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Guide > Pallet Rack Basics

Pallet Rack Basics

At its most basic, pallet racking can be priced out in three easy steps.  There are of course, many more steps involved if you want to understand much of the subtler rack types and configurations, but if you’re only configuring a simple pallet rack system, these three step process will get you up and running.  If you’d like to learn more, please read the Advanced Pallet Rack Guide.

Measuring a PalletStep 1: Size the Product

Start by measuring the width, depth and height of your pallets*.  You’ll also want to keep a little room between pallets to give yourself leeway when loading and unloading the rack.  Keep note of this measurement as the rest of the steps will rely on these figures.  Also important is the weight of the heaviest load you will be storing.  Keep in mind, you must also account for the weight of the pallet.

* Typical pallets are 40 ” Wide x 48″ Deep

Step 2: Select Beam and Upright Sizes

Pallets on a ShelfNow you will determine (based on the previous measurements) how wide your shelves need to be.  For example – if you have a typical pallet, you have 80″ of load on your shelf (based on two pallets per shelf) and with 4″ on each side of each pallet, you’ll need at minimum a 96″ beam.  Once you have the width established, you’ll need to select the correct capacity beams for your load. Each shelf level will require two beams.

Choosing the uprights is as simple as figuring out how many shelf levels you want to have and using your pallet height to determine the needed upright height.  Also keep in mind both load and total shelf capacities when choosing the correct upright.  Upright depths will be strictly based on the depth of your pallets.  You must keep the entire pallet load balanced on the front and rear rack beams.

Step 3: Add It Up

Now you can determine the total number of beams and uprights you’ll need for your planned storage system.  Remember, you can use one upright as a connecter for multiple bays of rack.  Two racks in a row can share a center upright as long as total shelf and upright capacities are within range.

Below you can see profile views of three separate pallet rack layout styles.  At left is a single row of free standing pallet rack.  Center is two rows of pallet rack setup back to back and tied together in the center.  At right is a single row of pallet rack placed against a wall and tied to the wall using wall supports.

Pallet Rack Layouts

Sample Pallet Rack Layouts

Features & Benefits of Pallet Racking

  • Standard color is green uprights & orange beams, but other colors are available by special order
  • Beams and uprights are constructed of prime, U.S. made high-strength steel
  • Beam load ratings based on uniformly distributed load per pair of beams.
  • Uprights have 1 ½” wide bottom horizontal brace placed 8” from the floor to help resist impact damage
  • Precision manufacturing procedures ensure uniformity of appearance


Guide > Drive-in Rack Basics

Drive In Rack Basics

Drive-in Rack System

Drive-in Pallet Rack System

Both drive-in and drive thru systems allow more efficient use of available space than traditional multi-aisle selective rack. In fact, when compared to a conventional selective system, the same amount of storage can be achieved with a high density system in 80% less space. These systems decrease storage and retrieval time while increasing efficiency and productivity among workers. Not only do they benefit your operations, they can also decrease your bottom line — you get more storage room per dollar spent on racking!

The ways these systems achieve such high efficiency are deceptively easy. They (a) create a more uniform load (b) in a confined storage area while (c) forklift operators working in the system become more skillful drivers. In addition to the above benefits, one more thing can be said about this type of system: energy efficiency. Since the product is so densely loaded in this type of system, there is less air around it to be heated or cooled.

Drive-In Rack

Drive-in Rack is the ultimate in high-density storage. No other form provides more storage capacity per square foot of room than drive-in. A viable alternative to expanding one’s facility, drive-in provides a very low cost yet efficient means of high volume storage.

One Way Drive In – Last in First Out (LIFO)
Material is both stored and retrieved from the same side (entry point) in several aisles. For this reason, the first material put in this system is the last to come out. This works well where shelf life is at a minimum or not a major concern. This system also works well in cold storage environments or warehouse freezers.

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Guide > Pallet Rack Advanced

Selective Pallet Rack Guide

While this guide is meant to assist you in choosing your rack, it is still beneficial to consult with one of our professional solutions specialists. They have been working with this material every day for years and are aware of ALL the tips and tricks concerning pallet racks.

Please feel free to call us at 800-598-5532 to discuss your planned layout.

Pallet Racks Overview

Pallet Rack

One Section of Free Standing Pallet Rack

Selective Pallet racking is by far the most common type of warehouse storage rack and is the product typically thought of when the need arises for industrial type storage racking. All selective rack is made from component pieces that are usually priced & purchased seperately.

Pallet Rack Uprights

Uprights (also called Frames, or less commonly, legs) are the support columns that hold up individual shelves in a section of rack. Pallet Rack uprights form the ends of what are commonly known as ‘bays’ of pallet racking. Each pallet rack bay must have at least two uprights, however if multiple bays will be placed in a row they may share uprights (see figure 1).

Pallet Rack Beams

Beams are used to create the actual ‘shelf levels’ that support loads and are held up by pallet rack uprights. Pairs of beams form each individual shelf level (see figure 1). Shelf capacity is determined by the height of the beam, length of the beam and the number of shelves per bay. Most modern beams feature end clips that attach directly to the upright without the use of specialized hardware, however there are many different brands available that feature unique designs (see section below on selective rack brands.)

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Guide > Cantilever Rack Advanced

Advanced Guide to Cantilever Rack

While this guide is meant to assist you in choosing your rack, it is still beneficial to consult with one of our professional solutions specialists. They have been working with this material every day for years and are aware of ALL the tips and tricks concerning cantilever racks. Please feel free to call us at 800-598-5532 to discuss your planned layout.

Cantilever Racking

Cantilever Rack

Cantilever Rack System

Cantilever Rack, also known as furniture or pipe rack is a great solution for storage of long, bulky materials such as lumber and PVC or metal pipes. Furniture rack is a style of cantilever racking that can be decked to provide static storage similar to pallet racking, with the advantage that it provides easier storage and retrieval of bulky or oddly sized material than traditional pallet rack. Cantilever rack is a very efficient means of storing material. The storage density with cantilever rack can be very high if you plan out how you will use it efficiently, but generally cantilever rack’s flexibility makes it a very popular storage solution with near immediate return on investment.

Cantilever Rack Uprights

Like pallet rack, cantilever has specific components that work together to create larger bays and rows of storage. Uprights are the main structural components in any cantilever rack installation. Uprights work with bases (when referring to uprights below, we are speaking about complete upright/base combinations) to create the ‘backbone’ of the rack. Uprights are available in single, or double sided configurations – with the only difference between the two being that with double sided uprights, you can store material on both sides of the rack. Like pallet rack, there are many different makes and brands that do not all work together. You must match the same make arm and base to build a complete unit.

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Now Available for Download…

Get your free warehouse rack guides in a handy “Grab & Go” format.  These highly useful, illustrated Warehouse Rack Guides are now available for immediate download to your computer.  You’ll learn lots of information on…

  • How to properly size warehouse racks
  • Proper usage of racking
  • Types & styles of racking
  • Useful Terminology


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