Over the past few months, we’ve talked a great deal about flat beds for trucks and one of the biggest questions we get is, “What floor should I have in my flatbed?”

Traditionally, the flooring options for flatbeds were and continue to be wood, steel, and aluminum.  For folks who are making their own, steel and wood usually gets the nod, but its smart to remember this – everyone knows how to join wood, some people know how to weld steel, and very few amateurs are comfortable welding aluminum with a structural strength requirement. 

As upfitters, Expertec has seen it all when it comes to the flooring our customers want in place on a flatdeck bed, so let’s look at the advantages each material has.

  • Wood.  There’s no doubt wood is popular for beds.  It’s relatively cheap, far lighter than steel, and easy to replace if damaged.  By using pressure treated lumber, as most manufacturers do, the lifespan is measured in years, no matter how rough the use.  When you add in wood’s natural tendency to “flex” it softens the impact of heavy cargo and from a safety perspective, even when wet, wood is far more forgiving than a comparable surface of aluminum or steel, before you ever put any type of slip resistant surface or coating on it. 
Wooden Bed Flat Deck
Steel Flat Deck
  • Steel.  The simple fact is if the floor of your flat bed is built of steel, it’s going to last… unless you spill a strong acid on it, melt it with a torch, or crush it in an intense impact.  Steel’s biggest drawback is its weight, which is simply a condition of that strength.  In order to fully utilize a steel flatbed, the GVWR has to be taken into account, but we have a flatbed for most every truck on the market.  At Expertec, the key to a successful flatbed installation is knowing how our customer uses the truck.
  • Aluminum.  Let’s face it, everybody loves aluminum for its relative strength and weight, but the challenges its faced has always been twofold:  it’s not as tough as steel and the costs have generally been higher than a similar steel flat deck.  Over the life of the truck, its really a “wash” because that light weight saves fuel – you pay for the flat bed once, but you will continually be saving at the gas pumps!
Aluminum Flat Deck


In the long run, any surface you choose has limitations.  Our advice is to identify the most likely “average” and let that guide you. 

Case in point:  It’s incredibly important to make sure your flat bed provides you with good traction – a smooth, icy aluminum deck is going to be a skating rink half the year, but if you are moving heavy cargo on pallets, that slick surface can come in handy.  On the other end of the spectrum, wood provides good traction in and of itself, but if you haul greasy or dirty materials, or chemicals like fertilizer, you may quickly find your bed damaged.  That’s not to say aluminum or steel can’t be challenged by certain chemicals, but pressure washing aluminum or steel gets all the dirt off of it.  It only gets “most” of the dirt out of the grain of wood.

Any way you cut it, flat bed deck surfaces will be a compromise, and that’s why it’s critical to understand your own needs or the needs of your company.  For fleets, of course, this can be overcome by having certain trucks outfitted for certain tasks, but again, in the world of the trades and business, trucks have to work.  If you’re in the market for a flatbed for your truck or your fleet, our suggestion is to schedule a call with our team to understand what surfaces work best in your situation and how we can overcome the challenges ANY surface might put up for your installation.