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Dock Board Selection Guide

Safety is the first issue when choosing your dockboard or dockplate.  Always make sure you are using a dockboard or dockplate designed to work for your loading environment.

Key Points:

Dock Board Capacity

  • Equipment lifting capacity is used to suggest an ideal dock board capacity
  • If three  wheeled equipment is used, increase the capacity to the next higher capacity
  • If the dockboard is used more than One Shift a day (8 hours), it should be increased to the next capacity level

Dock Board Width

  • The dock board should be at least 12" wider than the widest equipment's wheel base

Dock Board Length

  • Equipment types such as pallet jacks vs forklifts affect the dock boards clearance rating
  • Knowing your docks differential is key to determining the required length (difference between dock height and trailer bed height)

Always use a dockboard or dockplate designed to meet or exceed the weight capacities that you are using on it.  Take into account the differences in 3 wheeled forklifts and 4 wheeled forklifts.  If you are using a 3 wheeled forklift, then you will need to increase your dockboard capacity to the next highest level.  To figure the weight capacity that will be  needed.

The width of the dockboard should be chosen by taking in to account, the products, and equipment that are going to be traveling over the board. Generally, the board should be 12" wider then the equipment used on it.

The length of the dockboard will vary depending on the type of equipment using it in relationship to the height differential at the loading dock. The height differential is the amount of inches up or down that the board will have to accommodate. Example: If the trailer is 55" from the ground, and the dock is 48" from the ground, then the height differential is 7". When choosing the right Dockboard or Dockplate, you should choose one that will accommodate the highest and lowest trailer serviced at the loading dock loacation. If a refrigerated trailer is serviced at the dock location, it is important to have the legs moved back to 14" instead of 11". In most cases when choosing the length of your board you will find that the same board accommodates two different height differentials. One for Pallet trucks and Hand carts, and one for Forklifts. If your loading dock will accommodate all types of equipment then you need to make sure that you get the board that will fit all the equipment specifications. Example: You determine that your capacity needed is 15,000 lbs. Your height differential is 7". The model BC6048 Dockboard accommodates the 15,000 lb, with a 7" height differential for forklift use. But only a 5" differential for Pallet Truck use. If you plan on using a pallet truck with the forklift, then you need to buy the dockboard that accommodates both the pallet truck and the forklift height differential, and the weight capacity of the forklift, you would choose BC6060. It has a rating of 15,000 lbs, and accommodates pallet trucks for up to a 7" height differential, and forklifts up to a 9" height differential.

The next issue might be price. Price will vary depending on whether your item is Aluminum (which is lighter weight, therefore desirable) or Steel (which is heavier, and sometimes necessary for extreme weight capacities). Size for Size, the Steel is less expensive, however, most of the time, Steel is more expensive to ship. The differences need to be measured if price is an issue.

Quick Ship Dock Boards

Another issue could be how fast it can be brought to your door. In fact yesterday might be to late! We have a partial solution for that. Its called just being a state away! Ok, maybe two states. A Standard Dockplate or Dockboard is one that fits many different size and weight capacities. These standard sizes are warehoused in seven different locations across the United States, and are almost always ready to be shipped the next day after the order is taken. Shipping is drastically reduced on these items because of their location, and often you will get a better dockboard for the money spent by upgrading to a Standard Board size.

Need help choosing the right product for your application?  
Give us a call at 1-800-741-1258

Choosing the correct SIZE and CAPACITY of equipment helps improve your dock operation.  The following guidelines will help you determine what equipment best suits your individual needs.


It is critical the proper dock board or dock plate capacity is selected for your operation. Using a board/plate that does not meet the manufacturer recommendations leads to premature dishing and potential damage to equipment. When selecting capacity of a ramp it is important to note what type of equipment will be in use. Keep in mind any future uses you may have so your selection best meets your current and future needs.

Note: Dock Plates are not designed for use with forklifts or other types of motorized equipment.


Insufficient capacity is a serious problem that severely reduces the life of your dock board, putting your equipment and personnel at risk. When determining the capacity you need consider the equipment types used and overall period of daily use.

  1. Match your equipment capacity rating to the increments on the bottom (x-axis)
  2. Follow the line up until you intersect with the block corresponding to the equipment type(s).
  3. ​Then follow the line to the left (Y-axis) to determine your recommended capacity.
  4. Note: operations exceeding 8 hours a day should increase their board capacity to the next level.
  • Stackers and other narrow aisle loaders should not be used on a dock board.
  • Paper roll clamp and multi-shift loading add 5,000 pounds to the board capacity.
  • Capacity rated for single-shift operation at a 3 mile per hour maximum rate of travel.

How to select Dock Board Capacity


Your dock board as a rule of thumb should maintain a grade percentage that matches the equipment to be used. For electric and manual equipment the board should not exceed a 14% grade. This will ensure electric forklifts will operate more efficiently while also enabling equipment with lower clearances to cross the ramp without catching. Facilities with a gas powered forklift have the option of utilizing a greater degree of grade; reaching up to 19%. To use the chart below first determine what your greatest differential will be; this should be a true measurement taken on your loading dock. Loading below the level of your loading dock is not recommended under any circumstance, if your trucks are coming in below the dock level wheel risers are suggested.

Dock Board Length Chart

To ensure your dockboard will provide a sufficient grade for your equipment, Measure the greatest difference between dock and truck height to find the differential.
There are two variables considered in the chart (left); Boards for all traffic or just gas forklifts. It is important to know what types of equipment will be used on the board to ensure the length will accommodate a 19% grade for gas forklifts or a 14% grade for everything else. Always be sure to round partial increments up to the next inch.

  1. Match your greatest Differential to the increments on the left (Y-axis)
  2. Follow the line across until you intersect with the block corresponding to your equipment type.
  3. ​From there follow the line down to the Recommended board length.

DIFFRERENTIAL CALCULATION: Dock Height (D) - Truck/Trailer Height (T) = Height Differential
Note: If refrigerated or container trailers are serviced at your location, you will need to request the legs moved back 4" to accommodate the lip on the trailer. Available at no extra charge.

How to select Dock Board Length
Typical Trailer heights
Freight Line Trailer 46" - 56"
Flatbed Trailers 50" - 60"
Bob Tail Trailers 46" - 48"
Containers 56" - 62"
Refrigerated Trailers 50" - 60"​

How to select Dock Board width

Dockboard or Dockplate Width:

Loading Dock Supply recommends a minimum dock board width of 12" to 18" wider than the overall width of the vehicle or pallet used. For improved end loading efficiency, you may consider increasing your dockboard width, as shown in the diagram to the right.

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Loading Dock Equipment
January 4, 2019

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Incandescent Dock Light with 60
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Incandescent dock light with 40" arm. 

Max Wattage:  300
Max Lumens:  3,700
40" Single Strut Arm

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molded 2 hole DB-13 Bumper
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DB-13 Molded Dock Bumper
4" Thick x 10"High x 13" Long

Molded Bumper Model R
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4" Thick x 12"High x 13" Long
Type R Bumper
Edge of dock leveler bumper

Heavy Duty Aluminum Dockboard
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Capacity: 15,000 lbs
Size: 60" Wide x 60" long
7" height range for all equipment
9" height range for gas forklifts

Quick Ship

Please note that dockboards can be ordered in many other sizes. The models above are available for next day shipment. See top left of page for all models. Custom sizes available on request.

Height Chart

14% Grade

19% Grade

Board Length






















8 1/2"