How to Tell If Used Wood Pallets Are Safe for Reuse

Wood pallets are meant to be very durable and tough, which is why you can often find used wood pallets for sale that are still safe for reuse. However, as with anything you buy used, you need to know what to look for when it comes to excessive wear and tear and what might make those pallets weaker and less able to hold your materials. Before shop, note a few tips for determining if used wood pallets are safe for reuse.

Stamps on the pallet 

If a pallet has any type of stamp on it, this means that it's been used for international or interstate shipping. When a pallet crosses certain boundaries, it needs to be stamped to designate the type of wood and any treatment to the wood that makes it stronger, keeps out bugs, and the like. Some treatments for pallets use harsh chemicals that are prohibited in certain areas, so pallets need to designate this on their stamp. If you see a pallet without a stamp, it's been used for local shipping; because it hasn't been treated and is used only for shorter trips, it might not be as strong as pallets with stamps.

The stamp on a pallet will include a code for the treatment; KD means kiln dried, so the pallet is made stronger by having it dried but it isn't necessarily treated with chemicals. HT means heat treating; these pallets usually originate in the U.S. and they have been treated with a heat that dries them so they cannot be infested with insects. These can be very strong and durable. MB refers to methyl bromide, a strong chemical used to keep insects out of pallets; this chemical might be bothersome if you were to cut the wood and it may not be very healthy for the environment.

Colored pallets

If you note pallets that are painted, this paint color may designate the country of origin but is also usually used to signify chemicals that have been transported on the pallet. It's typically not recommended that you use these pallets for anything other than outdoor shipping and storage; if you're looking for pallets for home projects, you don't want wood that's been used to transport chemicals turned into shelves for your bedroom. You also don't want to store these pallets inside where the chemicals might collect. Be sure you avoid colored pallets unless you're using them only in a well-ventilated area, or are keeping them outside.