How to Haul 16 and 20ft Lumber in a Pickup or a Truck?

Lumber is one common item that needs special transportation due to obvious reasons. But what is not obvious is how to transport it. There are many questions arising on the same. 

Firstly, you will need the right equipment for the task. The most important piece is the ratchet straps. The orientation of the tailgate depends on the weight of your load—it should be lowered for heavier loads. Tying down lumber is an important skill you need to learn. 

This article answers how you can safely transport 16 and 20-ft lumber using either a pickup or truck, among other related questions. 

How to Haul 16 and 20ft Lumber in a Pickup or a Truck

how to haul 16 and 20ft lumber in a pickup or a truck

Naturally, many people would want to know how to transport wood or lumber. This is owing to the fact that they are usually heavy, long, and bulky. Fortunately, with the right precautions, knowledge, and equipment, this otherwise difficult and intimidating task is actually doable.

For lumber transportation, the most suitable modes are the use of pickups and trucks. More often, the most common mode of transportation for such bulky items is usually the pickup truck.

But to properly haul the lumber onto the truck bed is where the trick really is since in most cases, the lumber is usually longer than the truck bed. This is a major problem unless handled in the right way. `

How to Haul 16ft Lumber in a Pickup in 4 Steps

Hauling 16ft lumber is made easier with the step-wise procedure below. 

Step 1: Have the Required Essentials 

These essentials include a red flag, 20-ft heavy-duty ratchet straps, a short-bed pickup truck, and the 16-ft lumbers. 

Step 2: Examine the Loads

Examining the load is a crucial step as it determines whether the task will be successful. This involves checking the weight to see if you will have to lower the tailgate or not. If the weight exceeds 250lbs, you have to lower the tailgate. Moreover, examine the loads to see if they comply with the DOT regulations.  

Step 3: Remove Any Debris From the Bed

Ensure that any debris is removed from the bed of your truck as it is likely to damage the lumber. Considering that the lumber is 16 feet long, it is likely to undergo a lot of dissipated pressure—they need a more hospitable spot. 

Step 4: Fasten and Secure the Lumber 

This should be done with extreme caution to ensure that the lumbers do not shift or wobble during transportation. The ratchet straps play a major role here.

How to Haul 20ft Lumber in a Pickup in 3 Steps

Step 1: Assess the Weight of the Lumber

Depending on the weight of the load, you can decide how to leave the tailgate. For instance, if your load is relatively small (under 250lbs), the tailgate can be left up. The lumber should be bundled up together with both ends strapped so they do not move around much. The lumber should be laid such that one end rests on the tailgate and the other end lying against the cab. 

On the other hand, if the load is more than 250lbs, the tailgate will have to be lowered to serve two purposes. First, it works to extend your truck bed thus giving additional support to the lumber and protecting the tailgate since it was not designed to handle heavy weights. There is an option of purchasing a tailgate extender to make the bed even longer. 

Step 2: Get the Right Equipment

Safety should be of utmost importance when it comes to the transportation of lumber. With that in mind, one of the most important pieces of equipment you need to get for the task at hand is ratchet straps.

Get a set of heavy-duty ratchet straps, preferably those rated 1000lbs load limit and 3000lbs break strength, as they are sure to secure your load even in the event of an emergency stop. While bungee cords and rope can serve the purpose, they only work well if you drive slowly without hitting any bumps—they fail in extreme situations. 

Moreover, a cargo net can be used for bulky loads to secure them on the bed. You will also need leather gloves for the entire hauling process. A red flag should be attached at the end of the load for other drives to see so they maintain a safe following distance. 

Step 3: Tie Down the Lumber

It is important to learn how to properly tie down the lumber prior to transportation. Remember that if your load happens to fall out and causes damage to other vehicles, you will be liable. You need to have strong anchor points where you will secure the ratchet straps. 

Also Read: How Far Can Lumber Stick Out of a Truck

What Is the Best Way to Haul Lumber?

You should always use ratchet straps when hauling lumber. These are made of strong and durable materials sufficient to hold down the lumber the whole way. You can also opt to rent a trailer or larger truck.

Utility trailers, enclosed trailers, and box trucks offer the best ways to haul lumber. If you are only transporting the lumber for a short while, you can rent one. However, it can get expensive if you plan on regularly transporting large loads. 

Also, you can get a bed rack and place it on top of the truck bed. This bed rack not only offers additional room and carrying capacity but also extends the length of load you can safely transport. 

Should I Rent an HD or U-Haul Truck to Haul Lumber?

Home Depot is one of the go-to rental options for many. It is best suited if you need to transport things locally at affordable prices.

However, it is not recommended for long distances due to higher costs. HD offers unlimited mileage on in-house trucks, affordable rates for in-house trucks, and is located nationwide. They are advisable for hauling lumber.  

When it comes to hauling, U-Haul is mostly used to its wide availability and it offers more size options. Moreover, it is the cheapest option available. However, this mode of transportation has received a barrage of negative customer reviews and unreliable reservations. Therefore, it may not be the best option.  


While pickup trucks are recommended for hauling things, not everyone can easily access them. Therefore, if you are dealing with 8-ft lumber, you can transport it with your car. You will be required to lay down the backseats and ensure the lumber is safely bundled up together since you do not want any damage to your car. 

You might need additional support to transport your lumber. If that is the case, you can purchase a bed extender, a bed rack, a heavy-duty tonneau cover, and a tailgate flag.

Transportation of lumber often offers great opportunities to pickup trucks, box truck, and cargo van owners. They are able to earn extra income by helping businesses and individuals with on-demand moving and delivery projects. You can easily find a truck to rent to transport your 20-ft lumber. 


Hauling lumber may seem to be an intimidating task. However, with the right safety precautions, it is no longer a big deal. Hopefully, this article will help you go about it in the right way. 

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