Pallet Shrink Wrap – 12 Misconceptions to Know Before Buying

Pallet shrink wrap can be confused with a few different materials. People often look for rolls of a material that stretches to conform tightly around pallet loads of goods. Anyone searching will find a plethora of options online. Be sure you know about the common misunderstanding before purchasing pallet shrink wrap.

Below are twelve misconceptions people have about pallet shrink wrap. Anyone purchasing in bulk should read this before making a purchase. Pallet shrink wrap is a general term, be sure you purchase the products you need.

First, if you are looking for a true pallet shrink wrap, there are thicker pallet heat shrink materials used to shrink and conform to pallet loads of products. The most common of these are pallet shrink bags. Premade bags to fit various pallet sizes are made from a thick polyethylene shrink material to slide over pallet loads of goods to shrink and conform to hold and protect the load. Another less common method for heat-shrinking pallets is using a thick industrial or marine shrink wrap. Most marine wraps are opaque and colored either blue or white. Some new machines and equipment are often wrapped and sent out with this heat shrink material, but it is not often used for wrapping pallet loads of goods.

  • 1. The material shrinks down – The phrase pallet shrink wrap sounds like the plastic shrinks down. Though some ‘pallet shrink wraps’ shrink down, people often reference the rolls of film wrapped around a pallet, also known as stretch film.

Most people searching for pallet shrink wrap want something they can pull tight around products to hold and unitize during shipment. This material is a stretch film, though people call it shrink wrap. Because the wrap is pulled tightly around the products, it appears shrunk and conformed. The wrap does the opposite and expands to wrap around the skid. With the proper amount of stretch, less film is used, and loads are held tighter together. This form of ‘pallet shrink wrap’ does not shrink down.

  • 2. You must apply heat – The heat shrink materials mentioned above require heat, but stretch film for wrapping around pallets does not require heat. The proper amount of tension and stretch will appear the plastic shrunken around the shipment.
  • 3. Pallet shrink wrap is food grade – It is tempting to use a wide, thin plastic for food applications. Covering containers as needed or using for direct food contact. We highly discourage any use of pallet shrink wrap with direct food contact. Unless specially made for direct food contact, pallet wrap can not be used touching consumable products.
  • 4. Pallet shrink wrap can be stored in the sun – Made from LLDPE (linear Low-Density Polyethylene), without an ultraviolet inhibitor, the wrap will begin to break down in as little as 30 days of sunlight exposure. The pallet wrap will become brittle and easily pull apart. After enough exposure, the elasticity will be lost, and the film will break down, exposing products. Custom pallet wraps can include UV protection for several months, but it is not a standard feature for most pallet wraps.
  • 5. 80 Gauge is the thickness you need – Any quick search or glimpse at products online will have you thinking 80 gauge is the right thickness. Over the years, it has become the most popular thickness for wrapping loads. It is a versatile wrap but is not always the best choice. Now, most companies are not using a standard 80-gauge pallet shrink wrap.

Though the term ’80 gauge’ is still popular, many are using an equivalent 80 gauge wrap due to increased petroleum prices. The equivalent materials are thinner than an actual 80-gauge film but are said to have the same holding strength. Thinner yet stronger films can reduce waste and have comparable tension, but they still do not offer the same puncture resistance as a standard 80 gauge.

In addition to the equivalent films, several other thicknesses are available to fit the needs of many scenarios. Lighter materials can protect and wrap half loads or load with less weight. In contrast, thicker 100 gauge can be used for large and heavy pallet loads. There are many different selections available when choosing a pallet shrink wrap; consider other options if applicable to save on money, waste, and possible product damage. View our stretch film thickness chart to get a better idea of the thickness that may work for your needs.

  • 6. Pallet shrink wrap is available locally at Home Depot or Lowes – In a pinch, pallet shrink wrap is available in Home Depot and Lowes by the roll. They are found in the moving section of either store.

Hand-sized rolls with extended cores are most often available. The rolls are perfect for wrapping furniture and bundling boxes and household items. Because of the cost and thickness of the film sold at these stores, we recommend buying pallet shrink wrap in bulk if using any volume. There are more options, better quality, and lower prices for purchasing materials in bulk.

  • 7. Hand and machine pallet shrink wrap rolls are the same – Rolls of pallet wrap are not the same. Larger rolls with thousands of feet of film are made for machine wrapping. Machine pallet shrink wrap has more stretching capabilities. Hand rolls will not stretch more than 150%; machine wrap will expand 250% or more.

This difference in stretch rate is intentional because of the consistent tension a pallet wrapping machine can maintain during the wrapping process. During hand application, users can not pull hard enough as they apply film to reach 250% or more stretch. If a hand roll is used on a wrapping machine, it may not work with the film carriage. If it does work, there will still be waste by not obtaining the total amount of stretch the machine is capable of.

  • 8. Pallet shrink wrap can be applied without pulling the material – The expansion and elasticity of the wrap are what bundle the products. It also gives the material the “shrink wrapped” look.

Unless using a pre-stretched pallet wrap, users must pull the roll as the load is being wrapped. Without pulling and tightly wrapping the products, they can topple over and move during shipping.

  • 9. Pallet shrink wrap is waterproof – Pallet shrink wrap stretched around a pallet is not waterproof. It can be water resistant, but it is not waterproof. Heat-shrinkable pallet bags are waterproof and an excellent option for moisture protection. For added security when using a pallet wrap, pallet covers and sheeting provide an extra layer against moisture.
  • 10. Cheaper the better – Many equivalent resin mixtures have become popular. They use less material and have more substantial load tension. If a more affordable wrap is an option, we recommend trying a sample to be sure it works. If it does, you can save money and hopefully lower film usage. If wrapping loads with sharp corners and edges, spend more and buy a premium wrap. The additional cost can pay for itself if preventing product loss.
  • 11. Pallet shrink wrap cannot be recycled – It can be recycled, but not often part of local pickup plans. Stretch pallet wrap is made from LLDPE (low-density polyethylene) with a number four recycle code. We recommend calling recycling centers in the local area to find facilities accepting LLDPE.
  • 12. Food cling wrap is the same as pallet shrink wrap – Food cling wrap, often called Saran Wrap, is not the same as pallet stretch wrap. Food cling wrap is usually made from a food-grade PVC material, while pallet wrap is made from LLDPE. Cling wrap does not have the stretch capabilities pallet film wrap does. Pallet shrink wrap is also not recommended for direct food contact. There are many other differences, and they should not be used as substitutions for each other.


Call it pallet shrink wrap, stretch wrap, or cling wrap; the right pallet stretch film can reduce product loss and unitize multiple items. Understanding what many do not realize before making a purchase can ensure you make an informed decision. For help purchasing pallet shrink wrap, call 1-800-441-5090 and let us know if you have any questions.

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