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The 411 on Salvaging Wood Pallets

How to obtain, prep and use the covetable pieces for upcycling

It's the Cinderella story of the DIY world: Shipping pallets are being turned into showpieces by thrifty upcyclers who use them to create furnishings.

  1. To DIY safely, find pallets at family-owned nurseries, printing shops, or groceries, but ask a manager before helping yourself.
  2. Skip big-box retailers, which probably have pallet recycling programs (read: no freebies). Look for an "HT" stamp, indicating that the wood was heat-treated during construction to kill microorganisms.
  3. Pass on any pallet that's stained or smells. At home, wear a mask and goggles when dismantling the pallet and sanding the wood.
  4. Disinfect planks with equal parts bleach and water. (The sanding allows the solution to really soak in.)