Some of our customers’ most frequently asked questions are answered by Warehouse Rack & Shelf President Brad McNamee.

Q: What is the difference between roll formed steel and structural steel as it relates to pallet rack?

A: The main difference between roll formed steel and structural steel is the manufacturing process. Roll formed steel is made by passing cold-rolled steel sheets through a series of rollers that bend the steel to the desired shape. Structural steel, on the other hand, is made by hot-rolling steel beams and channels.

This difference in manufacturing processes results in different properties for the two types of steel. Roll formed steel is typically lighter and less expensive than structural steel, but it is also less strong and durable. Structural steel is heavier and more expensive, but it is also much stronger and more durable than roll formed steel.

In the context of pallet rack, this difference in properties means that roll formed steel is typically used for lighter-duty applications, while structural steel is used for heavier-duty applications. Structural rack is commonly used by food distributors as they are notoriously rough on rack and structural rack resists forklift damage better and ultimately lasts longer in rough applications.

In general, you’ll want to use roll formed steel for pallet rack when storing lighter-weight items, when budget is a major concern; or when the pallet rack is not in a high-traffic area. Some of the most popular roll form pallet racks are the “Teardrop Style” pallet rack system (see image below).

You’ll want to use structural steel for pallet rack and cantilever rack when storing heavier-weight items, when durability and strength are important considerations, or when the pallet rack or cantilever rack is in a high-traffic area. Some of the most popular structural steel pallet racks are the Frazier Structural rack and the Structural Cantilever rack.

The best way to decide which type of steel to use for your pallet rack or cantilever rack is to consult with one of our racking professionals. They can assess your specific needs and recommend the best type of steel for your application.