What Pallet Rack Decking Is Right for My Warehouse?

Pallet Rack Decking | Speedrack West

What Pallet Rack Decking Is Right for My Warehouse?

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 at Speedrack West, 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

Now, let’s take a deeper look at your different decking options.

Wire Mesh Decking (Recommended)

Wire Mesh Decking | Pallet Rack Decking | Speedrack West

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 / 2×6’s

Plywood Decking | Warehouse Decking | Speedrack West

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 | Speedrack West

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.

Bar Grating

Bar Grating Pallet Rack Decking

Bar grating is one of the most heavy-duty options.  If you have a heavy or high-capacity load, bar grating may be your best decking choice. It costs more than the previous options, but it is extremely durable and easy to clean.

It can be manufactured to meet nearly any loading requirement. It handles point loads very well, and can have a very high capacity. Bar grating is one of the most expensive decking options, but it is certainly one of the best for storage applications that require a high capacity or point loads.

Punch Deck

Punch Deck Pro Deck 50

Punch Deck (also called safety grating, corrugated decking, Grate-Lock, or Pro-Deck 50). Punch deck is a metal decking option that provides good capacity and comes in a variety of styles. Like bar grating and wire mesh decks, a punch deck allows water to flow through, making it a preferred choice for fire marshals.

Solid Steel Decking / Perforate Steel Decking

Solid Steel Decking | Perforated Steel Decking

If you need a smooth surface for a workstation, steel decking is a good option. Solid steel decking can be manufactured with multiple supports welded to the bottom to offer a high-capacity smooth storage surface.

This type of decking is similar to solid steel decking, except that it has holes that allow water to flow through. This drainage improves fire safety and adds to the cost of this product.

Carton Flow Decking

Carton Flow Decking | Speedrack West

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 Decking | Speedrack West

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 Pallet Rack 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.

Balancing Purpose, Safety, and Cost When Choosing Pallet Rack Decking

Pallet Rack Decking Comparison | Speedrack West

As you can see, choosing the right decking is all about finding the right balance between purpose, safety, and cost. We recommend that you thoroughly inspect any decking you buy for dents, cracks, scratches, or anything that could compromise its integrity before you install it.

Since pallet rack decking can be a significant investment, we encourage you to purchase the best quality material possible. Unless you’re storing extremely heavy furniture or pallets, we believe wire mesh decking is your best bet. It offers strength, fire safety, durability, and affordability.

However, at Speedrack West, we know each business has its own unique needs. After learning about your operation, we will work with you to find the decking system that is best for you. And our team of experts will be with you every step of the way as you work towards optimizing your warehouse. Please give Speedrack West a call today! We’re ready to get started whenever you are!

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.
  • Taylor Bishop
    Posted at 08:24h, 20 May Reply

    Thanks for helping me learn more about different types of pallet rack decking. I didn’t know that there are metal pallets that have long term durability while also having an increased load capacity. I’m interested to learn if these should only be used for much larger items or if they can still be used for smaller ones.

  • Harrold Black
    Posted at 08:09h, 25 October Reply

    what is the load capacity difference between a wooden deck and a welded wire deck. Our material group is looking to go to 2 X 6 wooded decking on the racks and as the EHS manager I foresee issues.

    • srwadmin
      Posted at 17:07h, 25 October Reply

      The capacity of wood decking is hard to determine, which is one of reasons a lot of people avoid it. There are wood capacity calculators (or this one). However, the capacity of the wood changes depending on the species, which you may not know. I agree with you on the potential issues with wood decking. Fire marshalls don’t like it for the fire safety concerns (wood burns, and wood burning on pallet rack is especially bad). There’s no engineered capacity ratings, and if you load it too heavy, they’ll deflect enough to fall straight through the rack. Wire decks solve those problems, and a lot more, without costing much more than wood.

  • Sam Piethe
    Posted at 00:12h, 02 April Reply

    This article is well written.

  • Liza Bell
    Posted at 18:49h, 13 May Reply

    A good article!

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