How To Haul 16 ft Lumber In Pickup [Beginner’s Guide]

How to haul 16 ft lumber in pickup

Do you need to transport a large haul of lumber in your pick-up truck’s cargo bed? You may have safety and equipment questions if you’re carrying lumber or any other cargo that is longer than the truck’s length. Are these items safe to hang over the truck’s tailgate? What is the maximum distance that lumber can extend off of a truck bed? Is this even legal?

Below are our guidelines for safely transporting lumber in the bed of your pick-up truck.

If you’re looking at completing this chore yourself, you don’t want to take any chances, and these tips will help reduce the risk and make sure your pick-up truck is ready for all your lumber-related needs.

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What you need to know before hauling lumber in your pick-up

  • Hauling longer lengths of lumber requires some technique and basic knowledge. Have a look at the following before hitting the road:
  • You need to know precisely how much of the lumber is extending out the back of your truck. DOT regulations are clear on the measurements allowed.
  • If the legal length limit is exceeded, you’re required by law to mark your load using a red flag attached to the lumber’s end.·        It’s better to contact the local police to familiarize yourself with additional road rules you might not be aware of.

Clean out your truck bed

Ensure your truck bed is clean and that there is no debris or rubbish which can potentially damage your truck or the lumber. Remember that the lumber you are carrying is more than 16ft in length, so a lot of pressure will be dissipated on the truck bed. Just by simply getting rid of the debris, you can ensure a dent-free haul.

You could also consider carpeting the truck bed with old cardboard sheets to ensure no rough or sharp edges damage your truck or the load.

Minimum Lumber Length to Fit in Your Truck Bed

It is not an easy task to fit a lengthy section of lumber in your pick-up bed. This requires some planning. Safety is of paramount concern when transporting 6ft lumbers for any distance, and you should always be conscious of the amount of lumber extending from your truck.

The Federal Size Regulation law of the United States Department of Transportation states that lumber can be extended three feet in front of a vehicle, four inches along the sides, and four feet at the rear. If lumber exceedingly long is being transported, it’s vital to appropriately mark the load using reflectors, lamps, warning flags, and lamps.

These accessories are essential as it helps to communicate your load’s maximum length to drivers sharing the road with you. Failing to comply with these laws or having these indicators attached can result in you being issued a ticket or fine.

Equipment Required to Secure the Lumber on Your Truck Bed

After you’ve made sure that the lumber will fit on your truck bed, it is time to determine how to secure the lumber.

First, guarantee that the lumber is flat on the tailgate. This will ensure that your view to the rear of your truck is not obscured. It is also easier to secure the lumber evenly from top to bottom. The next step is to use sturdy ratchet straps for securing the lumber.

Four heavy-duty, 15-foot ratchet straps that have a minimum load limit at 1,000 pounds and a break force of 3,000 pounds each are sufficient to secure the lumber. You can also use twine and rope if you don’t have access to the above-mentioned straps, but remember, twine is not as strong as ratchet straps, and you may need more tie-down points as a result. Bungee cords should not be used as they can stretch and result in the lumber sliding off the back of your truck.

A basic list of all you’ll need:

  • A pick-up truck (a little obvious, but we’ll mention it anyway.)
  • 20ft heavy duty ratchet straps – 2 inches or wider
  • Red flags·       
  • 6ft lumber (again, kind of obvious…)

Red Flags

A safety tailgate flag should always be used to indicate that your truck has an oversized load of lumber. It’s essential to draw attention to your cargo when you’re driving. Safety tailgate flags made of weather-resistant, durable material are easy to spot. They are usually bright orange or red for easy identification.

Lowering your tailgate… or not?

If you’re not transporting loads heavier than 250lbs, it’s not necessary for your tailgate to be down. Just place the end of each board against the front of the truck bed, and allow the end portion of the lumber to rest on the tailgate. Secure your lumber with straps at both ends, which will leave you with one sturdy bundle. Start at the attachment point on the side of the pick-up bed and run the ratchet belt across the end of the lumber stack to the attachment point at the other end of the bed and strap it down.

For loads heavier than 250lbs, you will need to lower the tailgate and place down your first strap. Position it on the tailgate approximately one foot from the rear bed tie-down attachments. Place the second ratchet belt about a foot from the front attachment points on the bed floor. Your lumber should be stacked in the center of your truck bed on top of your ratchet straps. Attach the load hooks to both ends of the vehicle by wrapping the straps around the bundle. The boards will now be forced together by strap tensioning. 

Remember that tail swing can be dangerous if you have extended loads on a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase. Right turns can cause damage to the surrounding vehicles, so always be aware of what’s going on around you when turning.

Old Trick

This old carpenter’s trick for carrying long lumber loads in pick-up trucks is to cut a 2×6 bracket about 1/8 inches wider than the truck bed’s inner width. Place the brace crosswise and place it under the bed’s upper lip approximately 1 foot behind the truck cab. Next, lift the tailgate and slide the long lumber pieces under the 2×6 brace into the truck bed. While resting on their tailgate, the brace will keep them secure.

lumber planks

Be responsible

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris was responsible for more than 200,000 collisions on U.S roads between 2011-2014, resulting in more than 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths. Since 2001, when the foundation began to study the issue, the number of vehicle-related crashes has increased by 40%.

The point we’re trying to make here is to make sure your load is properly secured to prevent it from falling off and becoming a danger to other road users.

Also, make sure to slow down when approaching speed bumps in the road and calculate your turns because your vehicle now has a significant amount of additional length.

Can you transport lumber in your car?

Although pick-up trucks are often used to transport items, not everyone is lucky to own or have access to a pick-up. So, is it possible to transport lumber in a car?  

You might be able to transport eight-foot lumber inside your car if your back seats are lowered. You should bundle lumber together with straps to prevent any damage or injury during transport.

An alternative would be to purchase a roof rack to secure the lumber. Depending on the type of roof rack, the method you use for securing the lumber will vary, but following the same principles as set out above should work.

Use ratchet straps to support the load. Also, make sure the roof rack can hold the load securely enough to act as an anchor. Before you take your load out on the road, make sure it is correctly secured to the roof rack.

Final words

Although it may seem daunting to haul and transport 6ft lumber in a truck or car, it is relatively straightforward if you take the proper safety precautions.

You shouldn’t have much trouble getting your lumber to where it needs to be, as long as you have the right equipment and follow the road rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the legal limit for lumber to extend the bed of the pickup?

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Size Regulation law states that lumber is allowed to extend by the following parameters: 3 feet in front of the vehicle, 4 inches on the side, and 4 feet in the rear.

What is the best way to secure lumber in the bed of a pickup?

It is recommended that you place the lumber in the bed of the truck with the tailgate down and approximately a foot behind the cab with tie-down anchors. Strap a ratchet strap on the bed about a foot behind these anchor points. Place your lumber in the center of the bed and on top of the cargo straps.