I need to carry one 20 ft lumber from HomeDepot to my home. I don't have a truck but have a minivan (Odyssey). The minivan does not have a roof rack though. A friend of mine suggested that I could open the window of the front passenger seat and place the lumber diagonally, making it stick out the window. But, I am not sure about the method and haven't found anybody other than my friend who suggested this method. The HomeDepot is very close to my home (about 5 minutes local driving).

If anybody has an experience of carrying long lumbers with a minivan, can you please share the tip?


EDIT: I attached the photo below. The first two beams are connected to the roof structure to support it. They are 18-feet 2x4. The third beam (shown in the bottom right corner of the picture) does not provide any support even though it looks so.

enter image description here

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    A few friends, lots of beer and walk it home.
    – Steven
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 1:43
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    Beams don't usually support roofs. The walls do. Can you share a picture?
    – DA01
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 1:50
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    I am not any sort of structural engineer. However, I believe what you are looking at there are 2x4s acting as rafter ties. What's actually supporting your roof are the walls of your garage. These rafter ties are there to 'pull' the walls together so they don't bow out. The load they are under is via their length laterally. They are being 'pulled' along their horizontal length rather than being pushed down perpendicularly. I don't think adding a long 2X4 will do anything in this situation.
    – DA01
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 3:17
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    There's several odd things about the premise here: 1. placing a vertical load in the center of a beam is the worst possible place to put it. 2. Even if this were true, doubling up the width of a beam is not a very effective way to make it stronger (compared to making it taller). The load on this roof is transmitted through the rafters to the wall. Because the roof is at an angle, it is applying both horizontal and vertical load. Those 2x4s are acting as tendons to absorb the horizontal load. The vertical lumber is just for stabilization, it does not transmit load.
    – Joel Keene
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 4:44
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    Nice, easy, fits in a mini-van solution to this - tie with cables and turnbuckles, or rods and turnbuckles. Per some rough estimates, 1/2' steel cable will carry as much tension load as a 2x4 (step up to 5/8 if you like.) It's also delightfully 19th century in appearance, and many 19th century roofs that use it are still around.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 13:21

5 Answers 5


Do NOT stick a board out your window!

The board will be angled outward, making your overall vehicle significantly wider than usual. Worse, you will not be able to judge how far it sticks out. Misjudge and someone gets killed.

Why not simply put it on your roof and tie it down to the front and back bumpers (or better, the tow points under the bumpers). Any extension past the rear bumper must be highlighted with a red warning flag attached to the rear end.

Also consider renting a truck from the big box store which charges a flat rate for a few hours.

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    It's also illegal in many places precisely because it's so dangerous. Commented May 28, 2015 at 8:52

If you can find one, consider buying from a more old-fashioned lumberyard or building center rather than HD - Delivery is available anywhere from "free" to a nominal charge from most such businesses.

Otherwise rent a long enough trailer, or a long enough truck (ie, U-Haul has trucks that will eat 20 foot lumber with nothing sticking out anywhere.)

The HD rental truck would be convenient, but if it has not got adequate racks (the ones I've seen don't), it will still be a job to get 20 foot lumber tied to it, and it's often no cheaper than the U-Haul.

Playing "stupid lumber tricks" with your car can get VERY expensive.

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    Playing "stupid lumber tricks" with your car can get VERY DEADLY.
    – Skaperen
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 12:31
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    ...and if you are not among the dead, that's VERY expensive.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 13:07

My local Home Depot and Lowes rent trucks for something like $20 for 2 hours. I would look into that. Which is way less than the insurance surcharges from the accident you are likely to cause with the mini-van. As an alternative hang around the parking lot and look for someone with a trailer or a pick-up with a roof rack and ask them if they want to make $10 in five minutes by dropping it off for you.


20 feet is way too long. There's no way. You'd get maybe 8 feet inside the van, and the other 12 feet will be flopping outside. I don't even think I could do it with my E250 cargo van. The longest piece of trim I carried on my roof rack was 16 feet, and it barely fit safely. Your best bet is to cut it in half in the store and mend it when you get home. Or, you can rent a 16 foot trailer or something.

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    Though I would never consider a 2x4 a beam, you certainly don't want to split beams unless you also put a support column under the joint (and/or use some engineered steel plates)
    – DA01
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 1:51
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    I answered before it was know what the purpose of the lumber was. Now knowing, there's no reason why a collar tie has to be one piece. At worst it could be sistered with a 6' 2x4. So, the OP needs two 10-foot 2x4s, and one or two 8 footers along with hardware.
    – Edwin
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 3:12
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    Yes, I agree...as a rafter tie, it's not much an issue vs. it being a load bearing beam.
    – DA01
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 3:18

Lay the board flat on ground. Center mini van,now pull over board , adjust it to have all length in rear. Secure with ratchet straps to bumpers. Just a idea.

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    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. I'd be worried about the suspension getting annoyed at the beam, and the whole shebang bottoming out. Plus, the extra length in the back will sure to be hit by someone. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 2:19
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    Hauling a 20 foot beam under the car will result in disaster. This is downright a dangerous suggestion. Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 6:03

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