5 Main Types of Warehouse Storage

Your new warehouse lease is finalised.

It’s got all the space you need for the foreseeable future.

You know exactly the type of stock it’s going to hold, and the frequency with which it will move in and out. The doors and loading bays are all designed to allow smooth flow of goods.


So now all that’s needed is the racking and other forms of storage to fill the void.

It’s that ‘other types of storage’ where the detail lies. Because the subtle differences in the many types of warehouse storage solutions can often be misunderstood.

What are the main forms of warehouse storage?

There are 5 principle kinds of warehouse storage:

They all have very particular applications, which depend on the size, weight and nature of your stock, as well as the size and layout of the warehouse.

Within each category, especially pallet racking and storage there are many subcategories.

Here’s a rundown of them all, to give you an idea of which one(s) will suit your warehouse best.

Pallet Racking

Pallets: the most common and essential component of logistical stock storage and movement. Made of wood, metal or plastic,

Anything which is delivered and stored in boxes and requires inventory logging is a prime candidate for pallet racking.

The most important considerations with pallet racking are access/movement, weight, stability and space. Weight limits must be strictly adhered to and all pallet racking must be inspected and maintained regularly to make sure that it is stable enough not to risk toppling. Aisle space required will depend on your specific space requirements or limitations, but consider whether forklift access will be just forwards and backwards or require a turning circle with a pallet attached.

There are 13 main types of pallet racking:

  • Carton Flow Racking/Carton Live Storage – bays with roller tracks and gradients, so that stock can roll down and be replaced. Better for smaller, unboxed stock, hence the name.
  • Cantilever Racking – Storage utilising beams which anchor at one end, primarily used for timber, piping, plasterboard and other long loads.
  • Coil Racking – You might have seen this used to store chains and cables in DIY stores, it’s just a system of spooling cools, allowing lengths to be cut.
  • Double Deep Racking – Pallets stored two rows deep, requires a specialised forklift or a double deep handling attachment.
  • Drive-In Racking – Pallets placed so that they can slide back on a rail, good for creating more space.
  • Drive-Through Racking – The same as drive-in racking, but goods can be accessed from two sides instead of one
  • High-Bay Racking – Racking with racks fixed to the walls and roof for higher storage, a fully automated retrieval system is usually involved.
  • Mobile Racking – Racking with sensor technology for automated retrieval.
  • Narrow Aisle Racking – A narrower system for increased storage, recently forklifts have been developed which can work effectively in these systems.
  • Pallet Live Racking – Racking with inclined rollers, also known as gravity flow racking
  • Push Back Racking – Racking with deeper aisles so that stock can be ‘pushed’ further into the racking
  • Shuttle Racking – A shuttle is built into the shelving system which moves the pallets to the back of the aisle.
  • Vertical Racking – Upright storage for long stock, secured by metal arms. Stock is usually stored individually for easy access.


This one is fairly self-explanatory. Stock sits on static shelves rather than mobile pallets, so cannot be retrieved via forklift. But shelving is ideal for quick, easy access to stock, just as if you were in aisles at a shop.

For this reason, it’s far more applicable for small, light items requiring manual picking and placement – such as agricultural produce, clothing, machine parts and components and small products. Anything too heavy to carry alone can’t be stored this way.

Many shelved items need to be handled with care. Height is the main thing to take into consideration after weight, as high shelves require ladder access. There are two main types of static shelves:

  • Short Span Shelving – Better suited to smaller stock items, although most systems are adjustable.
  • Long Span Shelving – Larger units with space for bigger items.

Mobile Shelving

Often used for archiving and data storage, mobile shelving uses storage shelves fitted with a traction system.

The kind of stock kept in this environment can be kept in closely packed, compact storage when access isn’t needed, making it an ideal solution for archiving and retail store back areas.

For smaller premises where space is at a tight premium, mobile shelving represents an ideal way of making the most of the available storage space.

Typically, mobile shelving units are on a level track way, with the track either built into the floor or mounted on top.

In order to specify the tracks, a clear definition of the type of flooring in the premises is needed, and in particular whether it is possible to lay tracking which will be stable, remain in place and not degrade the floor integrity.

Mobile shelving solutions also use a locking mechanism on the shelves to keep them secured when they aren’t in use. Consideration should also be given to whether manual or mechanical mobile shelving system is required.

Multi-Tier Racking

Multi-tier racking is ideal if you want to take full advantage of the vertical space you have in your warehouse. Multi-tier racking systems have different tiers, much like floors, so that stock can be accessed manually all the way up to the maximum limit of vertical storage.

Often this is achieved with a system of mezzanine flooring and stairs, although sometimes scissor lifts are also used. The storage they offer is very dense, so it’s most effective when you have large quantities of stock with a relatively small individual unit size.

Mezzanine Flooring

A warehouse mezzanine floor can yield a massive amount of extra storage space. Effectively, you’re just constructing a second floor above existing aisles, which provides extra shelving space, working areas for staff to pick and pack or check and move stock on.

Mezzanines don’t always need to be restricted to a single level; they can provide two or even three extra levels.

Mezzanine flooring technology has advanced dramatically in recent years, with a whole variety of custom designs on offer.

Because of these advances, virtually all mezzanine flooring is custom designed and fitted to integrate with most storage situations in virtually any warehouse situation.

It’s best to use a company that can manage the whole process for you – from designing and installing bespoke mezzanine systems to advising on how you should fit out and make best use of your additional space, as well as embedding the important additional features you may need.

Options typically include suspended ceilings, integrated light fixtures, lift systems (automatic or manual), through-floor conveyers and fire safety appliances. Take careful note of how heavy or fragile your stock is when deciding.

Acorn Warehouse Solutions has decades of experience in warehouse planning, fit-outs, maintenance and expansion – including installation of mezzanine floors and flooring and repurposing of racking space. For us, warehouse safety is second nature.

Next steps: Arrange to have a chat with Acorn Warehouse Solutions about your next warehouse fit-out project. We’ll be delighted to give you a quote for the complete design, supply, installation and commissioning of your warehouse. Call us on 01799 532024 or email admin@awsltd.biz.