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Standard vs Special Pallet Sizes for Shipping

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Pallet Sizes for Shipping
Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson
March 11, 2022

When it comes to pallet sizes for shipping, it's advantageous to know the answer to the question: how many pallets can you fit in a 40 ft container? Space efficiency impacts cost efficiency, especially over several years. Here's a look at the importance of pallet size for space efficiency and how it relates to shipping concerns.

Standard Vs. Specialized Pallets

Standard Pallet

Many logistics firms view the standard pallet size as 48x40 inches, known as GMA pallets. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) set this standard, which was influenced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, now known as the Consumer Brands Association. But there's a wide variety of other pallet sizes, some of which are referred to by industry professionals as standard pallet sizes.

Other standard pallet sizes for shipping include 42x42 and 48x48 inches. It depends on the types of products being shipped. Grocery chains commonly use 40x48 pallets, but 36x36 pallets for beverages and 40x40 pallets for dairy.

Specific military applications use specialized 35x45.5 pallets. Meanwhile, the automotive industry uses 48x45 pallets, and telecommunications firms use 42x42 pallets. Within any of these industries, specialized pallets are considered standard pallet dimensions. Overall, GMA pallets encompassing a 3.5-inch wide deck board with a 5/16 inch thickness represent nearly a third of all pallets used in North America.

Two-Way Vs. Four-Way Pallets

2-way vs 4-way pallet

GMA pallets usually have two-way or four-way entry designs. While a forklift can lift two-way pallets from two different sides, You can raise a four-way pallet from all four sides. They are designed to be lifted along the length of the pallet.

By contrast, four-way pallets are typically larger, heavier, and last longer. GMA pallets hold up to 4,600 pounds. The weight of these pallets ranges from 30 to 48 pounds.

The standard European pallet has many different sizes partly based on the metric system. A common Euro pallet size, for example, is 31.5 x 47.24 inches, which is equivalent to 800 x 1,200 mm. Other common Euro pallet sizes include:

  1. 47.24 x 39.37 (1,200 x 1,000 mm)
  2. 39.37 x 47.24 (1,000 x 1,200 mm)
  3. 31.50 x 23.62 (800 x 600 mm)

Common Pallet Types

  1. Stringer Pallets: These pallets have boards called stringers between the top and bottom boards to provide support.
  2. Block Pallets: Bottom deck boards and corner blocks with center stringers make these four-way pallets unique from others. There are wide variations of this design.
  3. Solid Deck Pallets: The top surface of this design consists of a single solid sheet of wood, making it easy to transport small items.
  4. Double Face Pallets: These pallets have both top and bottom decks, which allows for balanced weight distribution.
  5. Double Wing Pallets: Wings that extend from the stringers make these pallets capable of holding more weight and tolerating more stress than standard pallets. The wings and longer deck boards allow for wider loads.

Material Significance Of Pallets

Wooden pallets are widely used in freight transport in the United States and worldwide due to their low cost and capability to support more weight than plastic pallets. There's a growing demand for plastic pallets because they're more affordable, lightweight, and durable. Plastic pallets typically end up in landfills, while wooden pallets are more likely to be recycled. Metal pallets require mining but can last a long time.

Corrugated pallets represent another cost-saving and lightweight solution. They are safe due to lack of nails, but they're also easy to recycle. Corrugated pallets represent another cost-saving and lightweight solution. They're safe due to lack of nails, but they're also easy to recycle.

Advantages Of Drop Trailer Logistics

Drop Trailer filled with pallets

Drop trailers are containers designed to create flexible pickup and delivery timetables in the shipping process. The central concept behind drop trailer logistics involves a driver leaving a container at a shipping center for the recipient to access when they want. The drop trailer might get picked up by the original driver or a new driver.

How Many Pallets Can You Fit In A 40 Ft Container?

Selecting the correct pallet sizes for shipping makes a difference in space efficiency for storage and transport. A 40-foot container, which often has a width of 8 feet and a height of 8.5 feet, can hold 20 pallets. Depending on pallet type and arrangement, you can fit in as many as 24 pallets.


The world of pallets is vast, which can be overwhelming for supply chain managers to decide which pallet sizes work best for their needs. Keep in mind that different industries use different standards for pallet sizes. Learn more about choosing the right pallets for your logistics operation, get in touch with the pros at Pallet Market today!