This Is A GREEN Website

Pallet Types & Definitions

New GMA Pallet Configuration (generally accepted by today's standards)

GMA Pallets

GMA (Grocery Manufacturer’s Association) Pallets are one of the few “standard” pallets. They are 48” long x 40” wide and have standard specifications for the arrangement of two 5.5” lead boards and five 3.5” middle boards for the top decking, and two 5.5” lead boards and three 3.5” middle boards for the bottom decking. They are used not only by the food industry, but also by metal and glass container manufacturers, paper and packaging manufacturers, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as many other numerous distribution channels. GMA’s versatility makes them the most popular pallet in our industry.

Note: Many current building specs include deck boards that are less than 9/16".

Recycled/Reconditioned GMA Grading Types:
The most common size stringer pallet both, new and used is the 48 x 40 4-Way Flush pallet or otherwise referred to as the GMA (Grocery Manufacturer Association) pallet. The GMA acts as a commodity in the pallet industry, as price is often determined by availability. As these pallets move through their life cycle from a new pallet to a used pallet, there was a need to institute a method for determining where the pallet was exactly in its life cycle. This method of grading is broken into four (3) different categories. Each category is a guideline to use when buying or selling a reconditioned GMA pallet. The problem is that each category is open for interpretation and it’s important to verify exactly what you’re getting. Each category will have a price range and the price range will vary from region to region. The price will also vary based on the amount of available reconditioned pallets. Below are the four (4) different grading categories and their corresponding condition. 

 AA Grade, Premium. A Grade, A1, Sam's Grade – This pallet will be of GMA specification with 6” lead boards both top and bottom. A very clean pallet usually blond in color  that has probably been used only a few times. There is little if any repairs to the pallet. The pallet will have no plates and no companion stringers.

Grade #1 or A Grade – Typically this is a GMA repaired to close to its original condition. Broken stringers may have been replaced or repaired with metal plates. All damaged deck boards are replaced. This is a fairly clean pallet that is structurally sound.  Lead boards top and bottom may be 4” or 6”.

Grade #2 or B Grade – Typically this is a GMA, which has had stringer damage that has been repaired by attaching an additional stringer along side the damaged one. This is commonly referred to as a companion stringer, block stringer and double stringer.  Proper stringer repair should consist of the use of half stringers only, however many recyclers will use 6” blocks for foot repair

Grade #3 or C Grade – Typically this is a GMA, which has been repaired numerous times. Most of the stringers on a "C" grade pallet will have companion stringers some even doubled. The deck boards will be inconsistent in size, spacing and thickness. These pallets are usually in very poor condition and are accepted by few companies.

Note:  Pallet descriptions vary greatly from vendor to vendor and by geographic regions.  Some vendors create sub categories of each of the above.

North American Pallets  Of the top pallets used in North America, the most commonly used by far is the Grocery Manufacturers' Association (GMA) pallet, which accounts for 30% of all new wood pallets produced in the United States.[10] The ISO also recognizes the GMA pallet footprint as one of its six standard sizes.

mm (L × W)
in (L × W)
Production Rank Industries Using
1219 × 1016 48 × 40 1 Grocery, many others
1067 ×1067 42 × 42 2 Telecommunications, Paint
1219 × 1219 48 × 48 3 Drums
1016 × 1219 40 × 48 4 Military,[11] Cement
1219 × 1067 48 × 42 5 Chemical, Beverage
1016 × 1016 40 × 40 6 Dairy
1219 × 1143 48 × 45 7 Automotive
1118 × 1118 44 × 44 8 Drums, Chemical
914 × 914 36 × 36 9 Beverage
1219 × 914 48 × 36 10 Beverage, Shingles, Packaged Paper
889 × 1156 35 × 45.5 Unknown Military 1/2 ISO container, fits 36" standard doors[12]
1219 × 508 48 × 20 Unknown Retail


ISO Pallets  The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sanctions six pallet dimensions, detailed in ISO Standard 6780: Flat pallets for intercontinental materials handling—Principal dimensions and tolerances:[9]

mm (L × W)
in (L × W)
Wasted floor, ISO container  Region most used in
1219 × 1016 48.00 × 40.00 11.7% (20 pallets in 40ft ISO) North America
1000 × 1200 39.37 × 47.24 6.7% Europe, Asia; similar to 48x40".
1165 × 1165 45.87 × 45.87 8.1% Australia
1067 × 1067 42.00 × 42.00 11.5% North America, Europe, Asia
1100 × 1100 43.30 × 43.30 14% Asia
800 × 1200 31.50 × 47.24 15.2% Europe; fits many doorways


Here are some pallet terms to assist in the ordering and design process:

Annular nail - Pallet nail with annular (circular ring) threads rolled onto the shank

Banding Notch - See Strap Slot

Bin - Four-sided superstructure to be mounted on a pallet base, with or without a cover; also known as a box or container bin pallet

Block - Rectangular, square or cylindrical deck spacer, often identified by its location within the pallet as corner block, end block, edge block, inner block, center or middle blocks

Block Pallet - A type of pallet with blocks between the pallet decks or beneath the top deck

Butted Deckboard - An inner deckboard placed tightly against an adjacent lead deckboard during pallet assembly

Bottom Deck - Assembly of deckboards comprising the lower, load bearing surface of the pallet

CAD - Computer-aided-design software that allows the design of the "right" pallet at the best value; see Pallet Design System (PDS)

Captive Pallet - A pallet intended for use within the confines of a single facility, system or ownership; not intended to be exchanged

Chamfered Deckboards - Deckboards with edges of one or two faces beveled, either along the full or specified length of board or between the stringers of blocks, allowing easier entry of pallet jack wheels

Closed distribution system - Shipping system restricted to moving goods between specified plants and facilities

Collar - Collapsible wooden container or bin which transforms a pallet into a box

Cost-Pass-Through - A cost-share system where the partial cost of a pallet is passed-through from the purchaser to the receiver of the pallet

Cost-Per-Trip - Average cost of pallet use for a single one-way trip

Deck - One or more boards or panels comprising the top or bottom surface of the pallet

Deck Mat - Assembly of deckboards and stringerboards, forming the deck of a block pallet

Deckboard - Element or component of a pallet deck, oriented perpendicular to the stringer or stringerboard

Deckboard Spacing - Distance between adjacent deckboards

Deckboard Span - Distance between deckboard supports (stringers, stringerboards or blocks)

Deflection - The amount of deformation or bending in a pallet or pallet component under load

Double-Face Pallet - A pallet with top and bottom decks

Double-Wing Pallet - A pallet with top and bottom deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringerboards

Drive Screw Nail - Helically (continuous spiral) threaded pallet nail

Exchange Pallet - A pallet intended for use among a designated group of shippers and receivers where ownership of the pallet is transferred with the ownership of the unit load; common pool pallet

Expendable Pallet - A pallet intended for a series of handlings during a single trip from shipper to receiver; it is then disposed; see Shipping Pallet

Fastener - A mechanical device for joining pallet components such as nails, staples, bolts or screws

Fastener Shear Index - Relative measure of shear resistance of the pallet fastener

Flush Pallet - A pallet with deckboards flush with the stringers, stringer-boards or blocks along the sides of the pallet

Fork Entry - Opening between decks, beneath the top deck or beneath the stringer notch to admit forks

Four-Way Block Pallet - A pallet with openings at both pallet ends and along pallet sides sufficient to admit hand-pallet jacks; full four-way entry pallet

Free Span - The distance between supports in a warehouse rack

Hand (Wheel) Jack Opening - Space provided in the bottom deck to allow pallet jack wheels to bear on the floor

Handling - A single pick-up, movement and set-down of a loaded or empty pallet

Hardened-Steel Nail - Heat-treated and tempered steel pallet nail with a MIBANT angle between 8 and 28 degrees

Hardwood - Wood from broad-leaved species of trees (not necessarily hard or dense)

Helical Nail - Helically (continuous spiral) threaded pallet nail, see also Drive Screw Nail

Inner Deckboard - Any deckboard located between the end deckboards

Joint - Intersection and connection of components, often identified by location within the pallet as the end joint, center joint and corner joint

Length - Refers to the stringer or stringerboard (in block pallets) length; also refers to the first dimension given to describe a pallet i.e., 48" x 40", where 48" is the pallet stringer/stringerboard length

Line Load - The weight of a unit load concentrated along a narrow area across the full length or width of the pallet

Load Bearing Surface - Actual area of material in contact with and supporting a unit load

MIBANT angle - The bend angle in a fastener shank when subjected to a MIBANT test

MIBANT Test - (Morgan Impact Bend Angle Nail Tester) - Standard impact nail tester used in the pallet and lumber industry as an indication of impact bend resistance of nails or staples

Nail - Fastener made from endless wire by cutting a point and forming a head at the shank end opposite the point

NATIONAL WOODEN PALLET AND CONTAINER ASSOCIATION - A national association with the goal of promoting the design, manufacture, distribution, recycling, and sale of pallets, containers, and reels

Non-Reversible Pallet - A pallet with bottom deckboard configuration different from top deck

Notch - Cutout in lower portion of the stringer to allow entry for the fork tine, usually 9" in length, 1 1/2" in depth

Notched Stringer - A stringer with two notches spaced for fork-tine entry, (partial four-way entry)

Opening Height - The vertical distance measured between decks, from the floor to the underside of the top deck, or from the floor to the top of the stringer notch

Overall Height - The vertical distance measured from the floor to the top side of the top deck

Overhang - The distance the deck extends from the outer edge of the stringer or stringerboard; wing; lip; distance the unit load extends beyond the deck

Pallet - A portable, horizontal, rigid platform used as a base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load, often equipped with a superstructure

PALLET DESIGN SYSTEM - (PDS) - Reliability-based computer-aided design (CAD) program, for determining the safe load carrying capacity, performance, life and economy of wooden pallets

Pallet Dimensions - When specifying pallet size, the stringer or stringerboard (block pallet) length is always expressed first; for example, a 48" x 40" pallet has a 48" stringer or stringerboard and 40" deckboards

Pallet Jack - Hand-propelled wheeled platform, equipped with a lifting device for moving palletized unit loads

Pallet Life - The period during which the pallet remains useful, expressed in units of time or in the number of one-way trips

Panel Deck Pallet - Pallet constructed with composite or structural panel top deck

Back to top

Partial Four-Way Stringer Pallet - A pallet with notched stringers

Post Pallet - A pallet fitted with posts or blocks between the decks or beneath the top deck; see block pallet

Quality - Consistent performance of a uniform product meeting the customer's needs for economy and function

Racked Across Deckboards - Deflection of a pallet where the rack frame supports the pallet only at the ends of the deckboards

Racked Across Stringers - Deflection of a pallet where the rack frame supports the pallet only at the ends of the stringers or stringer boards

Repair - To remake in order to use again

Recycling - A pallet, container or reel that has been used, discarded, salvaged, repaired and which passes through a cycle again

Rental Pallet - A pallet owned by a third party, different from the actual pallet user

Returnable/Reusable Pallet - A pallet designed to be used for more than one trip

Reversible Pallet - A pallet with identical top and bottom decks

Shipping Pallet - Pallet designed to be used for a single one-way trip from shipper to receiver; it is then disposed; see Expendable Pallet

Shook - Cut-to-size pallet parts to be assembled into pallets

Shook Grade - The classification of the quality of pallet parts relative to performance characteristics based on size and distribution of defects, independent of wood species

Single-Wing Pallet - A pallet with the top deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringer-boards with the bottom deckboards flush (if present)

Skid - A pallet having no bottom deck

Slave Pallet - Pallet, platform or single, thick panel used as a support base for a palletized load in rack-storage facilities or production systems

Soft Nail - Pallet nail with a MIBANT angle equal to or greater than 47 degrees

Softwood - Wood from coniferous or needle-bearing trees (not necessarily soft or low density)

Solid Deck Pallet - A pallet constructed with no spacing between deckboards

Span - The distance between stringer or block supports

Stevedore Pallet - A pallet designed for use on seaport shipping docks, normally of heavy-duty, double-wing construction

Stiff-Stock Steel Nail - Pallet nail made of medium-high carbon steel without heat treatment and tempering with MIBANT angle between 29 and 46 degrees

Strap Slot - Recess or cutout on the upper edge of the stringer or the bottom of the top deckboard to allow tie-down of a unit load to the pallet deck with strapping/banding, also called the banding notch

Strapping - Thin flat bands used to secure load to pallet

- Continuous, longitudinal, solid or notched beam-component of the pallet used to support deck components, often identified by location as the outside or center stringer

Stringerboard - In block pallets, continuous, solid board member extending for the full length of the pallet perpendicular to deckboard members and placed between deckboards and blocks

Take-It-Or-Leave-It Pallet - A pallet fitted with fixed cleats on the top deckboards to permit fork truck tines to pass beneath the unit load and remove it from the pallet

Top Cap - Panel to be placed on top of a unit load to allow for tight strapping without damaging the unit load

Top-Deck of the Pallet - The assembly of deckboards comprising the upper load-carrying surface of the pallet

Trip - Consists of four to six handlings of a pallet

Two-Way Entry Pallet - A pallet with un-notched solid stringers allowing entry only from the ends

Unit Load - Assembly of goods on a pallet for handling, moving, storing and stacking as a single entity

Warehouse Pallet - A double-face multiple trip returnable pallet intended for general warehouse use

Wing - Overhang of deckboard end from outside edge of stringer or stringer-board



ISPM-15, pallet, skid, Kansas City, recycled, reuse, remanufactured. Missouri, Kansas, phytosanitary