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Do’s and Don’ts of Palletizing


What is a pallet? Wood pallet meaning

A pallet is a shipping tool, usually made of wood, used for stacking and packing freight. Palletizing may seem like a simple task of stacking boxes in the right order, yet doing this without the proper skills and knowledge can cause freight damage. Improper palletizing can lead to 50% of boxes’ compression strength loss. We’ve created a useful palletizing guide to help you with shipment consolidation.


How much does a pallet weigh? Standard pallet size & dimensions

The dimensions of the standard wood pallet are 48" x 40". The less common pallet dimensions are 42” x 42” and 48” x 48” respectively. Pallet weight can differ, but on average standard pallets weigh around 30-48 lbs. A standard pallet can hold up to 4,600 lbs freight.

How to Palletize Freight: Do’s & Dont’s

Use a slip sheet

A slip sheet is a plastic sheet, used to protect cargo on the bottom of the pallet. On wooden pallets, spaces between decks can be up to 4 inches, which results in no support under the boxes. To avoid compression strength deprivation, use slip sheets to cover the bottom of the pallet.

Stack your boxes by weight

It’s a simple law of physics. Create a stable base layer by placing the heaviest boxes on the bottom of the pallet. The top layer should be full for steadiness, but if there are not enough boxes to fully stack a pallet, place the last few along the outside edge.

Stack your freight in columns

For greater stability, boxes should be stacked in columns with one box directly over the other. To reduce the danger of damage, stick items as close to each other as possible. Column stacks prove to be the best way to make pallets stable and safe for shipment.

Strap in your freight for extra safety

Use metal strapping or plastic wrap to secure individual pieces over 150 pounds to the pallet. Keep banding and straps close to the load to minimize damage.

Use stretch wrap

Putting boxes into columns can make the load sensitive to shifting. The best solution to this problem is to use a stretch wrap. It can be applied manually or with the help of a wrapping machine.

Label your freight

For correct palletizing, print a visual reminder of proper pallet patterns and place it on the container or provide it to the staff. Also, don’t forget to label all shipment pallets with an address and phone number.

Don’t stack your freight in a pyramid

Pyramid-shaped loads may appear to be stable, but it is a less secure and less steady form of palletizing. The top boxes in a pyramid have a high risk of damage. Don’t build pyramids.

Don’t neglect wide gaps

Some wooden pallets have wide gaps between boards, around 4 inches. When you bridge this gap with a box, you create an overhang situation that reduces a box’s compression resistance potential.

Don’t interlock boxes

Interlocking can reduce strength by 50% and lead to freight damage. Since 2/3 of potential compression strength is in vertical edges and corners, it is important to stack boxes edge-to-edge and corner-to-corner.

Don’t create an overhang

Overhang happens when boxes are hanging over the edge of the pallet. When this happens, two edges of the box that are not hanging get all the work for load support. Overhanging exposes freight to damage and decreases a pallet’s strength. Pallet overhang can reduce top to bottom compression up to 30%.

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