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Pallet 101: Types, Standard Pallet Size and More


What Is A Pallet?

What Is the Standard Pallet Size?

What Are The Standard Pallet Dimensions?

Are There Different Types of Pallets?

Are Different Pallets Used For Different Things?

How Do I Know If A Pallet Is Safe To Use?

Where Do I Find Free Wood Pallets?

We get asked all these questions by DIY enthusiasts, especially those starting on their first pallet project. We compiled the best information we could find so we could tell you everything you need to know about pallets and try to answer all your questions.


What Is A Pallet?

A pallet is a flat structure that is used for shipping and transport. Pallets allow commercial goods and shipping containers to be shipped in a stable fashion by giving them support so they can be lifted by pallet jacks, forklifts, front loaders and other jacking devices. Pallets allow for efficiencies in storage and handling. Most pallets are made of wood, but you can also find ones that are made of plastic, metal, paper or recycled materials.


What Is the Standard Pallet Size?

Sizes of wooden pallets often vary from country to country, depending on usage. However, the most common standard sizes used around the world are 36 x 36 inches (91.44 x 91.44 centimeters) , 42 x 42 inches (106.68 x 106.68 centimeters) and 48 x 48 inches (121.92 x 121.92 centimeters ). The most common pallet size used in the United States is 40×48 inches.

The top produced pallet in the United States is 48 x 40 inches.

There is no single standard because of the wide variety of things pallets are used for. Depending on their use, pallets have to potentially pass through doorways, fit in standard shipping containers, or allow for the lowest labor cost for that particular use. 

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What Are The Standard Pallet Dimensions?

Dimensionsinches (W × L)Dimensionsmm (W × L)Production RankIndustries That Use Them
48 × 401219 × 10161Grocery as well as many other uses
42 x 421067 ×10672Telecommunications and Paint
48 x 481219 × 12193Drums
40 x 481016 × 12194Cement and Military
48 x 421219 × 10675Chemicals and Beverage
40 x 401016 × 10166Dairy
48 x 451219 × 11437Automotive
44 x 441118 × 11188Drums and Chemicals
36 x 36914 × 9149Beverage
48 x 361219 × 91410Beverage, Shingles and Packaged Paper
35 x 45.5889 × 1156unknownMilitary 1/2 ISO container, fits 36″ standard doors
48 x 201219 × 508unknownRetail

The most common pallet size is 40×48, but pallets come in all shapes and sizes.

Are There Different Types of Pallets?

Yes, pallets are made many different, depending on what they are used  for.  The chart below shows you the different types of pallets and how they vary.



How Do I Know If A Pallet Is Safe To Use?

You look at the stamp and markings on the pallet. You want to make sure your pallet has not been treated with chemicals that are potentially toxic. This is a big topic, so we gave it an article of its own.

Read our article on pallet safety here:

How To Know If A Pallet Is Safe To Use

All pallet stamps look different. Some are clearer than others. Look for the IPPC logo and HT. If you can not find these two things on a pallet, we recommend you do not use it.


Where Do I Find Free Wood Pallets?

We are asked this question a lot. Local small merchants and local community boards are a great place to start. We have many more tip for finding free pallets and wrote an article to help you find them. Read it here:

Where To Find Free Wood Pallets and Repurposed Materials

Hope this answers all your pallet questions. Good luck on your pallet DIY projects.

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Ready to build cool stuff with pallets? Check out our other DIY pallet posts!

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Free Wood Pallets – Where to get Pallets and Reclaimed Materials

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The Easy Way to Deconstruct a Pallet

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