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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Keep on palleting! This rant is just another freak out moment I don't want in my head. I wonder if the ranter has quit breathing... Because the air we breathe is so filled with crap that it alone outweighs everything else. But what's a human to do??? Take a deep breathe and have some pallet fun for crying out loud!!!
I've worked in warehouses my entire life. It's pretty easy to tell the old nasty pallets from the new. Sometimes they get discarded only because they aren't the company's standard size, and the wood is great. I've also worked at one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in the us, Ashley (thank you, appreciate the sympathy). The reality is that the pests and chemicals your worried about have the chance to be present in ANY of your furniture. Use common sense. If you wouldn't touch the pallet without gloves don't put it in your living room. Btw, handy tip, a lot of pallets are painted and color coded.Blue are usually heavy duty, orange are flame retardant, yellow are heat treated, etc. I'm sure this isn't a national standard, but I know a lot of pallet makers follow similar. I've seen then a lot, in a lot of different warehouses.
To be honest with everyone from a former firefighter ,most everything in your home can be hazardous to you in way or another ,most interior of homes if on fire can hurt u just from the gas's they produce,OK but we don't stop living our homes ,most of our food is shipped on pallets ,most of our food sit in warehouses where rats,Roach's crawel over it but we still eat it so why all the hype over the pallet floors,just let it go ,if we listen to everyone who thinks they no what's best for us we all be walking around wearing bullet proof vest,helments and masks.
Following this logic, don't bring anything in your house, including yourself. In fact, burn your house down.

I'm afraid everything you said about pallets could be said of any other wood available on the market - unless you've harvested it yourself and supervised all the processing. You never know where it comes from and what did they do to the timber - and if it's been chemically dried (as it often happens) it's full of toxic remains. And how about the varnish? Or do you use only natural bee wax? The fact is that pallet wood is as good or as bad as any other wood  available commercially. And it's cheap or even free. And it's durable. 

You know why you shouldn't repurpose pallets into furniture? Because it is ugly. Tacky, ugly, overdone. Even worse than chevron.

This IS the dumbest thing I ever read!  

And Nick obviously needs to calm down and rethink every single product he has in his house.   From the formaldehyde outgassing furniture, to the lead paint in kids toys, to the bed bug infested new clothes you just bought at the department store...

Stop over thinking everything...  Stop believing everything you read on the net...  and live you life the way you want to.  

And how much does anybody know about the rest of their furniture? Chemicals used, where it was stored what it was exposed to? We will know the FDA/government regulation approve of any chemical that Proves financially beneficial. I appreciate that people should be careful not to use chemically treated pallets but really I think this argument could apply to anything from the apple in your fridge to the public toilet seat you used last, and guess what they all came off of a pallet to get to you.
Waiste of time to read. How many of you ladies actually have had this happen? First baby that dies from E Coli from a pallet let me know. Mine and my children's beds are made from pallets, daughter showed me a few bugs on hers once, so guess what we did!!!! Switched out the fuckin pallet. Smart huh?

jscsgrl lick the pallets Im hysterical! You made my day!:

While some might argue pallets are harmful. They should also take into consideration that some people (me) live in North Dakota. VERY FEW insects can survive during our brutal winters. This is why I do my pallet re-stocking during the brutally cold winter months. I use to live in New Orleans for 20 years, Im an insect pro. Cockroaches will not stay on or somehow in your pallets when your moving them, they will scatter. Go poke your nose somewhere else, like a McDonald's factory. People eat junk every day, they work dirty jobs (oilfield). At the end of the day, no one cares about a "dirty" pallet.

The thing is every wood product is suspect to micro objects, and as a society we are hopefully aiming to reduce waste, as well as costs.  The pallet issue so far as contamination is completely insane, whereas the greater majority of "finish" woods are available to the same which has been stated.  Pick your party, choose what you will, but do not freak people out over stupid shit!

So much misinformation.  Whether or not the pallets have been heat treated has virtually no bearing on its safety in the home. Heat treatment is used for pallets intended for shipment outside the US and is used for killing bugs and any eggs/larvae that may be present.  This has a limited amount of time that it would be of value.  Typically, most heat treated pallets are intended to be used in a short amount of time after production. For the most part, once you have brought a used pallet into your home, it has probably spent a fair amount of time in an area with stagnant air, outdoors exposed to weather, humidity, and whatever else to make the heat treatment irrelevant.  The bugs have had plenty of time to reinfest if they wanted to.  By and large, bugs are of no more concern than they are compared to anything else you bring into the house.  Just make sure you give them a good cleaning.  Most of the alarmist stuff in this article is meant to get people riled up.  Basically, use common sense and you won't have any issues.  You have a million other things in your house and under your sink that are much more harmful than a wood pallet. 

painting or varnishing is a great way to sterilize anything.

Here's a fun exercise. Take a household material, i.e. latex or oil based paint, cooking spray, dish detergent, swiffer wipes, soda etc. anything. and google it along with the word "toxic". you'll likely find a rant. Maybe not with all of them, but many. My point is there're a hundreds if not thousands of toxic things we associate with in our lives. Almost everything you purchase has been in contact with a pallet also - next time you go to ANY grocery store bathroom in the back storage/inventory area take a look around, looks clean right? ..right? My point is not to give alarm but to point out that even without man-made products our bodies are exposed to a multidude of toxic or harmful substances on a daily basis and essentially, generally humans are just not that frail. by all means, if you have a history of illness or are prone to infection, avoid pallet furnture. My own living space has it spread all throughout and I'm fine. My girlfriend is fine. my guests are fine. my pet is fine. notwithstanding as someone else pointed out use common sense. I don't think I'd ever build say, a crib out of pallets....unless the wood was literally buried underneath layers of sealant and had actually no exposed wood at all, then maybe. lol. In summation: pallets may just be one more thing one more person has suggested will hurt us. There are thousands maybe millions of people on tv and the internet saying this or that thing is terrible and will give us birdflue or marburg if we eat/drink/touch/breathe it and I for one feel if you're going to worry about pallets, you might as well give credence to the rest of All The Terrible Toxic Things and basically never go outside, touch an animal, try a new food or (gasp) do a diy project. Life will be pretty dull but hey at least you'll never ever EVER (maybe) get sick.

These are very common issues that people will bring up/think about when wanting to re-use pallets. Are they safe? Are they clean? To be honest, you can not guarantee that all pallets will be safe and clean to use inside the home. But, there are measures and precautions you can take to make sure that they are top notch quality, yourself. To do this, when buying pallets/looking for pallets make sure they are heat-treated (these are not chemically treated). Then when bringing them home wash them with warm water and dishsoap and rinse them off. Let them dry, and then you can sand them down to make sure you won't get slivers and such. Then stain them with a clear coat (or whatever stain you want). These are all ways to make sure that the pallets are safe and useful to re-use.

Rotf....licking your pallets. That's hilarious. I'm getting ready to rip out my floors and replace them with wood pallets. I'll try not to lick them.

Before I bring pallets inside I:

Spray them with alcohol, kills fungus and bacteria and helps dry the wood, making any new infestation or growth unlikely. 

And since I don't own a kiln, I put them in my car with the heat blasting for about three hours. Takes all the moisture out, kills bugs.

Neither of these methods are difficult.

These two posts sum it up for me:

"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."


Aug 27, 2014

"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 ?"

When my sister was probably around 7-9 she slept on a new carpet floor had a seizure and develop epilepsy.  I would guess had it been a pallet floor, the outcome would not have been the same. Most feng shui decorators and conscious interior designers recommend used furniture because it has had the opportunity to off-gas a couple years or natural safer options than conventional furniture.

I just like there its going :)

people with common sence here 

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