Pallet Rack Wire Decking: Calculating Gauges and Capacity
How to be sure your decks can bear the weight of your loads
Wire gauge is a crucial element in wire pallet rack deck design and is also one of the first places manufacturers look to when needing to cut costs, meaning it’s one of the first places you should look when comparing decking for your pallet rack project. Lower cost is great, but only if you’re getting the capacity and durability you need.
Just because two decks are the same size in no way makes them the same deck. Here are the critical differences:
Understanding wire gauge types
Wire gauges can be confusing. At one point, the gauge referred to the number of drawing dies the wire passed through in the production process – higher numbers meant finer wires. But this didn’t help people understand what product they would be installing on their racks. Several standards have existed, also muddying the waters.
The bottom line for capacity
Here’s the real number you need to keep in mind: what is the wire diameter? Below are the most common gauges for wire decking:
- 4-gauge, .222″
- 5-gauge, .207″
- 6-gauge: .192″
According to the Moen & Washburn standard, a true 5-gauge wire is measured at .207″ diameter. Other standards might define 5 gauge as fine as .182″ in diameter. That minor difference may not seem like much, but every bit of material removed lowers the decks capacity.
Bottom line: the more a deck weighs, the better its capacity should be.
But digging through these specs, many of which a provider might not publish, can be time consuming and frustrating. A very cut & dried solution: look at the weight per part. Deck weights should be listed on the part number when you look at decking options. If you are comparing two suppliers for a project make sure you are comparing similar parts. Any obscurement that may be going on is ferreted out by the weight. A sturdier deck weighs more. If the difference is more than a pound per deck, double check. Make certain it’s going to hold your heaviest load and that it’s robust enough to take the punishment wire decks are supposed to take.
What about older decking in my warehouse?
If you are dealing with decks that were installed before you inherited the warehouse, try to find a brand or part number on the decks. From there it’s a simple web search to determine the deck’s capacity and weight. If that fails, look for older purchase documents that might tell you. You can weigh that decking, but that isn’t a true measure of its capacity. If you are trying to take on very heavy pallets or challenging loads and aren’t sure of a deck’s origins or true capacity, it may be safer to replace it.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Marketing Director with three decades of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. He writes on automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations.