Whether you’re enjoying some fresh air or having friends over for dinner, a furnished patio can be the perfect place to relax at home. But for many homeowners, a high-quality furniture set can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the patio. If you’re willing to put in some elbow grease, wood pallets are a durable, eco-friendly and stylish way to DIY your own backyard patio decor. Not only are they a versatile woodworking foundation that you can turn into all kinds of pallet furniture (including garden walls, bar carts and more), but you can usually get them for free. Read on to learn where to find free pallets this spring — and our favorite pallet ideas.
1. How to Find Free Pallets
Since many businesses have to pay a third-party service to pick up old shipping pallets, offering to take them off business owners’ hands often saves them time and added expenses. In addition to local retailers, you can typically find free pallets at construction sites, newspaper companies and even Craigslist.
Are All Pallets Safe to Use?
Not all wood pallets are safe to use for your DIY projects, so be sure to look out for a unique IPPC (Internal Plant Protection Convention) code printed on the pallets you want to grab. Each code starts with a country code followed by a three-digit number and one of the following letter combinations: HT, MB or DB.
- HT means “Heat Treatment” and is safe to use
- MB means “Methyl Bromide” and is NOT safe to use or burn (this is a toxic chemical)
- DB means Debarked and is safe to use
2. Wood Pallet Herb Garden Wall
Growing your very own herb garden doesn’t have to take up a ton of space. In fact, a vertical pallet herb wall can be a low-footprint option that leans attractively against the wall of your house. Aside from basic woodworking tools, all you’ll need are a bit of paint, landscaping fabric, staples and potting soil to get started. Once your garden wall is up and running, fill it with your favorite herbs and greens that you can pick fresh to add to your favorite meals. For visual learners, check out this video tutorial.
3. Wood Pallet Cool Box
Tired of schlepping between the kitchen and patio just to bring out fresh ice and cold bottles? A wood pallet cool box is a stylish way to keep your beverages and snacks at the perfect temperature, and putting one together doesn’t require expensive or hard-to-find materials and tools. You’ll need a cooler that you build the cool box around, and prop it up on four legs for easy access. So whether you’re chilling IPAs or storing sandwiches for a backyard picnic, this is a great addition to your patio corner. Check out the instructions here.
4. Wood Pallet Patio Chairs
Your options for wood pallet chairs are pretty much endless: Adirondack, love seat, chaise lounge, swing, bench. With some paint and DIY upholstery (burlap coffee bean sacks are great, as well as standard outdoor pillows and cushions), you can have your own pallet chair within a few hours. Pro tip: take a bit of linseed oil and varnish to waterproof your pallet wood. Simply remove the cushions and bring them in when the forecast spells rain. Check out this tutorial for building a pallet chair.
5. Wood Pallet Table
A set of pallet chairs wouldn’t be complete with a patio table to match. You can use a single pallet — or attach several of them together — to create a farmhouse dining option or a low-to-ground coffee table centerpiece. Splash on some paint and set a few planters on top to create the perfect level surface for wine glasses, books and more. This video can help you get started.
6. Wood Pallet Bar
A patio bar can be a pricey investment, but if you make one yourself with pallets, you’ll stay in complete control of the shape, size and cost. This is a project that may take a bit more planning (after all, you’ll need to consider how many shelves you want or whether your bar has a foot rail and wheels), but the outcome will bring the party to your backyard. While you’re at it, set aside some time to build a few pallet bar stools as well. Tutorial here.
7. Wood Pallet Compost Bin
Repurposing wood pallets is already an eco-friendly activity, so why not take it a step further and build your own pallet compost bin? Composting food scraps and yard trimmings can actually reduce your material waste by 30 percent, and turns what would otherwise be landfill into nutrient-rich matter for your soil. Three pallets are enough for a one-unit bin, but you can tailor any number of pallets to make one that’s right for your needs. Learn more from the video here.
8. Wood Pallet Cart
Save yourself excessive back-and-forth trips with a compact kitchen cart that you can roll between your kitchen and patio. From dishware and ice buckets to appetizers and wine bottles, a DIY wood pallet cart is the perfect size for all your backyard hosting needs. During the colder months (when you’re cozying it up indoors), you can make good use of the cart as a kitchen island or pantry storage solution. Follow some of these tips to get started.
9. Wood Pallet Statement Art
A bit of statement art can elevate your patio and add much-needed color and flair. When it comes to pallet art, your options are endless: you can create picture frames mounted to the wall, cut out and create letters and designs from pallet planks, paint landscapes or affirmations across a pallet slab, and even use pallet sections to mount vases and planters.
10. More Pallet Projects and Pallet Ideas
Pallet projects can save you money and give you the chance to create the patio and backyard of your dreams. While the pallet ideas above are meant to get you started, check out this list of 122 DIY projects for more inspiration, as well as these tips from Earth911 on how to tell whether your pallets are safe for reuse.