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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171424 views | Comments (190)


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!!


If you've ever visited a lumber yard you know than most wood that builders use is exposed to the elements, insects and vermin for extended periods of time. Also during the building process itself. Much of it is chemically treated as well. Nick should relax and stop trying to get attention by being a spoil sport.

If thats the case we wouldnt have furniture period because some companys use wood of all kids even the wood taken off pallets... its called recycling. It gets shipped the same way regular pallets does. so whats the difference? Your basically telling everyone that they cant clothe themselves and kids or family and they wont have anything comfortable to lay, sit or sleep on because of the wood and all the insects. OMg SHUT UP regardless outside or inside there will be bugs. If you go outside there will be a bug that sneek in behind you so you will have a bug in your house. leave your house dirty... same thing, cockroaches, bedbugs and more so SHUT UP. Its called nature. Everything and Amything can and will happen. People can take any risk they want!

Some of these commets amaze me that anyone would worry about whats on a pallet material. I am the GM of a company that ships thousands of pallets everyweek where we have to be AIB certified for food grade materials. This basically means pallets can't ever see outdoor during our handling. But during my many trips to many plants food and medical grade they store pallets outside. I can promise anyone that if your only concern is a piece of wood you made a floor out of you have very little to worry about. Think about it, how many workers in the pallet business have health concerns because they work with these pallets touching them everyday? They are billions of pallets in the United States, many more billion shipped into the United States every month, keep using pallets for whatever projects and you will live a stressful life and the ones of you who worry over this you probaly will die from heart attach and half ulcers worrying over the simple things in life. 

Even fabric is treated with formaldehyde. Should we stop wearing clothes? :)
This argument was only made by the furniture company's to scare you. They don't want you building your own furniture. Less business for them. I've been doing pallets for years and never had a problem, not one with mine. I used new and old ones. Only problem is wife gets made I spend a lot of time in the garage but got a whole new outdoor patio becuz of it :)

Do you know how much formaldehyde is in particle board and plywood?  I think these new products are far more contaminated than any pallet.  Don't even get me started on wal to wall broadloom and the chemicals it off gasses.

Yesterday in my travels, and as I gazed out the passenger window at the tick and gypsy moth infested trees with decaying moss and bacteria ridden rotting trees, I was passed by an open air flatbed 18 wheeler loaded up with lumber. I'm sure some at least one peice of that lumber will grace the interior of someone's home. Shortly after that we passed 4 massive peices of a hopefully happy family's prefabed modular home. While new and rather fuel efficient, some of my pickup trucks exhaust and the thousands of other vehicles had to have passed through, over, and around both precious cargo. All kidding aside I think some care and consideration should be taken with all secondhand and recycled materials.

Also: "I'll remember these warnings the next time I want to lick my pallet wall." Is my all time fav responce 

Isn't most all wood treated. If anything the wood from a lumberyard is more likely to be treated more than the lowly pallet. I just made a work bench out of some and plan to do side tables for our sofa next weekend with pallets. Can't wait!

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