Pallet Weight Limit 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Safe and Efficient Cargo Management 

If you regularly use pallets in your business operations, you have a responsibility to understand the weight limits for those pallets. Placing too much weight on a pallet could cause it to crack or break, sending the cargo on top of it to the ground and placing your employees at risk of injury. At the very least, exceeding the weight limit for pallets could damage your cargo, wasting time and money.  

So what is the average pallet weight limit, and how do you know how much your pallets can support? Continue reading for your comprehensive guide to safe and efficient pallet use.  

What is the Average Weight Limit for Pallets? 

The average wooden pallet can carry around 2,500 pounds of cargo, but this figure can range between about 1,000 and 5,000 pounds, depending on the pallet material. For example, plastic pallets can support a range from 5,000 to 30,000 pounds of cargo. 

Factors Affecting the Weight Limit of a Pallet 

Numerous factors affect how much a pallet can safely carry. For your business to safely utilize pallets for cargo management, you must know the precise load capacity of each pallet you’re using. Keeping these factors in mind can help you understand how load restrictions for pallets may vary. 


The size of the pallet directly impacts the pallet weight threshold. This is because larger pallets are able to spread out the weight of the cargo across a larger surface area, placing a smaller strain on each square inch of the pallet compared to a smaller model.  

The impact of size on weight capacity is significant. For example, a wooden pallet that is 40 inches by 40 inches can carry approximately 3,544 pounds. Meanwhile, a wooden pallet that is just four square inches larger — 42 by 42 inches — can hold up to 4,445 pounds. Plastic pallets have a higher weight capacity, ranging over 5,000 pounds. 

It’s better to use a pallet that may be too large for the job than one that is too small. A few extra square inches can make a huge difference in the pallet weight limit.  


Different wooden pallets use different constructions and types of wood, impacting the pallet load capacity and durability. For example, pallets made from oak and cherry may be able to hold more than pallets made with softer materials like plywood and particle board.  

You can find pallets in other materials aside from wood, such as metal, wire mesh, corrugated cardboard, and plastic pallets. These materials also have varying weight capacities, explained more in a later section.  


The closer a pallet gets to the end of its lifespan, the less weight it will be able to carry safely. 

Most wood pallets have a lifespan of around three to five years. With each use, the cargo places strain on the wood, slowly breaking it down over time. After five years, wooden pallets may no longer be able to bear the same weight capacity.  

Pallets that have visible signs of damage should not be used, as they may not be able to maintain the weight you place on them. 


Even different pallets that consist of the same type of wood or other material can have different weight capacities. This is because the design of the pallets affects the maximum pallet weight aside from the material. Some pallets are designed to carry heavier loads and have a more durable structure as a result.  

Pallet Weight Limit by Material 

If you don’t want to risk exceeding the pallet weight limit, consider purchasing pallets made from materials other than wood. Manufacturers design these pallets to sustain larger loads and last longer, making them smart investments for your business.  

Below is the average pallet weight capacity for different pallet materials: 

  • Wood stringer: 2,500 pounds 
  • Woodblock: 5,500 pounds 
  • Stainless steel: 2,200 to 4,000 pounds 
  • Wire mesh: 1,500 to 3,000 pounds  
  • Corrugated cardboard: 10,000 pounds  
  • Plastic skids: 3,000 pounds 

The actual weight limits can vary depending on the size and construction of the pallets.  

Consider Sustainable Plastic Pallets From ORBIS 

The pallets you use in your business play a huge role in the safety and efficiency of your cargo management. Are you ready to upgrade your pallet system?  

At ORBIS, we offer sustainable plastic pallets, skids, and slip sheets that promote greater durability and eco-friendliness than traditional wood pallets. Our plastic pallets come in all standard pallet dimensions, allowing you to swap them out with your current pallet system with minimal downtime.  

Plastic pallets pose several benefits over wooden pallets, including: 

  • Better dimensional consistency 
  • Reusability and longer lifespan 
  • Durability and higher pallet weight limit 
  • Environmental sustainability 

When they reach the end of their lifecycle, our pallets are recyclable through the Recycle with ORBIS program.  

Don’t be burdened by a traditional pallet weight limit. Contact ORBIS today at 800-890-7292 to learn more about our sustainable plastic pallets or request a quote