Warehouse Storage 101: Your Guide to Pallet Rack Shelving

Pallet rack shelving is one of the most important additions you can make to warehouses and distribution centers. The primary difference between a pallet racking system and a standard shelving system is that pallet racks are designed to be used with palletized inventory and accessed by forklifts and pallet jacks. You can use pallet racks to store various goods, varying in weight and size, depending on the particular design and configuration.

When deciding on the types of pallet rack systems that you want to buy for your facility, you’ll need to balance several interests, including storage capacity, weight capacity, cost, environmental protection, and ease of assembly.

Why Use Pallet Racking?

Take Control of Your Warehouse Space

As a warehouse manager, you know that space is at a premium. Pallet rack shelving is a vertical storage solution designed to help you optimize your use of space. From used pallet racking to custom solutions, it’s important to find the perfect configuration to suit the unique needs of your warehouse or business.

Easier Order Fulfillment

Pallet racking organizes your warehouse space and inventory efficiently to make picking and order fulfillment fast and easy. Coding and labeling rows and columns with related SKUs allocated to a specific level of the racking system allows for easy product recognition and can even be adapted to suit automated storage and retrieval systems.

Easy Expansion

The goal of most businesses is growth, but the additional storage needs can put a strain on operations if your inventory isn’t organized properly. Pallet racks come in modular designs that can be expanded vertically and horizontally to accommodate your new goods.

Pallet Racking Systems and Components

There are various pallet racking systems to choose from, depending on the kind of inventory you intend to store, how you intend for the inventory to be retrieved, and the layout of your warehouse, among other factors. Selective pallet racks are the most common, but there are other designs that you can consider for your warehouse.

Cantilever Pallet Racking

Cantilever pallet racking is specific for use with horizontal inventory items that are awkwardly shaped and heavy, such as piping or tubing, bar stock, rods, and lumber. These systems do not use decking but rely on angled horizontal arms to secure goods that allow easy access for material handling equipment.

Teardrop Pallet Racking

Teardrop pallet racking is a shelving system that is easy to assemble, disassemble, and adjust. The uprights use a teardrop design for the slots. The shelves contain rivets that fit snugly into these teardrop holes, locking into place. As upward movement is necessary to unlock the shelf from the upright, there is little risk of detaching the shelving system.

Pallet Rack Upright Frames

The upright frames, also simply called uprights, are vertical columns designed to support horizontal load beams. The upright frames are located at the end of each pallet row. The upright frames also determine the height of the system. The height and width will also affect the weight capacity in conjunction with the load beams.

Pallet Rack Beams

The pallet rack beams are the horizontal steel rails that connect the upright frames together, supporting palletized inventory. The beams also determine the width of the pallet racking system and, in conjunction with the upright frames, the weight capacity.

Pallet Racks Safety Panels & Nets

Rigid safety panels and pliable nets add another layer of safety protection to a pallet rack, ensuring that inventory won’t fall out. This not only protects your merchandise from damage, but it also protects your workers from falling debris, reducing the risk of serious injury and the incidence of workplace accidents.

Decking for Pallet Racks

The decking acts as a safety layer, ensuring that incorrectly placed pallets don’t fall between the load beams, preventing injury and damage to inventory. However, there are a variety of different types of decking that you can install. In addition to protecting your pallets, decking also allows you to store a more diverse range of goods, including boxes that are not wide enough to lie on load beams.

Plywood can serve as decking. This can be a cost-effective option if you already have access to wooden planks or can cut them to length. However, wood is also flammable and may not provide the necessary strength to support the inventory that you intend to store.

In addition, wood can crack, deteriorate from exposure to moisture, and is susceptible to insect damage. If you only need temporary decking or decking for lightweight items, wood can fulfill this role. For long-term and heavy-duty use, consider an alternative option.

Wire decking lays over the pallet rack’s support beams, providing a metal mesh layer for added safety. A wire mesh deck can prevent inventory from falling through to the ground and, unlike wooden or timber decking, is not susceptible to fire hazards. As the wire decking is a mesh, it promotes air circulation and allows sprinkler systems to access every part of the rack. As a result, wire decking is also more likely to meet fire-code compliance standards.

Galvanized Rust-Proof Pallet Racking

High-carbon and alloy-steel pallet racking systems can rust in humid environments. This calls for rust-protective coatings or platings. One of the most cost-effective options is galvanizing, a type of zinc coating. The steel part is submerged in a bath of molten zinc, which then cools and hardens. Galvanizing is one of several protective coatings or platings available to ensure that your pallet racking system remains functional for years.

Pallet Racking Accessories

Warehouse pallet racking also has accessories that you can buy for various purposes to enhance the unit’s functionality. These include the following:

Column Protectors

Column protectors are shields that protect the uprights against impact damage from forklifts and other material-handling equipment. A forklift collision can damage the frame, increasing the risk of system collapse.

Foot Plates

Also called base plates, foot plates are located at the base of each upright and may be part of the upright or a separate component. This part increases the surface area on which the upright rests and has a hole for bolting the plate to the floor, which is necessary for proper anchoring.

Row Spacers

If you have two pallet racks positioned back to back, a row spacer can connect the two, attaching directly to the uprights. Row spacers can set the spacing between them while also increasing the stability and strength of the two systems.

Selecting Your Pallet Rack Frame

When choosing your industrial shelving and pallet rack system, you’ll have to determine the parameters that you need regarding the frame to find the ideal solution for your facility. These include the following points.

Pallet Rack Frame Height

The height of the pallet racking system frame depends on, first, the clear height of your warehouse. The clear height is the distance between the floor and the lowest point of the ceiling, such as light fixtures or sprinkler systems. This determines the maximum height of your racking system.

The second consideration must be the maximum height your forklifts or other material-handling equipment can access pallets.

The frame height also affects the storage capacity of the pallet racking system, including the weight limits.

Pallet Rack Frame Depth

The depth of your pallet racking system will depend on the types of pallets that you need to store. Standard pallets are 48” deep and 40” wide. You’ll also need to account for the appropriate overhang needed. This should not exceed 3” on either side.

Pallet Rack Shelving Solutions

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we specialize in supplying a variety of different storage solutions for the home, warehouse, and factory. One of the most important storage systems for the warehouse is the pallet rack, which allows loading, storage, and retrieval of palletized inventory using material-handling equipment.

Fill out our Contact Us form and tell us your requirements. We are happy to help you find the ideal system to meet your needs, whether that’s ready-made or a custom solution.


Do pallet racks have to be anchored?

Anchoring is the process of securing the pallet rack to the floor, ensuring it remains rigid and stable, reducing flexion. Anchoring requires the use of bolts and foot plates.

How do you determine the capacity of a pallet rack?

The simplest way to calculate the weight capacity of a pallet rack is to consult the manufacturer regarding the complete system and parts. The weight capacity of beams, for example, depends on length, gauge, material, and other factors. The best option is to have the manufacturer or a seismic engineer evaluate the pallet rack, including the assembly procedure.

What is selective pallet racking?

A selective pallet racking system allows an order picker to select and retrieve any pallet located on the rack. There’s no need to move another pallet to access the desired item. Most pallet racking systems in use in warehouses are selective.