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. 

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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So, you took one man's comments as gospel? Please tell me that you investigated his research. If you had, you would learn that you have a greater chance getting bad bugs off your kitchen counter, your bathroom doorknob, and YOUR CELLPHONE screen (yes, over 20% of all phone screens have trace amounts of fecal matter- that is POOP). Re-use shopping bags? Congrats! They release chemicals into the air! Wish I had more space because I would dispell all of his rabid concerns. You are welcome!

Does anyone feel as I do that we were healthier back when we used soap and water to get rid of dirt and didn't strilize every surface? We developed immune systems that responded appropriately and took antibiotics ONLY when seriously ill. We also played outside, climbing trees (bugs!) even made mud pies and splashed in puddles. We didn't snack between meals, if the kids were 'fat' they got jello for dessert, and eggs instead of pancakes.

I saw nothing written about toxic chemicals. Many pallets have held toxic chemicals that leak. Then pallets soak up these chemicals like a sponge and there's no removing the chemicals from the wood. Also, the best pallets you can use are the oak pallets. They are a lot stronger than pine AND they are more dense as well which will help limit liquid damage.
No it doesn't change my mind. I am sure all said in this article is true, but I have yet to hear of one case of anything coming from a pallet. If it was so easy to catch e.coli from pallets everyone who loads, and unloads them would have come down with it or anything else mentioned!
Can u sand blast them to help eliminate these concerns.than seal the wood with a stain or shallack.maybe
I thought pallets would be great till I read this article and I worked in the steel industry tour 20 years. I should have been smarter. These pallets are exposed to some very harmful chemicals. And our company along with many others would swap pallets all the time. Plus all the stuff shipped from China and other countries who have no regulations. I'd rather use something else than find out 10 years from now I exposed my kids to something that made them sick just to have a bookshelf in my house.
Each pallet has a stamp on it if it was used for chemicals. If you have questions www.1001pallets.com is a good source to check what is safe. However y'all need to stop living in fear ????. Anything now days can kill ya and if the good Lord wants ya He's gonna take ya!!
Does sanding, paint ting and sealing not fix this problem? I'm just saying. I refurbish old furniture which I'm sure has been exposed to many nasty things but after sanding painting and sealing I think it's fine. Until I hear of ppl becoming sick form use of I door pallets i,will co tinge to use them I doors.

 So Nick Needs to calm down, Our houses are built with 80 percent reclaimed wood,  We pressure wash all our wood and lightly wire brush it, this gets rid of the dirt, we then dry it all in bright sunlight which gently drys it and disinfects it,  if we are worried about bugs we spray it with borate solution. [ Remember BORAX]   Any cellulose material is a natural environment for mold to grow in, however mold needs moisture.    Lumber from the lumber yard can grow mold just as easily as reclaimed wood.   Keep out  the moisture and keep out the mold.   If you are worried about e coli  etc  then  treat your pallets with a  cleaning solution that will kill these . 

EVery been to a lumbar yard??? Ever seen how they bring that lumber in??? Sure some is treated but others aren't. They lay around outside in the weather, around animals, etc! The same thing as pallets. Ever considered what's on the bottom of your shoes? What's on your clothing from going to the mall? What's on your hands? We bought a beam from a lumber yard that was filled with carpenter ants. We made a head board out of pallets and it's perfectly fine. Find something else to waste your time on.
Pallets are widely enough used in industry to loose all traceability. The bottom line is, if it will hold together enough to ship something it will be used. At the end of their usable life, they are discarded.
I'm taking everyone's comments into account. But I have a question for anyone who may know the answer. Does it matter the type of establishment you get the pallets from? For example, if I got pallets from Whole Foods, them being strictly organic, would that play role role in whether they are sanitary or not? I still don't know everything I need to know about pallets, however, my research has lead me to a controversy (if you will) regarding pallets. My other question is, are pallets so widely used that you never know where they've been? Please feel free to reply with any info that might be helpful. Thanks everyone. :-)
Thank you for posting this. I was going to start a business using wood pallets in my products. No way! I would never want to sell something that could potentially cause illness in my customers' homes. I never even thought about this, even though I should have used my common sense and noticed that they are outside (duh at myself). In my business, my customers and the health and safety of their families will always come before a profit. Not because I care about money but because I care about the people I sell my products to. I'll find another way to help families go green in their homes. I will not use wood pallets for anything, not even outdoor things that I build. The article did say pallets would be good in a garden as a bug motel, but if I'm growing food, I don't want rats feces in my garden. Again thanks for posting this.
I have been a project engineer in heavy steel manufacturing for ten years and would NEVER use old pallets for anything inside my house. You have no idea what the pallet is subjected to while it is being used in manufacturing/shipping. Outside projects are fine, but the heat treated wood will invite termites.

Your "friend" Nick has a problem...maybe more than one.  Ever think he has obsessive disorder?  If someone is worried about germs, hose wash them or power wash them real good.  Boring insects?  Mold and mildew? Nick is really stretching and needs counseling.  Does Nick ever wonder about micrscopic shavings that fall into food when you open the can with the can opener?  He should be. He apparently worries about stuff like that way too much.  

Get a grip . That's all I have to say
Well working in a chemical warehouse when I was younger...you sure wouldn't want to use any of the pallets we got rid of...
My question is if you seal it won't that stop mold gases and other thing from escaping

This seems a little daft to me! you could apply this to ALL timber products, not just recyled pallets! Buy timber from a timber yard? guess what, its been left outside A LOT, buy treated timber? well even though, in the UK at least, they don't treat timber with arsenic any more the pressure treatment chemicals are still pretty nasty! Timber or pallets might have creepy crwlies on them, well by the time you've finished sawing it, sanding it and hitting it with a hammer I think you should have spotted any worms or catterpillers and if its got woodworm them just burn it! and if you don't want to catch Ecoli or anything else then don't go around licking random bits of timber that have been left outside for a long time! 

Keep recylcing and don't let the clean freaks win!

I made a doghouse out of pallets much cheaper than buying its lasted 20 years and still strong
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