Experts Weigh in on Different Pallet Material

It’s no secret that pallets move the world, but you may wonder why the vast majority are made of wood. Are there benefits to using wood over plastic or other material such as metal or corrugated paper? We asked our experts at Rose Pallet to explain.

So, which pallet material is best? The answer depends.  There are pros and cons to all material. In general, the type of pallet you choose should be based on product load, industry, and other factors unique to your organization

Wood pallets are less expensive to manufacture and they can hold heavy loads (up to 4,600 lbs).  And, oftentimes, if a wooden pallet breaks, it can be repaired or recycled.  But, since they’re made of natural resources, wooden pallets are susceptible to mold, rot, and insect infestation.  Furthermore, wood can splinter and the nails holding the platform together can rust or bend, making it less smooth and safe than its plastic counterpart. Overall, however, wood pallets are a good choice for companies shipping heavy loads or for those that frequently ship one-way or overseas (Note: wooden pallets shipping internationally do require pallet treatment).

Plastic pallets, on the other hand, are more expensive; but, they are extremely durable (long shelf life) and will not retain moisture or harbor bugs.  They are also highly reusable and ideal for organizations that operate in a closed-loop warehouse or for companies that have dual purposes for pallets, such as use in a store display.  While often preferred in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and beverage industries, plastic pallets remain less common than wood in other industries, ultimately, due to cost.

Metal pallets are the strongest option available, but—as you might imagine—they are the costliest variety. Made from aluminum or steel, these pallets can withstand extreme cold or heat, are easy to clean, and very durable. Depending upon the manufacturer, it can last more than a decade. The primary industries that use metal pallets include automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics, and heavy hardware.

Corrugated paper pallets can also accommodate heavy loads and they can be customized as well as recycled. But, they are not as durable as wood, plastic, or metal pallets—especially if they become moist. Because of this, they are oftentimes only used once. This variety of pallet is a common choice in the textile industry.

If you are unsure which pallet material is right for your material handling needs, refer to our post on pallet selection or contact our pallet pros to discuss your options and cost-saving alternatives.

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