Pallet Rack

All of our most commonly asked pallet rack questions in one convenient location

This page covers just about everything you need to know about pallet racks and how to utilize them for optimal storage in your warehouse.

If you’re looking to buy pallet racks or research our pallet racking products, hop on over to our shop.


Do I need permits for my warehouse racking?

Yes. Any racking 5′ 9″ or taller requires permits.


What do I need in order to get permits for my pallet racking?
  1. CAD Drawings of the racking, building, and site plan.
  2. Seismic calculations performed by an engineer showing the rated seismic load for each level.
  3. If over 12′ top of product, a high-piled storage evaluation form.
  4. Proper installation of racking including anchors.
  5. Special inspection of the anchors by an independent inspector.
  6. Final inspection of the racking by the city.
Is the height requirement set by the County? City? State? Does every county have a different Height?

Most counties stick with the 5’ 9” standard. However, we haven’t heard of any counties with a different standard.


Can you install warehouse racking without a permit?

Can you? Yes. But, should you? No.


Here’s what could happen if you don’t:

  1. In most jurisdictions, the fire marshal will come around and do inspections of your property (usually every 1-3 years). So, when they see your pallet rack, they will ask to see the permit for it. In other words, if you don’t have one, then the fire marshal reports it.
  2. Depending on the fire marshal, and the situation, he could say “you need to get it permitted” or “take it down immediately”. That is to say, it just depends on the severity of the situation and how your fire marshal is feeling that day. As a result, more severe situations are likely to elicit a stronger response. For example, tall racking holding highly flammable material with no sprinkler system is a serious fire danger.
  3. In a low-severity situation, he’ll probably just report it to the city or county and tell you to get it permitted within a few months.
  4. In a high-severity situation, he’ll tell you to unload and tear down the racks immediately. Moreover, he could shut down your whole operation until the situation is rectified. As a result, you’ll also be at risk of fines for failing to get the permits.


We commonly get phone calls “the fire marshal came through, they said we need to get permits.” Therefore, we suggest you avoid that situation by permitting your racking during installation.

If you need any help with your permits, take a look at our warehouse shelving and rack permits services.

Seismic Calculations and Pallet Racking

The map shows seismic activity across the United States. The more seismic activity there is in your state, the higher likelihood that you’ll be required to obtain seismic calculations. Consquently, if you’re in Oregon, Washington, or California, you definitely need seismic calculations. Morever, States in the mid-west with little seismic activity sometimes do not have requirements for seismic calculations.


The seismic calculations determine what type and how many anchors you need (as well as what kind of footplates you need).


If the top of the product is at 12ft or higher, then it is classified as High pile storage.

    • The fire marshal will look at the commodity class of what you’re storing, which tells him how flammable it is.
    • Depending on the commodity class, the fire marshal will determine if you need sprinklers over the racking/product. If the fire marshal determines.
    • We’ve had people call us and tell us they purchased a building. Further, They also purchased pallet rack and installed it themselves without permits. As a result, when the fire marshal came through, he determined that their sprinkler system was inadequate. Moreover, he also determined that the pallet racking that they had purchased was too tall for the building, and required that it be removed. The customer had purchased the building for this specific purpose, and the inability to put that pallet racking into business hurt it over time.


What are seismic calculations?

Seismic calcs are an engineer’s calculations of the stability of the racking in a seismic event (aka, earthquake). The engineer will give you the maximum capacity of each beam level based on your proposed configuration. When determining seismic calculations, engineers consider several factors including Racking manufacturer, an upright gauge of material, strutting type and placement, type of baseplate, steel chemical composition, beam length, face size, gauge, number of endplate pins; Beam placement (how many levels and at what heights from the ground level); how much weight is going on each level; and the thickness of the concrete.


Seismic calculations are separate from but play a part in the capacity of your rack system.


What is the difference between static load capacity and seismic load capacity?

A static load is the capacity that the manufacturer states it is structurally capable of holding. Therefore, all capacities are per pair of beams. This is what it could hold assuming there are no earthquakes. Moreover, a seismic load is the capacity that the engineer calculates your particularly racking can hold based on the factors above. This is an important difference! We commonly get customers to call us and complain because some company sold them pallet rack with a stated capacity of, for example, 5,000lbs per beam level. However, when they went to get permits for it, they found out the hard way.


How much do seismic calculations cost?

The cost of seismic calculations depends on several factors, but the two largest factors are:

  1. The number of rack configurations — Every different size frame or beam, beam elevations (shelf level), manufacturers, condition, etc. is considered a separate configuration. Typical packages include 2 to 4 configurations, and additional configurations can be added for an extra charge.
  2. Manufacturer — If the manufacturer of the racking cannot be identified, or if the manufacturer has not had proper testing already performed, then costly stress testing must be done on the racking.


Can I get permits on used pallet racking?

Usually, but it depends. One of the biggest problems with used pallet racking is that it can be difficult to permit it. As we discuss above, seismic calculations are required in most states. A seismic engineer must know the exact size, dimension, gauge, and manufacturer of the pallet racking in order to get the seismic calculations. While the dimensions aren’t hard to figure out, the gauge and manufacturer can be more difficult. You usually do not know the manufacturer of used pallet rack. The seismic engineer may be able to identify the manufacturer from closeup photos. However, if the seismic engineer is unable to identify the manufacturer, then the engineer must perform seismic stress testing on a sample of the used racking. This is very costly. Therefore, you have to send samples of the racking to the engineer for testing.

Different Manufacturers of Pallet Racking:

If your used racking is not all exactly the same, it could be from different manufacturers, so you have to send samples of every style of racking. Therefore, the cost of all the seismic stress testing required to get permits on unknown used pallet rack frequently makes it more expensive than buying new racking. Consequently, new rack may have the necessary seismic calculations already.

Take a look at our seismic calculation services here.


Do I need to anchor pallet rack?

All pallet rack must be anchored. It doesn’t take much to knock over freestanding pallet rack, and the consequences are severe. Consequently, without anchoring, any small bump to a frame or beam can easily make the whole system fall down. Have you seen videos of entire warehouses full of pallet racking collapse? Since they’re all connected, they fall like dominoes.


How do I anchor my pallet racking?

The short answer is, hire us to help you. However, if you really want to do it yourself, you’ll need to drill holes into the concrete for each footplate (typically two holes per footplate), use a shop vac to vacuum out the dust, and insert an anchor. After that, insert the anchor wedge, hit it hard with a hammer, and screw on the nut. Anchors must be torqued to the right torque. Consequently, when the city/county inspector comes to do the final inspection for your pallet rack permit, they often check the torque of the anchor bolts. Therefore, if it’s too tight or too loose, they’ll fail the inspection.


Which anchors do I need?

The engineer that provides you the seismic calculations will tell you which kind of anchors you need to use. However, for most applications, we use these pallet rack anchors. The engineer will also specify which footplates your pallet rack frames need to have, and how many anchors need to be placed on each footplate. As a result, most seismic footplates are 5” x 8” and 3/8” thick, and have four holes, though the engineer typically only requires anchors in two holes.

Speedrack West’s warehouse shelving systems and pallet racking solutions are the best way to take advantage of the space in your warehouse in a safe and efficient way.

Try out our pallet rack and racking systems custom estimation tool!

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