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Pallet 101 – Know the Basics

Where Do Pallets Come From? Learn how wood pallets are the “Sustainable Choice.”

Whether you use a block or stringer pallet, here are some obvious and some not so obvious questions to consider when choosing the right pallet.

  1. Are my pallets going overseas?
  2. What kind of shipping conditions will be applied to my pallets?
  3. Will my pallets be transferred more than once during transit?
  4. How will my products be transferred – by forklift, pallet jack, etc.?
  5. Will my pallets be used multiple times or just once?
  6. Will my pallets be stored indoors or outdoors?
  7. Will my pallets be racked or stacked, or reused?

Should you use a Block or Stringer Style Pallet? Answer: Dependents

Block vs. Stringer

A block pallet gets its name from the blocks that form the base. There are normally 9 wood blocks used, one on each corner and 5 others to support the center. A block pallet is known as a 4-Way Pallet as it can be accessed by pallet jack or forklift from all four sides, and can be designed with any amount of top & bottom deck boards. Commonly used in Europe.
Stringer pallets use “stringers” instead of blocks to support the unit load & commonly used in Canada & USA. Stringers are boards, typically 2×4’s or 3×4’s that are sandwiched between top & bottom deckboards & are believed to be stronger than block pallets. Stringers are notched to allow for 4-way fork entry. Bottom deckboards can be chamfered to allow usage of a pallet jack.

Need to choose between a Block or Stringer? Here are some questions to ask.

What product is being shipped?

Various products have different specs for storage & shipping. Pallets for food & beverage industry have different requirements than pallets used to ship industrial parts. Some pallets need hardwood and some require to be treated against mold or pests. Other industries require specific sizes, or may only use standard size pallets i.e. COSTCO, CHEP, PECO, GMA style pallets. Certain industries may need either a block or stringer pallet for transport.

Does your pallet need easy 4-way entire?

Do you rack or stack?

Does your pallet destination require a pallet style; Block or Stringer?

Are your pallets being lifted by hand?

If so, Stringer pallets can be much lighter than a Block.

What is the total weight being shipped & tolerance of my pallet?

If you choose a block or stringer pallet, it must be capable of supporting the weight of your product. Unfortunately, the strain a pallet endures is often NOT evaluated until it’s too late. Hopefully, you never experience pallet failure and it’s a major consideration when choosing pallet styles.


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