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Metal or Wooden Van Racking: What To Choose For Your Work Van?

18 January 2022

Either metal or wooden van racking systems for work vans can be extremely advantageous to your business. They’re ideal for arranging tools in dedicated and conveniently located places and maximise available space.

As a result, van racking can help numerous tradesmen be more efficient, and ultimately, more productive. However, before installing a storage system, you need to consider which type of material is best for you. 

Cost, weight, versatility, durability and safety are key factors. That’s why the majority of tradesmen initially opt for wooden van racking plans. At first glance, wood appears to be a sensible choice because it’s the most cost-effective. The other option is metal. You then need to choose between aluminium and steel. 

In short, metal is the more expensive option. However, it does have several advantages over wood. That’s not to say metal is the right choice for everybody but, in general, metal shelf racking offers more benefits. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Pros and Cons of Wooden Van Racking for Work Vans

For tradesmen that only have a minimal amount of tools and materials, wooden van racking plans offer a cost-effective solution. If you’re installing customised shelves, plywood is a good material for measuring and cutting. 

Lower cost vs fewer items loaded

Other than cost, wood has limitations that metal racking systems don’t. The main issue with van wooden racking, is it can max out your permissible weight load with fewer items loaded into the back. 

For some people, this means having to make more journeys. As a result, the cost-savings of installing wooden van racking is eliminated. Making more trips means you will spend more on fuel consumption and other operating costs such as salaries, carbon footprint, wear and tear on your van etc.

Lower cost vs less durability 

Wood is less durable as well – which means it requires more maintenance in order to sustain its shelf-life (pardon the pun). A coat of varnish is required to prevent the wood from wearing out quickly. 

Lower cost vs unsafety

Moreover, because wood weakens, old wooden van racking installations can become unsafe. Although wood is a hard material, it can crack if it is hit hard by heavy tools. For example, if you have to brake hard, or you’re involved in an accident, the impact can split wood van racking.

Pros and Cons of Metal Van Racking

Metal van racking systems are more expensive than wood. But they offer more advantages, so are becoming increasingly popular among tradesmen.


A key advantage of metal racking systems is they are lightweight. Aluminium in particular is a smart choice for businesses that carry a lot of cargo and equipment. It is half the weight of wood. Less weight means you can safely and legally travel on UK roads with more cargo in the back. However, steel is stronger and more robust. You will need to decide whether aluminium or steel is your best option.

Maximised space

When metal van racking systems are designed well, they will maximise the space in the back of your van. Subsequently, metal racking systems can enhance the functionality and efficiency of your mobile workstation. 


Because metal is thinner and more flexible than wood, you can create more storage space. This can give you more versatility and, in consequence, the capacity to make your storage system even more convenient. 

The only disadvantage metal has over wood is that it scratches more easily. Loose equipment that scratches metal can make the interior of drawers and shelves look unsightly. The solution is to install dividers that, for sure restrict movement and add protective lining around metal interiors. 

So is metal racking or wooden racking the best option for your work van?

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