Should Your New Pallets Be Hardwood or Softwood?

You have a lot of options when it comes to new pallets, including whether they should be made of hardwood or softwood. Which type is best for your operation?

There are two types of wood, hardwood and softwood. Hardwood was the preferred wood type in pallets for decades, but recently softwood pallets have become more popular due to pricing and availability. For more information on the weight capacity differences between new hardwood and softwood pallets start a conversation with our experts. You should consider the following differences between hardwood and softwood when deciding your new pallet material:

  • Cost and Availability
  • Weight Capacity
  • Pallet Weight
  • Repairability and Lifespan

Hardwood vs. Softwood

Hardwood is generally denser and stronger than softwood. It can retain shape under more pressure, and can withstand more stress before bending and breaking when compared to softwood. Hardwood trees are more common than softwood trees globally, but they grow much more slowly. Hardwood trees include species like walnut, mahogany, teak, hickory, maple, oak, and walnut. Some hardwood, like balsa, is softer than other hardwoods.

Softwood isn’t weak, but does not have the same strong and resilient as hardwood. Although softwood trees aren’t as common as hardwood trees, they make up around 80% of the world’s timber and they are much easier to replace. Softwood is simpler to work with and can be cut by saws more easily than hardwood. Softwood tree species include spruce, pine, redwood, juniper, and Douglas fir.

Cost and Availability

Hardwood is grows more slowly than softwood and cannot be replaced as easily, making hardwood more expensive. The lumber market and its prices can fluctuate rapidly, but hardwood is always going to cost more than softwood. Consider the type and number of hardwood pallets you’d keep in your pallet inventory.

Weight Capacity

Softwood has a lower total weight capacity than hardwood pallets, but can still support thousands of pounds when made into a pallet. Most applications can use softwood pallets without significant downsides, but high weight or special use cases may require the sturdiness of hardwood.

Pallet Weight

Hardwood is denser than softwood, making it stronger and more durable. This also makes it heavier and more costly to transport. Depending on the species used, the difference in weight between hard and soft wood can be significant. This increases the total weight of your shipments, potentially leading to higher fuel costs.

Reparability and Lifespan

Softwood is easy to cut, repair and replace. Most recycled pallets are softwood because of the ease of repair and the affordability of lumber. Hardwood pallets are repaired less often because of the cost of new lumber, but also because hardwood pallets have a longer lifespan. Hardwood pallets can be used multiple times before needing repairs, and are usually less effected by the elements if left outside. Softwood pallets are better for one-way logistics or where returning pallets are not a priority. Hardwood pallets are ideal for closed-loop supply chains or where they will be reused.

There are distinct advantages between hardwood and softwood when considering which to use in your new pallets. Hardwood is more durable and can hold more weight, but is more costly. Softwood is affordable and easy to repair, but doesn’t have the longevity or load performance of hardwood. Most operations and applications can be served well by softwood pallets, but your facility may benefit from new hardwood pallets. Start a conversation with us to learn more about hardwood and softwood pallets and which is best for your unique operation.

Pallet Consultants is a national pallet manufacturer offering a wide variety of pallet products including recycled pallets, specialty pallets, custom-sized pallets, new pallets and more. We provide quality pallets and pallet retrieval services to industries around the country. Start a conversation with our expert team to see how we can meet the pallet needs of your operation.

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Source: Pallet Consultants


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