Wire Mesh VS. Wood: The Best Option for Your Pallet Racks

Posted on December 7, 2021 - updated on September 14 2023 
Mathieu Azzola, CEP

This list of pros and cons will help you determine the best solution for your warehouse.

It may be useful to use some storage levels instead of pallet storage in your warehouse for hand-picked goods. You might also want additional protection, similar to what safety bars can provide when storing your pallets to prevent products from falling. This is where decking can become convenient since it offers horizontal shelving and a fuller surface between your beams to safely store your pallets or hand-picked items. A few options of decking are available, but the most common ones are wood decking and wire mesh decking. Each one has its pros and cons. This article provides some insight to help you choose the best option for your warehouse’s needs. Let’s start with wood!


wood decking, closed-style                                      Figure 1: Wood decking, closed style wood decking, open style                                        Figure 2: Wood decking, open style



Whether you are using wooden planks or plywood, wood can offer an affordable solution for your decking requirements.

It provides a uniform surface that can easily be adapted to your specific rack type.

Just make sure everything is properly held in place so that the wood decking does not become a falling hazard. As always, make sure it is designed to withstand the loads placed on it.

Because it is an organic material, wood’s properties can degrade over time: it can start rotting or it could crack due to an impact. These problems might not be immediately apparent and can give a false sense of security when loading goods. They can also cause additional hazards in the event of a fire. Why?

• It is a flammable material.

• It can obstruct the fire sprinkler system from adequately diffusing water all the way down the rack, as the flames tend to propagate horizontally instead of rising up to activate the sprinklers.

If the goal of the wood decking is not to store smaller hand-picked items, you could use an open-style configuration. This option lets water, air, and light through, but makes it a bit harder to clean properly.

Because it is a full surface, wood decking can block overhead lighting, which might compromise the visibility of items placed in the racking system. It is also more prone to accumulate and produce dirt and debris.


outside waterfall wire mesh decking                            Figure 3. Outside waterfall wire mesh decking

wiremesh                                       Figure 4. Wire mesh on a pallet rack



Wire mesh decking is a reliable way to store hand-picked goods and protect certain sections of your warehouse from falling objects -in a tunnel, for example. 

The main disadvantage of using wire mesh decking is that it is more expensive than wood decking. 

It is made of durable materials that offer a longer lifespan than wood.

Most wire mesh decking manufacturers provide products that respect ANSI MH26.2 2017 standards. 

Be careful with decking becoming detached from the beams (Figure 4), as it can become a fall hazard.

Deformed wire mesh decking                                   Figure 5. Deformed wire mesh decking

The openings in the surfaces will let water from the sprinklers travel through each beam level, easily reaching products on the lower levels of your racking in case of fire. This will help better prevent fire damages in your warehouse. 


It also offers better airflow and lets overhead light reach the bottom of the rack. 



There is a variety of types of wire mesh decking that can fit different beams, like waterfall wire decking, flat flush, and inverted flare, just to name a few.




Although the American rack design code MH16.1-2012 (RMI) does not give specific recommendations on the use of decking, Damotech recommends wire mesh decking over its wooden alternative because of the above advantages. In both cases, care should be taken when installing the decking so that it serves its intended use, which is preventing pallets or objects from falling. To ensure your decking is installed correctly, always verify your rack dimensions before ordering decking: you do not want it too big or too small, as compatibility with the rack could become an issue. It is usually recommended to secure your decking to prevent it from being a falling hazard. The Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI) provides the following recommendation in their website FAQ section:

“There should be a method provided to keep the decks from falling thru the beams. For decks not designed to capture the beam, an alternate securing method is recommended to prevent the deck from falling thru. Methods of securing decks include, but are not limited to, screwing, riveting or some other provision to prevent beams from spreading under load. The deck manufacturer in conjunction with the rack manufacturer can provide specific details."

Finally, remember that your decking may not be designed to support the same load as your racking system. Therefore, always make sure to properly place your pallets on both beams with a small overhang on each side. A decking’s load capacity is rated based on a uniformly distributed load, so if you were to place a large concentrated load in the middle of your decking, you could cause permanent damage to it, rendering it useless. For any questions about the conformity of your racks, contact an expert!

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Welcome to the world of Damotech, the first and largest rack safety solutions specialist in North America. With its lines of rack protection and repair products, Damotech strives to put an end to the endless cycle of upright replacement by focusing on warehouse safety and the permanent elimination of recurring rack damage. Through our engineering services, we will help create a safer working environment for you and your employees, bringing you true peace of mind while saving you money in the process.