Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about pallet wood

Everything you've ever wanted to know about PALLET WOOD / How to choose safely, how to prepare it, project ideas. This post covers it all. via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

Pallet wood is one of my all time favourite things to work with. But some risks come with it.  Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about pallet would will be in this blog post.

Here are a few of my own pallet wood projects…

TV pallet stand via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

 pallet TV stand with soda crate drawers on floor

Pallet wood sawhorse old ladder blogging desk in office via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

 pallet sawhorse ladder desk

Pallet wood night stand or side table via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

pallet wood night stand

Pallet wood walkway for a garden path via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

 pallet wood walkway – boards are deeper than most pallet wood

Pallet wood coffee table with junk jewelry via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

 pallet wood coffee table

Pallet wood sofa made from 2 complete pallets  via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

the 2 full pallet chair – easy to make!

Pallet wood outdoor sofa  via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

pallet wood sofa – more DIY involved than the chair

Pallet wood toolbox with drill handle  via : http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

pallet wood toolbox with drill handle

pallet wood shelf

 self made pickets for ladder shelf

pallet wood table runner

Self made pickets for table runner

pallet wood gate

rustic gate

pallet wood desk

farm table style desk

Although the use of pallet wood is becoming extremely hot property lately, it also comes with some controversy. Before diving into the wonderful world of working with pallet wood, please educate yourself on the dangers as well.

Here are some tips and safety information you should be armed with before carrying pallet wood home for your own DIY projects.

Consider what it carried

 

Everything you ever wanted to know about pallet wood via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

I am fortunate to work at a firetruck manufacturer that always has stacks of pallet wood on hand.

Many of the pallets have been built for the very purpose of shipping the firetruck cartons because of their odd size. Which means alot of the wood is in new condition and has been only used for this shipment.

While that’s no guarantee that the wood is chemically or bacterial safe, it’s far safer knowing it wasn’t carrying pesticides.

Is pallet wood safe to use for DIY? All you ever wanted to know about pallet wood is in this post /  via http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/

How to dismantle

Pallets are NASTY to dismantle without a doubt.

Pallet crates have to be ripped open to retrieve the contents so I come across a lot of loose boards.
But no fear. Even if you don’t land loose boards, remember you can always saw the boards off the whole pallet if you can work with shorter pieces.

 I also look for pallets with straight nails vs twisted. They pound out much easier.

There are special tools you can use to dismantle pallets (google it!) but I use a good crowbar and hammer to get the job done myself. And lots of muscle.

I also cheat and look for loose boards. There’s a bin at a workplace I frequent and when they tear apart crates, they stack them in a box.

pallet wood - all you ever wanted to know about

 This is what I call the magic bin. :) When I arrived today, it looked like this.

pallet wood - all you ever wanted to know about

And when I was leaving after my day of work, it looked like this!

pallet wood - how to prep

Remove the nails

The nails on pallet boards are very dangerous. Most are of the spiral variety that makes taking the pallets apart nearly impossible.

So I look for boards with straight or very few nails, or ones I can saw off easily.

pallet wood - how to prep

But you WILL have to endure removing some nails eventually. It’s possible, but be prepared to work VERY hard for that wood.

Pound and pry.  I flip the board upside down and attempt to bang the nail out as much as I can, then flip it back over and pry out the rest.

How is it treated?

 pallet wood - how to know it's safe

Newer regulations require pallet manufacturers in Canada and the US to treat the wood before shipping. This can be by chemicals or by heat.

The HT on the above board means it’s been heat treated, or kiln dried. This is the safer kind.

If the boards are unmarked, it may be safe but there’s also a strong chance it’s been chemically treated, which makes them dangerous.

 Give it a pass if:

  • it smells
  • looks oily
  • is stained
  • is extra heavy
  • too many twisted nails (not worth it!)
  • it looks suspect period

 I’ve also been emailed with a story where someone got a nasty sliver which infected them to the point of requiring hospitalization. So, just be picky. Always wear gloves and choose wisely.

Beware of Bacteria

 Chemicals are one thing, but bacteria is another.

Always be safe and scrub the wood down with bleach and soapy water. Rinse well, and allow to completely dry.

But do remember, wood is porous, so there’s a chance the bacteria is embedded. Just go into this knowing NO pallet wood should be used for food related items, children’s toys nor children’s play furniture. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Work Safe

Pallet wood requires LOTS of work, so be safe:

  • wear gloves to avoid nail punctures and splinters
  • wear safety glasses and a dust mask when sanding or sawing
  • store it without the nails. (dangerous!)  Pry them out ASAP.

pallet wood - how to know it's safe

 Always ask

 Many places of business that utilize pallet wood actually recycle them. They may use them over again or they get picked up and  reimbursed for their return. So before you help yourself to what you think may be free could also be viewed as theft. Ask for permission before helping yourself.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post must come across like one of those new medication commercials. “Buy me because I’m awesome but you may die if you take me.” :) You will have no need to worry about using pallet wood if you simply heed the cautions and use it for appropriate projects.

If in doubt, pass on it and head to the lumber store instead. Spending a few bucks on new wood is far smarter than bringing contaminated wood home for free.

I LOVE PALLET WOOD!

And trucks.

For additional inspiration, visit:

Funky Junk Interiors Pinterest

My pinterest pallet collection

  This post was rewritten and updated Oct 2012 and will now be present with every pallet wood creation I make. Please spread the word on working safely with pallet wood and feel free to link to this post. Use pallet wood at your own risk.

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Categories: DIY, How To Build, Junk Drawer, Reclaimed wood projects, Tools & Building, What To Get
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  1. U. R. Amazing. I’ve always eyed pallets because I love wood, but wasn’t sure what I would do with them. Now, I can hardly wait to find my own stash! U. R. also inspiring! Thanks for all the great tips and ideas.

  2. we where able to get some pallets a month ago now and hubby has made an adorondaic chair, a planter for a grapevine, a three tiered vegetable garden. i have made a sign using palets and tiles. and we still have plenty left. i am loving all of your ideas.

  3. Well after looking for months, all of sudden palettes are coming my way too. But always to complete kinds, so I have to do the dismantling myself. I wonder if your palettes are the same as ours Your wood seems to be sturdier and the newer kinds here don’t have cross beams anymore but rather pressed wood blocks.
    But I see some palette wood projects in my future. If I only had your speed, they will take me forever.

  4. i’ve got to show my husband this post – he has a hugh pile of wood just like yours. recently he made me an art cupboard out of old facade boards that he found on the side of the road – with all the different paints flaking off – it is a work of art. isn’t junk such fun – the possiblities -i need to go junking again soon!

  5. Question…..Do your neighbors love you as much as we do?

    Our son is now claiming the pallets at work for his momma, and I couldn’t be happier. And for the pieces that are too wonky for use, we burn in our wood furnace.

  6. Wow Donna it sure helps to work where you do AND to have a truck. Pretty lucky! I am a sight trying to stuff a crate one day into my Hyundai…. didn’t fit and had to leave it there…
    I think the safety of the wood is major! I made a pallet table and I was thinking about the dust (after I was finished) and that I should have really used a mask! Who knows what was in that dirty, old, dusty pallet. Thanks for the great story!
    Susan

  7. Love pallet wood! Now that winter is over maybe I will get more. We are hoping to build a treehouse next. Oh, and wood is just as dangerous at the big lumber stores. I got bit by a spider at one going thru their wood and had to go get antibiotics. Yuk! So be careful in ALL wood, no matter where you are at!

  8. Hi Donna! I read your spread in Romantic Homes! Very,Very COOL!But of all your projects that desk is still my favorite, oh and I still cant forget those stairs! I have a little stash of wood in my building, my hubby works in the commercial HVAC field and he is at construction sites and brings me home stuff that they dont want or use any more.I cant wait to see what you do with your stash Donna!

  9. I am so glad you did this post on being smart about pallet wood. Many are also treated with pesticides that can be dangerous and can outgas inside the home if brought inside but have no real odor you can detect. I love pallet wood but it needs to be used with caution.

    • Perhaps this is an odd question, but I’ll ask anyway because I don’t know the answer: would puttig a finish or several coats of paint make pallets safer to use as a table in doors?

      • Hey Victoria, any protective coating would most certainly make them safer, especially around food and potential of splinters. I use pallet wood indoors myself and don’t go to all that trouble.

      • Hey Victoria,

        The pallets would probably really suck up the paint, so a primer would really help, unless of course the shabbie chic look is what you’re looking for. I personally love that look. Rustic is my favourite. Most importantly, just have fun!

        Marie

  10. I spied some pallets sit out on the curb the other day and yes I called hubby and pleaded with him to stop on his way home and grab them for me. Boy am I glad he didn’t see this post :) He spent the better part of a Saturday dismantling these pallets. I’ll claim it’s b/c he wanted to!
    He will be building my potting table for the backyard. I’ve almost convinced him that I need a cute little garden shed. So for us this pallet wood will remain outside, but it is really good to know what to look for with treated wood.

  11. Thanks for the tips! I’ve seen several projects like this and have wanted to make use of pallet wood. I’m still trying to convince the hubby that it’s worth it. He’s more of a “let’s go to Lowe’s and get what we need” kind of guy. However, the money isn’t always there to do that. We have two pallet companies not too far from us that we buy their cant(sp?) ends from in the winter time to burn in our wood stove. Maybe we can find some broken pallets for building also. Maybe I’ll show the hubby this post and he will see what wonders can be made out of pallet wood. Thanks again!

  12. This is an awesome post, because I have five pallets sitting in my front yard thanks to our current patio project. I told the BF that he has to save the pallets (he likes to use for firewood) cause I have a few projects in mind. He works at a lumber yard, so has no idea why I want to save these “ugly” pieces of wood. Not to mention the uneven grains, stains, and holes (the more “ugly” the better!). Good tips for the nails though, thanks!

  13. Hah! I’d have picked the oak up first, but that’s just me! You have inspired me to use pallets, and I intend making raised vegetable beds this year from the. Thanks for the info re whaat they might be treated with, I was thinking of putting some housewrap or something between the wood and the soil, now I will make sure to do so!

  14. AH, this was a much needed read for me. My husband gets tons of pallets for his products and I always stand and ponder “how does Donna manange to make that wood look so awesome???” Now I feel more educated and hopefully I can come up with something cool to make with pallets now that I am not as afraid(not AS AFRAID,lol). Thanks for the tips and excellent post Donna!

  15. My hubby gets lots of pallets, but won’t let me touch them! He’s such a snob! I love what you have done with them though. Your projects are inspiring. I may just have to sneak some home. I wonder when he is going out of town again….

  16. Thanks for all the tips. I am going to keep my eye out on craigslist. They have them listed every once in awhile. And I have hubbys truck to use at the moment too. Once it’s here, he will see the light! HA!

    Glad you had a great Easter. We did yard work as well. It was good to get a lot of it done, still more to do though.

  17. This post was made for MOI!!!! I have a MAJOR collection of pallet wood on the side of my house. I just can’t stop myself. Every Wednesday my son has guitar lessons and the drop off goes behind a flooring store. They were ecstatic when I expressed interest in their wood pallets. Now it has become the bane of my side yard. I have many grand plans, but haven’t quite made them materialize as of yet. This summer is the goal, (for at least a few of the boards, hee hee). I should show this post to my husband so he knows I am not the only girl out there who lusts after lost lumber!

  18. Hi Donna, just wanted to say that I love your blog and like you I am a single Mum renovating my own home on the other side of the world in Australia! You inspired me to start my own blog, so this week I did! Well only 2 posts so far but you have to start somewhere. Thank you for your tutorials you gave me the confidence to give it a go. Gina

  19. Awesome post! Especially the part about avoiding the treated stuff and how to tell the difference. I have been wanting to use some pallete wood, but didn’t know how to recognize which. This is great info. Thanks again.

  20. I loved this post Donna..very informative!
    My hubby collects pallets and we make things from them too…glad to read your safety tips. He said that the painted ones are not to be used (at least thats what he’s been told by them)
    Thanks so much Donna!
    I love all your creations and advice and always thoughtful and helpful hints!
    Ya, you are just amazing!!!

    Deborah xoxox

  21. Great Post! I have a pallet company a block away from my home. We go their weekly just to get wood for our fire pit outside. I am going to do a few projects with pallets this summer. You did the pallet daybed didn’t you? I have been saving pictures in my creative inspiration file of pallet furniture.

  22. I heart you…your blog and your creative talent!!! I wanted to stop in and let you and your readers know about my slipcover giveaway…well, actually, my GIVEAWAY SERIES…

    Xo, Meme

  23. This is awesome! Of course I don’t usually NEED pallet wood for anything…but just the other day I looked out our back window at all the paraphernalia laying about from the flood and noticed a clean looking pallet leaning up against one of the trees. I told EC, “for some reason, when I see that pallet it makes me happy!” FOR SOME REASON!! FOR SOME REASON??!!! All this blogging is rubbing off on me! Can you tell??????

    You rock, GF, for posting this because while I don’t use pallets for ANYTHING I was curious about them!!!

    xo
    ~K

  24. It’s amazing that so many objects around us can be re-used, if only more people thought of it this way! Your designs are very interesting, I like the long table the most, but generally the idea of furniture made from pallet wood is great. Thanks for sharing!

  25. I walked past a huge pile of pallets the other day and YOU popped into my mind, Donna! lol! Go figure! lolol! Thanks for this informative post. You’ve got my mind whirling again with ideas! My fav projects of yours are your round table w/stencil, your gate on your fireplace, and your stenciled stairs. ♥ Congrats on the feature in RC mag, too, girlie! How exciting for you!

    xoxo laurie

  26. Thank You Funky Donna! Your posting was perfect timing because I scored an entire pile of pickets for fencing on the side of the road today. Happiness. They are all full of nails and now I know how to get them out.

  27. Thank you, you are to kind! I made a compost bin years ago and never thought of the chemicals!!! Good information, and I do love the hunt for just the easy ones! Your projects are supper, Bench is my favorite!

  28. Hey Donna! Thanks so much for this post- very informative! I do have a question for you as you are the reigning queen of pallet wood :). My husband has tons and tons (literally!) of pallets and I called the stone company he gets them from to find out if they are pressure or heat treated. turns out they are not treated in any way at all! hooray! BUT- after bleaching and sanding them getting the boards ready to install in the bathroom and make a bed with- how do I seal them to keep any critters or bugs that may be inside them from getting out? Is there even such a product? and if there is, is it safe to use? Planning on getting this project installed and finished this weekend- if you have time to respond to me that would be beyond excellent!!!!! Thank you!! piacrook@me.com

  29. Thank you for sharing your experiences.I have been using pallets in Australia for some years and always go for the clean new wood kind. Thus far have had no issues.We have even used them for garden beds at school. I recently turned some into rustic letter boxes because some people asked at a market where I sell my work.Please keep doing the recycle message. You experience ring a strong bell with me also.
    Thanks again. Roy – The Leura Bodger

  30. Thank you for this important information. While I love the look of pallet projects, I’ve been afraid of using them for the reasons you state. You’ve given a clear idea of what to look for, how to work with it, and where to use it. Just what the doctor ordered!

  31. Hi and thanks for your creativity I love it… I operate a pallet recycling company and have moved over 5 million pallets in the last 20 years :)

    you mentioned pallets marked with HT these are generally safe to use… watch out for the ones marked with MB they have been treated with Methyl Bromide as well when a pallet is marked HT or MB it will also have a 2 letter “country code” US for USA, CA for Canada and so on this mark generally identifies the country of manufacture you can generally trust wood from the USA and Canada to have not been chemically treated

    keep up the creativity

    FV

  32. Thank you very much for this post, I am planning to work with pallet wood and I had no idea how to work with it or how to choose it.
    I was wondering if it would be a good idea to use lacquer or something of the sort?
    Thank you very much.

  33. Another warning you might add is to look for critters – we found several black widow spiders in some pallets we had brought home!

  34. My father actually owns a pallet company. So I have pretty good access to pallet wood. I’m getting ready to build a privacy fence using pallet wood.

  35. So glad to have stumbled across this, even if it is over a year since you posted it! I used your tips to safely create my first piece of pallet furniture and have credited you on my blog :) Thanks for sharing your talents!

  36. So what’s the risk if they have been treated? I mean, unless kids are gonna be gnawing on them like a beaver – how could it possibly hurt them? Some people work with pallets every day in their jobs so contact with the wood can’t possibly be harmful. And isn’t it ok to leave some of the nails in? They look so much more vintage that way! And there’s no risk of the nails falling out considering how much work it takes when you WANT them out. But anyway, if someone can give a link to any articles showing about the chemicals, that would be of great help. Thanks.

    • Nails should be removed because if they protrude beyond the wood, they are extremely dangerous. If you’re able to cut them flush with the wood, that is an option. Still be aware that any rusty metal can lead you running for a tetnas shot.

      Chemically treated wood is toxic, plain and simple. It can contaminate the air and food making you sick. I’d suggest to use any chemically treated wood for outdoor projects.

      Pallet wood can also get contaminated during transit. Wood is porous and the contaminates can soak in. I’ve heard of a story where someone got a sliver from a contaminated pallet and had to be hospitalized. It can happen.

      If you google about contaminates on pallet wood, you’ll find endless resources to read. I’m not saying don’t use it, but I am saying to be aware of what you are using and use it for the right reasons. Good luck!

  37. Great post! I’m just starting out working with pallets and love it! I have found, when taking them apart, use a wedge to loosen the board enough to get to the nail head, then take a drill (without a bit) secure it around the head of the nail and unscrew it. Works like a charm and I’m able to use most of the boards.

    Happy Palleting!

  38. If you sand and stain or paint them would they be ok for kiddos to be around? I have just seen a lot of projects for book shelves, coffee tables, or side tables. I have also seen a lot of planters for herbs etc. Are you saying one shouldn’t use these to make planters from?

    • Hi Julia, using reclaimed lumber is always a risk due to it being porous. I personally wouldn’t risk using it around food or small kids myself. But any protection is better than none. Planters would be fine, but I personally wouldn’t use them for the edible variety unless you were able to line the soil with a barrier of some sort. (plastic?)

  39. Donna,
    I live in an area were spiders, scorpions etc are in love with pallet wood as much as you are : )
    Any suggestions on how to be sure that the pallet wood I use wont be full of embedded eggs that will hatch INSIDE my house later on?

    That has been my only real fear of pallet wood.

  40. i also use used wood to get the nails out i straighten them frist then cut them off about a 1/2 in long then pound them out and use a nail puller or crowbar i reshape a nailclaw puller to get the staples out hope this helps ed

  41. My neighbor works at a tractor dealership and brings the pallets home and burns them in a ditch. I did get some from him but they are so cover in staples that they were pretty much worthless. Very disappointing!

  42. I wouldn’t recommend using bleach and soap together. The combination can create dangerous gasses. Use bleach OR soapy water, not bleach and soapy water.

    • Soap and bleach are NOT toxic. If that were true, women who have done their laundry for hundreds of years using the two, would be dead.
      Combining bleach and ammonia makes a toxic gas.

      • It depends on what soap is combined with the bleach. Some liquid dish washing soap states on the bottle “Do not mix with chlorine bleach”, but some do not. Laundry soap is okay.

  43. Hi Donna! First of all, i wanna thank you so much for all your ideas and tips when it comes to pallet wood working. But i have a question… All the other sites i visited informed me that the pallets marked HT are treated with formaldehyde, which is as we know Highly toxic. So i would just like to ask you where you got the information that it is in fact the safer kind. I mean, those other websites may also be worng, so i just wanted to make sure… Cause mine are marked HT do i’m realky hoping you are right;) thank you so much once again!

    • Hi Ana, I emailed someone who worked in a pallet manufacture, I’ve talked to an owner of a construction site, and various other wood workers that know their stuff. They all told me HT stood for heat treated, which is safe from chemicals.

      Regardless, please use any pallet wood at your own risk!

  44. I love all your ideas. I am going to use my pallets for my raised veggie garden this year. Plus I have made my own compost. i am hoping for the best garden ever. I will post photos when things are in growing good. I can hardly wait. My mouth is watering just thinking about all the fresh organic vegetables.

    • I would caution you to not use pallet wood for a vegetable garden. There is no guarantee that wood is bacteria nor chemical free and I wouldn’t want to hear about you getting sick.

      Flowers, sure. Anything you eat, I personally would not.

  45. Love your projects and thanks for the useful info! My husband and I just covered a wall in our bedroom with reclaimed pallet wood and I also built a beautiful headboard (the stain should be dry enough today to move it into the bedroom!!! yippee!) My husband took the pallets apart super fast using a reciprocating saw, and then I just removed the cut off nails. It made for a super fast job!

  46. So the information is great but am a bit bummed that you clearly state that NO pallet would should be used for food related items. I take it even the heat treated pallets. I had planned on making a herb stand using a pallet. Bummer but thank you for the info and will try to make something similar from purchased wood. Your ideas are great however! Thank you for sharing and educating.

    • Hey Laura, I understand. I wouldn’t see an issue if you lined the wood with plastic before you filled in with soil though? Just a thought! As long as the soil doesn’t touch the wood, I’d think you’d be ok to go.

      But please do so at your own risk!

  47. Chemically treated wood can be nasty I agree but on the upside most of it is treated issuing boron which is nothing more than a concentrated salt. But there’s no way to tell what has been used. Your recommendation are spot on. I usually plane my wood because most treatments only penetrate a very small amount.

  48. Be especially careful of pallets imported from Europe/Asia. These have been chemically infused with insecticide to prevent to importation of bugs. If you do get one of these destroy it in a very hot fire and DO NOT stand in the smoke as you’ll be inhaling chemicals.

  49. I’ll pass this on to a couple of handy kids that will rent our recently purchased condo, 4 nice pallets were left by the sellers! How about a patio table for 6 or two smaller 4-person tables? Thanks for the safety tips!!!

  50. I just inherited pallets every week a truck and trailer full of them. My hubby goes and gets them from a business and My my I am a happy girl…the things I can make…woot woot…thanks for sharing your ideas..

  51. Great information. I’m going to be starting my 1st pallet project and have been wondering how to remove the nails.

  52. can i let ya know a secret that i do to break em apart? ……sawzall! use a metal cutting blade, stand pallet up (fork end up), get blade to slide in between the 2 pieces of wood and start cutting. it will go easy and fast as long as you don’t cut wood also (takes practice) remove both end 2x4s this way then stand it up in other direction. and start on the center 2×4… remember, the sawzall blade is FLEXABLE :D . sometimes you can just simply push down on one end and get the nails loose enough to cut in between the boards! i can cut 50 pallets in about 3 hours this way with no arm, hand, back pain!!!!

    • Thanks Kelli! I will try and repin, but I can’t change the pins of all the others out there unfortunately. I think they are going back to my blogger blog so a redirect is necessary. All I can do is try! :)

  53. I used to pass a place that did kitchen counters on the way to work. They got long sheets of solid surfacing material on pallets…these things were 12 feet long! They consisted of two 12 foot hardwoood 2x4s, with 1/2″ x 6 crosspieces and a few hardwood 4×4 spacer blocks. Keep an eye out for those.

    Needless to say, I grabbed all I could get. After disassembling my haul, I built a worktable in my garage, using the 2x4s as a frame and some salvaged 3/4 plywood as a surface. The thing is solid, very solid. And extremely useful.

  54. I just made a bench for my patio out of pallets! I am loving the way that it looks but wondered if I should seal it in anyway. I really like the rustic look so stain isn’t something I’m wanting to do. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks :)

    • Hi Allie! I haven’t sealed my furniture, but then it isn’t outside in the elements. I’d probably recommend it if the weather hit it full force. Just ask a paint store what they’d recommend for outdoor durability. I’d go satin or duller in order to maintain more of an organic wood look.

  55. hi, i liked your web site! i bought pallets to make a sofa for y living room. i don’t know what too do :) can you help me if i send you their photo? Please help me..

  56. There is a way to remove boards from pallets that does not require muscle. Simply center punch the nail heads. Then with an electric drill and a bit approximately the same diameter as the nail drill through the nail head. Once you have reached the nail shank the head will fall off. Do that to each nail and the board will lift off easily without damage.

  57. What are your thoughts on using pallets to make a bed?
    Another question, do you think pallet gardens that are so popular are dangerous?

    Great article, thanks!!

    • Hi Christina! I would caution against the use of pallet wood for a bed or a garden. You really don’t know how contamination free the wood is. I most certainly wouldn’t use it near a vegetable garden myself, but flowers, no problem.

      Please do so at your own risk!

      • Thanks Donna, I thought it might be a bit risky for a veggie garden. I am thinking about making a daybed for my 6 yr old daughter and had seen some cool ones done with pallets but will took for some other material after reading this!
        Thanks again!

  58. Hey there, just reading this information you have posted it’s great. I have a question for you, I’ve located some pallets that have been sitting among the tumble weeds out here in Ashcroft, BC and know they were used for stone pads/brick and have been outside atleast for 5 years or more, do you think I would have to worry about using them, they’re still in great shape except for a couple that have rotted out, but out here it is so dry and we never really get rain?? what do you think?

    cheers!

    • Hi Kurt! Using any wood that’s been sitting outside has some risks. Especially with mould and mildew as wood is porous. I’d say if it’s well dried it may be ok, but if in doubt, I’d use it for something outside. Have fun!

      • Hi there, thanks for the quick reply and info. I’ll drop you a pick of the finished product.
        Cheers from the desert!

    • Hi Nicole! I have in some pieces and not in others. But if you leave them in for added character, be sure to clip them flush with the wood on the other side before storing otherwise it’s an accident waiting to happen!

      • So, if there are none sticking out, I’m good to go? This pallet is in really great shape other than some pretty nasty splinters! I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a specific reason to take it apart. Thanks!!!

  59. I really appreciate you posting this info. I’ve been interested in trying a pallet wood project, but I’d heard vague things about them being dangerous and hard to work with. This will help me try my first project.
    Thanks,
    Nancy

  60. Hey Donna,

    Love your site and what you do with pallets! I would love to make some of your projects, if my husband will allow me to take pallets home. Looks like a lot of fun. Thank you for the important safety tips. :)

    Marie

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  63. I want to use blue chep pallets as an alternative to lattice panels and also as a deck on my log home. How to I cover up the blue and make it look like natural wood??

    • Hi Tammy! That’s the only way I’d suggest attempting it. Otherwise you risk smudging the paint deeper into the wood. You could try thinners and such but I doubt you’d get a clean finish. Good luck!

  64. Do I need to treat the wood with something before I put it on my wall ? My husband says yes for termites and bugs. I read your info and see some may be treated but, for that that is not and it is going on a wall or in a piece of furniture do i treat it?

    • Hi Jeanne! I have never done anything special to the wood. We don’t have termites in my area so I’ve never come across this as a problem. But if you do have those issues, I’d certainly look into it!

  65. What if I want to use the pallets to make a base for attaching a sheet of plywood to make the floor for a treehouse and another one for a free floating patio/deck? Of course, I’ll follow the suggestions about getting the right kind of pallets and avoid the yucky ones…however just thought I’d ask you because of your experience. Thank you.

    • Hi Mandy! I personally see no reason why that won’t work. They are very heavy and sturdy for the most part. They may rot in time touching the ground, but if you place them on gravel they will probably last longer.

  66. About using painted pallets – I was told not to use pallets stained red, blue, or brown, they could be treated with formaldehyde. Look for IPPC symbol burned into the wood. Also will have symbol for hear treated HT, ( good), be barked DB ( good)’, methyl bromide ( BAD) . Google types of pallets and you’ll find more info.

  67. Would you have any suggestions on what treatment I can apply on pallet wood to make them last longer? I want to make an outdoor structure using pallet wood as cladding. The issue is they are already painted wood.

    • Hey Pat, my best guess is to use outdoor durability products and keep it up every so often. I’ve never treated pallet wood yet but most of my stuff is under cover away from weather elements. Ask a paint store what they recommend for long term durability. Good luck!

      • I picked up a pallet in the Home Depot lumber section and there appears to be no stamp on it. I would like to use it for a headboard. It is in great shape! Would sealing it with a polycylic after staining it help with any question of pesticide?

  68. Hello, I have came across some GORGEOUS wood! The pieces are about the same size as pallets. I have built an outside deck with the wood and its amazing. Now I want to cover my bathroom walls but I’m afraid to use it. I got the wood from a mill that is being demolished right now. The mill was built in 1808. The particular wood I have came from not the very top of the roof, and not the ceiling, but in between. So I dont know if it is safe to use in my bathroom or not. With it being so old it is beautiful and surprisingly very strong! But I dont know if it is worth the risk. Please Help!

    • Hi Miranda, personally, being in a bathroom, I would take a chance. Just wash it with bleach and water, allow to dry really well, then sand it with a palm sander. But just know, with any reclaimed wood, you are always taking a risk. Toss anything out with mold, heavy stains or wood that is extremely heavy. I’ve used plenty of reclaimed wood without stamps on it, but am just more careful where. Have fun!

  69. Hello… I am a beginner and I really love the pallet furniture ! I’m so unsure about where to start ..however I have found access to as many pallets as I need. Want to start out with a simple project but one I can use on my deck. Have any suggestions??

  70. Hi. Having said what you just did about them being treated I know of people who burn the for firewood. Isn’t this dangerous if they are treated? I realize maybe not the ones marked HT but what about ones not marked??

    Thanks!

  71. Thank you so much for speaking out on the danger of some recycled pallet wood. I see so many projects that have been constructed without any regard to safety. Just recently someone posted an entire vegetable garden made out of recycled pallets. If you dont know the history of the pallet regardless of how it was “treated” you must think the worse and dont use. Even compost bins….you are lucky that you know the history of the pallets you recycle.
    In transportation industry for over 30 years and seen many hazmat leaks that have been sealed and cleaned up and put right back on the dried out pallet that it leaked out on. Dont risk it when it comes to food or food products or anything that humans or animals will be touching much less eating.

  72. I was looking into building a bed out of pallets from my husband’s work. If you seal the wood with a poly over a stain/paint, will that remove the risk of any possible lingering bacteria after cleaning the pallet?

    • Hey Danielle, with pallet wood, there’s always a risk. But if you went to all that work, I’d probably take a chance myself. :) Just watch for pallets marked HT as those are treated with heat, the safest way.

  73. Try cutting the nails off, but leave about 1/4 – 1/2 inch then when you drive the nail back you will not have as much to pull back through the wood. The ring shank or twisted nails will always give you a harder time removing them.
    Using pallets is a great way to put all that wood to use. We are cutting down trees faster than thy can grow, so lets all be smarter with what we have. God bless