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What is Pallet Shipping? How to Prepare a Pallet for Shipping

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Pallet Basic: Things You Need to Know Before Pallet Shipping

Image representing pallet shipment

Image representing pallet shipment

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What is a Shipping Pallet?

A pallet is flat and wooden in structure. Its platforms are portable and used for handling transport, storing, and shipping cargo. Pallets are common in the logistics and transportation industries because they provide a base for stacking many items and are constructed to move easily with a pallet jack or forklift. Before shipping a pallet, you need to know what the pallet is in shipping terms.

Skid vs. Pallet vs. Parcel vs. Freight Box vs. Crate: what’s their difference?

image explaining the difference between skid, pallet, and crate

image explaining the difference between skid, pallet, and crate

Image Source: Eurosender

Skid vs. Pallet

“Skid” and “pallet” are sometimes used interchangeably. But some difference between them is that the skid doesn’t have a bottom deck board while the pallet does. Also, the skid has four feet under its top loading deck, while the pallet has four three or four stringers running through the length of the pallet in both directions.

Package/Parcel vs. Pallet

A pallet is larger and heavier than parcels and, as such, more expensive. However, they’re cost-effective when shipping large freight to the same destination. On the other hand, because of their frailty, Parcels can be shipped in higher volume and handled at several checkpoints, making them prone to damage and loss.

Interestingly, in all of these checkpoints, parcel carriers are updated about the location of the shipment, which may not be so with pallet carriers.

Pallet vs. Crate

Crates are essentially used to hold products, supplies, or anything that must be extensively secured and protected. A crate is a wooden box with four walls. It provides more protection than a pallet because its wooden frame is completely enclosed. Another difference between crates and pallets is that it is heavier than pallets, making them cost more when shipping.

Freight Box vs. Pallet

A freight box, also called a bulk bin, is a substantial container used to enclose and protect cargo during shipments. These boxes are primarily used for shipping small packages in multiple sizes. Freight boxes are made from different materials, such as corrugated fiberboard, wood, steel, and plastic, but pallets are mostly made of wood. Also, because of their various sizes and material, freight boxes can be used to ship many different items, unlike pallets, which are a base for stacking items.

Pallet Shipping 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Shipping by Pallets

Pallet Meaning in Shipping

In understanding what pallet freight is in shipping, you need to know that pallets are of different quality and material, accounting for the differences in their weight. Some weigh between 20 and 70 pounds, and although there are standard sizes, it depends on the customers’ choice.

In selecting pallets for shipping, it’s best to choose the ones that are large enough to avoid any overhang and can handle the large volume of your cargo.

Purpose of Pallet: What are Pallets used for

Pallets are primarily used to protect products, absorb stresses, hold the weight of the products, encounter fork truck impacts, and safely guard goods traveling via the supply chain. The 3 main/typical applications of pallets include

  • Multi-use pallets
  • Chemical Pallets (CP)
  • Hygienic pallets

Benefits of Pallet Shipping

In the shipping industry today, many commercial manufacturers and shippers use pallet shipping to organize and transport their cargo. Pallet shipping has several benefits, which include;

  • They’re portable and, as such, easier to transport. They can be moved quickly compared to individual items, and stacking cargo on a single pallet gives shippers fewer goods to track.
  • Pallets are stronger due to their base, which is made of solid plastic, wood, or plastic, instead of wrapped in plastic or cardboard. With this increased strength, shipped goods are safe, and no fear of the pallet breaking or cracking.
  • The physical strength of the pallets makes them best for transporting fresh produce without spoiling.

Pallet Shipping Usage: How to Ship Using Pallets

Step 1: Know how to choose the right type of pallets

In pallet shipping, here are a few things you need to know to choose the right type of pallets;

  • Set your budget. Some pallets are cheaper than others, some last longer, and some can be recycled. So your budget determines your choice.
  • Determine the packaging material that best suits your transportation needs, whether heavy or light.
  • Select the correct pallet size and type based on storage facilities and transport.

How Many Types of Pallets are There?

Pallets are classified into main types based on their styles; stringer pallets and block pallets.

  • Stringer pallets are also called 2-way pallets because the forks of a packet jack can only pick up from two different sides.
  • Block (deck board) pallets are called 4-way pallets because they pick up from all sides.

Pallet Types By Configuration and Designs:

Pallets come in various sizes and styles, and we have listed below the most common ones.

#1 Roto-Molded Pallets

Image detailing size and configuration of roto-molded pallet

Image detailing size and configuration of roto-molded pallet

Image Source: Supreme Industries

Roto-molded pallets are made from one solid piece of plastic using the rotational molding method.These pallets can carry heavy loads, and forming the plastic around the steel frame further increases their strength. However, they might break with heavy loads and aren’t easy to repair when cracked.

Roto-molded pallets are more expensive, and depending on the size and material, prices range from $30 to $200.

#2 Injection Molded Pallets

Image detailing the size and configuration of injection pallet

Image detailing the size and configuration of injection pallet

Image Source: IndiaMart

Injection-molded pallets are flat and come in standard sizes and colors. They’re made from polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and are stronger, more lightweight, and more durable, with greater air space.

They’re used to lift goods in the packaging industry during transportation using loaders, jacks, or forklifts and last longer in your warehouse, saving effort and money.

#3 Block/Deck Board Pallets

image detailing the size and configuration of blockdeck board pallet

image detailing the size and configuration of blockdeck board pallet

Image Source: Petro Pallet

Forklifts can access block or deck board pallets on all four sides. They can be constructed of wood, plastic, or plywood and consist of 9 to 12 wooden posts or columnar blocks to support the deck and provide the pallet with excellent stability.

They’re efficient for handling purposes and are usually used with string pallets as a foundation for transporting structures whose purpose is to lift materials using equipment such as forklifts, etc.

#4 Stringer Pallets

image detailing the size and configuration of stringer pallet

image detailing the size and configuration of stringer pallet

Image Source:

You can use a stringer pallet to store your goods at a raised position and move them from storage to cargo. As the name implies, it uses stringers to support the unit load adequately. The strings are located between the bottom and top deck boards that bear the pallet’s load.
Four-way stringers are more convenient for pallets with two or more notches on each side which a forklift can access from 4 angles.

#5 Double Wing Pallets

image detailing the size and configuration of double wing pallet

image detailing the size and configuration of double wing pallet

Image Source: LowesLink

When a deck board is longer than the pallet, there will be an overhang. This overhang is known as a wing. A double-wing pallet has wings on both the deck board’s top and bottom. Pallets with wings hold higher weights. Also, it increases the surface area on which products can are placed, thereby increasing the unit-load size.

#6 Solid Deck Pallets

image detailing the size and configuration of solid deck pallet

image detailing the size and configuration of solid deck pallet

Image Source:

Solid deck pallets are used to carry and store small items that may get misplaced or lost through gaps in other types of pallets. A solid deck pallet has its top made from a broad continuous sheet with no space gap. These pallets are aesthetically attractive to customers because they’re easy to clean and maintain.
Solid deck pallets are made of either wood or plastic. Solid deck wood pallets are cost-effective because they have an extended lifecycle.

#7 Double-Face Pallets

image detailing the size and configuration of double-face pallet

image detailing the size and configuration of double-face pallet

Image Source:

A double-face pallet has both top and bottom deck boards that extend beyond the stringers, making the pallet appear as if it has wings on the side. The bottom deck in this pallet gives it increased strength to hold unit loads with ease and convenience. The bottom deck further distributes the weight of the entire load.

What are Pallets made of? Pallet Types By Materials

One way to differentiate pallets is through the materials used in making them. Below are the primary materials used in making them.

#1 Wood Pallets

Wood is the most common material used to make pallets worldwide. Wood pallets are typically made of softwood or hardwood. The most available type of hardwood is oak, and the most common softwood is pine. These wood types are surplus in the store, affordable, and can carry medium to heavy loads.

#2 Corrugated Board Pallets

Corrugated board pallets, also known as cardboard pallets or paper pallets. They are made from corrugated materials, paper board sheets, and other reinforced paper materials instead of wood.
Corrugated board pallets are lightweight and best for delivering freight and saving fuel. Also, they’re strong, hygienic, environmentally friendly, and customizable.

#3 Metal Pallets

Metal pallets are made from carbon steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. The only thing is that most industries use them in shipping military equipment, automotive products, and construction equipment.
Although metal pallets are resistant to moisture, chemicals, and weather changes, they are suitable for shipping and storing. However, because of their weight, they may increase transportation costs.

#4 Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets are constructed from polymeric plastic, such as high-density polyethylene or recycled bottles.
Plastic pallets are famous for transporting lightweight to medium-heavy products like pharmaceuticals, food, beverages, etc. However, plastic pallets are expensive and likely to break with heavy load carriage.

Step 2: Know How to Measure a Pallet for Shipping

Knowing the size and weight of your pallet shipment will help you want an accurate estimate of the shipping cost and also help determine the number of pallets to ship per time.

How Big is a Shipping Pallet?

International Shipping Pallet Requirements

Pallet shipping requirements differ based on different countries. Taking the USA, for instance, the shipping requirements include the following;

  • Prepare goods for the long trip to withstand harsh conditions without damage.
  • Your pallet shouldn’t be more than 60 inches and not wider than 95 by 125 inches.
  • For wood shipping, ensure they are heat treated to the ISPM-15 standard and the pallet has the stamp plastered on its sides.
  • For sensitive materials, store them in the crate.
  • Protect your pallet load from moisture by covering it with a top sheet and using adhesive plastic strips to seal openings.

Standard Pallet Sizes and Dimensions

How big is your shipping pallet? The Consumer Brand Association (CBA), also known as Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), influences the standard pallet sizes and dimensions.

The most common pallet standard sizes and dimensions in North America are;

  • 48″ x 40″
  • 42″ x 42″
  • 48″ x 48″
  • 48″ x 42″

Other Common Standard Pallet Sizes

It’s important to know that a universally accepted standard for pallet sizes and dimensions does not exist. Companies and organizations adopt different sizes across the globe. While no dimensional standard exists for pallet production, some sizes and dimensions have become ‘standard’ and accepted worldwide, like the GMA pallets.

Below are other common standard pallet sizes and dimensions in inches;

  • 40 x 48
  • 48 x 42
  • 48 x 45
  • 44 x 44
  • 36 x 36
  • 48 x 36
  • 35 x 45.5
  • 48 x 20

Calculate Pallet Shipment Size, Weight, and Capacity

When shipping items on a pallet, it’s often necessary to determine its size, weight, and capacity. Here’s how to determine these parameters of your pallet shipment;

Calculate Volume

  • Measure the width and length of the pallet base in inches. If the pallet has a wing (overhang), the measurement should be the same as the pallet’s dimensions. If your product overhang, measure to the outermost part of the product.
  • Measure the height from the ground of the pallet shipment to the highest point.
  • Multiply the length, width, and height to determine the pallet shipment volume

Calculate the Dimensional Weight

The dimensional weight reflects the pallet’s density. It is the space the pallet will occupy compared to its weight. To decide the dimensional weight of your pallet shipment, divide the cubic size (length x width x height) by 139.

How Much Weight Can a Pallet Hold?

How much weight a pallet can hold depends on the standard size and dimension of the pallet. Here are a few common sizes and dimensions of GMA pallets and how much they can carry;

  • 48 x 40 wooden GMA pallets weigh from 33-48 Ibs. and can hold up to 4,600 Ibs.
  • 42 x 42 wooden paint pallets weigh approximately 35 pounds and can bear a load of about 3,700 pounds.
  • 48 x 48 wooden drum pallet weighs about 40 Ibs. and has a load capacity of 3,700 Ibs.
  • 36 x 36 wooden beverage pallet weighs 30 Ibs. each and can bear a load of 4,700 Ibs.

How Many Cartons/Boxes on a Pallet

To some extent, the number of cartons/boxes that will fit a pallet depends on the length of the carton/box and the pallet. For instance, a 25 inches long carton will fit on a pallet that is 48 inches long. One way to know the number of cartons/boxes on a pallet is by calculation. Multiply the number of boxes per layer times the number of layers per pallet. For instance, 5 boxes per layer and 5 layers on a pallet give 5 x 5 = 25 cases per pallet.

You can calculate the number of cartons that will fit a pallet by dividing the shipment’s cubic meter (CBM) by 1.5. This will estimate how many pallets will be shipped if you originally palletize.

How High can Pallets be Stacked?

How high a pallet can be stacked depends. The higher a pallet is stacked, the lower the cost of transportation or storage per unit. However, some factors decide the optimum height of a pallet. Factors such as road haulage, following an accident, etc.

Generally, the maximum height of a shipping pallet is 2200mm, going by the height of the transport vehicle and storage racking facilities.

Step 3: Know the Cheapest way to Ship a Pallet

The cost of shipping a pallet depends on its construction material, size, and quality. Also, note the shipping routes from China to the USA, which include; sea, air, ocean, etc. We will further consider how much it costs to ship a pallet from China to the US.

FedEx Pallet Shipping

Image showing cost of pallet shipping using FedEx

Image showing cost of pallet shipping using FedEx

Image Source: easyship

You can calculate the cost of pallet shipping from China to the USA using a FedEx Freight Calculator tool. For instance, to estimate the pallet shipping cost of a 100-pound dresser, you’ll pay almost $1000 on shipping alone. This is more explanatory, going by the image above.

Ups Pallet Shipping

Pallet shipping using UPS

Pallet shipping using UPS

Image Source: easyship

To ship the same 100-pound dresser via Ups, you’ll need to create an account before getting the shipping quote. This can be a challenge in finding the cheapest and best rate for shipping your pallets.
Honestly, retail shipping of pallets costs more than discounted shipping. However, you can save up to 89% on discounted shipping rates using Ups.

Flat Rate Pallet Shipping

image showing cost of shipping pallet using flat-rate

image showing cost of shipping pallet using flat-rate

Image Source: easyship

In flat-rate pallet shipping, you don’t need to calculate shipping pallets. What is required of you is to pay one flat fee for pallet shipping, so long your shipment fits on one pallet. The flat-rate fee is often the best and cheapest way to ship pallets. Flat-rate shipping is also excellent for high-volume shippers.

Best Way to Ship a Pallet Across Country Cheap

Pallets are heavier and larger than parcels and are more costly. However, it’s cost-effective if you ship large amounts of pallets to the same destination.

Sourcing a freight forwarder to offer the best price and save cost is inevitable. Shipo is the best way to ship pallets across the globe. We are a trusty and reliable fulfillment company bridging the gap between suppliers and customers in the industry with excellent freight services.

Step 4: Know How to Pack a Pallet for Shipping


Palletizing is stacking products on a pallet for shipment or storage in the logistics supply chain. Products are stacked according to their weights and in a way that promotes stability and product integrity.
The benefits of palletizing for shipments cannot be overemphasized. Some benefits include the following;

  • It reduces the risk of losing freight.
  • Encourages faster turnaround for trucks/vehicles.
  • Ensures cargo has successful voyage abroad pallets.
  • Speed of delivery, and perishable products arrive at their destination on time.

How to Palletize: Prepare and Load Pallets for Shipping

As we have established already, pallets come in different sizes and shapes. It is, therefore, essential to give attention to how to properly pack your pallet to avoid unpleasant surprises on arrival. The procedure is listed below;

  • Step 1: Pack your products properly in each box. Avoid overhangs that can cause your goods to be dented, scraped, or broken.
  • Step 2: Secure your products/cargo. You can secure your goods using stretch wrapping, metal straps, shrink wrap, etc., to protect your goods from moisture and dirt.
  • Step 3: Stack your products according to their weight, with the heaviest at the bottom.
  • Step 4: Use a grip sheet mat on the pallet before loading it.
  • Step 5: Label your cargo for easy identification.

Prepare Your Pallet Shipping

Shipo is a freight forwarder in China offering palletizing services. We take the above steps to properly prepare and pack your pallet for shipping, ensuring safe and quick delivery of your cargo.

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