Stepdeck Shipping Services

Stepdeck Trucking Company

What is a stepdeck (single drop) trailer?

A step deck trailer is a commercial trailer designed to carry tall cargo that exceeds the legal height limit if transported on a traditional flatbed trailer. Transporting tall cargo on a step deck prevents drivers and operators from having to obtain permits.

Step deck trailers have two decks, an upper and a lower. Many step deck trailers also have ramp capabilities, making it easier to load and unload equipment. Their lower height allows forklifts to easily access cargo since they’re closer to the ground. Options can be fixed-neck, gooseneck, and removable gooseneck (RGN), depending on the type of freight and loading/unloading needs. Fixed-neck trailers have more limited options for loading and unloading, while RGNs can be loaded on either the front or back.

What freight is commonly carried on a step deck?

Heavy freight and machinery are commonly transported on step deck trailers due to their larger size. Each state has different laws regarding cargo size, but generally, the maximum height is 13’ 6” to 14’, even with a permit. This is especially important to ensure the safety of the driver and clearance for bridges.

The following is a list of the most common freight transported on a step deck trailer:

  • Tractors
  • Excavators
  • Building Materials
  • Agricultural Materials
  • Machinery

What is a double drop trailer?

For extra-large, heavy loads, double drop deck trailers are used. They get their name from the two higher decks – one in front, one in back – that bookend a lower deck. The lower deck is commonly referred to as a “well.”

They can carry taller and heavier loads due to their option to have 2 or more axles. Double drop decks have a flip axle that can be laid on the deck when not used or flipped down when hauling extra weight.

Federal regulations specify that trailers maintain a certain number of axles dependent on the weight of freight. Using a drop deck trailer with extra axles helps drivers and operators in hauling heavy freight without extra permits. If you’re trying to decide between a step deck vs. flatbed trailer, you’ll want to consider the height as well as the weight.


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Typical cargo for step deck trailers

  • Tractors
  • Machinery
  • Heavy freight that is over 9 feet tall

What is tallest freight for a step deck trailer?

On a standard step deck trailer, you can load up to a max of 10’ high calculating from the lower deck. This is up over the 8’6” maximum height on a standard flatbed.


Using a double-drop trailer, or what some call a lowboy, you can increase that max height up to 11’6”. On a double drop with a detachable deck, you can squeeze out another six inches and reach a max of 12’.

How to load a step deck trailer

One of the pros of step decks and flatbeds is how easy it is to load them up. Cargo can be dropped in from overhead, the sides are easy to access, and there should be a ramp coming off the back of the trailer. This makes it easy to get cargo from one point to another, but you must know where to load your cargo for balance on the trailer to keep your truck in good working condition.


On a typical transport you would balance your cargo by having it in the rear, but on a step deck this is actually reversed. In this case, place your freight up closer to the front of the trailer. It’s crucially important to remember this for extending the life of your tire treads.


Extending the life of your tires is paramount in this business. Your tires are the lifeline of your business, so please always be extra aware of what you are running and where to put it. Do not be afraid to ask questions, either of your supervisor, your colleagues, or other sources of information such as this article.


Shipping out equipment such as the items being described in this article is no small task. You need 100 percent professionalism every step of the way to ensure a smooth, safe trip.




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Stepdeck vs Flatbed

In the assessment of stepdeck vs flatbed, there is one glaring difference: the step down to a lower deck on the step deck truck. The purpose of a step-deck is to haul taller equipment that would not otherwise fit on a flatbed. This is contrasted on a step-deck because there are two different levels. The top deck is closest to the cab of the truck and is 60 inches in height and 11 feet in length.

The lower deck drops down all the way to the wheels, allowing for the more vertical room. The bottom deck is 36 inches up to 42 inches off the road. It can also be between 37’ and 41’ in length. A flatbed, in contrast, is flat (you don’t say?) and stays flat. Both have a width of 8’6” and maximum cargo weight of 48,000 pounds.

Since the deck is flat and open, the cargo may require tarps to protect it from the outer elements.  Tarps range from the standard 4 foot to 8 footers.  Different loads require different tarps.

Legal Stepdeck Trailer Dimensions | Titan Worldwide

Maximum Freight Dimensions

  • Maximum freight weight- 44–47,000 lbs.
  • Top deck (TD)- 10′–12′(L) x 102″(W) x 8′6″(H)
  • Main deck (MD)- 38′–41′(L) x 102″(W)x 10′2″(H)

Stepdeck Trailer Dimensions 

  • Length (L)- 48′–53′
  • Width (W)- 102″
  • Height (H)- TD: 5′ MD: 3′4″–3′6″

Step Deck vs Lowboy

A lowboy truck looks at a step deck truck’s vertical capacity and scoffs in comparison. On a lowboy, the bottom deck is barely off the road. The tallest point of the lowboy trailer is just above the wheels, with the lower deck resting inches above the ground.

Lowboys are perfect for hauling oversized equipment, as they allow for the maximum amount of vertical room. A lowboy is also referred to as a double drop. Any cargo that comes in above 8 feet faces transportation restrictions, and a lowboy can provide a maximum height of 14’.

The maximum amount of cargo a lowboy can haul in weight is 40k pounds for your normal double-axle trailer. A lowboy can handle an additional 80k pounds with extra axles.

Step Deck vs Drop Deck

A step deck and a drop deck are different names for the same thing. A drop deck, or a step deck, whichever name you want to use, looks like a flatbed trailer that includes a “step” up at the cab end of the trailer. Step decks and drop decks trailers are both wide open and living free.

Cargo protection

Tarps are available in several sizes to accommodate different sized loads. The most common tarp sizes are 4′, 6′, and 8′ long. Product height will determine the tarp size to fit your needs (i.e., if 8′ is needed, use an 8′ tarp).

Cargo securement

  • Chains
  • Straps
  • Binders
  • Coil racks
  • Dunnage
  • Pipe stakes

Specialized equipment

  • Stretch trailers
  • Curtainside
  • Moffet
  • Maxi
  • B-Train
  • Landoll

Trailers vary depending on the load requirements and state regulations. These are standard equipment dimensions (these dimensions are provided for general information purposes only). Permits may still be required for your freight, but regulations vary from state to state.  To find state regulations for loads exceeding the legal dimensions, click here.

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Licensed, Bonded and Insured

Titan Worldwide is a fully licensed, bonded and insured heavy equipment transport firm that operates in all 48 contiguous US states, Canada and Mexico.
Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Titan Worldwide provides innovative logistics and heavy haul trucking solutions to corporations nationwide. Our services require us to operate within the guidelines of the United States Department of Transportation and retain the proper licensing to haul contract cargo along intrastate and interstate lines. As a company, Titan Worldwide operates with a Motor Carrier License number of 122020 and a DOT license number of 3174800. Not only do we require our drivers to carry enough cargo insurance to full cover the value of your cargo, we too carry a contingent cargo policy to layer up on the coverage.

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