Roll Formed vs. Structural Pallet Racking

Roll Formed vs. Structural Pallet Racking

What is the difference between roll formed and structural pallet rack? Let’s understand the advantages and disadvantages of each and help you make an informed purchase.

Table of Contents

What is Roll Formed Pallet Racking and How is it Made?

Roll formed Pallet Rack is made by cold rolling steel into shape. Coils of steel will be slit to the appropriate size, and then sent through the roll former, to be formed into shape. Roll formed pallet rack is by far the most commonly seen rack on the market and is what we keep in our pallet rack stock. This is what you would see when you go to a Home Depot or a Costco.

Roll Formed Pallet Rack Beam

Roll formed rack can come in many different racking styles such as teardrop rack, keystone rack, T-Bolt rack and more. Roll formed rack is a more economical version of pallet rack compared to structural racking. Roll formed rack typically features a boltless connection making it a little bit easier to install. Roll formed racking is most commonly used for selective pallet racking.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Roll Formed Rack


  • Lighter construction for easier installation
  • Boltless installation
  • More economical than structural pallet rack


  • More susceptible to forklift damage *there are ways to mitigate this however

What is Structural Pallet Racking and How is it Made?

Structural Pallet Rack is hot rolled because it is too thick to be cold rolled into shape. A steel mill will do the hot rolling and rack manufacturers will purchase the steel, cut it to size, punch it, weld it together, and paint it. Structural pallet rack features a bolted connection and is a good bit heavier than roll formed rack.

Structural Pallet Rack Beam

Structural pallet racking is commonly seen in freezer racking, pallet flow rack, pushback rack, drive-in rack and other high density systems because it is more damage resistant and repairing damage in these systems can be expensive. It is not uncommon to see roll formed beams on a structural upright. This way you get the damage resistance of the structural upright with the economics of the roll formed beam.

Structural pallet rack is also able to support more weight than roll formed racking. Above certain weights, beam ties must be used because structural rack beams have a tendency to twist. Adding these beam ties can significantly increase the capacity of the beam levels.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Structural Pallet Racking


  • More damage resistant than roll formed pallet rack
  • Can achieve higher capacities than roll formed pallet rack


  • More expensive than roll formed pallet rack
  • Connections are bolted making installation more expensive
  • Moving beam levels is more difficult because of the bolted connection

Which One Is Better?

The question everyone has been waiting for. The answer is, it really just depends on the situation. Sometimes the weight you need to store will dictate what type of rack you can use. For example, if your pallets are over 5,000 lbs., you need to be looking at structural racking.

If I was putting rack in a freezer, there is no way I would put roll-formed rack in it. Nobody likes to be in the cold and drivers inevitably end up damaging the rack more than at ambient temperatures. Not to mention replacing damage in a freezer is expensive.

If you are doing a high density system such as pushback, pallet flow, or drive in rack I would highly suggest looking at a structural rack system as you may save yourself a lot of cost replacing items on the back end.

For selective pallet rack systems I would say 95% of the time traditional roll formed rack is the way to go. Most of the time this will achieve the capacities you need and be more pocket friendly.

Also keep in mind there are several things you can do to increase the damage resistance of roll formed rack such as double posting the column, internal column reinforcement, or column protectors.