How to Decide Between Hardwood and Softwood Pallets

It is important to get the right kind of pallets for your business and while there are many options available when it comes to new pallets, hardwood and softwood pallets are the two main types. Hardwood pallets were the preferred choice for many years but quite a few pallets are built from softwoods these days, especially southern yellow pine. Read on to see how you can decide between getting new hardwood pallets or softwood pallets.


New hardwood pallets are generally stronger than new softwood pallets due to being denser, although the hardwood species vary quite a bit and some species are actually less dense than pine. In general though, they withstand more stress before they bend and break and hardwood pallets tend to retain their shape under higher pressure than those made of softwood. Hardwood trees, while more prevalent globally, grow more slowly and are therefore a bit harder to replace than softwood. While softwood is not weak, in some cases it simply lacks the resilience of hardwood.


Because softwood is not as dense as hardwood, softwood pallets are generally lighter than those made of hardwood. This is especially true of kiln-dried southern yellow pine, which has been dried at the mill so that the wood contains very little moisture.  Softwood pallets are successfully used in a number of applications as long as they don’t have especially high weight requirements or are engineered using an appropriate pallet design program for heavier unit loads. Softwood is also easier and cheaper to transport thanks to its lower weight, and this can have a significant effect on the price you pay for your shipment.


Softwood is easier to work with and cut to make pallets due to its light nature, but it tends to have a shorter lifespan. New hardwood pallets will have a longer lifespan because they are durable and affected less by the elements if exposed. If you are shipping items one way, or you don’t have a priority for returning the pallets, softwood pallets are the better choice. Hardwood pallets are often made to be used multiple times before getting repaired or replaced.

The several differences that exist between hardwood pallets and softwood pallets present a variety of advantages and disadvantages. In the U.S., 25% or 504 million acres of land in the area are available as timber resources for making commercial wood products.  This acreage yields plenty of timber for lumber and since trees are replanted these resources are renewable and sustainable.  In fact, the US grows more trees now than we did even 50 years ago.