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A pallet is a flat arrangement often made of wood that supports consignments while being lifted by a mechanical tool. A forklift, a front loader, an erect crane, a pallet jack, or a jacking device can be used for this purpose. Goods or shipping containers are often secured with strapping and are placed on a pallet while being shipped. It makes the job of the loaders easy while loading the goods in a container and unloading it. Pallets are used for transporting goods by road or by water as bulk materials are sent through them.
If you are a person who likes to do DIY (Do-it-yourself) projects, you can think of using these pallets to create some furniture at home. You can create coffee tables, bookshelves, shoe racks, bunk beds, nightstands, garden furniture, and many more. If you are planning to create furniture for outdoor use, then you need to keep the harsh weather conditions that can spoil the wood over a period of time. Read further to complete your DIY project.
Ingredients needed – how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use?
· Wooden pallets
· Chalk paint for outdoor use
· Small roller and tray
· Scatter cushions
· Electric drill with screws
· Wooden paint
Is pallet wood good for furniture?
If the pallet wood is not treated with any hazardous chemical, then you can safely use it to create outdoor or indoor furniture. You need to check with your DIY home furnishings seller whether the pallet wood of FSC accredited and you should be able to proceed further. You can reach out to vendors who use pallet wood for their loading purposes and pick up the ones that they have discarded. However, you will need to ensure that the wood is treated well. Else termites and bed bugs will attack them and your furniture will not be usable.
Sometimes chemicals might have been spilled over the pallets when they were used for transporting hazardous liquids. Check for any visible stains and discoloration on your wooden pallet. It will be a good idea to discard those pallets and use only the fresh ones which look clean, stain-free, and safe.
A step-by-step guide- How to treat pallet wood for outdoor use
If you are worried about how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use, this is a step-by-step guide for you to complete your DIY project.
Step 1- Choosing a safe pallet
Once you have identified a spotless pallet, the next step is to find a stamp or marking on the side of it. This will help you to identify the source of the pallet. There will be the company’s logo, the country of origin abbreviation, registration number, there will be a few other things you need to check in the numbers and markings.
- International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo- This is a mandatory logo that is used in warehouse pallets. It will have some information on whether it was treated for the right purpose and it followed all the environmentally safe practices to protect the trees.
- Treatment code- This two or four-letter code will tell you the story of how the pallet was treated. Read the marks and match them to this list.
a. DB- It stands for debarked. The bark of the tree was removed using a cutting tool and the wood was untreated. Since no chemicals were used to treat the wood, you can use it for your furniture safely. However, you will have to coat the wood with varnish or wood stain first before applying paint.
b. HT- This code stands for heat treated. The pallets are immersed in a hot kiln for 30 minutes and this method removes bugs and takes away the moisture from the wood. Since there was no chemical treatment done on these pallets, you can safely use them to construct your outdoor furniture.
c. MB- This code means Methyl Bromide. This chemical is a fungicide and if the wood was treated with it, then do not use it. This chemical is banned in many countries like Canada as there are many health hazards associated with it. Discard the wooden pallet with the marking MB as you would dispose of hazardous chemicals as per the law of your country.
d. EPAL- This stands for European Pallet Association Logo. This mark means the wood has been debarked and heat treated and hence it is safe for you to use it.
e. EUR- This is the old version of EPAL, however, are not suitable for household usage. You will seldom find these kinds of pallets unless your seller is using old stock. These pellets became out of circulation when EPAL was introduced in 1991.
f. Colored pallets- They are often used to ship hazardous chemicals and hence it is better not to use them for your woodworking DIY project.
Step 2- Paint the pallets
Since the pallets are kiln dried and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited. Hence, the wood is good to go for using it directly. Start with painting the pallets with a mini-roller and let them dry for about two hours. Then flip the pallet over for the underside. Two coats of paint should be sufficient before the pallets are ready to be transformed into garden furniture. Use a brush to reach the harder-to-reach areas. Your first day will be consumed in this process as drying the paint after the first coating of paint is very important.
Step 3- Secure the base
Depending on the height of the furniture you need, stack pallets one over the other and secure them with an electric drill and screws. This will work as the base of your furniture. If it is a shoe rack to be kept outdoors, then stack multiple pallets for the number of racks you need.
Step 4- Create the back
If you are creating a chair or sofa, you will need to place a pallet wood in a vertical position and secure it with screws. Be careful while using the electric drill as most accidents happen while handling an electrical drill.
Step 5- Add the cushions
Now since your chair or sofa is ready, you need to fit in the cushion at the base. This will ensure that the person who sits on it does not get the hardwood, but a soft cushion to rest his/her posterior.
Now since you learnt how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use, just go ahead and have fun. Make the most of your summer months. Involve your children in these projects and this will be a healthy way to spend some family time. Instead of being glued to their smartphones and tablets all the time, they can make use of their time doing something with their hands and mind instead. Help them when they are using the electric drill, cutters, and screws. And in no time your outdoor furniture will be ready.