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What are the Advantages of Wood Pallets?

Summer Banks
Summer Banks

Pallets are a packaging material often used to store and transport goods from a warehouse to distributor. Wood pallets are commonly used because they are eco-friendly, inexpensive, and easily repaired. Fast production times and the ability to be resold are two additional factors when choosing wood pallets.

With increased concern for environmental impact of shipping materials, wood pallets provide an eco-friendly option. Materials used in their construction can be harvested from old pallets, or recycled for other uses. The pallets can be recycled into mulch, poster board, and paper. Old ones made from wood can also be used to construct new pallets, depending on the condition of the material.

Many plastic pallets are actually made from recycled materials.
Many plastic pallets are actually made from recycled materials.

Unlike those made of plastic, if wood pallets break, repairs can be made to restore them for use. Many wooden models are made with various boards. These boards can be removed, if broken, and replaced individually. If a plastic pallet cracks or breaks, repairs are not as simple because the material would have to be melted down and remolded in order to make a repair.

Pallets are typically made of wood, metal, plastic and, sometimes, paper.
Pallets are typically made of wood, metal, plastic and, sometimes, paper.

Wood pallets are quick and easy to construct. Many pallet manufacturers build them by hand. Construction of the simplest design, stringer pallets, often requires only three stabilization boards, with deck boards attached. Stringer pallets can be constructed in just a few minutes, once the materials are measured to meet the manufacturing size standards.

Raw materials used to manufacture wood pallets can be inexpensive. Softwood is often used to build disposable pallets, and is extremely cost effective. Hardwood is more expensive and often requires a down payment from the business ordering hardwood pallets before they are built.

Hardwood pallets may cost more than other wood pallet varieties, but they can be resold, or even sold back to the manufacturer for replacement parts or resale. Some hardwood manufacturers will reduce the price of the pallet, if the business agrees to return those that are used. Many hardwood models are known as block pallets, which can be lifted from all four sides. Wood pallets that can be lifted from all sides may be easier to store in a warehouse, and to maneuver with forklifts or pallet jacks.

When choosing a pallet variety for shipping purposes, the business may consider both wood and plastic pallets. Cost, resale value, and impact on the environment may be evaluated before choosing the best material. Wood pallets may also need to meet certain health guidelines before being shipped between countries.

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Discussion Comments


I saw a post on Pinterest where someone made an outdoor couch for their deck. They put two pallets side by side, with two on top of each other. They put large casters on the bottom and metal (copper?) piping around the sides for arms. It looked like a covered twin side mattress for a cushion. Would the pallets last through rain? I would take them in during the winter and I would use sunbrella fabric for a cushion. Are they treated? I don't want anything chemically treated.


@jcraig - I agree. There is really no reason to buy wood pallets unless you are the person shipping something. If you just want one for your garage or something, you can always find a free one if you look around. We used to have a lot of bonfires when I was younger, and for wood we would just drive around town looking in dumpsters, and there were always pallets. The best part is that they are usually dried out and burn really well.

I am finding myself wondering now, though if they make treated wood pallets that are water resistant. I know most pallets are just shipped in trucks and stored in warehouses and stuff, so there usually isn't much use to have them treated, but I could see a few cases where it would be beneficial to be able to keep them outside without them rotting eventually.

Also, do they ever make pallets out of composite materials? Obviously, they wouldn't have the same overall strength as solid wood, but it seems like it might be a valid option for lighter shipments. It would be much cheaper, as well. Anyone have any idea?


@JimmyT - The company I used to work for used a bunch of pallets to ship things. We were a small operation, though, so we just made all of our own pallets. For the most part, we would just buy bulk orders of pine and cut them to length to use for pallets. Sometimes, though, if we had a heavier pallet that was going to need loaded, we would get some oak and make them out of that.

That being said, I think the only real advantage of using hardwood would be that it will support heavier loads than softwoods. I would say you can basically use any type of hardwood, though. Oak is just usually the most available from what I have been able to tell.

As far as getting your own pallets, I don't know where you live, but I constantly see free wood pallets sitting next to dumpsters at construction sites. I think bricks and shingles and stuff like that are delivered on them, and the pallets really just take up space in their dumpsters, so I'm sure they would have no problem with you taking them off their hands. It would save them disposal costs, too.


What types of wood do they usually use for pallets? Are there any real advantages to using hardwood over softwood to make the pallets? I know I have seen both before, but I don't know what their uses were.

Overall, I think wood pallets are really the best option, since they are able to be used several times over, and you don't really have to worry about recycling them, so to say.

Also, sometimes I find myself wishing that I had a pallet or two to put different things on just so that they weren't sitting flat on the ground. Does anyone have any ideas about where you would find wood pallets for sale?


I guess I never really thought that much about what all went into manufacturing wood shipping pallets. I think they are really beneficial to have, though.

If you are moving stuff around a warehouse, it is pretty easy to get a forklift or handlift under a pallet compared to whatever the alternatives are.

I don't think I have ever seen plastic shipping pallets, though. What are they usually used to ship? It seems like if you put something really heavy on them, they would also be much more prone to getting bent and deformed and wouldn't be nearly as effective.

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    • Many plastic pallets are actually made from recycled materials.
      By: gavran333
      Many plastic pallets are actually made from recycled materials.
    • Pallets are typically made of wood, metal, plastic and, sometimes, paper.
      By: endostock
      Pallets are typically made of wood, metal, plastic and, sometimes, paper.