What Pallet Rack Decking is Right for You?

With a wide variety of pallet rack decking options available, it can be difficult to find the right option for your storage needs. We are here to help you understand the differences so you can make an informed decision.

Pallet rack decking is the material placed on pallet shelves and rack load beams to support loads of different sizes and weights. Choices range from corrugated metal to perforated metal and from plywood to wire mesh. 

If you run a warehouse or distribution center, you want to maintain a balance of affordability and safety with your pallet rack system. Your racking needs to offer adequate storage capacity without slowing down your staff or creating complex engineering needs.

This article will help you determine what type of pallet rack decking is right for your storage needs.

Do I Need Pallet Rack Decking?

Your first thought may be to wonder if you can get by without any decking for your pallet rack. We all like to cut corners when we can, but we never compromise on safety. That’s why, for safety reasons, we don’t recommend going without decking. 

Although it is possible to set large pallets directly onto pallet rack beams, this method creates safety issues. If the pallets are not placed onto the beams perfectly, they can fall through the racking, damaging the product underneath or, worse yet, hurting the people who may be nearby. And, while the deck surface does not have to be perfectly smooth, it does have to be level and strong enough for interaction with forklifts and other picking equipment.

Pallet rack decking is designed to connect the two beams (or crossbeams), providing a secure, stable surface for storing your materials. In addition to keeping your goods secure, most decking also gives you the ability to store more than just pallets. With decking, your pallet racks can hold bins, boxes, bags, and other containers.

Types of Pallet Rack Decking

Wire Decking (Recommended)

When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, we recommend wire mesh decking as your pallet rack decking material. We believe this decking option offers the best balance of support, load capacity, and affordability. Here’s why:

  • Wire mesh decking sets on the beams, covering the entire length of the rack. 

  • The design also allows you to see what you’re storing easily.

  • Wire mesh allows water to grain through and is not flammable.

  • It has a standard load capacity of 2,000 to 2,500 pounds with higher capacity options available.

Plywood Decking

For the storage of lightweight products, using 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s as wood decking can be a viable and budget-friendly option. However, if you are storing heavy products, we suggest a stronger alternative. Also, flammable wood decking may be of concern to the fire marshal, possibly causing you to fail an inspection.

Pallet Supports

Metal pallet supports (sometimes called cross bars) look similar to 2 x 4s, but they provide more strength and eliminate the fire hazard issue. Although they are more expensive than plywood, they offer long-term durability. You also can place pallet supports underneath wire mesh decking to provide additional strength.

Gravity Flow Decking

Carton Flow decking (also called Gravity Flow or Span-Track) is typically installed with an incline to allow for packages to roll to the front of the bay automatically. As a result, you load it from the back or from the front in a push-back racking style. 

Pallet Flow

Pallet Flow systems allows you to load pallets with a forklift on one end of the rack, with the pallets gently gliding down the incline to the other end of the rack. This option offers a high-density solution for FIFO (first in, first out) pallet storage.

Particleboard Decking

Also called Timber Decking, Particleboard decking is inexpensive and suitable for lightweight storage. However, this material structure is susceptible to rotting and warping when exposed to moisture and is vulnerable to forklift damage. Since it can pose a fire hazard, particleboard decking may not meet your local fire code rules.

Can You Help Me Choose?

In most cases, we do end up recommending wire decking, and here’s why:

  • Wire decks don't burn like wood does

  • It allows you the flexibility to store boxes and other items, in addition to pallets

  • Wire decks have adequate capacity for most applications

  • You can easily add pallet supports underneath the wire decking to increase the capacity if needed.

  • They are relatively inexpensive.

Information from Speedrack West

What Pallet Rack Decking is Right for You?1