Cantilever Racking System Guide

Cantilever Pallet Racking Guide

What is Cantilever Racking?

Cantilever racking consists of a beam anchored at one end. The racking is open in front without any vertical obstruction or shelving facilitating loading and unloading. Its racking design corresponds to long arms stretching from a metal framework. These arms bear the heavy load and help to store long and bulky items with virtually any shape.

Cantilever racking is also known as Lumber racking or Industrial pipe racking. If someone is looking at the long and bulky item storage possibilities, this type of racking system is a versatile storage solution for them.

Different Types of Cantilever Racking

The cantilever racking system is available in single and double-sided configurations. The single-sided rack is intended to fit perfectly against a wall. Whereas, the double-sided configuration is intended for use across the entire warehouse space. But, with a combination of two racks.

For both the systems, products are stored horizontally on the rack arms. And, they are easily manageable with either forklift trucks, cranes or manual means.

As a matter of technical fact, cantilever racking is available in 3 types namely:

1. Light Duty Cantilever Rack

As the name suggests, the light duty type is applicable to soft goods. It comprises a standard rack upright with specially designed arms. The aims facilitate continuous shelves for storage and picking.

Light duty cantilever is common in hand-loading situations. It enables the warehouse staff to access the stored goods without the use of forklifts. Each arm in the system can bear up to 500 pounds of weight. Nevertheless, it is also available for storage capacity up to 700-1000 pounds (medium-duty) and 5000-6000 pounds (heavy-duty).

2. I-Beam Cantilever Rack

This type is a freestanding rack usable as a stand-alone unit. It is available in heights of up to 20 feet. The storage capacity of the rack corresponds up to 20,000 pounds. The cantilever racking maximises storage capacity, provides easy accessibility and increases efficiency. Therefore, warehouses can opt for this type when looking for a low maintenance option.

3. Structural Cantilever Rack

This is the most widely used cantilever system. The main reasons are that it comprises robust steel components that ensure better durability and strength. Thanks to the high-strength grade bolts at each connection. Also, the upright has perforated holes that increase to full height. This supports versatility for all types of storage requirements. It enhances its capability to handle and store medium to extra heavy loads.

Structural cantilever racking is applicable for both indoor and outdoor spaces. It is available with a rugged finish that protects from weathering due to environmental elements.

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What are Cantilever Components?

Any racking system is a configuration of one or more components combined together. A cantilever racking is built up of the following components:

1. Upright

The vertical beams that support the arms are known as uprights. In general, an upright comprises the base part required for support. However, some versions include removable bases while others are permanent.

Uprights are available in different heights and load capacities. To determine the capacity required of an upright, calculate the number of arms per upright by the individual capacity.

2. Base

A base provides stability and support for the uprights to sustain the load. Modern cantilever racking is available with a mobile base that maximises space utilisation.

3. Arms

The horizontal beams that support the goods are known as arms. They are available in configurations at different angles to meet the storage need. There are two types of arms namely straight arms and inclined arms.

The straight arms are ideal for storing goods that will not roll such as plywood. They have a minimum pitch of ⅜ inch per foot to counterbalance deflection. Inclined arms are ideal for goods that may roll such as PVC pipes. They have a pitch of 20 degrees and are mostly tapered.

The capacity of each arm differs by length. The weight capacity increases with the decreasing length of the arm.

4. Brace

A brace connects to the uprights and supports them while providing strength, stability and rigidity. They are beneficial in supporting the uprights together. The length of the brace required depends on the length of material stored on the rack. The number of braces required in a cantilever racking depends on the height of the uprights.

Cantilever Racking is Ideal for Storing the Following Products

Cantilever racking systems are ideal for industrial warehouse environments due to their robust storage solution. They are perfect for storage of oversized and long products including lumber, aluminium sheets, building materials, wood crates, carpets, doors, furniture, vinyl rolls, timber, plasterboard, piping, steel trusses, PVC pipes, masonite sheets, plumbing supply and much more.

Structural cantilever racking is great for external use. For additional protection, you can cover the top with canopies for extra weatherproofing.

Advantages of Cantilever Racking

  • It is the only and the most efficient storage system for long loads. It significantly enhances warehouse productivity, handling times and accessibility.
  • Provides direct accessibility to a single piece of good or even a full load.
  • Has a solution for extra-heavyweight capacities.
  • The load length can surpass fifty foot or more providing increased lengths.
  • It is easy to install and reconfigure.
  • Installation of additional arms is possible for storage of all shapes and sizes.
  • Offers storage for goods up to a height of 6 metres.
  • It is available in the form of mobile cantilever racking. This enables usage of up to 80% of the occupied space. It makes it a great option for costly relocation or warehouse expansion.
  • Enables the warehouse with a neat and orderly arrangement of the inventory system.
  • It allows storing extremely heavy materials that may otherwise damage flooring.
  • Goods can be smoothly loaded and unloaded with the use of forklifts.
  • Bases are applicable for storage without reducing the capacity of the uprights.
  • Cantilever racking allows adding extra uprights, arms, and braces when you need to expand the existing system.
  • Design modifications are possible in order to meet the seismic requirements.

Disadvantages of Cantilever Racking

  • The installation and design costs of capital investment for the racking can be high.
  • Labour cost is more than the warehousing and storage space in the long-term.
  • It requires an aisle space in between each rack.
  • The system is not efficient for storing pallets.
  • If not designed properly or equipped with a conventional forklift truck, it may waste the warehouse floor space.
  • It may cost two to three times more than the standard selective pallet racking.

What Else You Need to Know About Cantilever Racking?

When opting for a cantilever racking, it is always good to keep certain things into consideration. Before purchasing the system discuss the requirements with your forklift provider. The layout design of the racking should align with the forklift requirements. Determine the layout design and equipment in terms of overall productivity. The aim must not be only on maximising storage capacity.

Each arm of a cantilever racking can bear loads up to a maximum of 5 tonnes. The arms are fully adaptable providing flexibility in terms of customisation for a wide range of products.

This type of racking is strategic for application up to 10 metres of height. If the height is further extended, it may compromise the structural stability of the system.

To make cantilever racking viable for multiple environments, powder coating is effective to align with the company brand colours or galvanised for in external surroundings.

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Rizwan Khira


  1. Thank you ever so for you article post. Really looking forward to reading more. Much obliged.

  2. It’s rare to read a post like this, that shows the author is commited to providing value! You honestly made me think! TY-I hadn’t thought of things this way otherwise. I have to share this…

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