How To Treat Pallet Wood For Indoor Use



If you’re into DIY projects and home renovations, you’ve probably already wondered how to treat pallet wood for indoor use. Wood pallets are extremely versatile. After serving their purpose as wood frames for shipping, they can be transformed for a wide variety of new uses.  Used wood pallets come pretty cheap (some businesses even give them for free), so it’s easy to see why these have become a popular source of upcycling material. Before we dive into the treatment that makes pallet wood safe for indoor use, let’s take a look at what they’re made of, and how to choose the best pallets for your needs.

Two of the most common types of wood that are used to make wood pallets are oak and southern yellow pine. Pine lumber is a favorite because it’s cheap, readily available, and can be kiln-dried. Meanwhile, oak is a hardwood variety that is well-liked for its strength and durability. Oak lumber that does not make the grade for furniture is turned into pallets.

Most pallet wood is not chemically treated if intended for domestic use. If it doesn’t carry a stamp or marking, then it was used only within the U.S. and is most likely already safe to use indoors. 

Before you continue reading about how to treat pallet wood for indoor use, here are a few things to look out for when choosing your project pallets.

1. If it does carry a stamp, it must not have the code “MB” on it

MB stands for methyl bromide and that means the wood has been fumigated with a pesticide. Even with a treatment, this wood is not safe to have inside your home. Pallets with the codes HT (heat-treated), DB (debarked), or KN (kiln-dried) are fine to use.

2. Check the wood to make sure it is clean

If you see signs of a large stain, spill, discoloration or spots, then the pallet might possibly be contaminated by a spilled chemical. Even if you can’t identify what made the stain, it’s best to pass over that pallet to be on the safe side. 

Also check the pallet wood for any foreign or strange scents to the wood. Pallets, even old “grungy” pallets, should smell like wood, not chemicals.

You never know what pallets were originally used to transport, and it’s always safest to pass over any that might have been exposed to harmful chemicals in the transportation process.

3. Stay clear of painted pallets

These belong to pallet rental companies, and you might face a legal charge if you’re found using them for home projects or crafts.

Sourcing The Pallets

Your local shipping or crating company may have a supply of wooden pallets that they no longer use. They may also be able to tell you what products were shipped in them and whether these are safe for use indoors.

If you can’t find any local shipping companies, here are a few other places you can look to find pallets to use for indoor projects:

1. Motorcycle dealerships

New motorcycles are frequently shipped in oversized wood pallets. These dealerships often hold a “free” day when they dispose of their crates and pallets.

2. Pet supply stores

If you’re looking for softwood, a pet supply store is the best place to find it. And because these pallets are used to carry animal supplies, these would be safe to utilize for your wood skid crafts.

3. Construction sites

Wooden pallets found in these locations typically carry only cement and joint compounds, which are all non-toxic materials.

4. The lumberyard

Lumber yards often have a pallet or two lying around. These pallets are also fine for use because they are generally only used to transport other lumber. 

5. Gardening and landscaping businesses

You can often find hardwood pallets at landscaping companies or garden centers. Because of its strength, hardwood is often utilized for bearing the weight of sod and plants. 

Prepping the Wood for Use

Now that you’ve carefully chosen and purchased the pallet that you need, you would need to know how to treat pallet wood for indoor use.

It’s surprisingly simple to treat pallet wood. Just follow these quick and easy steps, and you’re ready to get crafting!  

1. Clean it up

Scrub the wood down with soapy water mixed with bleach. If you happen to have a power washer, you may use that. After cleaning and rinsing, leave it out to dry thoroughly before you begin working with the wood.

2. Break it down

Depending on the use you will put the pallets to, this could be your next step. You would need these tools for deconstructing the pallets:

  • Hammer, and crow bar – for loosening tight planks and breaking them apart
  • Oscillating tool – for making quick work of rusty nails
  • Nail punch – for driving stubborn screws, rings, or spiral-shank nails free

3. Sand and finish it

If you mean to utilize your pallets intact, the second step is to use a sander for smoothing out the wood and removing surface-level dirt. This also makes the wood easier to paint. However, if you’re going for a patinaed look, you will not want to sand your pallets down as that will ruin the rustic aesthetic. 

If you are aiming for a tarnished veneer look, natural beeswax finishing products will help you achieve that antique, well-worn finish. 

4. Cut and shape it

Cut the wood into whatever shape you need! However, make sure that when you do this, you avoid cutting near splits, holes, or cracks in the wood because this will lead to even more splitting and breakage in the wood. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to treat pallet wood for indoor use, you’re all set to get started on your projects!

Need help connecting to a local shipping company to find some pallets for your indoor projects? Or do you have a large project that requires lots of pallet wood? Contact us today to  order some brand new pallets that will be perfect for all your indoor project needs!