Steel vs. Aluminum Truck Beds
Cars are rather efficient in moving people from one point to another. But, there are limitations, especially with load-carrying capacity.
And that’s where trucks coming. Perfect for small or large businesses alike, it’s simply worth the buy. What’s more? Trucks are versatile to boot. Literally.
There are trailer trucks, tanker trucks, 18-wheelers, flatbed trucks, pickup trucks, and lots more.
Let’s take a look at flatbed and pickup trucks.
What is a Flatbed Truck?
Chances are high that you’ve come across one or two of these on your local roads or the highway. They’re easily recognizable by their often large size and open trunk style.
These types of trunks have a flatbed with no sides or roof around the bed. True to form, they are mostly used to transport heavy loads that are likely to survive tough weather conditions.
To load these types of trucks, one simply has to use a forklift or similar equipment. Other equipment such as tarps, winch straps, ratchet straps, edge protectors, and chains or binders help in securing the load to the flatbed truck.
Another key aspect of these trucks is their versatility. There’s something for everyone. Most of them have a maximum freight weight of at least 40,000 pounds. Height, width, and deck vary depending on the type.
From the standard flatbeds to step decks, extendable flatbeds, stretch double drop trailers, side kit trailers, and lowboys, etc. you’re spoilt for choice on which type to go for.
What is a Pickup Truck?
Pickups are a type of common light-duty truck with an enclosed cab and open truck area. We just had to put ‘common’ in that definition because of how popular these trucks are.
Over 3.1 million vehicles sold in America in 2019 were on pickup trucks. They look good, they are relatively fast, and they can tow several tons of material.
Almost every vehicle manufacturer has some type of pickup in their collection, each model better than the last one with great capabilities and lots more to offer.
There’s quite a bit of variety here too. There are full-size, midsize, heavy-duty, compact, regular cab, and extended cab pickups available.
The focus of this work is on the beds of these trucks.
But first, why don’t we compare the pros and cons of pickup and flatbed trucks before discussing truck beds.
Pros and Cons of Flatbed and Pickup Trucks
Flatbed Trucks pros
✔ A tough bed means you don’t have to worry or be too careful with it.
✔ Numerous options abound here. You can find one suitable for your business, irrespective of the size or weight of the goods.
✔ It’s easy to maintain.
✔ If there’s ever a need for you to lift a load with a forklift, a flatbed’s got you covered as you can easily load from the side.
✔ It’s also pretty easy to unload.
FLATBED TRUCKS cons
✗ Hiring a flatbed for transporting heavy loads can be quite expensive because it requires special hauling and maneuvering skills.
✗ Improperly securing freight can potentially cause road accidents.
✗ There’s minimal protection from external impact.
✗ Bad weather can create an issue during the transportation of goods here.
PICKUP TRUCKS pros
✔ It provides more efficient off-roading abilities.
✔ There’s quite a bit of hauling and towing power in these trucks.
✔ The space is much appreciated – both the interior and cargo.
PICKUP TRUCKS cons
✗ They’re quite expensive to operate, irrespective of the engine. For instance, diesel pickups have better fuel mileage than gas pickups, however, servicing costs more.
✗ Maneuverability can be a bit tough here compared to other vehicles.
✗ Dirt can get stuck in the corners making wash day rather tedious.
Hopefully, you’ve got a sense of what these trucks offer. It can be a bit confusing at times – difference between them. Is it in the size, height, or bed? Are they similar? Well, let’s find out.
Flatbed vs. Pickup Bed
If you have to choose between them, this should guide you.
Some people actually refer to flatbeds as ‘true’ flatbeds. That makes it appear as if the beds of the pickup are ‘untrue’. Not exactly.
You see, at a glance these two trunks reveal a rather stark difference. Flatbed trucks are open on all sides. There’s no side or roof here, which is opposed to regular pickups that have sides.
8 Differences between Flatbeds and Pickups
- It’s easier to load and unload a flatbed than a pickup.
- Increased flexibility means you get to take more jobs with an increased number of hauling options with flatbeds.
- Cleaning and maintenance are much easier for flatbeds than pickups thanks to their open deck nature, unlike the pickups with their corners and crevices.
- A flatbed is higher than a standard pickup by at least six inches.
- Despite having more space than pickups, a flatbed weighs more, thereby limiting how much load you can pile on them.
- Flatbeds are more versatile when it comes to bed type.
- Pickup beds have a one-up over flatbeds. They can be covered with a cap or tonneau. That way, they’re more protected from the elements than freight on a flatbed truck.
- Pickups are also versatile but on a different level. Once people see flatbed trucks, they assume they’re owned by a construction company or something similar. They just have that look about them. However, pickups can be used to cruise on the road as a private car one morning. But they can also be used to transport firewood the next morning.
And that’s about it on flatbed vs. pickup beds.
However, there’s still a very important comparison on the bed material that must be made. While a few options are available here, we’ll be focusing on Steel Truck Beds and Aluminum Truck Beds
Truck Bed Liner: Steel vs. Aluminum Truck Beds – The Facts
Truck bed liners are materials that protect the inside of a truck bed from damage. Also, they help to keep the freight in place by providing some skid resistance.
Regardless of the truck type, whether pickup or flatbed, bed liners are invaluable. To choose a suitable material, you need to make quite a few considerations such as;
✔ How impervious to fluid it is
✔ The cushioning or gripping abilities
✔ How it reacts to harsh whether
✔ Whether or not it will damage certain cargo
✔ The price.
There’s quite a lot of options here, but steel and aluminum take the crown. So, let’s quickly review them and their differences. Hopefully, this helps you make an informed decision on which to go for.
Steel Truck Beds
Rugged, durable, and versatile are some of the words you could use to describe these truck beds. They come in various lengths and have a ton of features you could choose from.
These design features or hardware are versatile to boot. It could be an all-steel frame construction. It could also have steel channel frame rails, a steel tubing headache rack, a steel tread plate deck, and lots more.
Aluminum Truck Beds
These are also durable and versatile. They’re especially suited for transporting heavy materials and those with sharp edges. They can withstand the wear and tear of frequent usage. They typically feature an aluminum tube headache rack and an extruded aluminum floor deck.
They are also versatile. There are aluminum rollback beds and aluminum welding that work great for the purposes they’re meant for.
Steel beds and Aluminum beds are often pitted against each other in the “battle of truck beds”. And it’s often a close call. There are high chances that you would find similar beds made in either material which begs the question – “Which is a better material for truck beds?”
Steel or Aluminum – Which is Better for Truck Beds?
Steel has a pretty huge rust problem. Just a few years of use and they begin to rust, with the potential to disintegrate over time. Galvanizing or galvannealing can help out here. Unfortunately, it only prevents rust till the protective layer peels off.
Aluminum on the other hand resists rust and corrosion.
Steel is said to be one of the toughest metal alloys out there. Much tougher than aluminum, that’s for sure. That said, steel beds could probably withstand a heavier payload than aluminum beds. However, it’s not as simple as that.
Aluminum used in most truck beds is an alloy which makes it almost as strong as steel. Besides, this strength of steel means more force is required to bend it.
Aluminum on the other hand flexes 3 times as much as steel. Therefore, it can return to its original shape after being stressed, unlike steel that remains bent.
Steel used to be much easier to repair than aluminum. Times have changed. A lot more auto repair experts are getting into aluminum repair. Also, the cost of repairs isn’t as high as it was a few years ago.
Aluminum truck beds are generally more expensive than steel truck beds. However, if you’re to consider factors such as the cost of galvanizing steel beds and the fact that they carry less load, you’ll see that this price difference isn’t too much of an issue.
A lot of the properties of a steel bed depend on the steel fabricator. Their cut, positioning, alignment, coating, and lots more matter in the steel bed’s overall performance.
Click here for more information on this from a Steel Fabricator in Brooklyn New York.
So, which option should you choose?
The comparison between the two materials did go in favor of aluminum truck beds. However, it’s left for you to choose one. Either way, they will both look great on your truck, pickup, or flatbed.
Go through the guide and make an informed decision.