If you are interested in home renovations and DIY projects, then you have probably wondered already how pallet wood can be treated for use indoors. Wood pallets are very versatile. After they are used in shipping for wood frames, they used can be used for a wide range of new purposes. Used wood pallets are very inexpensive (you can even get them for free sometimes), so it is easy to understand why have become such a popular upcycling material. Before discussing the treatment that makes it safe to use pallet wood indoors, let’s look at what pallets are made out of, and how to select the best pallets to meet your requirements.
Southern yellow pine and oak are two of the most common kinds of wood used for making wood pallets. Pine lumber is very popular since it can be kiln-dried, is readily available, and is inexpensive. Oak is a variety of hardwood that is favored for its durability and strength. Oak lumber that cannot be used for furniture is used for making pallets. Most pallet wood designed for domestic use is not treated with chemicals. If it does not come with any markings or stamps, then it only was used inside the United States and most likely is safe for indoor use. Before you keep reading about how pallet wood can be treated for use indoors, here are a couple of things to watch for when selecting pallets for your projects.
1. If it does come with a stamp, it cannot have the “MB” code on it
Methyl bromide is what MB stands for, meaning a pesticide has been used to fumigate the wood. Even if treated, it is not safe to use this wood inside your house. It is okay to use pallets that have the codes KN (kiln-dried), DB (debarked), or HT (heat-treated).
2. Check to ensure the wood is clean
If thee are signs of spots, discoloration, spills, or large stains, then it is possible that a spilled chemical may have contaminated the pallet. Even if you are unable to identify what caused the stain, the safe thing to do is to pass over using the pallet. The pallet wood should also be checked for any strange or foreign scene. Pallets should always smell like wood and not like chemicals, including old grungy pallets. You might not ever know what a pallet was used for originally to transport. It is always safer to pass over any pallets that may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals during the transportation process.
3. Avoid painted pallets
These pallets are owned by pallet companies and if you are caught using them for crafts or home projects, you could be faced with a legal charge.
How To Source Pallets
Local crafting or shipping companies might have wood pallets available that they are not using any longer. Also, they might be able to tell you which products were shipped in the pallets and whether or not they are safe for indoor use. If there are no shipping companies in your local area, see here some other places where you can find pallets for indoor project uses.
- Motorcycle dealerships
Quite often oversized wood pallets are used to ship new motorcycles. Dealerships often have a free day when their pallets and crates are disposed of.
- Pet supply stores
Pet supply stores are often the best places to find softwood. Since those pallets are used for transporting animal supplies, they are safe for use in your wood skid craft projects.
- Construction sites
Wooden pallets at construction sites are only used for carrying joint compounds and cement, which are non-toxic materials.
There are often pallets lying around lumber yards. It is fine to use these pallets since they are usually only used for transporting lumber.
- Landscaping and gardening businesses
Hardwood pallets can often be found at garden centers and landscaping companies. Due to the strength of hardwood, it is often used for bearing the weight of plants and sod.
Preparing Wood For Use
After you have carefully selected and bought the pallets that meet your needs, the next thing you need to know is how to treat the pallet wood for use indoors. Treating pallet wood is surprisingly simple. Just follow the easy and quick steps below, and you will be ready for your craft projects.
- Clean the wood
Use a mixture of bleach and soapy water to scrub down the wood. You can use a power washer if you have one. After the pallet has been cleaned and rinsed, allow it to thoroughly dry before you start to work with the wood.
- Break down the pallet
Depending on what you will be using the pallets for, this may be the next step you need to take. The following tools will be needed to break down the pallets:
Crowbar and hammer – for loosening plans that are tight and for breaking them apart
Nail punch – to drive free stubborn spiral-shank nails, rings, or screws
Oscillating tool – to get rid of rusty nails
- Sand and finish the pallet
If you are intending to use your pallets intact, a sander can be used for smoothing the wood out and eliminating any surface-level dirt. That makes it easier to paint the wood as well. However, if you want a patinated appearance, your pallets should not be sanded down since the rustic aesthetic will be ruined. If your want a tarnished veneer appearance, natural beeswax finishing products can help you achieve a well-worn, antique finish.
- Cut and shape the wood
Cut the pallet wood into the shape that you need. When doing this make sure to not cut close to cracks, holes, or splits in the wood since that can lead to more breakage and splitting of the wood.