Dock Board Selection Guide

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Selecting the correct Dock Board for your application is critical in ensuring the safety of your employees as well as prolonging the life of your dock board.  Ill fitted dock boards could fail, move from position, or exceed your equipment’s operating parameters.  Here we’ll walk you through the different options, explain why they work best, and assist you in selecting the correct board for your dock.  Or for a quicker solution, give us a call at 1-800-772-6675!

Dock Plates, Dock Boards, and Container Ramps

Dock Plates are light duty transition ramps.  Typically made of aluminum, dock plates are designed for use with Hand Trucks, Pallet Jacks, and Carts.  Capacities vary from 1,000 lbs to 9,000 lbs depending on the plate’s length and width.  Fixed legs are used to keep the dock plate in place during use.  While typically designed for use in dock to truck applications, Dock Plates can be modified for Curb and Container use as well.  Hand holds are provided on either side for mobility.

Dock Boards are heavy duty transition ramps designed for dock to truck applications.  Dock Boards can be found in both Aluminum and Steel.  Intended for use with Electric and Propane Forklifts, capacities range from 10,000 lbs to 20,000 lbs.  Capacities up to 60,000 lbs are available on request.  Unlike Dock Plates, Dock Boards feature side curbs to avoid forklift run off. Depending on the model, legs or pins are used to keep the Dock Board in place during operation.  Chains or lifting loops are provided for mobility.

Container Ramps are heavy duty transition ramps designed for ground to container applications. Container Ramps can be used by a variety of equipment, however their weight generally requires a forklift for placement.  Instead of legs for positioning Container Ramps feature a full width stiffener to ensure they stay in place during use.  Like Dock Boards, Container ramps feature all welded steel curbs to avoid run off.  Recessed lifting loops are provided for mobility.


Your Dock Plate or Dock Board’s length is determined by a few factors.  The first being equipment.  For Pallet Jacks and Electric Forklifts, the plate or board’s slope should not exceed 14%.  For Propane Forklifts your slope should not exceed a 19% grade.  For these reason, Electric Forklifts will require a longer dock board to achieve the same operational height range as a propane forklift.  The second factor is the height up.  Height up is the difference between your dock’s height and the deck of the highest truck you’ll be servicing.  While a longer board can service at lower grade slopes, short boards are limited to their max grade.  Below is a height up calculator as well as board length diagrams for reference.

For Refrigerated Trailers, select a board with an adjusted lip length.  Dock Board part numbers in in “-R” have an additional 2″ added to the lip to accommodate refrigerated trailers.

Loading Dock Board Length Chart

Click to enlarge

Loading Dock Board Selection Electric Lifts
Loading Dock Board Selection Propane Lifts


Your Plate or Dock Board should be a minimum of 12″ wider than the overall width your Load or Pallet Jack/Forklift.  Which ever is greater.  Opting for a wider board increases maneuverability as well as reduces the likelihood of having to move your dock board when removing side by side pallet loads.  Dock Boards come in widths of 60″, 72″ and 84″.

Loading Dock Board Width Chart


Dock Plates – Your Dock Plate capacity should exceed the heaviest load transported by 20%.  To extend the life of your Dock Plate, select a plate that exceeds your max load.

Dock Boards – Dock Board capacities varies by the equipment used.  Please use the chart below for reference.  Dock Board capacities are rated for single shift operations.  If you run multiple shifts, it is recommended you increase your board capacity to extend the service life.  Stackers and other narrow aisle loaders should not be used on a dock board.  For Paper roll clamp and multi-shift loading add 5,000 pounds to the board capacity.

Loading Dock Board Capacity Chart

Dock Board Type

Dock Boards come in three different configurations.  Fixed Leg placement, 2 Pin adjustable placement, and 4 Pin adjustable placement.  Here we’ll discuss the best application for each placement option.

Fixed Legs are for use where a truck backs up square to the dock and the gap between the dock and the truck is no greater than 9″.

2 Pin Adjustable boards can work with trucks that are not square to the dock, however still maintain a gap of 9″ or less.

4 Pin Adjustable boards are ideal for for park out and non-square situations.  The full length pin placement rail allows the user to lock the board in place when gaps exceed 9″.

Fixed Leg Loading Dock Board Placement
2 Pin Adjustable Loading Dock Board Placement
4 Pin Loading Adjustable Dock Board Placement

Still not sure?  Give us a call at 1-800-772-6675!