Dump Truck Dimensions and Guidelines

Dump trucks are pretty common, but unless you’ve built a home or worked on your backyard garden before, you probably don’t know how much stuff a dump truck can carry, let alone its physical dimensions.

A standard dump truck can carry between 10 and 16 yards of material in a single trip. It will usually measure 8-1/2 feet wide and 24-1/2 feet long, while the dump body reaches 19 feet high when unloading. Dump trucks come in a variety of sizes and measurements.

So, what are those sizes and measurements? And how big of a dump truck do you need to transport materials to your home? I’ll address these questions and plenty more in the following sections.

What Is a Dump Truck?

What Is a Dump Truck

A dump truck is a vehicle that comes with a humungous open-top trailer on the back, which is known as the dump body. This type of vehicle is used mainly for transporting large quantities of materials. Suppliers either use excavators to fill the dump body up with mulch, soil, stone, etc., or they scoop it into the truck manually with shovels.

When the dump truck has reached its destination, it will back up toward the location where it will unload its haul. The dump body will tilt up from the front, allowing the contents to pour out rapidly. Dump trucks come in all sorts of sizes, from tiny pickup dump trucks that haul 2 yards of material or massive machines that can carry more than 40 yards per trip.

Dimensions of a Dump Truck

The physical dimensions of a dump truck vary from vehicle to vehicle. The larger the dump body is on a dump truck, the more road space it takes up. The typical dump truck will have a dump body that can carry between 10 and 16 yards of material. These dump trucks will measure around 8-1/2 feet in width and 24-1/2 feet in length, and it will stand 19 feet tall at its highest point—i.e., the front of the dump body.

The following chart will give you a brief glimpse at the measurement disparity between different dump truck capacities. Please note that these figures are rough averages, and the dump truck you end up renting may differ.

Dump Truck Capacity* Width Length Dump Height Weight Capacity
5 yards 8 ft. 20 ft. 12 ft. 2 tons
6 yards 8 ft. 20 ft. 12 ft. 2 tons
13 yards 8-1/2 ft. 22 ft. 16 ft. 4.5 tons
22 yards 8-1/2 ft. 23 ft. 19 ft. 7 tons
23 yards 8-1/2 ft. 23 ft. 19 ft. 9.75 tons
25 yards 8-1/2 ft. 24-1/2 ft. 19 ft. 10 tons
40 yards 8-5/6 ft. 29-1/6 ft. 23 ft. 8 tons

*For Mulch

What Is a Yard?

A yard, in construction terms, is simply shorthand for a cubic yard. So, a yard of mulch is the same as 3 × 3 × 3 feet (27 cubic feet), which is about 13.5 times more than you’d get in a single bag of mulch. When renting a dump truck to transport building or gardening materials, the supplier will provide the purchased amount in terms of volume (yard) or weight.

The tables above describe the dimensions and weight capacities of different dump trucks in terms of much. It’s important to note a dump truck can fit more or less of another type of building material—e.g., bricks, stone, topsoil, mixed soil, dirt—in the same amount of space as mulch.

It’s also worth mentioning that dump trucks have a maximum payload capacity. When portioning the material, the supplier will usually set prices based on the dump truck’s volume or weight capacity—whichever is less for a specific material. For instance, large stones, which are considerably denser than mulch and soil, will be weighed rather than have its volume measured when loading a dump truck.

Which Dump Truck Size Do I Need?

Which Dump Truck Size Do I Need

The dump truck you should end up renting will depend on how much material you need. While a dump truck can transport up to 40 yards of mulch, you might only need 10 or 15 yards to cover your backyard garden. In this case, you might have to pay a minimum transport fee on top of the cost of the material.

Luckily, figuring out how much of a material you need in yards isn’t too difficult. To demonstrate, let’s say you want to add 3 inches of mulch on top of a 20 × 100-foot garden.

  • Mulch in Yards = Garden’s Length × Width × Depth
  • Mulch in Yards = 100 feet × 20 feet × 3 inches
  • Mulch in Yards = 100 feet × 20 × 0.25 feet
  • Mulch in Yards = 500 cubic feet = 18.5 yards

Using the table above, it would be best to rent a 22-yard dump truck to transport 18.5 yards of mulch from the supplier to your backyard. If there is a surcharge for transporting less than the dump truck’s total capacity, you could have a 6-yard and 13-yard dump truck deliver the materials to your property.

You should take a look at your local supplier’s truckload capacity and determine whether a single or multiple shipments cost less.

How much Does a Dump Truck Cost?

How much Does a Dump Truck Cost

If you think it would be most cost-efficient to purchase a dump truck and buy the materials separately, you should probably think again.

Dump trucks are massive machines that come with shocking price tags. A brand-new dump truck could cost anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000. Larger models can cost a lot more! A used dump truck costs anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000.

And to make matters even more concerning, a dump truck has an average lifespan of 10 years, even with frequent maintenance. Your freight business would have to do fairly well in order to cover the astronomical capital and operating costs. Think long and hard about whether or not purchasing a dump truck is worth the investment.

So, unless you’re in the business of selling and distributing raw materials, it would probably be wiser to purchase the materials and pay the freight cost.