Available in both semi-trailer and towable trailer bodies, curtain-side trailers are said to have originated in Europe in part because numerous factories in the region lacked the loading docks necessary for loading traditional box trailers. Unlike box trailers entirely enclosed by four walls or low loaders that are entirely open, curtain-side trailers combine these two trailer approaches. Equipped with a retractable curtain, curtain-side trailers can both protect the cargo from the various elements with the curtain closed and, with the curtain drawn back, allow for unrestricted access to the cargo for easier loading and unloading from one or both sides and the rear.
Beyond accelerating loading and unloading chores, curtain-side trailers can help eliminate the need to load items in a first-on, last-off approach, which enables operators to make numerous deliveries at many locations from one trailer. Curtain siders can also eliminate the need for tarping loads, as is often required with a low loader, while still accommodating oddly shaped cargo and enabling cargo on the trailer to be placed in a weight-concentrated manner for better balance. Curtain-side trailers can prove beneficial when hauling sensitive or valuable cargo such as chemicals, weapons, or vintage automobiles while keeping them guarded from public view. If necessary, some curtain-side trailers can convert to a low loader relatively easily.
Truck Paper lists new and used curtain-side trailers for sale from such manufacturers as Cartwright, Lawrence David, M&G, Montracon, Schmitz, and SDC. Curtain-side trailers in regular (towable) and semi-trailer models are commonly used to haul trees, plants, rocks, and other landscaping materials; produce; lumber, bricks, tools, doors, windows, and other construction materials; paper products; and agriculture products. In addition to various companies making curtain-side conversion kits for sale, some companies can incorporate custom graphics on curtains for marketing and advertising purposes.