Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Cantilever Racking

Industrial cantilever racks

Cantilever racking is specialized warehouse equipment providing a space-efficient storage solution for a wide variety of long, bulky items like PVC pipes, steel sheets, sofas, end tables, and lumber. Its high weight capacity and even weight distribution mean that cantilever storage is designed for medium to heavy-duty applications, ideal for awkward materials.

Industrial cantilever racks are frequently found in plumbing supply warehouses, furniture distribution centers, and cold storage facilities. They are also excellent storage options for outdoor applications like lumber yards, shipping yards, or overflow areas that need to store heavier materials.

Advantages of Cantilever Racks

Cantilever racks are a practical solution to your warehouse setup and can increase your storage capacity. While they are primarily designed to accommodate a wide range of large, bulky, long, and awkward materials, they provide additional benefits, helping your warehouse run more efficiently.

Accommodates high capacity requirements

One of the most important benefits of cantilever racking is its wide-ranging load capacities. Choices are limited if you need a storage solution for non-palletized heavy items like aluminum sheets. While floor stacking is a relatively low-cost option, it is not space-efficient, can pose safety hazards, and reduces the overall storage capacity of your facility.

Cantilever racking allows you to improve your warehouse layout by efficiently storing awkward loads and freeing up floor space. Cantilever racks organize bulky items more effectively than other systems, enabling seamless product retrieval and warehouse operations.

Since they are configured without shelving, the arms are easily adjustable using a simple hair pin system. A unique design feature of cantilever racking is that they don’t have a front support column, allowing forklifts, dollies, and other mechanical picking equipment to access items via the horizontal space between the rack arms.

This flexibility and additional space allow you to store different types of products efficiently because you don’t have to depend only on pallet racks. A galvanized cantilever rack is an excellent option for outdoor applications for raw materials like a commercial lumber storage rack or a pipe rack.

The gold standard for storing heavy loads

Cantilever rack shelving is ideal for storing heavyweight inventory, like raw materials and building products. Building materials, such as cement, aluminum sheets, and steel bar stock, require an extra heavy-duty storage solution.

Our Series 2000 racks are perfect for heavier loads and construction materials. Built from heavy-gauge steel, the vertical columns and arms can support up to 36,000 lbs. depending on the racking configuration and sustain long-term rough use in industrial settings.

Durability is critical if you frequently use material handling equipment and forklifts to access your inventory.

Increases vertical storage capacity

A cantilever rack storage system allows you to use vertical space in your warehouse, offering multiple storage levels. This creates more floor space, but it also helps improve efficiency through correct spacing.

You can place infrequently used SKUs higher on the storage units, optimizing the space. Since cantilever racking is highly accessible, you can retrieve these goods easily with material handling equipment such as a forklift.

Our red steel galvanized cantilever racks are an excellent vertical solution for a range of bulky loads—the 20’ steel vertical columns support over 14,000 lbs. per side base length. Arm weight capacities support up to 3,480 lbs. This type of rack is also available in a high-quality powder-coated finish for corrosion resistance so that it can be used outside or in cold storage.

Adjustable and customizable

Cantilever racks are available in an array of custom designs with adjustable shelf levels, different beam lengths, and a range of materials to accommodate your warehouse space. Hair pin keepers allow warehouse operators to quickly adjust arm heights if new or different sized inventory is being stocked.

The system can be configured to increase product visibility or improve the loading and retrieval process. Storing heavy-duty or bulky goods can be a safety hazard. Through adjustable rugged uprights, inclined arms, and open storage, cantilever racking can be accessed safely and easily using forklifts.

Create custom cantilever racking systems with individual rack components from Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. We stock a wide range of cantilever systems, accessories, and add-on units, enabling you to assemble complete cantilever rack systems designed specifically for your warehouse.

Column guards are crucial accessories to protect cantilever uprights from damage due to impacts from forklifts and other material handling equipment. At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. we offer Handle It Warehouse Rack Upright Guards. They’re available in numerous sizes to fit different footplate designs, including a universal guard compatible with seismic footplates.

Disadvantages of Cantilever Racks

Pallet racking must be designed and installed to fulfill the specific storage needs of your facility. While cantilever racks lead the way in heavy-duty storage, their shortcomings make them a poor fit in certain industries.

High cost compared to other storage options

Due to the heavy-gauge steel and high-quality construction, cantilever racks are more expensive than most other racking options. However, the load capacities for standard pallet rack systems don’t come close to heavy-duty pallet racking.

If your facility frequently handles long inventory, heavy materials, and bulky loads, cantilever racks provide the safest and most efficient storage solution.

Before making your cantilever rack purchase, ask us about our used inventory so you can stay within your budget, but still, get the storage system you need.

Inefficient for storing palletized inventory

Although cantilever racking can be outfitted with wire or particleboard decking, it is inefficient when storing traditional pallets. The large, open design was developed for long, bulky loads, meaning it can’t adequately support shorter 48”x40” traditional pallets.

Requires a lot of floor space

Cantilever racks take up a large amount of horizontal space. When deciding between cantilever racks and traditional pallet racks, you must consider your warehouse layout.

Each cantilever rack requires adequate room for forklift access. You also need to ensure enough floor space to manage and handle heavy-duty materials safely. Failing to designate adequate aisle space can increase the risk of forklift collisions, damaging your pallet racking, and elevating the risk of employee injury.

Severe damage may diminish the structural integrity of equipment or lead to cantilever deflection, making your racking more vulnerable to collapse, causing damage to your product, and potentially injuring your employees.

Cantilever Racking System

Key Components of Cantilever Racking Systems

The weight capacity and ability of cantilever racking to securely hold inventory depend on its structural components and configuration. There are several crucial components to consider when designing a light, medium, or heavy-duty cantilever racking system, including:

Cantilever bases

One of the most notable features of a cantilever system is the lack of supporting front upright column. This allows direct access to materials by forklifts when stocking or retrieving inventory. However, this unique design feature means that cantilever racks require heavy-duty bases to secure them, anchoring the system to the warehouse floor.

However, one of the biggest benefits of cantilever-style racks is that you can also store inventory on the base. This gives you an additional storage level that standard pallet racking doesn’t offer, increasing your total storage capacity per rack position.

Vertical uprights

Cantilever uprights, also called columns, are typically made from heavy-gauge steel bars. The vertical uprights extend from the base, providing excellent stability for the load-bearing arms. Cantilever arms often attach to the uprights at an inclined angle, ensuring the heavy-duty items can be stored safely.

Our rugged cantilever rack uprights are durable and versatile, enabling them to store a variety of awkward loads, from heavy bar stock to tubing. Arms can be adjusted at 3” increments along the entire cantilever upright height.

Add a horizontal brace or upright columns to accommodate longer items. The unit’s base can be used for additional items, making this type of upright a beneficial multilevel storage component.


Cantilever arms are the structures that support inventory. Items like timber, piping, and steel sheets can be positioned across the arms without extra horizontal supports. However, wire decking is frequently used to create cantilever rack shelving for small but heavy items, such as machinery or automotive parts, or to make furniture storage racks.

We stock both heavy and medium-duty cantilever arms. Our Series 1000 arms are suitable for medium-duty storage, with a maximum weight capacity of 1,000 lbs. per arm. They are available with straight arms, inclined arms, and with or without lips.

Consider our Series 2000 medium to heavy-duty cantilever rack arms if you require higher cantilever arm capacities. These cantilever storage arms support between 600 and 2,400 lbs. in straight and inclined configurations. The arm level is adjustable in 3” increments.


Rack braces provide additional support, stabilizing the structural cantilever columns horizontal and diagonally. There are several types of braces suited to various rack configurations. You often find a brace between uprights for maximum support.

We supply rugged cantilever brace sets, helping to improve the lateral stability of your system. They come with a hair pin keeper for instantly adjustable arm lengths. These brace sets are designed for heavy-duty and extra heavy-duty cantilever rack uprights.

Single-sided vs. Double-sided Cantilever Rack Systems

The most common configurations of cantilever racks are single and double-sided. Choosing between a single-sided or double-sided cantilever rack is dependent on warehouse space and aisle availability. Single-sided racks are accessible from one side and are usually assembled against a wall. Double-sided racks provide direct pick access from two aisles, back to back.

Cantilever racking is available in a variety of materials, including steel or roll formed. A structural cantilever rack is manufactured by hot-rolling raw iron. This manufacturing process develops high-quality, heavy-duty structural steel cantilever racking.

A roll form cantilever rack uses a different manufacturing process, using cold-rolling steel. While this creates lighter gauge steel equipment, a roll form cantilever rack is typically cheaper than a structural cantilever rack.

Upgrade Your Storage Facility With Cantilever Racking

Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of premium quality new and used warehouse equipment. We stock a broad range of cantilever racking and accessories, allowing you to improve your existing racks or assemble an entirely new system.

Our turnkey services also include warehouse consultations, ensuring we can help you find the right equipment for your facility’s needs. Depending on the types of products you stock and your available storage space, specific configurations may offer better space utilization or efficiency.

We also provide comprehensive storage design services and installation of cantilever racks. Whether you need our assistance in optimizing your existing space or require a complete warehouse overhaul, our design team can help you reach your storage goals. We use state-of-the-art computer-aided design (CAD) technology to develop unique design solutions for your facility.

To view our complete inventory list, browse our online catalog today. For more information on our additional services or to request a quote for the design and installation of cantilever racks, call us at (800) 589-7225.