The legal requirement for trailer flooring in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is not a difficult standard to meet. The standard is provided below, but to oversimplify the statute in the CFR, a trailer floor needs to be well constructed with no holes, tight enough to minimize the ability of gases and fire to permeate it, provide some traction, and kept reasonably clean by the trailer owner. This may sound simple enough, but there are many flooring options on the market and decisions in this area can be more complicated than originally anticipated for trailer manufacturers. Not all trailer flooring and installation techniques serve the same purpose, nor do they last the same amount of time. The customer’s intended use, price point, and durability factors all come into play when deciding which flooring material to use for a specific trailer build.
The direct wording of the flooring statute reads: 49 CFR § 393.84 Floors – The flooring in all motor vehicles shall be substantially constructed, free of unnecessary holes and openings, and shall be maintained so as to minimize the entrance of fumes, exhaust gases, or fire. Floors shall not be permeated with oil or other substances likely to cause injury to persons using the floor as a traction surface.
The following types of flooring options meet the necessary requirements but serve different needs and are offered at different price points. In the open-top and livestock trailer industries, the most common decking options are southern yellow pine (treated and untreated), rough oak and Douglas fir. Each option comes with its pros and cons and knowing the differences is vital for choosing the best product for your trailer.