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A Comparison Of Different Pallet Types

Filed under: Materials Handling

Pallets are made from numerous materials and sometimes it can be confusing deciding which one best suits your needs based on your specific requirements. We have already looked at the advantages and disadvantages of plastic and wooden pallets; however now we will look at all the different types of pallets that are available. We hope the following information will assist you in choosing the right pallet for your transport applications. 

Metal/Aluminium Pallets

Metal Pallet
Metal pallets such as steel and aluminium are usually used for transporting heavy goods, for air-freight, at-sea storage and long-term outdoor storage. Usage of aluminium pallets has greatly increased over the years with large industries employing metal pallets because of their strength, and restaurants/catering businesses utilising them due to their good sanitation.


  • Stronger than wood or plastic pallets
  • Weather resistant and they do not rot or decay
  • Free of bugs and other pests
  • They do not splinter like wood pallets
  • They are recyclable
  • Appropriate for food and chemical industries because they are easy to clean offering high sanitation
  • Very durable


  • Heavier in weight compared to other pallets, so they cost more to transport

Lightweight Plywood Pallets

The plywood pallet is a perfect for holding light to medium weight products that need a strong and durable packaging option.


  • Quite strong even though they weigh very little
  • Lightweight, perfect for shipping and transportation
  • Minimal moisture absorption
  • Plywood has a smooth, clean surface
  • Suitable for rack stocking or layer stacking


  • Suffers from water damage if left outside
  • Difficult to store in racking
  • Not many warehouses are set up to store these types of pallets, so movement between warehouses can be limited

Wooden Pallets

Wooden Pallets
Wooden pallets can be found in various designs. In general, wooden pallets are used for heavier products in a one-way flow. 


  • Strong and durable
  • Suitable for storing in racks
  • Proven to be a reliable load carrier
  • Less expensive than other pallet materials
  • Easy to repair, as they are made with various boards which can be removed and replaced if broken or as necessary
  • Can be resold
  • Materials for the pallet can be collected from recycled materials
  • Can be recycled into mulch and paper
  • Quick and easy to construct
  • Have high friction compared to plastic and metal pallets


  • Quite heavy, so they are more costly for air freight
  • Very difficult to clean and if they become wet can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungus
  • Splinters, protruding nails, warping, or shrinking are common issues that lead to continual reordering costs

Presswood Pallets

Presswood pallets are moulded through high temperature and pressure processes into one solid piece from dried wood fibres.


  • Light weight
  • Good strength for its weight
  • Recyclable
  • Can be stacked efficiently one on top of the other
  • Very low moisture content
  • Easy to handle


  • Suffers from water damage if left outside
  • Difficult to store in racking
  • Not many warehouses are set up to store these types of pallets, so movement between warehouses can be limited

Plastic Pallets

Plastic Pallet
Plastic pallets are a stable and safe packaging solution for all transport applications and can be reused numerous times without any special maintenance.


  • High loading capacity and anti-slip surface
  • Low weight - from 5.5 kg (1200x800 mm)
  • Resistant against humidity and corrosion
  • Resistant to stress and shock
  • No interruption in delivery due to timber pallet regulations
  • 100% recyclable and can be ground up and turned back into a new pallet
  • More than 10 year life span
  • Resistant to chemicals such as acids and alkalis
  • Safe to handle; no screws, nails, splinters or chipping
  • Usable in all climate conditions
  • Can be easily cleaned (hot washed, steam cleaned or chemically sanitized) to remove any bacteria


  • If a plastic pallet cracks or breaks, repairs are not as simple because the material would have to be melted down and remolded
  • More expensive compared to wooden pallets
  • Generally not suitable for storage on shelves

Corrugated Cardboard Pallets

Cardboard Pallet
Cardboard pallets are formed from a structure of corrugated cardboard sheets which are designed to carry a load of up to 750kg. These pallets include an under layer where spaces are inserted for forklift blades to enter, then two more layers of cardboard to form the upper layer.


  • Light weight but surprisingly strong
  • Easy to handle
  • Completely recyclable
  • Customisable
  • Inexpensive to transport due to their light weight


  • Cannot be used for heavier materials
  • Do not hold up well over time in outdoor weather conditions

Images sourced from:

Wooden Pallet: By FHG (PRS pallets) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Metal Pallet: By Eric at Steelpac (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Plastic Pallet: By David Benbennick, via Wikimedia Commons

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