Pallet Recycling – From Scrap Heap to Furniture on the Cheap

It’s nothing new, people have been producing furniture made from pallets for years. You name it, a garden pallet table, chairs, garden benches, gazebos, and what’s more, it doesn’t require the skill of a trained craftsman or carpenter to produce some truly remarkable pieces of functional art.

Are we Bored with Pallet Recycling Yet?

From what we are hearing here at Wood Finishes Direct, the answer to the above question is a resounding ‘No’. We’re apparently still very much in love with pallet recycling and re-purposing to make anything from pallet furniture to sheds, kitchen units to wall art, the possibilities are endless. If you type ‘Pallets’ into the search bar of Pinterest for example you could spend a whole day looking at amazing ideas and reading blogs on how to make a whole array of things, so don’t go yet, stay and finish reading this blog before you venture over and lose yourself in Pinterest.

Why are we so fascinated with this great form of recycling? Well mostly because wooden pallets can be found very easily for free. Nearly all of us live within easy reach of an industrial estate of some sort and as long as you ask before you take, most places will be happy to get rid of old pallets that are taking up space or will have pallets for sale. And what better to make with your pallets than an outdoor dining set, with a garden furniture set costing from £50 for 2 chairs and a table to a full dining set that could be in the hundreds, then free pallets and a bit of imagination can be quite an appealing alternative.

The first thing to know when upcycling a pallet is the different types that you can get and how you can use them. For example, you can get a four way entry with a closed or open boarded top or a two-way entry with winged edges. And you can also get what are called Euro pallets. These can be popular amongst recyclers, but beware as some companies sell these back to suppliers or out to other trades, so always check before taking them.

How Much Do Wooden Pallets Cost?

The question of how much does a wooden pallet cost largely depends on the type and condition. Many companies offer wooden pallets for sale at just a pound or two per pallet. Others are happy to give away free wooden pallets on request. Getting a wooden pallet for free because it’s damaged is a bonus because it can either be easily repaired, re-shaped or taken apart and the individual pieces of timber used for any part of your wood pallet projects.

Your Pallet Projects – Where To Start?

It’s a good idea to have a firm plan or design for any wooden pallet projects before you start. Knowing how many pallets you need and exactly how you’re going to cut them up or take them apart to ensure that you don’t fall short half way through your build is essential.

The next step is to work out what tools you will need, firstly to take the pallet apart without damaging it or yourself, and secondly to create your new masterpiece. A Reciprocal Saw with a blade for cutting through nails seems to be one of the easier and most popular ways to get going and a longer blade is recommended for ease of use. There are a number of other tools available for this specific job and a brief search on the internet will bring up lots of alternative options for you. Many people try using a crow bar of some sort to pull each plank of wood away from the frame but this can result in broken pieces of wood and extreme frustration.

Safety is paramount. Taking pallets apart can be a tough and time consuming job, and you can become complacent or impatient with your pallet – this is when accidents can happen. Safety goggles and thick protective gloves are must-haves. But you probably want to wear old or protective clothing as well, as some pallets can have glue or residue that will not wash out. (It’s worth protecting the interior of your car too with protective dust sheets if you end up transporting any.)

There is, of course, the option of keeping it simple and just stacking and attaching full size pallets together, in order to keep the shapes simple, but the size of your furniture will be quite large.

 

So now for the fun bit, making your wooden pallet furniture, and the possibilities are endless! From making individual chairs to large benches and matching tables. This is where your pallet design ideas and research come into play and are imperative. And then there is the question about putting upholstery and/or cushions on the furniture and what colour you are going to use for the finish. Getting foam cushions cut to size can be a costly way to complete your set, so it’s worth considering re-purposing some settee cushions or reusing some garden furniture upholstery that you may have lying around to complete your look. More often than not you can find sofas being given away on local freebie websites or sold cheaply on Ebay. Most items can be easily recovered with some heavy duty fabric, such as old curtains, if you wanted to continue with the recycling theme, and if you aren’t a dab hand at sewing then chances are you know someone who is.

Wood Finishes for your Wooden Pallet Furniture

The final question is how and what you want to use to protect the wood of your new pallet furniture. Doing a test area of whichever products you choose is important because you are unlikely to know if there has been any previous treatment used on the pallets. A high quality coloured or clear wood preservative is the place to start. This will protect against mould, mildew, wood boring insects and rot, so definitely worth investing in.

Then a top coat should be applied to give the piece a final finish and make the wood water repellent. If you just want to enhance the natural colour of the wood then the excellent Osmo UV protection Oil Extra 420 will not only protect but also help reduce the greying effect of the sun. But any oil-based product such as a Decking Oil would be suitable. Oil-based products dry completely in the wood and so won’t leave any greasy residue on surrounding cushions or clothing. If you want to jazz the furniture up and add some colour, try Osmo Natural Oil Woodstain for a translucent colour finish or perhaps Osmo Country Colour for a solid, opaque, colour finish. The bonus of using wood oils is that they do not crack, peel or flake off. Maintenance is simply a case of applying a fresh coat of oil every couple of years or so.

If looking for vibrant, interesting colours, there are some excellent exterior wood stains and paints that are specifically designed for smooth and rough sawn exterior timbers, such as Cuprinol Garden Shades paint and Ronseal Garden Paint.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you’re using a water-based paint or stain, it is better to use a water-based preservative, one that doesn’t contain any wax. Oil-based products are fine with most types of preservers, including spirit-based and those that contain wax.

Show Us Your Recycled Pallet Wood Projects

We would love to see your recycled pallet wood projects, big or small, from garden fence to chicken shed, pallet coffee table to full pallet garden furniture set fit for a king. If you’ve been inspired by this blog post to make something amazing, show us some photos of how you did it and if you’re happy for us to do so, we’ll share them with our followers. Drop us an email on our contact us page.

2 Responses to “Pallet Recycling – From Scrap Heap to Furniture on the Cheap”

  1. Jill Conner Says:

    Incredible ideas! I had no idea that I can recycle pallets in such a way! Now I can’t wait to make my new incredible pallet furniture! Thank you for this unique idea!

  2. Sam Taylor-Casey Says:

    Hi Jill, thanks for the comment, we would love to see anything that you make !!

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