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Posted by Stephanie on June 17, 2024

To keep costs down and maintain efficient operations in your warehouse or distribution center, smooth material handling is essential. When goods are stored in your facility, it’s best to place them on wood, plastic, or metal pallets. You can more effectively meet your warehousing and logistics needs with the right pallets.

These items can help you make better use of vertical storage via stacking. You should also be able to improve your warehouse capacity by installing racks horizontally and vertically. Once pallets are installed in your warehouse, keeping track of your inventory shouldn’t be a problem. Pallets are designed to streamline inventory management by providing a unit for tracking and counting items.

Pallets can have numerous applications in a warehouse. They are often used to store bags of materials or bulk food products. In manufacturing facilities, pallets are implemented to help move materials around the factory. The purpose of this article is to provide you with detailed information on the average pallet size and dimensions.

Pallet Racking with Row Spacers and Column Guards

Importance of Pallets in Supply Chain Management

Supply chains work by ensuring that goods are moved to and from various locations. From finished goods to raw materials, all types of items need to smoothly get from the source to the destination without encountering bottlenecks. Pallets are designed to keep supply chains intact.

If used properly, pallets can support numerous applications in warehousing and logistics operations. For example, pallets help move supplies upstream in a supply chain. They can also protect freight from impacts and accommodate high load weight during transportation. When goods are transported from one destination to another, pallets help economize space. If you use forklifts in your warehouse, pallets provide a point of contact that your loading machines can attach to.

When you’re thinking of buying pallets for your warehouse, use standardized ones. Standard pallet sizes allow you to streamline your operations, mitigate packaging waste, optimize your loading and unloading procedures, and boost warehouse space utilization. By making your loading and unloading processes more efficient, standardized pallets should help you reduce costs in your supply chain.

Common Pallet Sizes

To answer the question “How big is a pallet?”, the standard pallet sizes vary based on the country you’re in. In North America, the most common pallet size is 48″ x 40″. Europe uses millimeters for a standard size of 1200mm x 800mm, which equates to 47.2″ x 31.5″.

Other places like Asia and Australia have their own standards as well. For example, Asia has two pallet sizes that are highly common in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. One is a square pallet size of 1100mm x 1100mm. The second is a 1200mm x 1000mm pallet size. As for Australia, the standard pallet size is 1165mm x 1165mm.

Dimensions and Specifications

The standard pallet size in the U.S. is 48″ x 40″. Keep in mind that the deck boards used in this pallet are 1/2-inch thick and 3.5-inch wide. These pallets are commonly implemented for storage, grocery, and general warehousing applications. A single pallet of this size usually weighs around 37 pounds. The maximum load for this pallet size is upwards of 4,592 pounds.

The material also makes a major difference in the weight capacity and specifications. For example, galvanized steel pallets with a standard size of 48″ x 40″ can support anywhere from 2,000-8,000 pounds depending on whether the weight is static or dynamic. The four primary pallet materials are:

  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Composite
  • Wood

Metal pallets have the highest weight capacity and are meant to be used for closed-loop applications. They can be made from steel or aluminum and can be used many times before you need to replace them.

Plastic pallets are ideal for heavy loaders. They are environmentally friendly and can be reused many times. By manufacturing these pallets with durable plastic materials, they should be highly weather-resistant.

Carton Flow Pallet Racking

As for composite pallets, they are made from molded blocks, wood, and other materials. These pallets are designed to be fully recyclable, which should reduce your facility’s landfill disposal fees. The average composite pallet holds up to 5,500 pounds of cargo.

Before buying pallets for your warehouse, consider the type of pallet you need for your facility. The pallet that’s right for you depends on how you intend to move them and how much weight they need to support. There are two types for you to choose from, which include block pallets and stringer pallets.

Stringer pallets consist of wood sections along the sides. They are affordable pallets with reasonable weight capacities. Stringer boards come with cutout notches, which accommodate forklift tines. These pallets can be either two-way or partial four-way entry boards. The two-way entry boards can be loaded from two of the four sides. In comparison, a forklift can load partial four-way pallets from all sides. A pallet jack can only load them from two sides.

If you move a lot of your freight with pallet jacks, conveyors, or forklifts, consider using block pallets. This option is also suitable for heavier loads. Block pallets have more flexibility than stringer ones. Regardless of the type of equipment you’re using, these pallets can be lifted from all sides.

Variations in Pallet Sizes

While most warehouses and distribution centers use standardized pallet sizes, some industries require custom sizes. For example, the bottling industry needs durable glass pallets that support the high weight of filled cans and bottles. The different weights and sizes of glass products mean that the pallets often need to be custom-made. The most common pallet size in this industry is 56″ x 44″.

The automotive industry also uses specialized pallets, which are capable of storing and transporting auto components. In most cases, these pallets are custom-designed to suit the unique sizes and shapes that auto parts have. The most common pallet size in the automotive industry is 48″ x 45″. The primary factors that influence your choice of pallet size include handling equipment, product dimensions, transportation needs, and load weight.

International Standards and Regulations

There are also comprehensive international standards that regulate pallet sizes for international shipping. Increased global trade means that companies can benefit from using the same pallet dimensions, which is why the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created size standards for pallets. They have approved six distinct pallet dimensions, which have been widely adopted over the past decade.

  • North America – 48″ x 40″
  • North America, Europe, and Asia – 1067mm x 1067mm
  • Europe and Asia – 1200mm x 1000mm
  • Europe – 1200mm x 800mm
  • Australia – 1165mm x 1165mm
  • Asia – 1100mm x 1100mm

If you’re using wood pallets, they must comply with ISPM-15 regulations for international shipping. These regulations state that pallets and all other wood packaging materials need to be debarked before being fumigated or heat treated. They must then be branded or stamped to show that they comply with international regulations.

To ensure your pallets reach their intended destinations, they must always comply with regional and global standards. If they fall short, your cargo could face quarantine. They may need to be taken through re-fumigation procedures, which are expensive.

Pallet Racking with Column Guards and Footplates

Pallet Selection Criteria

The main factors you should consider when selecting pallet sizes include the following:

  • Product type and weight
  • Environmental considerations, such as recyclability and reusability
  • Storage and transportation requirements

Before making a purchase, make sure the pallet size pairs well with the types of products you need to store. As mentioned earlier, many industries have standard pallet sizes that can help you make the right decision. While steel and aluminum pallets offer the most durability, plastic pallets also offer high weight limits.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of the pallets you purchase, your best option is to choose composite pallets. These pallets are made from environmentally friendly materials that can be reused and recycled with ease.

Impact of Pallet Size on Warehousing

Pallet size can have a considerable impact on warehousing. It’s possible for pallet sizes to determine the dimensions of doorways, loading docks, and aisles. The layout of your warehouse must be designed with enough space to accommodate the storage and movement of your pallets. If you use non-standard pallet sizes, your storage solutions may need to be customized, which could negatively impact how you utilize the space in your warehouse.

Future Trends in Pallet Design

Pallet materials and construction techniques aren’t static. Innovations are introduced regularly. For example, the adoption of smart pallets with integrated tracking technology has increased in recent years. Plastic pallets can be outfitted with track-and-trace functionality that makes it possible for retailers to monitor the items that are stored on them. This feature is most effective when used with perishable items. Since plastic pallets are impermeable, they don’t absorb moisture from food, which ensures that bacteria contamination and mold growth are mitigated.

Many pallet manufacturers are focusing on sustainability by providing warehouses with Eco-friendly and reusable pallets. While wood pallets are more affordable than the rest, composite and plastic pallets use Eco-friendly materials. The rise of sustainability means that many facilities are opting for pallets that offer more environmental benefits.

Pallet Racking


Pallets are the lifeblood of nearly every warehouse, manufacturing facility, and distribution center. Whether you’re storing items or transporting them to a new destination, it’s highly recommended that you use standard pallet sizes that meet regional and global regulations. To choose the right pallet sizes, assess your pallet needs for improved logistics efficiency.


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With over 32 years of experience in material handling, QMH is committed to providing end-to-end solutions for companies with distribution, logistic and warehousing needs. From permit approval management to full-service execution from the ground up, QMH delivers unique solutions providing distinct value in record time.