Choosing Between Structural & Roll-Formed Pallet Racking Can Be a Weighty Decision


All joking aside this is the type of decision that can have a big impact in your ROI for years to come so let’s look at the differences between these two types of rack structures and see if we can help you make the best choice for your business.


Drive-In Structural pallet racking
Drive-In Structural Pallet Racking
Roll-Formed Pallet Racking
Roll-Formed Pallet Racking










It’s tough to tell the difference between structural steel and roll-formed pallet racking when you’re standing next to the frame much less from a photo, but that is for good reason.  The reason is because both types of racking are structurally sound pieces of equipment for storing and retrieving products for distribution. So what is the actual difference?

 Structural Steel Pallet Racking:

structural pallet rack
Structural beam cross-section


  • Formed from hot rolled channel steel welded together
  • Beams and posts are bolted together
  • Beam capacities range from 3,200 to more than 12,000 pounds (with a beam tie)
  • Built to withstand harsh conditions (i.e. outdoor and freezer)
  • Built to withstand high traffic & fork truck impact
  • Channel formed with open back for ease of cleaning (ideal for food storage)
  • Less maintenance and longevity are pluses of this type of structure
  • Common configurations: selective, drive-in, push back, & pallet flow applications


As you can see from the long list of pluses for the structural steel pallet racking this is a strong sturdy material built to last in the harshest conditions. All that strength comes at a cost however.  The weight of the steel is more costly to ship and the bolted connections make the racking more time consuming to install, but once it’s up… it’s up, generally speaking.  To ensure the rack will withstand the daily warehouse punishment, post welded foot plates are bolted to the floor and often rack guards are added particularly at corners.


Roll-Formed Pallet Racking:

roll-formed pallet rack
Roll-formed cross-section


  • Formed from cold-rolled lighter gauge steel
  • Boltless beam pin connectors
  • Can be formed into various shapes ideal for engineered systems (i.e. catwalks)
  • Ideal for most warehouse storage
  • Beam capacities range from 3,100 to more than 8,900 pounds per pair.
  • Less expensive than structural
  • Easily adaptable for reconfiguration and adjustment
  • Beams are closed and uprights are C-channel shaped
  • Easier to install but replacement parts and downtime can be costly if repairs are needed
  • Common configurations: selective, pallet flow and over the dock storage applications
Warehouse industrial shelving solutions
Tear-drop Clip Connection


New steel fabrication processes and manufacturing techniques continue to make roll-formed pallet racking ever more dependable, flexible and cost-effective.  The difference really comes into play with warehouse environment and potential fork truck impact. In a system where little to no forklift vs racking interaction is expected, then roll-formed pallet rack would be a solid, less costly option.  You will find this type of pallet racking most commonly in retail, commercial and industrial warehouses storing lighter weight items.



Warehouse industrial shelving paint optionsAt Apex Companies, we can help you determine which type of system and configuration will meet your throughput and ROI goals… roll-formed, structural or a combination of structural uprights/roll-formed beams may be the type of structure best suited for your warehouse.  Give us a call and we’ll get started right away on your new storage solution.  In addition, we offer a rainbow of paint options to further customize your pallet racking. Call today!