How to Estimate the Weight of a Dumpster Load to Avoid Overage Fees

estimate weight of roll-off dumpster load

It’s not easy to maintain a working weight or final weight of a dumpster load, but it is quite important to have a good estimate.

It’s key to avoiding potential expensive overage charges.

What is an overage charge?

It is a fee (in addition to the base dumpster rental fee) that is added to the final bill if the weight of the dumpster load exceeds the weight allowance of that particular dumpster size.

RELATED: Dumpster Rental & Junk Removal Glossary and Terms

Weight allowances vary by dumpster rental company, and generally more weight is allowed in larger dumpsters (30 or 40 yarders) compared to smaller dumpsters (20 yards and less). Overage fees also vary by company but typically range from $50 per ton up to $100+ per ton.

Here’s a quick hypothetical example:

You’re quoted $400 to rent a 20 yard dumpster with an included 4,000 lb (2-ton) weight allowance.

The dumpster rental company states there is a $50/ton charge for going over the 2-ton weight limit.

After filling the dumpster and having it hauled away, the dumpster rental company weighs the load at the landfill and finds it is 1,000 lbs over the weight allowance.

You will be charged $50 additional on your bill, so you now owe $450.

Note that the overage doesn’t have to be a full 2,000 lbs (1 ton) over the weight allowance in order to be charged the full amount - $50 in this example.

Most dumpster rental companies charge overage fees this way, though it’s worth asking beforehand if they use a prorated overage fee structure.

Common weight allowances by dumpster size

*As previously mentioned, weight allowances very by dumpster rental provider. Contact them directly to get the most accurate and up-to-date info.

RELATED: Dumpster Sizes Chart – How Much Each Holds

How much does waste, junk, and debris weigh?

The weight of dumpster loads can vary greatly.

For instance, a 10 yard dumpster filled to the top with yard debris will weigh far less than a 10 yard dumpster filled with stone or masonry debris.

cubic yard size

It may be helpful to keep in mind that one cubic yard measures 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft. in size.

Those are roughly the same dimensions as a standard residential kitchen stove.

A small sofa or loveseat is about 2 cubic yards.

The weights in the chart below are per cubic yard.





Lbs./Cubic yard



Burned debris/ash

800 - 1,000
1,500 - 1,800

Wet for dust suppression
Wet mixed with soil




Wood, un-compacted


Increase up to 100% if compacted

Metals, un-compacted


Ex. appliances, metal siding

Earth / Dirt



Gravel or crushed stone


Increase 20% if wet

Standard red clay bricks



Asphalt shingles
Slate shingles


1,000 sq. ft. (10 squares, 30 bundles)

General household junk

300 - 350
400 - 800


Yard waste


Glass clippings
Unfinished compost
Finished compost



1/2-inch thick drywall
5/8-inch thick drywall

Two key points to stress:

  1. Volume does not necessarily dictate the weight of a load. For example, a 10 yard dumpster filled to the top with household furniture will likely weigh less than a 10 yard dumpster filled just one-fifth full of concrete debris.
  2. Wet debris weighs significantly more than dry wastes. So it’s advisable to tarp the dumpster during rainstorms to avoid saturating the load.

Calculating the weight of the load

This can be a tedious task, particularly if multiple types of waste are disposed of in the dumpster.

However, keeping a running estimate of what enters the dumpster is a useful strategy to keep the load under the weight allowance.

Tried and true pen and paper work just fine.

Simple calculation:

(Weight of 1 yard of a particular waste) x (Number of yards of it) = Total weight

*Calculate for each type of waste and then add each together to get the total load weight.

Knowing what and approximately how much debris is put in the dumpster—along with using the chart above—can help you determine a weight estimate of the load.

And keep in mind that an exact pound-for-pound load weight isn’t necessary.

Making sure the load stays below the maximum weight limit of the dumpster is the goal.

Use the dumpster rental company’s expertise to your advantage

Experienced dumpster rental providers are the best source for getting a rough estimate about how much a load will weigh based upon the type of debris and approximate size of the project.

They also understand local landfill fees, and of course, the cost of overage charges.

They are the experts; use their expertise to get a better understanding about how high to fill your dumpster to ensure it doesn’t go overweight.

Hopefully these tips help in preparing for your next construction, demolition, renovation, or cleanout project.

To learn more, click the links below.

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