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Dump Trailer or Dumpster: What’s Better for Your Business?

The Ins and Outs of the Dumpster vs. Dump Trailer Debate

It’s a thought any business owner has had to answer: What changes can I make to improve my bottom line?

In the construction and roofing industries, waste removal often has a significant impact on the bottom line. While there are plenty of disposal options out there, dumpsters and dump trailers tend to be the popular choices. But which is better? Well, it depends on the project and how in-demand your business is. Let’s dig deeper.

What Is a Dump Trailer?

Dump trailers are containers with wheels and high sides used to haul waste to a dump. Because of their mobility, trailers are also known as rubber wheeled dumpsters. But they are not the same as a roll off dumpster, mostly due to differences in their mobility and how much waste they can carry.

Different dump trailer types sitting in a gravel lot.

Types of Dump Trailers

From frames to gates and everything between, there are plenty of variations. The three most common frame types for dump trailers are: channel, I-beam and tubular. Each has pros and cons, but ultimately it comes down to cost and strength.

  • Channel frame: Typically, the least expensive and weakest frame type, but often seen in smaller dump trailers. Channel frames feature a rectangular shape with a side missing. This allows the supports to slide inside the frame to be connected by bolts.
  • I-beam frame: Usually considered a “middle-ground” frame, featured on longer trailers. It’s a mid-expense, mid-strength type of frame. These frames feature two, sometimes three, I-beams that run lengthwise near the wheels of the trailers.
  • Tubular frame: Considered the strongest, yet most expensive, frame style. Tubular frames are virtually the same as channel in terms of appearance, except they entirely closed. Often used in small to medium length dump trailers.

Other Dump Trailer Features to Consider

Features
Most-common types
Lifting Mechanism Telescopic hydraulic, dual-piston or scissor lift.
Dumping Style Side, rear or bottom.
Size Range from 8-20 feet in length; 12-14 foot is most common.
Wheel Placement Either built into the trailer frame or set below.
Axles One, two or three.
Gates (optional) Single door, barn door, truck bed, spreader, mesh, built-in ramps.

Blue Dumpsters.com container being driven down the road on the back of a truck.

Dumpster Options Available

Renting a dumpster is more straightforward than a dump trailer. There are just a few factors you need to consider:

  • Size: Most companies offer 10 to 40 cubic yard dumpsters.
  • Weight: Each dumpster comes with a generous weight limit.
  • Special Use: While most dumpsters handle junk removal and construction debris, there are some specially made to handle certain materials, such as roofing materials, yard waste and dirt.

Dumpster Rental vs. Dump Trailer

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of dumpsters and dump trailers, it’s time to see how they stack up. Let’s compare the two options on three fronts: price, convenience and hauling capacity.

1. Price Comparison

The average price to rent a dump trailer ranges from $60-$150 per day, while the average cost to buy a dump trailer can range from $3,000-$15,000 depending on the size and type.

A typical dumpster rental will be for 10 days. One of the most commonly rented containers is a 20 yard bin. The national average price on a 20 yard roll off dumpster is $425.

To rent a dump trailer for is the same length of time, you’d pay $600-$1,500.

Extra Costs of Dumpsters and Dump Trailers

Dumpsters
Dump Trailers
  • Extension of rental period.
  • Weight overage fees.
  • Trip fees for failed delivery or pickup.
  • Gas and maintenance.
  • Landfill rates.
  • Purchase of hauling vehicle with proper towing capacity.
  • Wear and tear on hauling vehicle.
  • Training or hiring of employee with a CDL license.
  • Trailer hitch installation.
  • Extra insurance.
  • Registration fees.

Dumpsters.com square logo“After you factor in time spent driving, gas, retail rates at the landfill and labor costs practically doubling because they have to load and then unload the truck or trailer, most times a dumpster is a more economical option.”

Rick White | Account Manager, Dumpsters.com
 

2. The Convenience Factor

A tool is only as effective as the effort you’re willing to put in to make it work. The same applies for dumpsters and dump trailers.

Each option comes with its advantages and disadvantages from time saved to mobility.

The Pros and Cons Breakdown

 
Pros
Cons
Dumpsters
  • No trips to the dump.
  • Don’t have to empty the waste.
  • Ground level placement makes it easy to load.
  • Don’t have to worry about wear-and-tear or repairs.
  • Hard to move once placed.
  • Steel wheels can be rough on property.
  • Rentals dependent on size availability.
  • One roll off can’t be used at multiple sites.
Dump Trailers
  • Rubber wheels are better on property.
  • Can easily be moved anywhere on a job site.
  • Always available when you need it.
  • Smaller jobs at different sites can be handled in one trip to the dump.
  • Different size trailers may require a different class CDL license, which can cost $3,000-$7,000 depending on what type you need.
  • Trips to the dump and unloading of debris at the landfill means less time working.
  • Depending on the waste type, a stop at the landfill may be coupled with a drop off at a Material Recovery Facility.
  • Have to be to the landfill during business hours.
  • Liable for any items that fall out during transport.
  • Requires ramps to load bigger or heavier items.

Generally speaking, a dumpster is the more convenient option. There is less that you have to take care of with a roll off rental, while you’re responsible for everything with a rubber wheeled trailer. However, when you own a trailer you have complete control over placement and timing, which isn’t the case with a roll off.

White noted that for smaller projects at a residential address, a dump trailer will more often be a better option. However, he added that the ease of use with a dumpster can’t be ignored, even for smaller projects.

In the end, it comes down to your particular needs. If you want an easy answer, a container rental is probably the route to go. If you don’t mind a bit more work, a trailer is a fine option.

3. Hauling Comparison

The best way to determine the hauling capacity is by the weight limit. Still, keep in mind that even if a dump trailer can haul as much as a container based on weight limits, the lower side walls of a dump trailer may limit the amount of debris you can toss.

The chart below gives a few common household projects and the number of dumpsters or dump trailers needed to get rid of the debris.

Project
Dumpsters
Dump Trailers*

Completing a roof tear-off
(Up to 6,000 pounds)

One 20 yard dumpster One or more dump trailer

Cleaning out a home
(Up to 8,500 pounds)

One 30 yard dumpster Two dump trailers
Tearing down a garage
(Up to 12,000 pounds)
One 40 yard dumpster Two or more dump trailers

* Exact weight limit for dump trailers change based on the payload. Figures used for the chart assume an estimated payload of 7,390 pounds (the average for a 7x12 tandem axle dump trailer).

Dumpster Rental vs. Dump Trailer: It Depends on the Debris

Every project is different and some may call for a dump trailer, while others will require a roll off dumpster. Whichever option you chose, the key is making sure that your decision is in the best interest of your business. If you’re unsure which is right for you, give us a call. Our team will guide you to the most effective waste solution.

Is a roll off dumpster what you need? Browse our available sizes and find how to rent a container in your area.