The Great Pallet Debate: Which Pallets are Better, Wood or Plastic?

Traditionally, pallets have been made out of wood. The wooden pallet, in fact, has actually transcended its use in warehousing. Now people use wooden pallets as bed frames, raised gardening platforms, and much more. They’re upcycled into planters, shelves, and pieces of art. But just because they’ve been around for years doesn’t necessarily make them the best.

Some pallet racks now contain plastic pallets. But are they better? People have gone back and forth on the subject for quite some time. Here are a few things to think about if you’re not sure which type of pallet is better for you.

Which Holds More Weight?

This is easy: wooden pallets can hold heavier items without breaking. While plastic can still hold up to a good amount of weight, they’re not as durable as wood. If you’re going to be moving around really heavy stacks of products, wood is your best bet. Wooden pallets should be used for items that weigh more than 1,500 pounds, while the lighter plastic pallets can be used for shipments that are less than 1,500 pounds.

Which Costs More?

Here, again, wood is the clear winner. Plastic pallets can sometimes cost about three times as much as wooden ones. Those on a budget simply can’t afford to replace all of their wooden pallets with plastic ones. Small warehouses aiming to expand or new warehouses may also have to go with wooden pallets just so they have a large number of them.

Which is Safer?

This one goes to plastic. Wooden pallets can hold in moisture, mold if they get wet, and give off splinters. The nails or staples can also come loose and get caught on clothing or packaging. Plastic, on the other hand, doesn’t have these issues. They don’t have any fasteners, don’t absorb water, and can easily be washed.

Which Lasts Longer?

This one is more of a toss-up. Plastic pallets will last longer, and they’re often re-circulated into the warehouse system. However, if they break, they can only be recycled, not repaired. With wooden pallets, you can have them repaired if a board comes loose. There are only so many times one of these pallets can be fixed, of course, and some damage simply can’t be repaired.

What are you Shipping?

If you’re shipping fragile items, plastic is probably going to be better. Wood pallets with loose fasteners can puncture the packaging and damage the product. The cost of the more expensive plastic pallets may more than pay for itself if it means all of your shipments are arriving in perfect condition. Plastic is also the better choice for products that could easily be damaged by insects. Wood can harbor termites and other bugs, while plastic can easily be sanitized and offers no place for these pests to live.

Know the Fire Code

One drawback of plastic is that it’s flammable and burns hotter. Be sure you understand how the fire code applies to plastic pallets. Also, be sure you only purchase pallets that meet the UL safety standards.

So, which type of pallet truly is better? We’ll leave it up to you! Comment below to join the conversation!

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