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How to Choose a Dock Plate - Complete Guide

by Ion Rotaru 29 Jul 2023 0 Comments

If you're reading this, you're probably in the market for a dock plate. These are a fairly small part of a warehouse, but they're extremely important. Without the dock plate to bridge the gap between the truck or container and the dock, good luck unloading your freight and keeping things operational.

So keep reading to find out how to choose a dock plate based on size, capacity, height differential, metal type, and price!

How to choose a dock plate

Choosing the right dock plate

First things first, let's talk about the basics. What is a dock plate? A dock plate is a flat piece of metal that bridges the gap between a dock and a vehicle. It's essential for smooth and safe loading and unloading. But not all dock plates are created equal. Here's what you need to consider when choosing one:


Width: Turns out, size does matter! The width of your dock plate should be at least 15% wider than the widest equipment or vehicle you plan to use it with. This ensures there's enough room for safe maneuvering. For instance, if you're using a machine that's 5 feet wide, you'd want a dock plate that's at least 5.75 feet wide. A little extra room never hurt anyone, right?

Length: When it comes to length, it will be determined by the height differential. This is the height difference between the dock height and the floor height of the trailer being serviced.

Max height difference = Truck height - Dock height

So if the truck height is 50 inches for example, and the dock height is 45 inches, the Max Height difference will be +5 inches.

From here, use the table below to determine the required dock plate length based on the height differential.

 Height differential Dock plate length
1in 24in
2in 30in
3in 36in
4in 42in
5in 48in
6in 54in
7in 60in


Height differential

More on the height differential mentioned above: you'll want to measure it accurately to ensure your dock plate can bridge the gap without any issues. If the height differential is too great, you might end up with a steep incline, making loading and unloading a challenge.

Height differential in choosing dock plates


How much weight will your dock plate need to support? This is crucial. You don't want to find out the hard way that your dock plate can't handle the load. Not only will you not be able to unload your freight, but this will likely bend the dock plate and make it unusable.

Always choose a dock plate with a capacity that exceeds the combined weight of your equipment and the load it's carrying. It's better to be safe than sorry!

Metal type

The metal used in a dock plate is a game-changer. Commonly, you'll find dock plates made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum is light and rust-resistant, and aluminum plates are great for lighter loads and frequent setups. They're easy to move around and won't rust.

Steel is build for heavy-duty tasks, and are your go-to for bigger machinery and high-frequency use. They're sturdy but might need some care to make sure they don't rust over the years.

Metal dock plate vs Aluminum dock plate


When it comes to the price of a dock plate, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option. But remember that you often get what you pay for. Generally, dock plates that are bigger in size and capacity will also cost more, but they will likely last you longer and prevent accidents.

We've also found that buying from smaller companies (such as ourselves) vs buying from big brands can save you around 40% on the same exact product. Just make sure to shop around to find the best option for your needs.

Dock plate vs Dock board

Now, you might be wondering about dock boards. Aren't they the same thing? Not quite. While dock plates are flat, dock boards have curbs on the sides to prevent equipment from rolling off. If you're using equipment like forklifts, you might want to consider a dock board instead. They're sturdier and designed for heavier loads. In fact, dock plates are not meant to be used with forklfits at all, unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer. Read our full article on dock plates vs dock boards to learn more on this.

Dock plate vs dock board

How far should dock plates be placed to have a minimum overlap?

Good question. it's important to learn how to use dock plates properly! The rule of thumb here is to have a minimum overlap of 4 inches on each side. This ensures stability and safety. So, if you're bridging a gap of 6 feet, you'd want a dock plate that's at least 6 feet 8 inches long.

How much weight can a dock plate hold?

This varies depending on the dock plate you choose. As mentioned earlier, always check the capacity before making a purchase. Some dock plates can handle loads of up to 15,000 pounds, while most others are designed for lighter loads. Always factor in the weight of your equipment when making this decision.

Find your next dock plate

We hope this article helped you in figuring out what dock plate you need. If you're in the market for one or still have questions, we're here to help. WarehouseWiz is one of Canada's leading dock plate and dock board providers. We're not resellers, so by cutting out the middlemen we're able to keep prices low and quality high. So don't wait, shop our dock plates online or contact us today!

Shop dock plates online

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