Cargos are mostly transported through trailers. These include really heavy cargo, such as heavy industrial equipment, industrial cargo, and even heavy equipment such as tracked excavation and construction machinery. Various materials are used for trailer decking, but wood is among the most popular materials used by trailers for their decking or flooring. There are certain things—such as advantages and disadvantages—you have to know if you want to have wood trailer decking. If you want to know more about wood decking for trailers, you might want to check out https://www.trailerdecking.com and other similar sites.
Here’s a brief article on the pros and cons of wood decking for trailers.
1. Factors Affecting Your Trailer Decking’s Surface
Trailers are used primarily to transport valuable tools and equipment from one location to another. Aside from this, they transport large industrial equipment, heavy machinery, container vans, and other massive cargo. However, sometimes trailers have to transport their cargo over long distances, through uphill climbs and country roads. This subjects their trailer flooring or decking to severe wear and tear.
Below are some of the factors which can impact your trailer decking’s surface:
- Trailer load – The trailer load does a lot of wear and tear to the flooring or decking. This is why it’s essential to choose the most suitable flooring for the types of cargo you will move.
- Nature of load – The impact of the cargo on the decking should be minimized to protect the decking from unnecessary wear and tear. This is important to slow down the trailer’s deterioration and lengthen its lifespan.
- Frequency of the load and unload cycles – The number of times that cargo will be loaded, coupled with the use of forklifts when loading the cargo coupled with the loading frequency will impact your trailer decking’s strength and durability.
- Environmental factors – Prevailing climate, local weather conditions, temperature swings, and humidity changes will significantly impact the decking’s surface. One of most durable types is Ipe Decking.
2. Essential Features Ideal For Trailer Decking
All utility trailers are exposed to nature’s elements, including vast amounts of sunlight, debris, smoke, dust, rain, and snow. This makes it essential to select a wood material for your trailer that can last the rough cargo load and long travels.
Here are some of the essential features of an ideal trailer decking:
Durability is one of the most important features that you should look for in the material you will use for your trailer decking. The trailer deck takes in the brunt of the weight of the cargo load. In fact, it’s typical for trailers to carry and transport cars, heavy industrial machines, and even tracked excavation and heavy construction equipment.
- Moisture resistance
Accidental spills are expected to happen in a trailer now and then, especially if you take in cargo with some liquids or fluids in them. Moisture can cause structural damage to your trailer deck if your flooring doesn’t have moisture resistance. Moreover, it can be trapped inside the decking materials even after removing the cargo from the trailer deck. This can rot inside the decking materials and cause slow but substantial damage.
- Easy to clean and maintain
When choosing the material to use or select for your trailer decking, go for the material that’s easy to clean and maintain. You don’t want your workers to spend too much time cleaning and maintenance work. This would take up time that should have been spent by the trailer on the road transporting cargo and earning revenues for your business. Moreover, keep in mind that you can optimize your trailer’s earning potential if you close the gaps between each loading and unloading trip or cycle.
- Resistance to slips
Another important feature of trailer decking is its resistance to slips. A good trailer decking should be resistant to slips and provide good traction for both the men working the cargo and the cargo itself. This will prevent the cargo from moving while in transit, especially when the trailer travels through rough highways or tumbling country roads. Additionally, it would prevent unnecessary injury by men who might slip because the decking surface or flooring is too slippery or doesn’t have traction.
- Chemical resistance
The trailer decking or flooring should be resistant to chemicals. Various kinds of chemicals, fluids, and compounds are bound to fall or drip to the floor. There are times when some of the cargo loaded to your trailer will spill out or leak chemicals or liquid compounds. These liquids and fluids will have different impacts on your trailer decking. Some of their residues might also have adverse effects on the subsequent cargo, such as when cattle livestock are loaded right after chemicals with fumes were transported.
Pros And Cons Of Wood Decking
Wood decking used to be the most preferred material used for trailer decking. For a time, it was considered a stand-by because of the many advantages that it offers. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages:
Summary Of Advantages
- It doesn’t corrode or rust.
- It doesn’t slip and it provides good traction.
- It’s quite easy to repair them on your own.
- You can easily plant or anchor any components, parts, or items on it by using screws or bolts.
- Wood is heavier than aluminum, but it is so much lighter than steel.
Summary Of Disadvantages
- It has the tendency to leak fluids.
- You need to apply sealants to it regularly to prevent leaking.
- Wood is a bit more susceptible to cracks and warping.
Some trailer deck specialists say that wood trailer decks are the best option. You just need to make sure that you seal them well and tight.
Pros And Cons Of Specific Types Of Wood Decking
There are many different types of wood trailer decking. These different wood types are used for different needs. They also vary widely in terms of prices. Some of the most common options for trailer decking are the rough oak, southern yellow pine (treated and untreated), and Douglas fir.
While all of these choices have advantages and disadvantages, you should be aware of their differences to choose the most suitable wood decking for your trailer.
- Rough Oak
In trailer decking, rough oak is usually chosen for its strong material. In fact, oak is so strong that it can bear the burden of excavators, steel loaders, and other tracked heavy equipment. Rough oak is among the few trailer decking materials that have been specifically recommended for this purpose. The main disadvantage of using rough oak is that it is dense and heavy—the same properties make the oak strong. This adds to the gross weight of the trailer, increases wear and tear, and reduces fuel economy. The cell structure of oak doesn’t make it an excellent material for optimizing the penetration and retention of chemicals. Penetration here refers to the depth by which chemical preservatives can be infused into the wood. Trailer decking manufacturers refer to this as a gauge of the amount of protective and preservative covering absorbed by the oak. Another disadvantage is that rough oak is not as easy to find in North America as other wood decking materials. It has to be cut out with a band saw instead of a planer. This is why the finished decking is called ‘rough oak.’
- Southern Yellow Pine
There are two main reasons why Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) is used for wood trailer decking. It is strong, yet it can also absorb chemical treatment for protective and preservative coatings. SYP has solid fiber materials, but it doesn’t fall under the category of hardwood. The SYP’s cell structure gives it a better capacity to absorb chemical treatment than other wood decking materials. This gives it a higher resistance to decay and rot. SYP won’t attain this resistance unless it receives chemical treatment. Another advantage of SYP is that it’s widely available in North America. It’s also the most affordable wood decking material among the sturdy and strong wood types. The reason for this is that SYP can be grown 35% faster than the rate at which suppliers cut them down. The most common disadvantage of using SYP as wood decking material is that it tends to have certain defects such as warping, knots, and waning. SYP tends to warp and twist if it isn’t correctly dried after the chemical treatment. This is caused by the same cell structure properties that make SYP absorb chemical preservatives so well. Knots refer to weak points on the decking. On the other hand, wane refers to round edges where there should’ve been sharp corners and flat surfaces.
- Douglas fir
Trailers who go for Douglas fir choose it because it has some properties which SYP doesn’t have. For one, it’s relatively easier to find usable boards of Douglas fir. This is because Douglas fir has smaller knots and less occurrence of wane. Warping also occurs less frequently in Douglas fir than in SYP because Douglas fir fiber is far more stable than SYP’s. The main disadvantage of SYP is that it doesn’t absorb chemical treatment optimally. The wood has to undergo incising to prepare it for preservative treatments. This is an expensive process which makes Douglas fir comparatively less affordable than SYP. In addition, Douglas fir grows slower compared to SYP. Similarly, it’s more difficult to find long boards of Douglas fir. These things make using Douglas fir for wood trailer decking more expensive.
Wood decking used to be the most popular material used for trailer decking because of its many advantages. It could carry massive weights such as tracked heavy equipment. Moreover, it was widely available and wasn’t susceptible to rust or corrosion. Given these, there are still disadvantages. It tended to leak because of its generally permeable material. Some types of wood also tended to warp if not dried after chemical treatment.