Even though wire decking makes pallet racking easier to use and more versatile as a storage tool, many customers are still a little murky about what exactly wire decking is, why it’s useful, and exactly which kind they need. Many of the people we speak with aren’t sure what to call it (Wire mesh? Metal grates? Steel decks? Things that sit on top?) and aren’t sure what we mean when we ask whether they need U channel or flare channel decks (“What’s the difference?”). To help prevent you from joining in the confusion, we’re here to explain the difference between U-channel decks, flare channel decks, flat screens and bulk channel decks, who needs which kind, and why it’s important to have the right support channel to fit your pallet rack beams.
Support Channel: The Backbone of the Wire Deck
The support channel is the backbone of the wire deck and, as the name suggests, provides most of the load support. Support channels sit below the actual wire mesh platform, and the number of them on a deck is usually determined by the width of the deck. Decks that are wider will have more support channels, and vice versa. If the decks are being used for a particularly heavy-duty application, a custom number of support channels can be requested by the customer to provide additional strength. Wire decks with either three or four support channels are the most common, but decks with as few as two and as many as five channels are still widely available. The number of channels on a wire deck isn’t the only thing you’ll need to know about support channels before ordering, however. You’ll also want to know which type of channel you’re going to need for your warehouse operation.
U-Channel Wire Decks vs. Flare Channel Wire Decks
The are two primary types of support channels: U-channel and flare channel. As you can guess, U-channels were given their name due to their resemblance to the letter U. If one were to look at a U-channel deck head-on, the cross-section would bear a strong resemblance to the letter from which it gets its name. The U-channel is a single, unchanging piece of steel. Flare channels, unlike U-channels, “flare” out at both ends, allowing them to wrap over the top of pallet rack beams. While this gives flare channels a universal fit, it also decreases the overall weight capacity of the wire deck.
Which Type of Wire Deck is Right for Your Warehouse?
The type of wire deck that best suits your pallet racking is dependent upon the type of beams the decks will be used with. The most common type of beam is the standard step beam, which has a 1 5/8” deep indent on the inside beam face, referred to as the beam “step”. When standard step beams are being used, U-channel decks are usually recommended, as the ends of the U-shaped support channel fit snugly on the beam step. Utilizing a U-channel deck allows the user to take advantage of the extra weight capacity provided by the U channel. Another type of beam is the 7/8” step, or “bulk step” beam. These beams are similar to standard step beams, except they feature a step that’s only 7/8” deep instead of the standard 1 5/8”. Users with 7/8” step beams have a couple of options: if available, they may choose to use 7/8” step U-channel decks, which are simply U-channel decks made for 7/8” step beams. If 7/8” step decks are not available, they’ll want to use flare channel decks. The least common but still prevalent is the box beam. Box beams have no step but instead have four flat sides. Since there’s no step for a U channel to sit on, box beams require the use of flare channel decks.
If you began this article confused, hopefully, it has lessened the confusion and not made it worse. All in all, the wire deck information required for most customers is fairly simple. U-channel decks are stronger than flare channel decks but must be used with step beams. Flare channel decks “flare” over the top of beams and fit any type of beam, but aren’t as strong as U-channel beams. If custom decks are being made, more specific capacity and measurement requirements will be needed. However, for most applications, the type of beam, beam dimensions, and the amount of weight are the primary pieces of information that will be needed at the time of quotation.
Have we left your wire deck questions unanswered? Give us a call at 800-722-5908 or email us at [email protected] to talk to a pallet rack specialist about your wire deck needs.