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?

Tagged : , , , ,


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
The wood we buy out of the lumber store also are treated with chemicles. Sto tee d in warehouses with rodents and pests for years. Dont stop publishing plz. Recycle reuse. Be smart.
Most people are using a Finnish or burning the wood to darken the it. This will also kill a lot of your molds and creepy crawlies.
I'm redoing all my flooring except bedrooms with pallet wood. I'm a hyper analytical & rational individual. I find the harsh reality to be this...the human race is exposed to fungus & creepy crawlies and their feces every second of every day. We just chose to not think about it. Wood is part of nature whether it is turned into a pallet or the 2x4's our homes are framed with. The difference only lies in the chemicals used to treat that wood. Do the projects you enjoy & apply a few more chemical compounds to the pallet project of your choice to seal whatever was in the wood prior to when you began.
Somebody always has a way to piss in the Cheerios I am currently collecting pallets to redo my floors sorry home depot u get enough money from is consumers. Hey By the way don't trees grow outside with the birds and bugs so go ahead and build and save thousands

Does he know that formaldehyde in the form of DMDM is in alot of shiz. Shampoo, body wash, handsoap,etc...everything nowadays is toxic...hell, half the food we eat is grown with a variation of Agent Orange called, GMO.  (Which might I add is being protested against) I see some of his point, but like so many of you mentioned if you live out your life in fear of everything; you accomplish nothing. Pallet On, my friend...pallet on!

You could also buy pallets direct from the company that make them. Even before they are assembled. If you want the old look, create your own. Have fun!
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.  

» All comments
» Comments RSS

To help stop SPAM, please follow the directions in the graphic below: