3 Types of Flatbed Semi-Trailers

Today we’re discussing the three types of semi-trailer flatbeds, which is part of our series on “How to Buy the Best Flatbed Trailer.”

A lot depends on what you want to get out of your trailer. Choosing the right semi-trailer flatbeds is going to depend on what you’re hauling, where you’re hauling, and how long you’re holding onto the trailer. 

[Read more about “How to Buy the Best Flatbed Trailer”]

If you’re looking for something flashy, maybe an aluminum trailer is the way to go. But, if you’re looking for something to go to work, maybe you’re looking at a combo trailer. If you need something heavy-duty, an all-steel trailer could be right for you.

Today we’ll review each of the three types of semi-trailer flatbeds to find the one that’s right for you. Some of the questions we’ll ask are:

  • How much does a combo trailer cost?
  • Can I customize my flatbed?
  • What are the different flatbed trailer types?
  • How much does a flatbed trailer weigh?
  • What is a combo trailer?
  • Aluminum vs. steel flatbed trailer, which is best?

Aluminum– Semi-Trailer Flatbeds

Lightest Option

Aluminum flatbed trailers are typically your lightest option, lighter than steel or combination trailers, consisting entirely of aluminum – beam, side rails, and floors. 

Higher Cost

Aluminum trailers cost more than a combo and steel trailers, but on the upside, they do have a higher resale value.


Aluminum flatbeds are highly customizable. Options include:

  • Filled in rear end
  • Additional light packages
  • Aluminum wheels
  • Lift axle
  • Additional nailers
  • J-hook tracks
  • More options with length, width

More deflection in the beam.

Aluminum deflects more than steel, so aluminum flatbeds have a higher arch (camber) in the trailer to compensate. As it is loaded and weight is applied to the beam, it will level out more. 

Increase cross member spacing.

Aluminum cross members need to be closer than steel cross members to support the additional weight from deflection, especially in applications where you’re rearing-loading with a forklift.

Preventing corrosion on your flatbed trailer.

  • Consider galvanizing to prevent the dissimilar metals from corroding, specifically around the suspension hangers made of steel.
  • Also, aluminum is susceptible to cracking with age due to the flexing of aluminum. Keep an eye on the suspension hanger for cracking. 

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12/13/2021 4:04PM