Save on Pinterest

The Top 7 Reasons Why Pallet Creations are So Out

You may like the look of furniture and home decor made from pallets, but once you know more about that upcycled wood, you may not want it in your home.

1 / 7
palletsmax blain/Shutterstock

Chemicals: Methyl Bromide

Upcycling a pallet into a DIY decor item may make you feel like the sustainable superstar of the year, but wooden pallets require fumigation or heat treatment to move across borders into the U.S. The heat treatment or fumigation are don in an effort to prevent the spread of any invasive species that might be found in the wood. Those that get fumigated use methyl bromide, which is a highly toxic. Methyl bromide is getting incrementally phased out by the EPA but it is used to control pests.

Looking to be a green machine? Check out these 10 inexpensive upgrades for a more sustainable home.

2 / 7
woodPatcharawadee Chaokruea/Shutterstock

Chemicals: Tribromophenol

In order to prevent the growth of mold, many pallets are treated with the fungicide tribromophenol (TBP). While TBP has been banned in the United States, Europe and Canada as a fungicide, it is still being used in South America. When domestic wood supply shortages occur, TBP-treated pallets can enter areas where the chemical is banned.

According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, TBP used to treat wooden pallets can be converted into 2,4,6‑tribromoanisole (TBA) by strains of the xerophilic fungus Paecilomyces variotii. Products treated with TBP have revealed adverse side effects including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea connected to the conversion of the chemical into TBA.

Here are some projects you shouldn’t make with wood pallets.

3 / 7

They Are Prone to Mold Growth When Left Untreated

According to John Shawyer, Director of UK-based Associated Pallets, if wood pallets are untreated, when left in the elements, they can soften and decay, resulting in a decrease in the life expectancy of the pallet. So while you hope to avoid the issues of adverse side effects from chemically-treated pallets, the alternative doesn’t seem great either!

Thinking of building a picnic table out of pallets? Opt for premium outdoor wood instead, like cedar, redwood or cypress.

4 / 7

They’re Linked to Foodborne Pathogens

The pallet you choose for a DIY project might come with an unexpected guest: E. coli. The National Consumers League (NCL) tested pallets that are used to transport food throughout the United States against foodborne pathogens, including E. coli and Listeria, and found that, of the 140 pallets (70 wood and 70 plastic) tested, 10 percent of the wood pallets tested had E. coli present. Meanwhile, 2.9 percent of the wood pallets tested positive for Listeria, with half containing Listeria monocytogenes, one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens. If you really want to make furniture out of a pallet, then here’s how to choose the safest one.

5 / 7

Dismantling Pallets Isn’t Easy

No one said DIYing was easy, but if you want as little frustration as possible, you may want to avoid working with wooden pallets. The nails embedded in the wood are often twisted, making them difficult to remove. If you do go through with the dismantling, you’ll find lots of nails which need to be removed to avoid injury.

Here’s how to remove stuck nails.

6 / 7
slide ieuan/Shutterstock

They May Be Defective

Not all pallets are created equal! Much of the lumber used for pallets isn’t as straight or free of defects as higher grade lumber. This means unpredictability, which can make pallet wood hard to work with for high-precision applications. The salvaged wood may not be sturdy and safe enough, specially for a project like a playset for your kids. Get inspiration from one of these 12 awesome DIY playsets instead.

7 / 7
workspaceGines Romero/Shutterstock

They’re Susceptible to Vermin and Insect Infestations

Because wood packaging materials (WPM), including pallets, are made from recently cut trees, they may have live insects and disease organisms that can be transported from one country to another. In fact, the majority of non-native bark and wood-infesting insects that now reside in the U.S. are thought to have been transported via WPM.

Speaking of infestations, check out these 11 strategies for DIY pest control.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: