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Much like ice cream cones make handling ice cream easier, pallets make the movement of products safer and more efficient. Therefor, knowing how to ship a pallet properly will help ensure your goods are delivered successfully, and without the headache.

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide on how to ship a pallet with your products properly loaded and ready for shipping.

1. Carefully Pack Your Products

  • Choose sturdy, undamaged boxes that can be stacked
  • Make sure your products are carefully packaged and packed to guard against shipping damage
  • Cushion sharp edges or protrusions with extra padding
  • Fill any leftover space with appropriate padding material

How to Ship a Pallet

2. Seal Each Container

  • Use a good quality shipping tape that’s at least 3” (7.6cm) wide
  • Seal all seams and flaps if possible

How to Ship a Pallet

3. Choose the Right Shipping Pallet

  • Choose a pallet suitable for a forklift, hand truck, or pallet jack
  • Make sure the pallet is strong and free of damage
  • Select a pallet that’s at least standard industry size (48” x 40”) box-style

For most freight shipping needs, there are two main pallet types:

Stringer Pallets

Stringer pallets, also called 2-way pallets, have three parallel pieces of wood which support the boards of wood. The forks of a pallet jack or forklift can only pick them up from two different sides.

Standard Wood Pallet - stringer

Block (Deck Board) Pallets

Block (deck board) pallets are versatile 4-way pallets which can be picked up from all sides. They’re reinforced with wooden blocks at the middle of each edge and on the sides. This provides more support for the platform making it better for heavier shipments.

Standard Wood Pallet - block

Plastic Shipping Pallets

Plastic shipping pallets, though usually reusable, are typically more expensive and heavier than common wood pallets. They can also have a slippery surface, making it hard to fasten or block products. Some plastic pallets are designed with a solid deck which helps protect the package container bottom from forklift tine damage.

Plastic Shipping Pallet

4. Load Your Pallet

  • If different containers have various weights, place the heavier boxes at the bottom
  • Carefully stack the containers evenly and avoid space between them
  • Make sure all containers fill the base of the pallet completely with no overhang
  • Ensure your shipment falls within the maximum size and weight limitations. Check the Manufacturer’s Certification Stamp to make sure the weight of the contents should not exceed 50% of the gross weight limit. If necessary, cardboard edge protectors or paperboards can be added to further protect your shipment.

Loaded Pallet

5. Wrap the Pallet

  • Use high-quality 70 gauge or similar shrink wrap (stretch wrap)
  • Start by wrapping around the bottom, encircling the lowest containers at least three times
  • Continue wrapping upwards, overlapping previous layers by half on each pass
  • Just as with the bottom, wrap the top tier of containers three times and leave a 3” (8cm) overlap over the top corners
  • Finally, bring the wrap back down to the bottom containers then secure the load firmly to the pallet by encircling it 3 times

Wrapping a Pallet for Shipping

6. Clearly Label Your Pallet Shipment

  • First, be sure remove labels and markings from previous shipments
  • Place the shipping label on the side of the pallet, making sure it’s clearly visible with the sender and receiver information

Scanning a Pallet Shipment Label

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Further Tips on How to Secure a Palletized Load

Here are some tips and guidelines for stacking to create a stable, safe and secure load:

Stacking Tips

Column Stacking

In a column stacking pattern, boxes or cartons are stacked in straight columns with no overlapping edges. In most cases, column stacking increases the top-to-bottom compression. For extra load stability, place corrugated pads – load protector pads, between the tiers.

Interlocking stacking

Interlocking stacking is useful if the carton contents are more rigid in nature. Interlocking cartons can also increase stability. With this method, boxes are stacked corner to corner and edge to edge for more strength.

Pallet Loading Tips


Banding is one of the most common ways of securing the bundled load to the pallet. The key is to keep the banding close to the load. This helps to to control damage, exposure, or breakage.

Small loads that don’t take up the full surface of the pallet should be centered and banded to the closest deck boards of the load’s outer edge to increase stability, not the pallet’s edge.

Using Banding to Secure a Palletized Load

Load Protectors

Load-protector pads help to prevent damage to the top and bottom layers of your shipment. Protector pads also help to distribute the weight of top-loaded freight.

Load protectors at the bottom help to provide a level surface, plus they offer additional protection from pallet nail heads. Moreover, they also help to keep containers from getting caught up in the pallet board gaps.

Edge Boards

Edge boards, also referred to as angle boards, are an effective way of reducing damage to container edges that make up the load corners. To help unify the load, edge boards should run the full length or depth of the stack and increase vertical stacking strength.

Foam Cushioning

With foam cushioning, density levels can vary. Therefor it’s important make sure the foam you use is dense enough to protect your product. It’s also a good idea to test the cushioning to make sure it will stand up to actual shipping conditions.


Rounded items that can roll or shift should be braced on a pallet base that’s forklift-accessible. The greater the shipping weight, the more sturdy the bracing should be.

What to Avoid

Overhangs and Protrusions

Uniformity is key to load safety and stability. Never let the loaded products overhang the vertical limits of the pallet. Not only does this increase the risk of punctures, package tears and product damage, it can also result in a reduction of compression strength by as much as 32 percent.

Avoid Overhanging or Protruding Containers When Loading a PalletPyramid Stacking

Because pyramid stacking doesn’t have a level top load surface, you not only limit the ability to maximize space and save shipping costs through stacking additional pallets, you also run the risk of additional damage through handling.

Loaded Pallets Waiting for Shipment

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Common Pallet Shipping Questions

What are the most common pallet sizes? What are standard pallet dimensions?

Due to the scope and breadth of the food industry, the most common pallets used are CBA (Consumer Brands Association) sized pallets with dimensions of 48″ x 40″. In North America, these are considered the standard pallet dimensions.

The next most common pallet sizes are 42″ x 42″ and 48″ x 48″.

How do I pick the right pallet size?

Your required pallet size will depend on what you’re shipping. It will also depend on where you’re shipping it to, and how you plan to load and unload your freight.

A good start is to investigate common shipping procedures and materials used with similar products in your own industry. Because products and package sizes are fairly consistent, this will help you determine the appropriate pallet size.

How Do I choose the right type of pallet for shipping?

Once you have a pallet size in mind, give yourself a budget. As with wooden vs plastic pallets, some pallets are cheaper than others, with wood being the standard option. Depending on quality and material used, some can last longer and others can be easily recycled.

For example, if your products are heavy, you might want to consider a more robust type of pallet.

Additionally, the size and type of pallet you choose should also fit within your industry’s transportation and storage requirements.

Recommended Types of Pallets for LTL Shipping

For typical LTL and FTL shipping purposes, recommended pallets should have the following characteristics:

  • Standard wood pallet measuring 40″ x 48″
  • Have four-way entry capabilities
  • Be relatively new and undamaged
  • Sturdy enough to withstand heavy or light loads
  • Support the full weight of the packaged products
  • Withstand the handling required in the shipping environment
  • Have minimal top board spacing to avoid forklift blade impact

Pallet Types to Avoid in LTL & TL Shipping

We don’t recommend these pallets in general:

  • Corrugated fiberboard pallets
  • Damaged or repaired pallets
  • Pallets that are rotten or made of flimsy materials
  • Pressed block-style pallets
  • Molded pulp pallets
  • Be made of materials that are prone to moisture

The reason the above items are not recommended is because these types of pallets and materials tend to lack sturdiness, stiffness, and strength of standard wood pallets.

How much do shipping pallets cost?

Pallet costs will vary depending on what they’re made of, quality of the construction and their size. If you need help determining a pallet that’s a good fit right for your product, business and logistical needs, contact our customer support team.

How can I find or buy shipping pallets?

There are a number of resources you can use to locate and purchase pallets. But keep in mind that if you buy them privately, they may be rejected because they don’t meet the standards of your shipping service.

Your logistics provider will usually have a surplus of suitable, industry approved pallets and help you negotiate effective terms to get your products shipped safely.

Stacked Shipping Pallets

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How much does shipping a pallet of freight cost?

Because there are so many variables, that’s a hard question to answer effectively. It depends on what you’re shipping, where your shipment is coming from and it’s going to, how much it weighs, and so much more.

To get an accurate idea of the cost for your particular needs call Brimich at 1-855-752-5783 to get a quote today.

How many containers or cartons fit on a pallet?

The number of containers or cartons that can fit on a pallet depends on what the type of product you’re shipping, its overall weight, the size of the pallet, and its stacking configuration.

With a few of these details in mind, you can use this pallet loading calculator to help you see how many items of the same size and weight you’ll be able to put on a single pallet. Keep in mind the calculator only supports containers that are of the same size and dimensions. If you have multiple sized containers, you might want to consider contacting a reliable logistics company to get a quote.

What is the weight of an empty pallet?

The average wooden pallet measuring 48” x 40” will weigh somewhere between 33 and 48 lbs (or 15 and 22 kg).

Some standard pallets weigh as little as 30 lbs, and others up to 70 lbs depending on the density and weight of the  specific material they’re made from.

How much weight can you put on a pallet?

Weight loads for standard pallets can be between 3,700 and 4,600 lbs, or 1680 and 2087 kg. Other factors include pallet capacity, dimensions, type and the material it’s made of.

How high can you stack a pallet?

Generally speaking, the maximum loaded height for a standard-sized pallet shouldn’t be more than 60” or 1.5 meters. Best practices start with the heaviest containers on the bottom and the lightest on top.

Pallets should also be loaded uniformly with straight vertical edges, in other words without leaning to one side or have protrusions beyond its boundaries. This is not only important for the protection of your products, but the safety of the those who load and unload your cargo.

How many pallets fit on an LTL?

Typically, LTL (less-than-truckload) shipments will fit between 1 and 6 pallets.

How many pallets fit in a 53 foot truck?

Assuming it’s a completely filled 53’ truck, a full truckload (FTL or TL) can hold anywhere from 24 to 30 pallets.

In Summary

Knowing how to ship a pallet properly may not be rocket science, but it makes a huge difference in controlling avoidable losses caused by damages and situations.

The overall key thing to keep in mind is safety; safety for both your products and your business’ reputation, and for those who help you move your goods.

If you need help with anything related to shipping your pallets or other logistical needs, give Brimich a call today!