If you can reuse or repurpose something, then it’s best to do so.
It’s not only better for the environment, but it also improves your personal handiness skills, gives you different tasks to perform with family to bond over, and gives you the feeling of accomplishment that we’re all vying for in today’s validation-oriented world.
It’s fulfilling, and it keeps garbage out of the landfills: it’s a win-win.
- 1 What Are Wood Pallets?
- 2 Where to Find Good Ones?
- 3 DIY Pallet Projects
- 3.1 1. Accent Wall
- 3.2 2. Fix Your Deck
- 3.3 3. Outdoor Furniture
- 3.4 4. Welcome/Shop Sign
- 3.5 5. Headboard
- 3.6 6. Or, Make an Entire Bed
- 3.7 7. Adirondack
- 3.8 8. Bookshelves
- 3.9 9. Coffee Table
- 3.10 10. Wooden Clock
- 3.11 11. Storage Bin or Chest
- 3.12 12. Kitchen Island
- 3.13 13. Picture Frames
- 3.14 14. Cooler Stand
- 3.15 15. Entryway Table
- 3.16 16. Television Stand
- 3.17 17. An Entire Bar
- 3.18 18. Compost Bin
- 3.19 19. American Flag Replica
- 3.20 20. Serving Tray
- 3.21 21. Planter Boxes
- 3.22 22. Hardwood Flooring
- 3.23 23. End Table
- 3.24 24. Shoe Rack
- 3.25 25. Dog Bed
- 3.26 26. Dog House
- 3.27 27. Trellis
- 3.28 28. Woodworking Bench
- 4 It’s Just the Beginning
What Are Wood Pallets?
Wood pallets are often used in warehouses, transportation of goods, and sometimes in storing those goods in an upright position.
They’re wooden support platforms that can be lifted by a forklift or a jack, allowing small teams to maneuver thousands of pounds of goods in a short time, without straining themselves.
They’re also a goldmine for creatives like you, especially if you’re in a repurposing mood and want to transform “garbage” into something usable.
They’re not a one-size-fits-all solution, though. Sometimes the wood will be spray painted (usually blue or orange) depending on what it’s transporting, and they’ll come in a variety of sizes.
That’s actually a good thing when it comes to putting your creative mind to good use.
Where to Find Good Ones?
Sometimes wooden pallets might cost you a few bucks, but for the most part, you can find them for free.
They’re left behind at small convenience stores after they’ve had goods dropped off (the distributors don’t want them back), and they are usually left in good condition.
While they might not always be visible from the parking lot or through the alleyway on the side of the building, don’t be afraid to go in and ask the owner or whoever is working the front.
They’re getting free waste pickup, as far as they’re concerned. You might need to leave your name and number.
Another option is to head on a local site, like your local directory of Craigslist or FreeCycle to see who’s giving pallets away.
Craigslist usually has a lot of commercial pallets that contractors are trying to get rid of, whereas FreeCycle is all about repurposing, and usually come from folks who are just looking to get rid of them.
You can find good quality pallets from either source.
Last but not least, you can visit local recycling facilities who may be processing pallets. They’re often left by the curbside and picked up by recycling trucks.
You might have to sign a release form for the pallets (basically just stating that the recycling center/city isn’t responsible for whatever you do with the pallets or if they somehow result in injury), and then they’re yours.
It’s best to stockpile a dozen-or-so pallets before you dig into these project ideas that we’ve collected for you.
DIY Pallet Projects
1. Accent Wall
If you rent, you can make a divider instead, but if you own your home then this is about to be your favorite feature in the whole place.
If you have an alcove or a section of wall that doesn’t have any outlets/switches on it, this is the perfect project for you.
Measure the wall, and cut the pallets accordingly. You can secure them to the wall with nails and a proper amount of nail anchors, which will prevent wall damage or nails from sliding out.
2. Fix Your Deck
Get enough pallets in your collection, and you’ll be able to replace sections of your deck if it’s deteriorating. At the very least, you’ll be able to refinish it.
The supports and L joints that make up most decks should only be replaced by professionals, but you can still redo the top of it and stain it to add another element to your outdoor space.
3. Outdoor Furniture
If you’re going to fix your deck up, you might as well make a few short tables for potted plants or a two-person bench.
If you keep the original design of the pallet, you can have an under-the-seat storage area that’s perfect for outdoor items like throw pillows.
4. Welcome/Shop Sign
What’s more rustic than a pallet wood sign for the front of your home or your little shop?
It’s super inexpensive, and gives you the ability to custom make a sign without paying hundreds of dollars, and waiting for a week or two for it to get shipped out to you.
Make it any size, use stencils to get the words right, and control the way that people feel welcome in your home or store.
Have a slightly more eclectic style? Make your pallet into a headboard. Clean the wood and sand it down, and make sure there’s a ¼” spacer between the wood.
Nail them to a few select planks in the back, and secure it to the wall over your bed. A bit of stain and some polyurethane can help match the platform/base bed that you’re currently using.
6. Or, Make an Entire Bed
Yeah, you can use pallets to make an entire king-sized bed. You’ll need a lot of pallets, but this will get that mattress off the floor and give you a better basis of support.
You don’t even need box springs to put between them. Just make sure there’s enough stability by having lots of intersecting planks.
The ultimate lounging chair for the outdoors—adirondacks are simple to build with about four or five pallets, and can be achieved in a single afternoon.
While decorative pieces are nice, this is something that you can actually use on a daily basis.
Whether they’re wall-mounted or freestanding, bookshelves are those all-too-expensive furniture pieces that have a price that’s hard to justify.
Not only that, but you’re probably going to spend just about as much time building this as you would assembling a boxed shelf that’s built out of compressed cardboard.
Build the bookshelf yourself, and they’ll be able to hold far more books.
9. Coffee Table
Go into any Pier 1 Imports or even a Macy’s, and the coffee tables there are far too pretentious and not functional enough.
You barely even have to change the pallet at all: build the legs separately, but keep the forklift-access areas in place so you can store items underneath.
For some rustic zeal, criss-cross the pallet boards while building the top platform.
10. Wooden Clock
You can take the inner workings out of a functioning clock and place them on a wooden one that you make yourself out of pallets.
Just be sure that it’s roughly the same size, or that the hands will meet out appropriately with the markings that you create. This is a great cross-project to combine with wood burning.
11. Storage Bin or Chest
Come on, this is going to look fantastic no matter where you put it.
Whether it’s near the front door to store shoes or in the garage for your tools, making a wooden chest out of pallets is super simple and awesome-looking.
The only extra parts you’ll need are a few hinges and a handle, and just a sprinkling of your own creativity.
12. Kitchen Island
Always wanted a kitchen island, but had no way to actually achieve one?
Those rolling islands that you see in stores are nice and all, but you don’t have to shell out that crazy amount of cash to make one.
You’ll need about six to eight pallets to get the job done here. Bonus points for getting hinges and making functioning doors on the sides for extra non-perishable storage.
Be sure to seal the wood and use polyurethane on the top so you don’t end up with splinters and dust everywhere.
13. Picture Frames
This works great for nautical-themed portraits, but it can also work for just about anything you want to frame.
Have the pallets intersect one another at a forty-five degree angle, just like you would see with a normal picture frame.
For the exterior, use thinner strips of wood to make a box that fits whatever the exterior dimensions of your picture are.
14. Cooler Stand
You’ve got that awesome Yeti cooler, but it could look a bit better if it was in a cooler stand made out of pallets.
It’s a rustic decorative piece, but it actually serves a purpose: nobody has to bend their back quite as much if they’re trying to get a cold brew at the bottom of the cooler.
You can also attach a countertop bottle opener off the side of it to make it a more functional piece.
Screw on a small desktop pen holder beneath the bottle opener so you have somewhere to put the caps.
15. Entryway Table
Notice how empty your entryway or living room is?
Make a slightly long table (usually long enough for two drawers), and put a shelf on the bottom. Don’t put a back on it so you can see the color of the wall through the back.
This blends in with the space without overlapping the existing effort that’s gone into your style, and looks fantastic.
Nothing is better than being reminded of accomplishment right as you walk in the door.
16. Television Stand
Your TV doesn’t weigh a lot.
Pallets can already hold up an extreme amount of weight, so putting two of them together can create a nice little nook in the middle to store your game system, Blu-Ray player, or whatever it is that you’re using, as well as the TV on top.
Just make sure there’s enough space for the stand, and of course the sound bar.
17. An Entire Bar
Bar counters—we all want them, but they’re close to a grand if you try to buy them online. Not only that, but they usually don’t match your current style in the basement or the parlor.
Blueprints for these can be a bit tricky, but if you color the frame differently from the main wood, this can look really amazing.
Be sure to add polyurethane to the countertop to give it a real bar feel.
18. Compost Bin
Compost is best kept in a steel barrel, but wooden bins will do the trick for a couple of years.
After all, if it’s free from pallets and a little bit of your time, who’s going to argue with a three-year lifespan?
These are simple to make, and don’t have to have a lot of previous DIY experience required to craft something truly sturdy.
19. American Flag Replica
You’ll need a bit of paint (and a steady hand to include all the stars).
This is an excellent craft to do with the kids, and takes about two to three hours to complete, requiring about two pallets worth of wood to get started.
The great thing about this project is that you can scale up—turn all the pallets you have into a large scale flag, just in time for the 4th of July.
20. Serving Tray
Looking to start small?
Half of one pallet could be enough to make a simple serving tray. Carve out the handles on either end and shape the wood a bit, and stain it accordingly to give it a rustic look.
You can get creative and make these fun with wild designs and colors, and even use them as countertop displays, fruit trays, or loose change bins on that entryway table that you built earlier.
21. Planter Boxes
Build them tight enough, and you’ll have something that’s able to hold onto a ton of potting soil.
These little planter boxes look excellent, and can be made in batches to really amp up just about any outdoor area.
Strategically place them around your deck to accent any other creations that you have laying around, and make the most out of every salvaged board.
22. Hardwood Flooring
Now this is the stuff of dreams. It can take a little while to get the job done, but you’re not going to find more inexpensive hardwood flooring options that… well, free!
Get enough pallets and collect them over the span of a few months, and you just need to treat them before fitting your floors with them.
The good thing is that they’re easy to repair and replace, so keep some spare planks handy that are pre-treated and finished.
23. End Table
A nice spot to put your drink next to your recliner, or something to pop next to that pallet headboard we built earlier.
Whatever your choice is, a pallet end table can add a rustic element to any space.
The glorious thing about these is that you don’t need a specific or designated area, you can pop them anywhere to add some life to the room, while making something functional.
24. Shoe Rack
It gets a bit crowded near the front door, but you don’t have to worry—kick off your boots and stow them underneath the top of your salvage shoe rack.
Depending on what footwear you and your spouse or children typically have, you can paint or stain this just about any color to match.
25. Dog Bed
Fido needs a place to relax outside, and your pallets are a dog bed waiting to happen.
Depending on the size of your dog, one pallet could be enough to make a basic box dog bed, you’ll just need to supply the cushion and/or blanket for the interior.
26. Dog House
While you’re at it, why not just build an entire dog house?
Five or six pallets have enough materials to create a sloped roof dog house.
Pre-built or plastic dog houses can cost upwards of a hundred dollars, but all you’ll need here is the nails, the sweat, and a bit of paint to make it match your home.
Fancy yourself a vine farmer?
Whether it’s grapes, tomatoes or anything in between, this project takes a rough forty-five minutes to complete, and looks fantastic at the end.
Grow whatever you’d like, but do it in style with a pallet trellis. You don’t have to treat the wood at all, just leave it natural and let the earth wrap around it.
28. Woodworking Bench
It’s kind of ironic, but in a good way. With about three pallets, you can make your own woodworking bench in the garage or anywhere that it fits.
These could also be gardener’s benches for transplanting different potted plants or working on floral arrangements.
Prop it outside against the side of the house, or finish it and keep it indoors so you have something to work on.
It’s Just the Beginning
There’s a ton of pallet ideas that you can run with.
Reusing and repurposing items that would otherwise end up in the dump is not only good for your local landfill, but it’s providing less supply and demand to big box companies that sell ready-to-build furniture.
If everyone could meet their small furniture needs with pallets, it could make a huge impact.