Pallets 101

In the pallet world we refer to pallets sizes by the stringer length first then the top/bottom board width. For instance the most commonly used pallets in the United States are a 48 x 40 4 way. We often here customers refer to this as a 40 x 48 which can lead to misconception when the pallet is being built.

Comon Pallet Sizes We Look For:

• 48 x 40 All types

• 36 x 36

• 40 x 40

• 48 x 36

• 42 x 42

• 44 x 44

• 48 x 42

• 48 x 45

• 48 x 48

• 60 x 60

• 72 x 40

• 96 x 48

• 96 x 40

• 30 x 30

• 47 x 31 Block/Euro


• 32 x 32



Common Pallet Terms

Banding Notch - see strap slot

Bin - four-sided superstructure to be mounted on a pallet base, with or without a cover; also known as a box or container bin pallet.

Block - Rectangular, square or cylindrical deck spacer, often identified by its location within the pallet as corner block, end block, edge block, inner block, center or middle block.

Block Pallet - A type of pallet with blocks between the pallet decks or beneath the top deck.

Butted Deckboard - an inner deckboard placed tightly against an adjacent lead deckboard during pallet assembly.

Bottom Deck - Assembly of deckboards comprising the lower, load bearing surface of the pallet.

CAD - Computer-aided-design software that allows the design of the "right" pallet at the best value; see Pallet Design System (PDS).

Chamfer - a bevel on the top edges of the bottom deckboard to facilitate the passage of wheels and/or forks of pallet trucks.

Combo Pallet: Built by combining new lumber with used lumber to create a completed pallet.

Cost-per-trip - average cost of pallet use for a single one-way trip.

Deck - the top or bottom surface of a pallet. This may or may not be continuous.

Deck mat - assembly of deckboards and stringerboards, forming the deck of a block pallet.

Deckboard - boards used to construct the deck.

Deckboard spacing - distance between adjacent deckboards.

Deckboard span - distance between deckboard supports (stringers, stringerboards or blocks).

Double-wing pallet - a pallet top with top and bottom deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringerboards.

Drive screw nail - helically (continuous spiral) threaded pallet nail.

Exchange pallet - a pallet intended for use among a designated group of shippers and receivers where ownership of the pallet is transferable with the ownership of the unit load.

Expendable pallet - a pallet intended for a series of handlings during a single trip from shipper to receiver; it is then disposed; see shipping pallet.

Flush pallet - a pallet with deckboards flush with the stringers, stringer-boards or blocks along the sides of the pallet.

Fork entry - opening between decks, beneath the top deck or beneath the stringer notch to admit forks.

Four-way block pallet - a pallet with openings at both pallet ends and along pallet sides sufficient to admit hand-pallet jacks.

Full four-way entry pallet - entry through which the wheels of a pallet truck can pass without leaving the ground.

GMA Pallet: Standing for “Grocery Manufacturer’s Association”. This is a 48x40 pallet which is the standard size for North America.

Hand jack opening - space provided in the bottom deck to allow pallet jack wheels to bear on the floor.

Hardwood - wood from broad-leaved species of trees (not necessarily hard or dense).

Inner deckboard - any deckboard located between the end deckboards.

Joint - intersection and connection of components, often identified by location within the pallet as the end joint, center joint and corner joint.

Lead boards - members which form the outside edges of the decks under which the lifting device enters.

Length - refers to the stringer or stringerboard (in block pallets) length; also refers to the first dimension given to describe a pallet, i.e., 48" x 40", where 48" is the pallet stringer/stringerboard length.

Line load - the weight of a unit load concentrated along a narrow area across the full length or width of the pallet.

Load bearing surface - actual area of material in contact with and supporting a unit load.

Nail - fastener made from endless wire by cutting a point and forming a head at the shank end opposite the point.

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association - a national association with the goal of promoting the design, manufacture, distribution, recycling and sale of pallets, containers and reels.

Non-reversible pallet - a pallet with bottom deckboard configuration different from top deck.

Notch - cutout in lower portion of the stringer to allow entry for the fork tine, usually 9" in length, 1-1/2" in depth.

Notched stringer - a stringer with two notches spaced for fork-tine entry, (partial four-way entry).

Opening height - the vertical distance measured between decks, from the floor to the underside of the top deck, or from the floor to the top of the stringer notch.

OSB: Oriented Strand Board is a manufactured panel commonly used in construction industry and industrial packaging for crating. Has the appearance of wood chips glued and pressed together.

Overall height - the vertical distance measured from the floor to the top side of the top deck.

Overhang - the distance the deck extends from the outer edge of the stringer or stringerboard; wing; lip.

Pallet - a portable, horizontal, rigid platform used as a base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load, often equipped with a superstructure.

Pallet Design System (PDS) - reliability based computer-aided design (CAD) program, for determining the safe load carrying capacity, performance, life and economy of wooden pallets.

Pallet-dimensions - when specifying pallet size, the stringer or stringerboard (block pallet) length is always expressed first; for example, a 48" x 40" pallet has a 48" stringer or stringerboard and 40" deckboards.

Pallet jack - hand-propelled, wheeled platform, equipped with a lifting device for moving palletized unit loads.

Pallet life - the period during which the pallet remains useful, expressed in units of time or in the number of one-way trips.

Partial four-way stringer pallet - a pallet with notched stringers.

Plywood: A manufactured panel consisting of layered lumber glued and pressed together. Typically has higher weight capacities than OSB

Quality - consistent performance of a uniform product meeting the customer's needs for economy and function.

Repair - to remake in order to use again.

Recycling - a pallet, container or reel that has been used, salvaged, repaired, and which passes through a cycle again.

Rental pallet - a pallet owned by a third party, different from the actual pallet user.

Returnable/reusable pallet - a pallet designed to be used for more than one trip.

Reversible pallet - a pallet with identical top and bottom decks.

Shipping pallet - pallet designed to be used for a single one-way trip from shipper to receiver; it is then disposed; see expendable pallet.

Single-wing pallet - a pallet with the deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringer-boards with the bottom deckboards flush (if present).

Skid - a pallet having no bottom deck.

Softwood - wood from coniferous or needle-bearing species of trees (not necessarily soft or low density).

Solid deck pallet - a pallet constructed with no spacing between deckboards.

Span - the distance between stringer or block supports.

Stevedore pallet - a pallet designed for use on seaport shipping docks, normally of heavy-duty, double-wing construction.

Strap slot - recess or cutout on the upper edge of the stringer or the bottom of the top deckboard to allow tie-down of a unit load to the pallet deck with strapping/banding, also called the banding notch strapping - thin flat bands used to secure load to pallet.

Stringer - those members to which the decks are fastened. They run the full length of the pallet.

Stringer board - on a block pallet, the intermediary members between the blocks and the deck.