Dealer Portal Blog

July 23, 2015

Structural vs. Roll-Formed Rack: When to Sell the “Big” Stuff


While structural rack projects don’t come along everyday, we thought we’d share our experience and knowledge about the pluses and minuses about it and also include information about the differences from the much more common roll-formed rack that we stock for you.

For example, did you know that structural rack is roll-formed too?  The difference is in the process.  Read on for more.

Structural Rack Basics

To get started, rack manufacturers usually describe the two manufacturing methods as “cold rolled” (roll form rack) or “hot rolled” (structural steel).

The cold rolled rack which you purchase from us starts as a coil of steel. While it is flat, the steel is punched for the beam attachments then sent through rollers which form the steel and give it the shape it requires for strength. Finally, struts and footplates are welded to columns and endplates are welded to beams.


Roll Form Rack

Roll Form Rack

Structural rack is rolled as well, but it’s done while it’s hot enough to form into the C channel shapes on the columns and beams shown below. This lends it strength that can be greater than cold rolled rack as well as a more open design that lends itself to ease of cleaning in food storage environments.


Structural Rack

Structural Rack


You’ll notice that the structural connections are bolts instead of teardrop or slotted which are most common in roll formed rack. This adds strength to the rack system but does take longer to install or adjust.

Be aware that some manufacturers don’t powder coat structural rack but use enamel paint to finish the components. It’s also possible to purchase cold-rolled beams that are compatible with structural uprights.


Structural Pros and Cons


  • Ideal for freezers, coolers and other food storage because it’s easier to clean.
  • Beams can have significantly higher capacity (as long as pallet supports are used to brace the beams).
  • Often galvanized for out-of-doors use.
  • More resistant to light damage but this can be misleading since the impact could break the footplate welds.


  • Heavier, so shipping costs go up.
  • Accessories can be an issue. For example, because the beams don’t include a step, flanged wire decking is required.
  • Bolting the beams in place takes longer which means installation costs go up.
  • Generally costs about 15% more than cold rolled rack.


If you want to learn more about structural rack or any other material handling system, remember that we’ve place a lot of information on the  Toolkit page. If it doesn’t have what you need or you want more information just email or give us a call at 630-516-1115. We’re here to help you succeed.


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