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Two-way and Four-way Pallets: A Helpful Guide | Pallet Consultants

Two-way and Four-way Pallets: A Helpful Guide | Pallet Consultants

Pallet Management  |  Business Tips  |  Pallet Company  |  pallet tips

Wooden pallets typically consist of three or four stringers that support several deck boards, on top of which products are placed. Stringers are long boards placed horizontally and stood on their side between the upper and lower deck boards and are what support the pallet.

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In a pallet measurement, the first number is the stringer length and the second number is the deck board length. The most commonly used pallet in the United States is a 48 x 40 GMA style pallet. However, some pallet users require specialty and custom size pallets depending on the size and weight of the product being stored or shipped.



Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deck boards. The standard 48 x 40 North American pallet, or GMA pallet, has stringers of 48 inches and deck boards 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 weigh 37 pounds (17 kg). Their deck boards measure 3 14 inches (83 mm) wide and are 516 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 x L) Dimensions, in (W x L) Industry Uses
1016 × 1219 40 × 48 Grocery, many others
1067 ×1067 1016 × 1219 Telecommunications, Paint
1219 × 1219 48 × 48 Drums
1219 × 1016 48 × 40 Military, Cement
1219 × 1067 48 × 42 Chemical, Beverage
1016 × 1016 40 × 40 Dairy
1219 × 1143 48 × 45 Automotive
1118 × 1118 44 × 44 Drums, Chemical
914 × 914 36 × 36 Beverage
1219 × 914 48 × 36 Beverage, shingles, packaged paper
889 × 1156 35 × 45 Unknown Military 1/2 ISO container, fits 36" standard doors
1219 × 508 48 × 20 Unknown Retail


What are the parts of pallets?


String Pallet Shown Below:

Stringer Pallet | Pallet Consultants


Block Pallet Shown Below:

Block Pallet | Pallet Consultants


Pallets are comprised of various wood materials and classified by the names of the bases. A common pallet utilized is the U. S. is a pallet that has either a two-way entry or four-way entry and can measure to 48-inch by 40-inch structure. These entry ways determine if they are known as stringer pallets or block pallets which refer to how the pallet will be handled on the forklift. Let’s take a closer look at each part of a pallet.  

Let’s take a closer look at each part of a pallet.  


1. Stringers

A solid board extending the full length of the pallet, perpendicular to the deck boards and placed between deck boards. Essentially, you a have two support stringers and a center stringer to form the pallet. An Average stringer is a piece of lumber measuring 1.375 inches in width by 3.5 inches in height, with a length of 48 inches. 


2. Notch

It is an opening located on the lower part of a stringer where the pallet can be lifted with a forklift. Each notched stringer has two entry ways. 


3. Deck boards

These boards are the top and bottom of the pallet, and form the support and base of the pallet by being perpendicular to stringers. They hold up the product on the top of the pallet and also rest on the ground underneath the pallet. 


4. Top Lead Boards

These are deck boards, but are at the ends of the top of the pallet. They are usually larger than the inner deck boards.


5. Bottom Lead Boards

These deck boards are the ones located at the edge on the top and bottom of the pallet on its underside, and like the top lead boards are larger than inner deck boards.


6. Inner Deck boards

The pieces of lumber that will support the pallet and handle the majority of the weight. Spacing requirements dictate the number of deck boards used and ensure the structural integrity of the pallet.


7. Block

A rectangular, square, multisided, or cylindrical deck spacer often identified by its location within the pallet as corner, end, edge, inner, center or middle block. These are used to build a block-style pallet.

8. Chamfer

The natural entryways along the edges of the lead boards, in between the stringers on stringer pallets or corner and center blocks on block pallets.


How much can a pallet hold?

The unit load weight of products is an important factor to consider when building pallets. A standard 48 x 40 pallet can hold up to 4,600 lbs. of weight. Pallet Consultants can create and analyze your pallets using the leading pallet design software called Pallet Design System© (PDS). Considering the weight of products will provide an understanding of what pallet size or grade needed for your business.  


Since every pallet size will have different load-bearing capabilities, more research or outside consultation might be needed for some situations. Pallet Consultants has experienced engineers that can design pallets for every use and answer any questions you may have. The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, of which Pallet Consultants is a part of, can help calculate the unit load weight you’d need.


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