Choosing the Right Cantilever Rack System

May. 23, 2024

Cantilever racks are specialized storage systems designed for holding long, bulky items like lumber, pipes, and sheet materials. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the specifications and considerations necessary for selecting and using cantilever racks effectively.

Understanding Cantilever Rack Components


The foundation of the rack, providing stability. It supports the upright columns and the load itself.

Upright Columns (Towers):

Vertical structures that bear the load from the arms. The height of these columns can vary based on storage needs.


Horizontal beams that extend from the upright columns to support the load. They can be straight or inclined and come in various lengths.


Horizontal or diagonal supports connecting the upright columns to provide lateral stability.

Decking (Optional):

Surface added on the arms for storing items that need a flat base.

Light Duty Cantilever Racking

Light Duty Cantilever Racking

2. Key Specifications

Load Capacity:

Determine the maximum load weight per arm and per bay.

Load capacity is influenced by arm length, column height, and material strength.

Arm Length:

Choose arm length based on the size of the items being stored. Common lengths range from 24 to 60 inches.

Ensure the arm length allows for some overhang of the items to prevent tipping.

Column Height:

The height of the columns should accommodate the vertical space available and the height of the stored materials.

Common heights range from 6 to 20 feet, but custom heights can be made.

Base Length:

The base length should be sufficient to prevent tipping. It typically matches the arm length for balanced load distribution.

Arm Adjustability:

Arms are typically adjustable in 3-inch increments to accommodate different sized loads and provide flexibility.


Typically made from steel due to its strength and durability. Check the gauge of steel used for an indication of its strength.

Medium Duty Cantilever Rack

Medium Duty Cantilever Rack

3. Design Considerations

Single-Sided vs. Double-Sided:

Single-sided racks are placed against walls.

Double-sided racks are free-standing and can be accessed from both sides, doubling the storage capacity.


Proper spacing between arms is crucial for stability and to prevent sagging of the materials.

Consider the weight and length of stored items to determine appropriate arm spacing.

Load Distribution:

Ensure even distribution of weight across the arms and columns to prevent structural failure.


Consider the environment where the racks will be used. For outdoor use, ensure racks are galvanized or have a protective coating to prevent rust.

4. Safety and Compliance


Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for installation.

Ensure racks are anchored properly to the floor to prevent tipping.


Do not exceed the recommended load capacity for both arms and columns.

Load heavier items on lower levels to maintain stability.


Regularly inspect racks for signs of wear, damage, or overloading.

Check for proper alignment and secure fastening of all components.

5. Customization Options

Custom Heights and Lengths:

Custom-sized racks can be fabricated to fit specific storage needs.

Arm Types:

Straight arms for flat items, inclined arms for items prone to rolling or sliding.


Decking, end stops, and safety locks can be added to enhance functionality and safety.

6. Maintenance Tips

Regularly check for and tighten loose bolts and nuts.

Keep the base area clear of debris to avoid tripping hazards and ensure clear access.

Inspect for rust or corrosion, especially in outdoor or humid environments, and apply protective coatings as needed.


Selecting the right cantilever rack system involves careful consideration of load requirements, space constraints, and safety measures. By understanding the components, specifications, and design considerations, you can choose a system that optimizes your storage space and ensures safe and efficient material handling. Regular maintenance and inspections will extend the life of your cantilever racks and help prevent accidents or damage.

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