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Cantilever Rack Buyer's Guide

August 23, 2021

Cantilever Rack Overview

Cantilever rack is your saviour when you are struggling to organize the chaos of awkward, bulky and over-length materials across your warehouse. These can be defined as steel shelving structures equipped with lengthy arms fitted to metal frames. Such racks are a great help when it comes to storing heavyweight items such as lumber, furniture, metal pipes, PVC, plywood, steel bars, sheetrock, steel sheets and even cars.

Cantilever racking can be configured in many ways to cater to a diverse range of storage requirements. You can place cantilever racks outdoors or indoors and they are a must have in any commercial storage yard or industrial warehouse. You can add decking in the racking system for static storage, akin to a pallet rack system. The additional advantage here is that with cantilever racks you can easily store oddly sized items which are not feasible with regular pallet racking.

At American Surplus, we have a massive inventory of cantilever rack units ready for shipping. We can even help you with specialty models in cantilever racks, like salvage racks, lumber racks as well as cantilever racks topped with roof.

Cantilever racking assures high storage density when configured to make optimum use of available floor space. The easy flexibility of this style of racking makes it an extremely popular storage option, with potential for near immediate ROI.

Cantilever racking is used for a variety of applications, and goes by a variety of names depending on configuration and type of product being stored, including...

The Components

Cantilever Uprights

Cantilever Uprights are vertically constructed support columns which form the backbone of a cantilever rack. The uprights are fitted onto cantilever bases and are flanked by cantilever arms, forming a complete bay of cantilever rack.

Many of the cantilever uprights we keep in stock support double and single-sided cantilever configurations. Double-sided cantilever racking doubles-up storage capacity on each upright, maximizing storage space per square foot and reducing overall material costs for designing your system by requiring fewer uprights.

DO NOT place arms on the back of uprights rated for single-sided use as it could be dangerous. These single-sided uprights may have holes on both sides, but this doesn't mean it's safe.

Cantilever Arms

Cantilever Arms are designed to stretch out from uprights to create storage levels along the face of the upright. These arms are adjustable with shelf levels adjustable per your application's requirements. Arms can be inclined for holding materials that may otherwise roll off, and some arms feature a lip attached to the end of the arm to mitigate this risk entirely.

Cantilever Braces

Cantilever bracing connects between your upright to provide stable lateral support for the cantilever rack.

Diagram of the different cantilever rack components

Things To Know Before Requesting A Quote

Before you can request a quote for used cantilever rack, there are a few details that are important to have handy to ensure a smooth process:

Step 1: Calculate Load Size

You'll need to know the dimensions of the loads you're intending to store on your cantilever rack before you can start shopping around for the right cantilever rack system.

Step 2: Measuring Arm Length

You'll start by measuring the load depth to get the minimum extent of arm length required for your cantilever rack. The load depth cannot exceed the length of the cantilever arm. The cantilever arm's capacity limit drops substantially if materials are not properly centered on the rack.

Proper placement of loads on a cantilever rack.

Step 3: Measure Lateral Spacing and Load Deflection

Lateral spacing is defined as the distance from the center of one cantilever upright to the center of the next upright. To calculate spacing between the uprights, one will measure the distance between the centers and consider load deflection.

What is load deflection? Load deflection is the sagging or bowing of a load; a major concern when storing long items on a cantilever rack. You'll have to check sagging or bowing level of the intended load to determine required lateral spacing between uprights which can support load weight effectively. The very distance between the uprights which causes the least load deflection represents the lateral spacing required to offer the best support. A quick and effective way to determine your lateral spacing requirements before purchasing cantilever rack is by using wood blocks placed parallel on the ground to simulate the cantilever arms. Once placed, put your load on the blocks. If you see noticable bowing or sagging, then you may need to adjust the lateral spacing of the blocks or you may need additional support by adding more equally spaced arms.

The load must overhang the rack end arms by at most half distance from center of an upright to center of the next upright.

When designing a cantilever rack system, you must use as few arms as possible to store the loads. You should also be careful to keep load deflection to a minimum to prevent damage to the load.

An example of load deflection of a load on a cantilever rack system.

Step 4: Calculate Height of Cantilever Upright & Height Between Levels to Determine Required Arm Quantity

To calculate required upright height, you'll start by considering ceiling height, maximum reach of lift trucks, sprinkler systems, and any other possible obstructions or limitations which limit the height of your system.

The load must overhang the rack end arms by at most half distance from center of an upright to center of the next upright.

Next, you'll calculate the maximum number of levels for your system by determining the height of each level levels. To do this, you'll need to add up the clearance required between top of load and bottom of the next shelf level (the standard practice is to leave 6" of clearance, but you may need more depending on the material you're storing), the height of the arm, and the height of your intended load.

When designing a cantilever rack system, you must use as few arms as possible to store the loads. You should also be careful to keep load deflection to a minimum to prevent damage to the load.

To determine upright height, you need to add several individual shelf measurements to arrive at the sum total. You must be sure to leave enough room at the top of the upright to allow the connector piece on the arm to fully engage the upright.

Step 5: Determine Required Arm Capacity

The weight of each load should be evenly distributed across each arm of the cantilever rack, meaning that the required load capacity for each arm is rather easy to calculate. All you'll need to do is divide the weight of your heaviest intended load by the number of arms supporting the load as determined in step 3. To determine the required upright capacity, all you need to do is multiply the weight capacity of each arm by the total number of arms on the upright.

The load must overhang the rack end arms by at most half distance from center of an upright to center of the next upright.

To get the most out of your cantilever rack system, you can place your heaviest load directly on the base without contributing towards the bay's weight limit.

A diagram demonstrating how to determine cantilever rack capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cantilever Racking

Q. Roll-Form or Structural Cantilever Rack -- Which Style is Best?
Roll-form racks are lightweight and feature a bolt-less design. They are good for medium to light storage.

Structural racking is manufactured from c-channel hot-rolled structural steel. They are heavier and stronger than roll-form racking and their sturdy construction makes them substantially more resistant to impact damage vs. roll-form rack. Structural racking is best suited for heavier loads that can weigh 1,500 lbs. or more. Structural racking uses extra hardware such as nuts, bolts, and washers during assembly which slightly slows installation time.

Q. When and Where Should I Use Structural Cantilever Racking?
Structural racking is mandatory when you either:

  • Store heavy loads exceeding 1,500 lbs.
  • Store bulky materials such as lumber, plywood, bar stock, sheetrock, pipe, steel sheets, etc.

Q. Does Choosing Roll-Form or Structural Racking Affect My Freight Rate?
Structural Racking weighs more than a roll-form system, which may have implications for your freight rate. In order to get a fair and accurate rate, your salesperson will contact our freight carriers and shop around for the best rate for you.

Q. Does Choosing Roll-Form or Structural Racking Affect Installation Costs?
Structural Racking's strongest benefits are an Achilles Heel when it comes down to installation. The heavier components can be more difficult to move into place and the nut-and-bolt connections require extra time and tools to assemble compared to the lightweight, boltless components of a roll-form cantilever rack. The additional man-hours necessary can result in additional installation costs, but a skilled installation team will be able to keep excess costs to a minimum.


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