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Pallet Racking – Essential Design Factors When Considering an Industrial Spec Building

As the demand for industrial spaces continues to grow, it is crucial to ensure that new buildings are designed to meet the specific requirements of businesses seeking warehousing and distribution facilities. Whether you are a business owner or a consultant assisting clients in finding suitable industrial spaces, understanding the key considerations for accommodating high-capacity racking is essential. In this article, we will provide you with valuable recommendations to help you identify an industrial building design that optimally accommodates racking systems.

Slab Capacity:

One of the primary concerns when considering pallet racking is the load-bearing capacity of the building’s slab. Ensure that the floor can withstand the weight exerted by the racks and their contents. Consider factors such as rack height, weight distribution, and the frequency of material handling equipment to determine the required slab capacity. Some builders allow tenants to pour their own slab, however it is crucial to examine the specifications of the pre-existing slab and its compatibility with storage needs to avoid incurring any unforeseen expenses later. The default slab laid in many speculative buildings is often insufficient for certain operations, so it is very important to understand these details prior to signing a lease.

Egress Design:

Efficient movement within the facility is critical for productivity and safety. Evaluate the egress design, including the layout of entrances, exits, and corridors, to ensure unobstructed access to racks and emergency exits. Ample space should be available for the movement of forklifts and other machinery. Appropriate egress design in conjunction with racking is an essential aspect of receiving permits in most municipalities. Typically, egress designs in speculative buildings do not account for racking layouts. Therefore, it is important to address this matter early in the decision-making process when acquiring a new building.


Proper lighting is essential to maintain a safe and productive work environment. Look for an industrial building with a well-designed lighting system that offers adequate illumination throughout the facility, paying particular attention to areas where high-capacity racking will be installed. Sufficient lighting minimizes the risk of accidents and promotes operational efficiency. Having an idea of the type of racking layout ahead of time (height, aisle width, bay size), will help to make more informed leasing decisions, as moving lights is often an added cost that comes along with speculative buildings.

Ceiling Height:

Consider the ceiling height of the building to ensure it accommodates the height requirements of your pallet racking for both current and potential future needs. Sufficient vertical clearance allows for the safe installation and retrieval of goods, as well as the unobstructed movement of material handling equipment. Adequate ceiling height helps prevent collisions between racks and machinery and can allow for the further expansion of the storage system into the future as the business grows.

Building Layout and Configuration:

The layout and configuration of the building significantly impacts storage capacity and operational flow. Evaluate factors such as column spacing, building shape, and the presence of obstructions. A well-designed layout maximizes storage space, facilitates smooth material flow, and ensures easy access to racks for storage and retrieval.

When seeking an industrial building to accommodate pallet racking or other forms of dense industrial storage, it is essential to consider various factors to ensure a design that supports efficient and safe operations. From slab capacity and egress design to lighting, ceiling height, and overall building layout, each aspect contributes to the functionality and productivity of the facility. By paying attention to these recommendations, businesses and consultants can make informed decisions when selecting an industrial space, ensuring it meets their specific needs not only for the present, but for future growth, and facilitates seamless operations within the racking system.

At North American Steel, we are experts in pallet racking and industrial storage. We are here for you to lean on during the process of selecting the right industrial building, ensuring that you make informed decisions to support your business. Are you interested in speaking to one of our in-house pallet racking experts about your next project? Contact us today!