Why Buy Used Wood Pallets?

Wood is an excellent material for pallets. It’s sturdy, relatively inexpensive, and best of all, reusable. Wood pallets are also easy to source. It is because of these characteristics that they are highly prized in US markets. In fact, the total number of pallets that are currently in service number in the billions, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In 2011 alone, 474 million used wood pallets were recovered and 326 million were sold again to be reused.

Used wood pallets offer businesses a cheaper and sustainable alternative when shipping or storing products. They also give people an easily accessible source for many DIY projects. So whether you need them for business or personal use, used wood pallets can work for you!

Here are things to look for when purchasing wood pallets for your next project or shipping need:

1. Durability

They must be strong enough for their purpose. Used wood pallets are sorted into different grades, and those that fall under the Grade 1 category (or category A) are often used by food, pharmaceutical, and beverage companies. These are capable of handling heavy weights and can be just as durable as brand new pallets.

There are also premium pallets under the Grade 2 category. These have undergone a bit of repair, but are fully functional, and will still look good enough for use in retail store displays. 

2. Size

Knowing the correct size for your wood pallet needs is important. There is a standard dimension for each industry so that everyone in that market is able to do business easily. An example of this would be the supermarket industry, which uses a 40” x 48” standard sizing set forth by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The automotive industry uses 48” x 45” pallets, 45” x 45” are commonly for chemical shipments, and so on.

The size of the pallets has everything to do with being able to fit forklift and shelving systems. A standard dimension makes it easier to calculate how many pallets will fit into a particular container and causes transport to be much easier. It also reduces the risk of machinery damage due to incompatible pallet sizing.

Before you commit to purchasing used pallets, make sure you’re absolutely sure of the dimensions that will work best for your needs.

3. Material

Wooden pallets are either made of softwood or hardwood. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Softwood is more easily available because it makes up about 80 percent of all timber. It’s cheaper and much lighter than hardwood because it is less dense. But because it is lighter, it also has a lighter load capacity and can be susceptible to humidity, so many have to kiln-dry their softwood pallets first to remove any risk of fungus or mold.

Hardwood is far more durable and stronger than softwood. It’s excellent for transporting heavy goods, but this advantage can also be a disadvantage. It is much heavier, which can be a cause for concern when shipping, because it could significantly increase shipping cost. 

4. Clean Surface

If you’re in the food industry, it’s important that the wood pallets you purchase are not discolored in any way. Stains and discolorations can be signs that these might have been contaminated with a chemical spill or mold. Check also for strange scents in the wood. Old pallets should still smell of wood and not of chemicals or mold.

There are many important restrictions to consider in the food industry. Before you purchase any used pallets, it is advisable to make sure they meet all the correct regulations.

5. Markings

Markings or stamps indicate where the wood pallets were utilized and what treatments they have undergone. The KN code indicates the pallets were kiln-dried. An MB (methyl bromide) indicates a pesticide was used on the pallets, HT stands for heat-treated, and DB means debarked.

If you’re not sure about the stamps, or no stamps are visible, it’s best to not purchase those used pallets. They may not meet regulations for shipping requirements, or they might contaminate your home if used for a project or renovation.

Mold On Used Wood Pallets

Mold grows everywhere, and they can certainly thrive on wood pallets particularly if certain storage conditions are met: humidity, little ventilation, and a temperature between 60-80 degrees F. While mold doesn’t really damage the structure of a pallet, it can possibly contaminate the products that will be stored on it. 

If you have purchased or are planning to purchase pallets with stains that you suspect to be mold, you can still make use of them with a little bit of treatment.

1. Pressure washing, bleaching, and drying

Pressure washing will remove stains from the wood. Bleaching will kill off the mold on the surface and neutralize spores. However, these two processes only work on the mold on the surface of the wood. To kill off the mold, you need to dry the used wood pallets thoroughly.

2. Kiln-drying

Kiln-drying will kill off any existing mold and remove all moisture in the wood, making it an uninhabitable area for mold. This is not to be confused with heat treating, which is designed only to kill pests and organisms on the wood.

Structural Damages

Used wood pallets with some structural damage can still be repaired and recycled, although it would require less inconvenience on your part to purchase Grade A or B pallets, which are already supply-chain ready.

If you choose to repair the pallets yourself but plan to use them for international shipments, you will need to have the entire pallets re-treated and re-marked to comply with the American Lumber Standards Committee standards. Old marks will have to be removed as well.

To save on time and trouble, contact one of our Pallet & Crate experts today! Not only can we help you decide which pallets will work best for your individual needs, we can get them built and delivered to you in no time.

We even offer fully customized pallet options! So don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help meet your pallet needs today.