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What Is The Difference Between a Skid and a Pallet

wooden pallets stack in warehouse
Wooden pallets stack

Skids and Pallets

Skids and pallets are industrial packaging tools used to facilitate the shipment of large quantities of goods. Goods are stacked on top of these movable platforms during the loading, unloading, shipping, and storage process. Skids and pallets can also be used for long term storage of goods and are moved around with forklifts and hand-held pallet jacks. Skids and pallets are not equal in their applications, however, and depending on the circumstances one can be a better choice than the other. Below is a description of skids, pallets, a comparison of the two, and a guide for using one over the other.

What is a skid?

Skids are single-deck pallets that consist of a top deck board resting on ‘runners’ without a bottom deck board.  The most common dimension for skids is 48”x 40”. Skids have the benefit of customizations as they can be crafted into a variety of dimensions to fit specific transport needs. The original skid is made of wood and rests on vertical ‘runners’ that keep the deck off the ground. However, the standard skid is not ideal for stacking when empty or for frequent moves. This is where nestable skids come in.

isolated wooden skid with white background
Isolated Nestable Skid with a white background
Nestable Skid

Nestable Skids

Nestable skids are made of plastic with nine hollowed-out, rounded/squared molds on the underside of the deck. These molds keep the skid off the ground and are simultaneously stackable, making them easier to store when empty. This is advantageous because it can result in a reduced return shipping cost since nestable skids take up less space in a freight container when stacked. Furthermore, nestable skids weigh less and this can be a huge advantage when trying to comply with mandated weight limits. When shipping large quantities of palletized goods the type of skid chosen affects overall shipping costs, therefore, business owners ought to carefully consider their choice of skid and/or pallet.

What is a Pallet?

Pallets have both a top and bottom deck board supported by three or four runners between them. When both top and bottom boards are present it is called a pallet – this detail is what separates skids from the standard pallet. The intention of this design is to distribute the weight of the load evenly on the pallet. This strategy serves to increase stability for stacked loads, thus palletized goods on this type of pallet are more stable during transport. While the additional stability is good, the bottom deck board also adds weight to the load which can affect shipping costs. Although, this design allows for easier and safer movement when using a pallet jack or forklift. This can be particularly advantageous when it is necessary to move multiple units at one time. Due to the design, pallets are versatile. They can accommodate a variety of different products and materials for shipping. This makes them particularly useful to warehouses, logistics professionals, and retail companies because they are fit for a wide variety of uses.

isolated wooden pallet with white background

What is the Difference Between a Skid and a Pallet?

Both skids and pallets are industrial packaging tools used for shipping and storage, however there are several distinct differences between these tools. Skids and pallets have different structural designs and, subsequently, different advantages and disadvantages. Pallets have the stability advantage over skids, as previously established, while skids have a material cost and shipping cost advantage. Because pallets have both a top and bottom deck board, it costs more to make and adds more weight to the load. It is also notable that pallets are in higher demand than skids in general. Pallets can withstand more frequent moves via forklift than skids, and are also more stable while doing so. This can result in fewer damaged goods and fewer workplace accidents or injuries. Alternatively, skids are better suited for one-way shipping, despite having less resistance when dragged. The choice between skids and pallets depends greatly on the shipping needs and conditions, the budget, and variety of intended use. 

pallet and skid comparison model with white background
Illustration of skids and pallets

When to Use a Skid

  • Non-stackable loads
  • Bulky, irregular shaped goods
  • Temporary storage
  • Limited budget (cheaper b/c less material and less versatile)
  • One-way shipping
  • Skids can be custom-built to fit shipping needs

When to Use a Pallet

  • Warehousing, makes stacking product easy and moving the stacked product easy/safe
  • Shipping goods in bulk to multiple destinations because pallets make handling, loading and unloading easier with forklifts and pallet jacks. 
  • Long-term storage
  • Versatile, reliable and movable


Skids and pallets are packaging tools that ease the transport of stacked goods and products. They differ in their design in that pallets have both a bottom and top deck board while skids have only the top deck board. These tools have different strengths and weaknesses, and buyers should weigh those differences against the needs and conditions of their shipments.

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