Wood pallets are used in many DIY woodworking projects like potting benches, patio furniture, porch swings, beds, and compost bins. They’re usually free to obtain and there are numerous possibilities and free pallet plans for creating something unique.
While these projects may excite you, you might be wondering: where do I find free pallets near me? Is there a store you can visit that will hand them over? Sourcing can be the toughest part, but plenty of businesses and some individuals dispose of them because they have no use for them.
Here are some tips and things to remember when looking for free wooden pallets. Many of these same tips can be used when looking for free lumber.
How to Find Free Pallets Near Me
Large businesses may order lots of supplies, and most or all of the shipments might come on wooden pallets. While this sounds like an excellent opportunity for you to jump in and snag a few dozen or more for your woodworking projects, it probably won’t work.
Bigger companies like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart likely return, recycle, and reuse the pallets either through internal logistics teams or with the aid of third-party companies. It certainly won't hurt to ask to store manager, but don't get your hopes up about the big businesses.
Click Play for the Best Places to Find Free Pallets Near You
The alternative is to seek out small businesses. Many smaller businesses toss their pallets into the dumpster due to a lack of budget for a hauling company or because they don’t have the time or other resources to do it. They may even lay them out next to the dumpsters so that trash services can pick them up.
Striking a deal with the workers or managers of a construction site may be another ideal place to look for free pallets. It's as easy as picking up the phone and asking.
Scout These Locations for Free Pallets
Any business that has inventory will most likely use pallets. When you're asking yourself (or the internet) where you can find free near pallets near me, there are several places to start that often lead to success. Some of the best businesses to look to for free pallets include:
- Hardware stores
- Construction sites and builders
- Small garden shops
- Furniture stores
- Equipment stores
- Newspaper companies
- Pet stores
- Grocery stores
However, if you turn to grocery stores as your source, inspect the pallets closely for spills or stains. Some stains can turn to mold in due time.
Also of note, an old study from 2010 by the National Consumers League found that 10 percent of pallets carrying food produce harbored E. coli bacteria. Although an update to that study hasn't been published since, use your discretion if choosing to use pallets from supermarkets.
Become Your Own Pickup Service
If a small company needs to dispose of their pallets, and you need pallets, the math should be easy: Get free pallets while helping a small business clean up their waste; be the “trash pickup service” they need.
If you know of some local places that are constantly getting rid of them, ask if you can take the load. If they’re already paying someone to do it, you could always offer your services at no cost because you're interested in using them for DIY projects. You could then give any excess you don’t use to someone else that needs them or take them to a dump area.
This type of relationship may transform into something even more significant. The business may eventually contact you if they have other kinds of waste that you could use for your at-home projects.
Seek Out the Distribution Center
If the company receiving the pallets won't hand them over, you can try working directly with the distribution center shipping out the pallets.
They may have tons of them that don't work with their machinery, are slightly broken, or don't conform to their standards. Ask if they can set them aside for you to pick up.
Also, look out for pallet recycling companies. They might be able to give away some pallets to you for free if not for a small fee.
Use the Internet
A good way to find free wood pallets is to form a relationship with individuals who are either looking for them (and you can work together) or those with excess that you could take.
Simply searching online for "free pallets near me" or "free wood pallets in my area" may come up with helpful results. You can also advertise anything you want to get rid of, so long as someone else can provide you with free or cheap pallets. Facebook and other social media sites can be just as helpful as the freebie-finding website Freecycle.
Otherwise, someone may want their pallets picked up and removed, in which case you can take them and use them for yourself.
Inspect the Wood
The best pallets seem to come from dry goods industries. Many of these products carried lighter weight goods keeping the wood integrity intact. Also, since you want to avoid using pallets with spillage or food stains, dry goods usually do not have those issues.
Keep an eye out for nails sticking out and splinters. Check the front and back of the pallet for massive fissures or splits in the wood that might make that pallet a poor choice for use.
Also, avoid using pallets that have grease or oil stains. Petroleum stains are hard to remove or cover up with paint.
Review Markings and Stamps
Look for the stamps or markings that many pallets have. If you see no markings, it came from a domestic product. Any wood or plant products from outside the country require an International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) stamp on the pallets.
Approved markings, as noted by the IPPC, include:
- HT (Heat Treated): Heat treatment using conventional steam or dry kiln heat chamber
- DH (Dielectric Heated): Heat treatment using dielectric heating (microwaves or radio frequencies)
- MB (Methyl Bromide): Methyl bromide treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)
- SF (Sulphuryl Fluoride): Sulphuryl fluoride treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)
It is best not to work with or use chemically treated pallets. Most significantly, never use them inside the house or with edible plants. Cutting, sanding, or burning these wood products can release toxic pesticides and rodenticides into the air.
Identifying and Mitigating Mold on Wood Pallets. National Wooden Pallet & Container Association.
NCL calls on FDA to regulate industry after tests reveal hidden pathogens on pallets used to transport food. National Consumers League.
Adopted standards (ISPMs). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Be safe around wooden pallets. Pennsylvania State University Extension.