Many crafters and DIY enthusiasts are on the hunt for free pallets. Traditionally used to transport, pack or store products, pallets become a versatile material for an array of crafts and homemade projects.
While many people love to use wood pallets for crafts, the problem of where to acquire them is an ongoing one. And even though new pallets are always going to give the best result in any craft, who wants to pay for something you can get for free or at little cost?
Also see: 23 pallet wood projects that sell
Where Can I Get Free Pallets Near Me?
When people develop an interest in using pallets in DIY projects, they don’t know where to find them. Fortunately, pallets are used by retailers and other businesses. The more places that you know to look, the more likely you are to find enough pallets to satisfy your needs.
One of the top places to find free wooden pallets for free is a hardware store. This includes national chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot as well as the local store on the corner.
Hardware stores frequently stock large, heavy items that need to be transported on pallets. The result is that hardware stores could receive hundreds of pallets on any given day.
Keep in mind that you may have better luck obtaining pallets from smaller, mom-and-pop hardware stores than you do with national chains. This is because the bigger retailers are more likely to have a system already in place for dealing with the pallets they receive. By contrast, you may be performing a helpful service to a small business by hauling away the pallets they don’t need.
Grocery Stores / Food Stores
A great source of pallets is your local grocery store. While large businesses will have more pallets, the local store is more likely to work with people in their community. A common issue with grocery store pallets is spillage and stains, but it may be worth trashing these for the large quantities of unwanted pallets. Focusing on pallets that were shipped with dry goods are often going to be the best quality.
Retail Stores / Warehouse Stores
Major retail stores like Walmart and Target receive shipments of merchandise by the truckload at least once a week. This may mean that hundreds of pallets are regularly being delivered to them.
While larger retailers remain a resource, don’t forget to check with smaller, independent shops. They occasionally receive shipments on pallets, and they may not have the resources for getting rid of them. Many small business owners will put pallets out by their dumpster to be picked up by the trash service. Instead of taking the pallets, I recommend asking for permission from the owner before taking them, even if it looks like trash. Disposing of pallets is a cost to businesses and they are typically happy to put them aside for someone to pickup, but in some areas taking trash without permission may be illegal. This way you can get a consistent supply and they are protected from the weather.
Once you consider how large the products are in a furniture store, it becomes clear that they probably have sturdy, high-quality pallets that they might be willing to share.
Do you have a new commercial building or residential subdivision being built near you? If so, this is a pallet-finding goldmine.
Builders and construction workers burn pallets and other packaging that are cluttering up their workspace. This means that they welcome people who will haul away their junk.
Whenever you drive by the construction site, pull over and find someone to talk to. Chances are good that they can strike a deal with you that’ll have you picking up free pallets.
It seems like everyone has pets, and that means that pet stores are doing a booming business. Most pet stores routinely get massive deliveries of food, treats, toys and other supplies. Many of these come on pallets. Accordingly, you could score as many pallets as you want by asking an employee.
Newspapers get huge deliveries of rolls of paper on a regular basis, making them a reliable provider of free pallets.
Browse Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace/Freecycle
You may not always have time to physically scour your neighborhood for pallets, so looking online is a quick, convenient alternative. Websites or social media platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Freecycle are tremendous resources for finding free pallets.
Work Directly with Distribution Centers
You can buy pallets from distribution centers, but it’s also possible to get free or low-cost pallets by asking employees to give you the pallets that aren’t of high enough quality for them to use or that aren’t the right size or type for their needs.
Pallet Recycling Centers
Another source of wood pallets is from pallet recycling companies. While these old pallets may not be free and are often not high quality since many will be broken, a pallet recycler will typically have decent, low-cost recycled pallets available.
Start a Pickup Service
This is an idea that works well if you develop relationships with numerous small retailers. You can make a weekly circuit during which you pick up used pallets from business owners who are grateful to have a convenient way to get rid of their junk.
Tips for Collecting Wooden Pallets
If you’re going out to pick up pallets, it’s best to be prepared. Use these tips to ensure success.
Bring Your Gloves
You may encounter pallets with nails and splinters sticking out or those that have spills or stains. Always wear heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands.
Use Caution When Dealing with Strangers on the Internet
If you opt to find free pallets online, try to avoid meeting people at their homes or inviting them to yours. Consider using a central public spot as a meeting place.
Avoid Petroleum-Stained Pallets
These damaged pallets are difficult to use because of off-gassing and staining. Paint likely won’t cover the stains, and the fumes can be dangerous.
Avoid Chemically Processed Pallets
Some pallets are treated with a variety of toxic chemicals and pesticides. Virtually impossible to reuse for another purpose for safety reasons, these pallets will be marked MB (methyl bromide) or SF (sulphuryl fluoride). Leave these behind as those pallets have been treated with a pesticide.
Avoid Pallets with Stamps
You may notice some pallets with ownership stamps or markings. If the pallet has an ownership stamp on it, such as Coca-Cola, PECO, IGPS, or any others, then you probably don’t want these as these companies enforce their property rights and want these returned.
Perform an Inspection
Don’t just grab any pallets that you find. If they are stained, they may be beyond use. That’s true for many pallets used in the food industry, as spills on the wood can harbor mold and bacteria.
Use a Truck
Pallets can be large and heavy. Dimensions of 48X40 inches are common, and they can weigh 60 pounds or more. Be ready with a vehicle that can transport items of this size. It’s also useful to work with a buddy or have a hand truck.
Create a Schedule for Pickups
Once you’ve established relationships with several retailers, you’ll become familiar with their shipment schedules. This means that you can create a schedule for pickups at all of these places, making the whole process more convenient for you and your suppliers.
Wooden pallets are an excellent resource for many craft and DIY projects. When you know where to get them for free, you can make projects for your own enjoyment or even start a lucrative business.