The difference between a pallet and a skid

metal skid

Introduction to the difference between a pallet and a skid

In the world of logistics and material handling, the terms “pallet” and “skid” are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion. However, there are crucial differences between the two that are essential to understand, especially for businesses involved in shipping, warehousing, and transportation. In this article, we will delve into the distinctions between a pallet and a skid, shedding light on their unique characteristics, purposes, and benefits.

Pallets: The Versatile Logistics Marvel

Pallets are perhaps the more commonly recognized term, and for good reason – they are an integral part of the modern supply chain. Pallets are flat, horizontal structures used to support goods, making them easy to handle, transport, and store. Here are the key features that differentiate pallets from skids:

Deckboards and Stringers:

  • Pallets typically consist of both deck boards and stringers. Deckboards are the top and bottom surfaces of the pallet, while stringers are the vertical pieces that support the deckboards. This design adds strength and stability to the pallet.

Standardized Sizing:

  • Pallets adhere to standardized dimensions, such as the widely accepted 48×40-inch pallets used in North America. This standardization ensures compatibility with various handling equipment, such as forklifts and pallet jacks.

Four-Way Entry:

  • Pallets are designed with four-way entry, allowing forklifts and pallet jacks to access them from any side. This feature facilitates efficient loading, unloading, and stacking of goods.


  • Pallets are highly versatile and can be used in various industries, including manufacturing, retail, and agriculture. They are compatible with racking systems, conveyor belts, and other storage solutions.

Skids: A Simpler Solution

In contrast to pallets, skids are a simpler, less versatile solution for material handling. Skids have a more straightforward design and are often employed for specific applications. Here are the distinctive features of skids:

No Bottom Deckboards:

  • Unlike pallets, skids lack bottom deck boards. Instead, they consist of top deck boards and runners, which are parallel boards running along the length of the skid. This design offers less support and stability than pallets.

Non-Standardized Sizes:

  • Skids come in a range of sizes, and there is no universal standard for their dimensions. This lack of standardization can lead to compatibility issues with handling equipment and storage systems.

Limited Use Cases:

  • Skids are primarily used in industries where goods are transported for short distances or where they are placed directly on the ground. They are less suitable for applications that require frequent stacking or vertical storage.

Benefits of Pallets and Skids

While we’ve highlighted the differences between pallets and skids, it’s essential to recognize their respective advantages and when to use each:

Benefits of Pallets:


 Pallets are incredibly efficient for high-volume, standardized shipping and storage. They streamline the loading and unloading processes, reducing labor costs and time.

Product Protection:

The bottom deck boards of pallets provide extra protection for goods during handling and storage, minimizing damage risks.


 Pallets can be stacked safely, making them ideal for maximizing vertical storage space in warehouses.

Benefits of Skids:


Skids are generally more cost-effective to manufacture, making them a budget-friendly choice for applications where basic support suffices.


Skids save space compared to pallets with their simpler design, which can be advantageous in cramped storage areas.


 Skids come in various sizes and materials, allowing for customization to meet specific needs and load requirements.

Choosing Between Pallets and Skids

In summary, the primary difference between a pallet and a skid lies in their design and versatility. Pallets, with their standardized sizing and four-way entry, are ideal for a wide range of industries and applications. Skids, on the other hand, are simpler and more suitable for specific use cases with shorter transportation distances.

When selecting between a pallet and a skid, it’s crucial to consider your specific needs, budget, and the equipment you will be using. Both pallets and skids have their merits, and the choice ultimately depends on your unique logistical requirements. Understanding these distinctions will enable you to make informed decisions that optimize your supply chain and material handling processes.

In conclusion, both pallets and skids have their roles to play in the world of logistics and material handling. Careful consideration of your unique needs and priorities will guide you in choosing the right option to optimize your operations.

Need a reliable partner?

Red River specializes in the design and manufacturing of pressure vessels. We also fabricate related items such as prefabricated spools and skid packages.

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FAQ: Understanding the Differences Between Pallets and Skids

1. What are the primary structural differences between a pallet and a skid?

A pallet is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, or other jacking device. It typically has both a top and bottom deck. A skid, on the other hand, is the original pallet design and consists of a single deck. Skids do not have a bottom deck, making them slightly different in terms of structure and functionality.

2. How does the functionality of pallets differ from that of skids?

Pallets are designed for greater stability and are more commonly used in modern logistics. Their double-deck structure allows for easier transportation and stacking. Skids, with their single-deck design, are often used as a base for heavy machinery or as a permanent foundation for storage, as they are easier to drag or pull but less suitable for stacking.

3. Are there any specific industries or applications where skids are preferred over pallets?

Skids are often preferred in industries where heavy machinery is involved. They are used as a base for machinery since they provide stability and are easier to move with a forklift or crane. Additionally, in some manufacturing settings, skids are used for stationary storage as they are less bulky than pallets.

4. What are the considerations for choosing between a pallet and a skid for shipping or storage?

The choice between a pallet and a skid depends on the nature of the goods being transported or stored, and the logistics involved. Pallets are generally better for goods that require secure and stable stacking during transport. Skids might be chosen for heavier items that need a stable base and are not intended to be stacked. The decision also depends on the type of equipment available for moving these items.

5. Can pallets and skids be customized for specific needs, and how does this affect their use?

Both pallets and skids can be customized in terms of size, material (wood, plastic, metal), and design to suit specific needs. Customization can optimize them for the weight and dimensions of the goods, the type of transportation, and the storage requirements. For instance, a custom skid might be designed to support a specific type of machinery, while a custom pallet might be tailored for efficient use in automated warehouses.


In the realm of industrial solutions, Red River emerges as a pioneer, offering a diverse range of custom-engineered products and facilities. Among our specialties is the design and production of Custom/OEM Pressure Vessels, meticulously crafted to meet individual client requirements, ensuring performance under various pressure conditions. Our expertise extends to the domain of prefabrication, where Red River leads with distinction.

The company excels in creating prefabricated facilities, modules, and packages, reinforcing its stance as a forerunner in innovation and quality. This proficiency is further mirrored in their Modular Skids offering, where they provide an array of Modular Fabricated Skid Packages and Packaged equipment. Each piece is tailored to client specifications, underlining their commitment to delivering precision and excellence in every project they undertake.

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Pressure Vessels

Custom/OEM Pressure Vessels designed to fit your needs.

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Red River is a leader in prefabricated facilities, modules and packages.

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Modular Skids

Modular Fabricated Skid Packages and Packaged equipment manufactured to your specifications.


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