Whether you are planning to start a pallet business or you are in the shipping business or you are a business owner that needs to learn more about your options, understanding standard pallet sizes is vital.
Pallets have been a part of industry since the second world war and they have changed very little since.
Pallets are typically constructed of wood. They have a block and stringer assembly.
They can be found in the supply chain of every single industry at one point or another. They are simple, standardized and greatly reliable when it comes to moving goods around the globe.
Most people do not give the pallet that much thought until it becomes a part of their business. The lowly pallet is often taken for granted.
Most people are not aware of how important these simple pieces of equipment are to commerce around the world. Pallets are an affordable option for manufacturers and goods around the globe. Industry would come to a stop without having this conveyance.
This guide will teach you everything that you need to know about pallet sizes, standard pallet dimensions and more.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions that are typically the first ones that someone that is new to the idea of pallets asks, they include:
- How much does a pallet weight?
- How big is a pallet?
- How wide is a pallet?
- What is the size of a standard pallet?
- How much weight can a pallet hold?
This guide addresses all these questions and more! Lets get started!
How Much Does a Pallet Weight?
The standard pallet weight is about 25KG. The weight can vary depending on the type of standard pallet.
Typical pallet height is 144mm. When you are asking “how much does a standard pallet weight” the answer that you will hear is for wooden pallet weights. Plastic pallets are typically a lighter weight.
How Big is a Pallet?
This question typically refers to the standard pallet dimensions not just pallet size. The average pallet size or the average dimensions of a EURO pallet are 800mm x 1200mm x 144 mm.
Wooden pallet dimensions are standardized to ensure that every stop on the supply chain can use the same type of equipment to move, store and ship the pallets. GMA pallet dimensions are 48inchesX40inches.
Standard pallet height is important to ensure that transportation is fluid across the board. The “typical pallet size” refers to standard size pallets which are the most common, but that is not the only pallet measurements that are out there.
Many times pallets are customized for various load weights or to ship unusually large goods but in all cases, no matter how wide or how long the pallet becomes the height of the pallet rarely changes unless there is a special request to do so.
How Wide is a Pallet?
Most standard pallets are 800m wide but that is not the only width available in the standard series. You can find pallets that are 1000m and 1200m wide that are considered standard pallet measurements.
Standard pallet size in inches are 48 X 40. Standard pallet sizes in the USA are 48X40. Normal pallet size does not vary much even in different countries.
The width of a pallet is standardized to fit through most door openings! The early pallets were designed to fit through railway car doors with ease because that was the most popular mode of transport.
Today the width has largely stayed the same to make it easier for pallets to fit through other types of doorways.
Standard Pallet Height For Shipping
The standard pallet height for shipping is 144mm in the EU (6.5 inches in the US). Air freight has very specific height requirements for pallets as does other forms of transportation, so typically regardless of the width and length the height does not change.
GMA pallets are always 6.5 inches high, while EPAL’s are 144mm high. Whether the design is different from the standard pallet or it is the same, the height never changes. Height is always a constant.
Thickness of Pallet Wood
Pallet board dimensions are all similar from country to country. The wood that is used to create pallets is called “stringers”, these stringer sizes are also standardized to ensure the safety of the pallet and the load bearing capabilities. For the GMA pallet the standard thickness of wood of the stringers is 5/16 inch thick.
Euro pallets have a thickness between 22 and 24 mm.
Each region has their own requirements for standardizing pallets but they are all very similar to ensure that pallets can travel from country to country quickly and easily.
Pallet board dimensions differ depending on the overall size of the pallet, again the most common sizes are 40X48 in the US and 800mm x 1200mm x 144 mm in Europe.
The GMA (north American pallet) and the EPAL (Euro Pallet) have similar requirements when it comes to specifications and grading of the pallet.
There is no any type of ISO standards in place for international pallets but most countries do have pallets that are somewhat standard when it comes to size.
The difference is in the specifications that the pallets have to meet according to that region’s standards. For instance the EPAL (European pallet) has to meet the requirements under the UIC 435-2 which are railway standards.
While the GMA (north American pallet) got its standards from the Grocery Manufacturers Association dating back to 1906. The ISO accepts both types of standards as pallet specifications.
Other specifications that are often applied to pallets that will be transported internationally are the HT designation. HT stands for heat treated and while it has nothing to do with size, it is one of the most common specifications.
Pallets are heat treated to ensure that disease (wood disease) or infestation from insects are not transported from one country to the next where the problem can become catastrophic.
In some countries the pallet “regulations” or “specifications” are very stringent and businesses that do not comply can be faced with long delays in customs because of failing to meet the requirements.
As a side note it is always a good idea to ask the receiving international party if there are any specific requirements that have to be met.
Types of Pallets
There are quite a few types of pallets but none more popular than the forklift pallet. All pallets are typically moved by either a forklift or a pallet jack but every pallet is made to be moved by both.
Forklift pallets are standard pallets that have openings or slots to slide the “fork” on the forklift into to make transportation of the pallet easier. Depending on the type of pallet, weight, length and width can vary, as can the load bearing capabilities. Types of pallets include:
- Double-Face Pallet has both top and bottom decks
- Double-Wing Pallet is a pallet where both the top and bottom decks extend beyond the stringers
- Flush Pallet is a pallet that has a top deck that is built blush with the stringers and/or blocks
- Four-way Stringer Pallet allows a forklift in on all sides
- Two-way stringer, allows forklift in only one direction
- Non-Reversible Pallet does not have identical top and bottom decks and can only be used on one side
- Reversible Pallet is a pallet with identical top and bottom decks so it can be used on either side
- Single-Wing Pallet is a pallet that has a top deck that extends beyond the stringers
- Skid Pallet is a pallet without a bottom deck
Each of the above are standard sizes but they will differ in weight and capabilities because of their design elements.
Choosing the right pallet for your goods highly depends on what you are shipping, the weight of the load, the customers capabilities and the shipping conveyance.
The most popular of the pallet styles is the four-way stringer pallets and the two-way stringer pallets.
Each pallet brings its own benefits to the warehouse. The above are all considered standard because of their size elements, when you customize a pallet to a different size than no matter what the style, it is no longer a “standard” pallet.
Pallet manufacturers can help you to understand the other options that are available and the difference customization options that are available as well. Having the basics under your belt will make it easier to discuss your options with a supplier.
Pallet Weight Limits
All the weight limits that we will address here will pertain to wooden pallets. Plastic pallets have different weight limits but that is for another article. Pallets, given their simplicity and their relatively light weight are amazingly strong and can hold an amazing amount of weight.
To give you an idea about what a standard pallet can hold consider the following:
- They can hold a compact car and a half
- They can easily hold 3 cows comfortably
- They can hold 4 full size bears
You get the idea here. Pallets can hold an incredible amount of weight and do it with ease. Different pallet sizes hold different amounts of weight. In North America:
- 48X40 pallet can hold up to 4600 lbs
- 36X36 pallet can hold up to 4700 lbs
- 42X42 pallet can hold up to 3700 lbs
- 48X48 pallet can hold up to 3700 lbs
The Euro pallets or EPALs have stricter guidelines for construction which also means that they have stricter guidelines for load bearing weight.
- 1500Kg unstacked and 4000Kg when stacked
In all cases pallets can hold many times their own weight in goods. They are used around the world to move many tons of parts, equipment, goods and more. They are a vital part of any supply chain.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Pallets?
Pallets not only come in different sizes they also come in different materials and they are graded based on the quality of the wood, the thickness of the wood and whether or not they have been heat treated.
For example Grade A Pallets are the top of the line ligt. They are constructed from hard woods and a great deal of time and care is taken in their manufacturing.
There are estimates that there are over 4 billion pallets in circulation at any given time in the world. The US accounts for about 1.8 Billion while the EU accounts for about 3 billion pallets.
They are in such high demand that production sometimes has a hard time keeping up with the demand.
What makes pallets so popular among manufacturers and supply chains? Pallets deliver the reliability that industry needs to get parts, equipment and goods from one point to the next. They are fully recyclable which is an added benefit.
Pallets can be refurbished and put back into the supply chain which is an added value for businesses and industry alike. They are a proven effective transportation aids and have really taken on a life of their own.
The term GMA is interchangeable with the term “standard” and “average” the GMA stands for Grocery Managers Association and denotes the American standardized pallets, although they are not used just for grocery stores anymore.
At one time grocery stores were the only place that used pallets but that was long before WWII when the pallet took on a new life in the supply chain.
Pallets have found their way into homes, gardens and the art scene. People are repurposing pallets today to make furniture, create garden beds and so much more. The lowly wooden pallet is finally getting the respect that it deserves!
Now you are armed with the information you need to make informed decisions about which pallets are best for you!