Why We SHOULD NOT Be Using Pallets in Our Interiors

By: Diy maven Sep 28, 2011

toddler bed, kids eco furniture, recycled materials, DIY, pallet bed, shipping pallets, lori danelle

Okay, here's the deal, a blogger by the name of Nick went on a rant a few months back about why we should absolutely NOT be using rescued pallets in our interiors. His argument is compelling indeed and has made me re-think all those 'pallet projects' I've promoted over the years. 

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First he points out the history of rescued pallets.

  • They are "exposed to water, all manner of vermin and insects" and bird droppings.

Then he brings up E. coli & Listeria.

Then he mentions fungus. 

And if all that isn't bad enough...

  • Think pallets made of engineered wood and cardboard might be a better option? Think again; they're oftentimes loaded with formaldehyde. 
  • Engineered wood and cardboard are also notable harbingers of 'creepy crawlies' like cockroaches. 
  • Also of concern is the stuff shipped on the pallets, which could include noxious items that off-gas themselves.

One of Nick's readers took this picture:

THEN Nick counters all those "but MY pallet is SAFE" arguments. 

  • You used only kiln dried pallets. Great, but left in any damp & warm situation (see rainy pic above) for any amount of time and they become a breeding ground for mold.
  • You sanded and washed your pallets. Great, but boring insects and chemicals might still be in there.
  • You know where your pallets came from. Great, but companies reuse pallets all the time. 

So, that's Nick's rant in a nutshell and it's a total buzz kill! BUT it's also a very compelling argument that is hard to dismiss. To read the entire article, follow this jump.

Now, tell me what you think. Has Nick's rant changed your opinion of pallets used in interior decor? Should I stop promoting rescued pallet projects?

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175814 views | Comments (198)


I just like there its going :)

people with common sence here 

Wood comes from nature, it absorbs anything in the air any way. Poly it that stuff will kill anything.  How many bugs have lived in that wood anyway, how many birds lived in the tree the wood is made of?


Seriously?????? I live half a mile from a lumber yard and i drive by it everyday and i can tell you that there are piles of wood all over the place just sitting there. either finished or uncut i swear i think some of them have been in the exact same spot for over a year. aint no telling whats on them or been on them. but honestly do you really think that we shouldnt use that wood in our house because its been out in the weather? give me a break thats ignorant thinking and people worry WAY to much about the littlest of things. thats like saying i cant use by back deck (all wood) because the bugs and rain have been on them. come on people. if you really want something to worry about then start looking at our government and its problems. big brother is watching everything we do now. thats more of a real threat to me than some wet dirty wood i want to clean and use in my house.

There are risks in everything we do anymore.  Riding in traffic is dangerous due to fumes, and the chance of getting into an accident.  Household chemicals are bad - like bleach and amonia.  Even Lysol spray was suppose to have Agent Orange in it under "Overt Chemicals".  How often did we spray our babies nurseries with that stuff?  And we also sprayed it on surfaces to kill flu bugs, and then we touched those surfaces.  We all know what Agent Orange did to Vietnam Vets.  The point is everything is dangerous in one way or another so decide what is right for you, research your options and make a decision that will work for you.  I did notice when sanding pallet boards the smell was bad, so I went to begging scraps of wood from people who finished projects and that ended that problem!  Enjoy!


I see reason for concern and I will definately show this to my daughter who build her raised bed out of pallets because she jumped all over me for using a rain barrell to water my vegetable garden with concern over the grit from the roof.  I guess we're all going to die of something.

I've been telling my husband lately that I wanted to use the pallet in our garage to make something to go in the house.  He just keeps repeating the same stuff you've said here, so I guess they'll be no pallet furniture for me.

"I'll remember these warnings the next time I want to lick my pallet wall." LOL!!!

I can see his argument, BUT, if bleached, then sanded and SEALED with polyurethane they how would it not be okay for them to be used on floors?  Of course I want i want it to be safe, but is anything safe? Those toilet bowl hangy thingies have cancer-causing agents if I remember correctly, and many household items are very dangerous or can be.  How about the fresh veggies and fruits we buy?  No telling what they contain.  Is it more risky when you weight the factors? How can it emit any fumes or transfer to anything else if sealed.  I just want to find someone who can tell me for sure if it is reasonably safe or not.  Also, The pallets I have don't have either of the two markings that a page I found says it should have...one being safe and the other not.

So, stop using all wood in household furniture? Use what, plastic, glass and metal? Ick. Look for labeled pallets, clean them, spray them with a 10% bleach solution (same thing labs use to kill E.coli and other bacteria) and seal it.

Kinda a silly argument when you consider your new couch has all the same things your pallets do ..  And higher levels of formaldihide . Couches sit in wharehouses for months , all kinds of vermin and insects will crawl over them .  I should know I have been called hundreds of times over any given year .. to steam clean " NEW" furniture ... New carpet and underlayment is just as bad chemical wise .  So should we stop buying furniture and stop using carpet ?

Not so concerned about being exposed to weather etc.  But palets are treated with some god awful chemicals, cianide and formaldahide to name a few, Due to them being shipped internationaly. That doesnt mean you can't use them, just be weary in what ever your application is. Give em a serious clean, and finish by sealing the timber. 

Someone always tries to rain on someone else's parade. We do a great family business in salvage materials. We power wash all of our pallets. Power Washing will remove any and everything, especially when using a Hotsie. The water itself is disinfecting because it is so hot. It would remove paint from a car. Don't let someone rain on your parade....keep on repurposing!!!

I was kind of hoping his article would help kill the pallet art movement....it's tired and, quite frankly, getting a little ridiculous....I don't care if people eat off a pallet....just stop pinning that crap on Pinterest already.

several years ago redwood play equipment was linked with childhood cancers. CAN NOT even imagine what pallets could be exposing the kids to.

didnt even mention black widows and fiddleback spiders who love to hide inside the pallets.

come ne, ladies!  he is simply putting the information out there.  if you want to use it and expose your kids to these things, than go for it.  if not, don't use it.  simple as that!  I used to work in a lumber yard and I know full well that some of the things I saw on wood, i wouldn't want to touch with a 10 foot pole, let alone my kids bed or anything else in my kids use. use common sense!

Glad people are upcycling, but I can still appreciate someone taking the time to share their views on what they think is hazardous.  

No one is forcing Nick to use pallets.  There is risk with everything these days, especially the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that grows in that air & water!  Even things that are considered safe now, we might be told 50 yrs from now how unsafe those things are.  As mentioned above, just sand it and seal it.  Problem solved.  I have a couple pallets I may be using one of these days -- until then, they are sitting in an implement shed, exposed to weather, bugs and rodents!  Ah well...........  lol

come on,,, if you are a reasonable person you will recognize mold, incects or other nasty stuff, also as for pallets, use "EURO" palets (special markings) and you be safe, EVEN food transported on those, so,,, 

Also, people what do you think about calble spools ?

I just finish the hole boutique shop from those,,, will those kill me costumers immediatlly of will they suffer from slow agonizing deaf? :)

Chill man,,, but yes, baby bed might be made from something else, not becouse of pallets it self but babies lick and bite aything, as well as wanish or other treatment ;) 

It just doesn't make sense that cleaned, sanded, and re-finished wood pallets are going to pose any more hazard than any other kind of reclaimed wood. It seems to me that the cost/benefit to using wood pallets i.e. the potential dangers listed by Nick, versus preventing a useful material from going to landfills is a  bit of a no-brainer. Post more projects, please!!

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