Free pallets are perfect for beginners embarking on an exciting woodworking journey, or if you’re inspired to try out one of those Pinterest pallet projects you’ve found.
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Don’t run out to the back of the local grocery store and just start grabbing any pallets you see laying around. You probably don’t want the cops called on you.
Instead, keep reading to see exactly where you can find free pallets near you and learn how to identify if the pallets you receive are in a usable condition.
8 Ways to Get Free Pallets
Before you buy new wooden pallets, check out the following places first if you could score them for free.
1. New home construction or renovation
Builders use wood pallets to secure tiles and other building materials for home construction or renovation.
If you pass by one project, go ask someone in charge if they have wood pallets that they’re going to dispose of and are willing to give away. You’ll be surprised that they even have 2x4s, 2x6s, and plywood pieces that they’d happily donate to you instead of disposing themselves.
Like all the methods below, don’t just take the free pallets without asking. And be prepared to rummage through their pile of “materials for disposal.”
2. Lowes, Walmart, The Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Costco, and other Retail Giants
Does Home Depot give away free pallets? How about Lowes, Costco and other similar stores?
The simple answer is yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Here are several reasons why:
- These retail giants do not advertise free pallets. You have to ask. There’s no harm in doing so either, but it’s the reason people don’t know they could ask for free pallets here.
- These retail giants have an in-house disposal system in place. Your chances of requesting free pallets from Walmart, Lowes, and similar big businesses are low because they often have a recycling process or outsourced disposal to another service provider.
- Your competition is fierce. Chances are, those who do know that these company give away free pallets are in the home renovation business or serious about DIY builds. As such, they might always be on the lookout for freebies.
Be nice to people working at these stores. They could be your insider, so you get first dibs when free pallets are available.
3. Small businesses around town
If you’ve gone through the big-brand stores and had no luck with free pallets, you’ll find better luck with smaller businesses around town.
Small businesses usually don’t have the budget for disposal or recycling and just leave used pallets by the trash bins.
Check out establishments such as:
- Pet stores
- Hardware stores
- Apparel stores
- Furniture shops
- Print and newspaper companies
- Small supermarkets
- Liquor stores, wineries, craft beer bars
- Other small retail stores
- New stores (this may just be a one-off, especially if they’re building the storefront for the launch)
If you get lucky to find pallets and crates at these establishments, it wouldn’t hurt to ask if you could come back the following week or month for more.
Stores usually have delivery dates scheduled, so the owner could be able to give you an estimate of when the next batch of pallets would arrive. You can even leave your number, and let them know you’re willing to pick up future pallets they’re going to dispose of.
Again, even if you see wooden pallets just lying on the ground or leaning up against the wall of a store, this doesn’t guarantee that the store is giving them away.
You should still ask if they’re free pallets before taking them home.
4. Fresh Produce Markets
Find out the schedule of delivery of fresh produce markets and visit at the right time to hunt for free pallets.
Note that not all pallets are disposed of in markets. Sometimes, the food suppliers just bring the food to the market and get the pallets back to be reused for the next delivery.
If you’re lucky to find pallets being given away free, be sure to ask if it’s possible to get more in the future. You’d be surprised how many DIY projects are sustained this way.
5. Art Shows, Craft Fairs and Festivals
Local events like craft fairs, art shows, and festivals are also good sources of wooden pallets.
But unlike the regular markets and retail stores that are open most of the time, these events only happen occasionally.
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If you live in a city that has plenty of these events, be aware of the dates so you could roam around before the events start and before they end (since these are the times that pallets may be disposed of during the events).
6. Schools, Gardens and Nurseries
Most schools have a continuous need for books, copy paper, and other office supplies.
And because these are bought in bulk, they’re likely delivered in wood pallets. Check with schools near you right after the start of the school year.
Gardens, nurseries, and other similar establishments may also have wooden pallets available. If you love gardening and pass by these places often, ask if they have free wooden pallets you can bring home.
7. Pallet Distributor or Recycling Centers
If you’ve been roaming around town trying to find free wood pallets with no luck, you could check with distribution centers that ship out the pallets.
They might have pallets that do not pass shipping standards stocked unused in their factories. You’re not going to lose anything if you ask.
You can also find pallet recycling centers and see if they’re giving some away. If not, you could score some at a LOT cheaper prices than brand new.
8. Restaurants and Catering Companies
Befriend owners of local restaurants and catering companies, so you can increase your chances of scoring free wood pallets.
You might need to clean them up, but make sure they weren’t used for frozen food, wet food, and ingredients that could affect the wood integrity of the pallets.
The only time you can use wood pallets from food storage is if you’re going to make a compost bin when recycling the pallets.
Both restaurants and catering companies receive deliveries on a schedule, so ask permission from someone in authority (and you might even be given first dibs for the next batch of wood pallets).
Ensure that the person who is giving these pallets away has the legal right to do so.
How to Find Free Pallets Online
You can also find used wooden pallets online.
- 1001Pallets – This site is a super-popular resource for fans of wooden pallet projects. Aside from the many tutorials and featured projects here, you can also visit the in-house, online classified ad section at 1001Pallets where people post giveaways, extra pallets for sale, and requests for donations.
- Facebook – Facebook is a good resource for freebie pallets. You have a lot of options aside from Marketplace. You can join your community freebie groups, DIY pallet groups, woodworking groups, and similar FB groups where unused wooden pallets could be given away.
- Freecycle – Check with your city’s Freecycle Network if someone is giving away pallets. This is a community where people give stuff freely to other people in need.
- Craigslist – Go check the local Craigslist free section and check for wood pallets listed there. There are free and for-sale pallets available here.
- Buy Nothing Project – Similar to Freecycle, the Buy Nothing Project offers local groups of people who are seeking out free items or have stuff to give away. Join your local community and see what’s available. If nothing comes up, just ask. Someone may have some laying around or might be able to point you in the right direction.
Note that like most free things, free wood pallets are picked up very quickly, so it’s a matter of luck and timing.
Signs Free Pallets are Still Usable
Of course, getting free pallets is different from getting free pallets that are still usable. If you’re going to use them for a project, here are a few guidelines to note:
- Inspect the pallet you collect – When you get home, inspect your haul and separate pallets with wood integrity intact from those with food stains, oils, grease and food/drink spillage.
- Use heavy-duty gloves when handling pallets – Most wooden pallets are not smoothed or sanded. It could hurt you from splinters and nails if you’re not careful.
- AVOID the following wood pallets:
- Chemically-treated pallets (because they release toxic pesticides if you cut, sand or burn these pallets)
- Branded pallets (There will be an ownership stamp on pallets that are branded, such as Coca-Cola, USPS, PECO, etc. Most of the time, companies spend money stamping on the pallets because they reuse them and often charge people with unlawful possession of them.
- Review markings and stamps. Pallets made from domestic plants usually have no markings, while those that used wood from other countries require an International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) stamp on the pallets. If you’re serious about handling wooden pallets exclusively, it’s good to be aware of these IPPC markings:
- HT (Heat Treated) – Uses a dry kiln or steam for heat treatment
- DH (Dielectric Heated)– Uses radio or microwave frequencies as heat treatment
- MB (Methyl Bromide) – Uses methyl bromide (a fumigation chemical) for heat treatment
- SF (Sulphuryl Fluoride) – Uses sulphuryl fluoride (a fumigation chemical) for heat treatment
Can’t Find Free Pallets Nearby? Open up Your Own Trash Pickup Service
If you’re in need of a LOT of wooden pallets for a business or many projects in line, you can open up your own business: a trash pickup service more specifically.
This way, you’ll be able to offer your hauling/pick-up service to small businesses and get first dibs on used pallets.
If a business says they also have a hauling service in place, you can offer your services at no cost. Even businesses LOVE freebies, so this could be a good way to win their trust (and even referral to other companies).
If you find this post about free pallets very useful to your DIY projects, I think you’d LOVE my post about free milk crates as well.
You don’t really have to be on a DIY binge to enjoy my blog. You can explore other freebies for your essentials, such as free pizza and free alcohol, for your home decor like free candles, for your kids (like free stickers), free shoes for everyone of all ages, or even free samples by mail.