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Shipping Skid vs Pallet: What They Are and When To Use Each

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Need clarity on shipping skids vs pallets? Our comprehensive article breaks down the pros and cons for anyone involved in truckload shipping services.
Skid and Pallet Differences   |   Skid and Pallet Costs   |   Advantages of Skids and Pallets   |   Our Services
Published: August 8, 2023
Last Modified: August 31, 2023
Author: Jacob Lee

Using a shipping skid vs pallet is a choice that shippers of bulk cargo constantly face. Each platform can impact the success or failure of transport operations. Therefore, shippers will need to know the difference between each of these platforms before they send a load of cargo. 

According to the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, pallets and skids are fundamental to truckload transportation. While both assist in the handling and storage of goods, skids are non-stackable, with a single deck. Pallets have a top and bottom deck that makes them stackable and more versatile when shipping goods.

Businesses must be able to decide between using skids vs pallets for their goods. With the right information, you’ll be able to pick the best option for your needs. 

What’s the Difference Between A Shipping Skid vs Pallet?

Skids and pallets often go unnoticed in the transportation industry. Yet, these platforms are crucial to the smooth operation of the supply chain. Many shippers don’t know what the difference between a skid and a pallet is other than being different terms. Understanding what these platforms are and how they work is essential. 

Skid

The skid was the precursor to the pallet. This platform doesn’t have a bottom deck, which means it only has a single surface where the goods are loaded. Skids are non-stackable, but they can easily be dragged throughout a warehouse. These platforms also provide a certain level of stability that can be beneficial for specific types of loads.

This includes:

  • Generators
  • Construction equipment
  • Furniture
  • Long pipes
  • Medical equipment
  • Precision instruments

Skids have a lower center of gravity because they’re closer to the ground. This trait provides more stability and reduces the risk of freight loaded on top of it from falling over during shipping or storage. The absence of a bottom deck makes skids a much cheaper alternative to pallets. 

That said, the platform cannot be stacked because of this feature. However, skids are useful in scenarios where height restrictions could be a problem. These platforms are slightly shorter, which means taller varieties of cargo can pass height requirements. 

The non-stackable nature and low profile of skids make for perfect long-term storage of heavy items. For example, skids are often used to store large machinery parts in a factory.

Our article on Walmart pallet requirements will show you what rules to follow when you ship in bulk to this retail giant. 

Multicolored shipping skids vs pallets

When To Use A Shipping Skid

Shipping skids are ideal when transporting heavy or bulky items. These platforms are able to withstand significant amounts of weight. This makes them a great foundation for heavy machinery and other cargo as it’s transported throughout the supply chain. 

Other instances when it’s good to use a shipping skid include:

  • Transporting non-stackable freight
  • Long-term storage
  • Storing or transporting high-value items

Items that are fragile or awkwardly shaped can’t be stacked during transport. In these cases, skids can be a better choice because the platform is designed to sit on the ground and isn’t intended for piling up. 

Examples include:

  • Glass panes
  • Large sculptures

These fragile and high value items benefit from be from being transported on a skid. They’re provided with a stable base, propped up rather than resting on the ground.

For long-term storage of items in a warehouse, especially when they’re heavy, skids are the way to go. The single-deck design means they sit lower to the ground, making them a safer choice for storing items like engines or heavy equipment.   

Pallet

Pallets have top and bottom decks, which gives them stability. This design feature also makes them harder to drag through a warehouse. However, the top and bottom deck board construction allows pallets to be lifted by a forklift, pallet jack or other compatible devices. 

Like skids, these platforms can accommodate a variety of goods for freight shipping. 

These include:

  • Packaged foods
  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Bricks
  • Tiles
  • Lumber 
  • Bottled beverages

Pallets allow shippers to send small items in bulk. Typically, goods are packaged into boxes and stacked in an organized manner on the platform. The boxes are secured using plastic wrapping. Pallets can also come in a variety of different dimensions. This allows shippers to send varying volumes of cargo. 

Due to their design and the universal use of forklifts, pallets are easily moved around within a warehouse or factory setting. This makes them suitable for fast-paced environments where goods need to be frequently relocated. Pallets can also be loaded and unloaded from trailers very easily. 

Costco pallet requirements are also essential when you’re sending goods to this warehouse membership club. 

When To Use A Pallet

Pallets are versatile and regularly the go-to choice for many shipping needs due to the ease of use the platform provides. They’re commonly utilized for lighter products or when items need to be moved frequently.

Shippers can also use pallets when:

  • Transporting a variety of different goods
  • Easier for racking
  • Efficiency 

Pallets can carry a diverse range of products. As long as these items are boxed and secured, numerous types of cargo can be transported on these platforms. Pallets can also be racked easily inside a warehouse. This gives businesses the option to ship and store extremely large amounts of freight.  

Another benefit of using pallets is efficiency. Rather than sending numerous packages of non-palletized freight, shippers can stack their boxes onto one platform and send their goods all at once. 

This structures also provide a certain level of protection for cargo by lifting it slightly off the ground. Pallets create a buffer between other packages and freight inside a trailer. Therefore, cargo is protected against potential impact from other items. 

Our article on Amazon pallet requirements will be very important if you plan on sending bulk shipments to their warehouses and distribution centers. 

A warehouse worker pulling stacked pallets on a pallet jack

What Costs Are Associated With Using Shipping Skids and Pallets?

Generally, skids tend to be less expensive than pallets. These platforms have no bottom deck, which reduces the amount of lumber need to build one.  As a result, the cost to buy a skid is a bit cheaper than prices for pallets. We’ve provided some data showing the cost comparison between both of these platforms.

Cost Differences Between Pallets and Skids

Type of PlatformCost
Pallet$5-$200
Skid$30-$60

Provided by QMH and AAA Pallet & Lumber Co.

While a skid will be cheaper than a pallet, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be less expensive to ship with one. Businesses must also consider the type of freight their platform of choice will carry. 

Skids are meant to hold and store robust types of cargo. Freight of this variety is more expensive to transport due to the excessive dimensions and weight of the items. On the other hand, pallets are used to ship smaller products. 

While tinier goods are usually transported on these platforms in bulk, the cost for shipping is likely to be much less than what it would be for larger types of freight.  

The reason pallets have such an extensive range is due to the materials that are used when built. While wood variations can range anywhere between $5 and $30, metal designs can be as expensive as $200. Therefore, it’s possible to buy pallets the same price of a skid. It all depends on the choice of the shipper. 

What Are the Advantages of Using Pallets and Skids?

Pallets and skids are used for slightly different purposes. That said, these platforms can provide numerous benefits to business that need to ship a variety of cargo. 

These include:

  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Safety 

Each of these platforms are extremely durable. Pallets and skids alike can survive multiple shipments for around three to five years if each are made out of wood. Plastic versions can last even longer, with a lifespan of around 10 years. 

That said, pallets are more likely to come in plastic form than skids. Wood is still a good choice, though. For instance, broken wood pieces can be easily fixed.  This can save shippers money they would spend on a new pallet or skid. 

Another benefit of these platforms is the versatility that shippers will experience. Pallets can be lifted by a variety of other warehouse equipment. This makes it easier to load and unload cargo or move freight around a warehouse.

Skids can be used when transporting large types of cargo. However, the design of these platforms are great for storing freight that’s excessively large and heavy. Finally, both of these improve safety for warehouse workers. 

Pallets allow forklifts to pick up and move large quantities of freight as needed. This removes the need for warehouse workers to move the cargo manually. As a result, injuries are reduced. 

Skids can help provide a stable base for large types of freight, which prevents cargo from potentially falling on someone.

USA Truckload Can Be Your Reliable Partner in Skid and Pallet Shipping

At USA Truckload, we can accommodate for freight that’s attached to skids and pallets. Our network of experienced carriers have the equipment required to move these different types of platforms on and off their trailers. Therefore, you’ll never have to worry about being denied a shipment because your freight is attached to a pallet or skid when you choose USA Truckload. 

Our carriers can also provide the following transportation services. 

We guarantee that your freight will be shipped safely and arrive on time, regardless of what service you choose. If you’re ready to transport your cargo with USA Truckload, then fill out your RFP today. You can also call our team at (866) 353-7178 if you have questions or concerns about our services. 

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