Pallets, broadly speaking, are a flat, sturdy platform, used for the moving of goods or parts of goods from one place to another. They are used in almost every industry, from groceries, to dental care products, to the manufacturing of cars. There are a few relatively standard sizes of pallet in North America, although generally they range between three and a half and four feet in both length and width, and approximately six inches high.
Wooden pallets typically consist of three or four stringers that support several deckboards, on top of which products are placed. In a pallet measurement, the first number is the stringer length and the second number is the deckboard length. The most commonly used pallet in the United States is a 48x40 GMA style pallet however, some pallet users require specialty size pallets and custom pallets depending on the size and weight of the product being stored or shipped.
Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deckboards. The standard 48x40 North American pallet, or GMA pallet, has stringers of 48 inches and deckboards of 40 inches, and was standardized by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Standard GMA pallets can hold up to 4,600 pounds (2,100 kg). A standard pallet is 6 ½” tall. GMA pallets typically weighs 37 pounds (17 kg). Their deck boards measure 31⁄4 inches (83 mm) wide and are 5⁄16 inch (7.9 mm) thick each. Other dimensions of pallets such as specialty size pallets and custom pallets have different weight bearing capacities. Two-way pallets have forklift openings on only two ends.
Four-way pallets are best lifted by their more rigid stringers. These pallets are usually heavier, bigger and more durable than two-way pallets. Four-way pallets have entry slots on all four sides for full accessibility.
Pallet users want pallets to easily pass through buildings, to stack and fit in racks, to be accessible to forklifts and pallet jacks and to function in automated warehouses.
It is important to note that no universally accepted standards for pallet dimensions exist. Companies and organizations utilize hundreds of different pallet sizes around the globe. While no single dimensional standard governs pallet production, a few different sizes are widely used.
Table: The most widely used pallet sizes.
Dimensions, mm (W × L)
Dimensions, in (W × L)
1016 × 1219
40 × 48
Grocery, many others
42 × 42
1219 × 1219
48 × 48
1219 × 1016
48 × 40
1219 × 1067
48 × 42
1016 × 1016
40 × 40
1219 × 1143
48 × 45
1118 × 1118
44 × 44
914 × 914
36 × 36
1219 × 914
48 × 36
Beverage, Shingles, Packaged Paper
889 × 1156
35 × 45.5
Military 1⁄2 ISO container, fits 36" standard doors
1219 × 508
48 × 20
Different types of pallets:
All pallets fall into two very broad categories: "stringer" pallets and "block" pallets.
Stringer pallets use a frame of three or more parallel pieces of timber (called stringers). The top deckboards are then affixed to the stringers to create the pallet structure. Stringer pallets can have a notch cut into them allowing "four-way" entry. Forklifts can lift a stringer pallet from all four directions, though lifting by the stringers is more secure.
Block pallets are typically stronger than stringer pallets. Block pallets utilize both parallel and perpendicular stringers to better facilitate efficient handling. A block pallet is also known as a "four-way" pallet, since a pallet-jack may be used from any side to move it.
Flush pallets are pallets with deck boards that are flush with the stringers and stringer boards along the ends and sides of the pallet.
In addition to being classified by type, used pallets can also be classified by the number of repairs they have received throughout their lifetime. To learn more about properly grade a 48x40 GMA style pallet watch the video below.
Pallet Consultants specializes in building, repairing and delivering pallets of all sizes and types. If you are looking for a standard 48x40 style pallet, custom size pallet, specialty size pallet, block style pallet click below to get in touch with one of our pallet experts.