Standard Pallet Sizes

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Standard Pallet Sizes & Dimensions

What are the Standard Pallet Sizes and Why?

Throughout North America, the standard pallet size is 48" x 40". This pallet size was popularized and standardized by the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) who found that it was much more effective to ship goods on large pallets than individual parcels.

Though the GMA has now changed its name to the Consumer Brand Association (CBA) the 48" x 40" pallet is still commonly known as the GMA pallet.

While the 48" x 40" pallet is the most common in North America, making up more than 30% of all pallets in the United States, it is not the only standard size of pallet. There are actually several different standard pallet dimensions used for dairy, beverages, automotive, chemical and defense industries. We'll explore some of these common pallet dimensions throughout this page.

Why Shipping is done with Pallets

Pallets are used in freight shipping to protect your goods. Also for carriers, pallet shipping makes freight handling more efficient and helps maximize trailer space. While they can be custom made, there are some pallet sizes considered standard within the freight shipping industry.

In addition to compacting freight and making it easier to handle directly, palletized freight can also be handled using a forklift. This allows trucks to avoid the use of a lift gate when possible, and makes it easier for goods to be stored within a warehouse or backroom.

Standard Pallet Dimensions and Sizes

The Consumer Brand Association (CBA) (formerly known as the GMA) influences the consumer packaged goods industry around the globe. They suggest standard pallet dimensions to be 48" x 40". Despite the group's name change in 2019, pallets of this size are still commonly referred to as GMA pallets.

More than 30% of pallets produced in the U.S. each year are GMA pallets. The next most common pallet dimensions are 42” x 42” and 48” x 48” respectively.

Standard pallet sizes. 
 48" X 40"
 42" X 42"
 48" X 48"

Types of Pallets

Pallet names stem from their construction. Stringer pallets are built with 2" X 4" wood, plastic or metal stringers. Block pallets are typically sturdier, made with both parallel and perpendicular stringers.

Below are five of the most common pallets seen in shipping, and a brief description of what separates them from one another.

  1. Stringer Pallets – Stringer pallets are a type of pallet with boards known as "stringers" that run between the top and bottom deck boards to add increased load support. These pallets can come in either a "two-way" or "four-way" design. Two-way pallets allow for forklifts to enter from two sides, and are sometimes referred to as "unnotched." Four-way pallets allow forklifts to enter the pallet from any side.
  2. Block Pallets – Block pallets are a four-way pallet that uses cylindrical posts to stabilize the top deck. These pallets can vary significantly. There are a variety of configurations that exist for block pallets. Models are available either with or without top or bottom boards.
  3. Solid Deck Pallet – These pallets have a single solid sheet of wood with no spaces on its top surface, instead of a series of planks. These pallets are easy to clean and transport. They are particularly useful for transporting and storing small items that could slip between the boards on a more standard pallet.
  4. Double Face Pallet – Double face pallets have decks on both the top and bottom of the pallet. The addition of a bottom deck strengthens the pallet by more evenly distributing the weight of its load. These pallets come in both reversible and non-reversible models. Reversible models can hold a load on either side. To tell the difference between a reversible and non-reversible pallet, check the density of the board placement on each side. Non-reversible pallets should have one.
  5. Double Wing Pallet – These pallets have top and bottom deck boards that extend beyond the stringers, giving the appearance of "wings" when looking at the pallet directly.


Pallet examples

Stringer pallet

Stringer pallet


Block pallet

Block pallet

Pallet FAQs

  • What is a standard pallet size?  The standard pallet size is 48" X 40" with each deck board being 3 ½" wide 5/16" thick. There are other pallet sizes that are standard across different industries but the above described GMA pallet is the most common and makes up more than 30% of all pallets used in the USA.
  • How tall is a standard pallet? A standard pallet is 6 ½” tall.
  • How much weight can a standard pallet hold? A standard pallet can hold up to 4,600 lbs.
  • How much does a standard pallet weigh? Pallet weight may vary but in generals, standard pallets weigh between 30-48 lbs.

Do You Have a Shipment to Book?

If you’re planning a shipment, use Freightquote’s® self-service quoting tool to find the best rates. Whether your pallets are loaded up and ready to go, or you have yet to decide what size or type of pallets will work best for your shipment, Freightquote is here to help. Our self-service no-commitment quoting tool makes it easy to find great rates for the shipments you need to make. Click the button below to start your free quote today.

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