining lumber, simply install a bed rack and enjoy the convenience of more cargo space. The bed rack pictured above can be found on Amazon here.

Heavy Duty Tonneau Cover

Truck with DiamondBack Truck Bed Cover, loaded with Lumber. Image Credit: DiamondBack Truck Covers

A heavy-duty tonneau cover can provide another platform for you to stack lumber on. These covers can be used in conjunction with bed racks. Some covers, like the DiamondBack Truck Bed Cover, have built-in cleats for you to use when tying down and securing your load. 

Tailgate Flag
Lumber sticking out of the back of a truck with an orange safety flag attached

Attaching a safety tailgate flag is a useful accessory for indicating that your truck is carrying an oversized load of lumber beyond the tailgate. When you’re on the road, it’s essential to bring attention to your cargo for surrounding drivers. Many safety tailgate flags are made up of durable, weather-resistant material and painted in bright red or orange for easy detection.

Additional Resources

Check out these other helpful articles to get more information on pickup truck performance, maintenance, and care.

Opportunities for Truck Owners

GoShare offers opportunities for pickup truck, cargo van, and box truck owners to earn extra income helping individuals and businesses in their communities with on-demand moving and delivery projects. If you are interested in earning extra income doing part-time or weekend projects, visit to learn about our program.

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