The reclaimed wood trend is gaining in popularity, and finding free pallets is a great way to add a rustic feel to your project and cut down on the project costs in the process. From accent or feature walls to furniture builds, reclaimed wood projects instantly transform a space with a warm, calming touch.
To find free pallets for reclaimed wood projects, start by searching your local community websites and apps. Simply type “free pallets” into Craigslist, FaceBook Marketplace, your neighborhood groups, or any other community networking medium to see if there are any free pallets near you. If that doesn’t work, check with your local hardware stores and grocery stores to see if they have broken pallets you can snag for free. Finally, if all else fails, there is no shame in driving around your neighborhood during bulk trash collection days or searching alleys for unwanted pallets.
The rest of this article will explain how to go about searching for free pallets to minimize the time commitment on your end. As they say, time is money, and wasted time searching for free wood might end up costing more than simply purchasing wood in the first place.
Find Free Pallets on Craigslist
Craigslist is a great tool for finding free materials in your area. A lot of the time, people simply set unwanted items on their curb or in their driveway and create a post for anyone to come get it.
Navigate to your local area on Craigslist.com and search for free pallets. Although not required, it is often good practice to contact the person who created the post to let them know you will be coming to pick up the pallets. This should be your first method of collection as any pallets secured will be guaranteed, as opposed to having to go looking for them.
If you have exhausted your search on Craigslist, create a post titled “Looking for pallets” or “In search of free pallets.” A simple post could net you all the pallets you need for your project in one fell swoop! Oftentimes all that is required on your end is to go pick them up!
Additionally, creating a post or two becomes a passive means of gathering free pallets, meaning no additional effort is required of you.
Find Free Pallets on FaceBook Marketplace
FaceBook Marketplace is another good tool for finding free materials. Similar to Craigslist, FaceBook Marketplace acts as an online messaging board for items for sale or for free in your area. Run a search for items in your area in the same way you did for Craigslist.
One of the benefits of FaceBook Marketplace, when compared to Craigslist, is that you can message people directly as opposed to anonymous emails as are used on Craigslist. This lessens the perceived risks associated with contacting a complete stranger about their unwanted pallets.
FaceBook Marketplace also sees substantially more traffic than Craigslist does, meaning any post you make about looking for free pallets will be seen by more people. Create posts in your area and a few of the surrounding cities to increase the chances it is seen by someone with free pallets.
Find Free Pallets on Neighborhood Community Apps
Neighborhood community apps like NextDoor or Front Porch act as an online bulletin boards. If you are not familiar with what app, if any, your neighborhood uses, ask around or navigate to each app’s website and run a search for your zip code. All neighborhoods that utilize that respective app will populate in the search query.
You will then be able to join the neighborhood group and search for any free pallets in your area. Because these groups are much smaller than the groups on Craigslist or FaceBook Marketplace, the chances of finding free pallets in your area are greatly diminished, but it is always worth a quick search from the comfort of your own home!
Ask Your Local Hardware or Grocery Store for Broken Pallets
There is a reason the header for this section states “broken pallets.” Typically, bulk retailers receive cash back for returning the pallets to the original shipper because it cuts down on their upfront costs. Cheap pallets cost between $11 and $13 in materials to assemble, while heavy-duty pallets can run upwards of $25 just in the cost of wood alone!
For this reason, most bulk retailers (think Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, and grocery stores) get as much as $15 in shipping credit for every pallet they return to the original shipper. Knowing this, it begins to make sense why you can’t simply ask if they have any unneeded pallets lying around for free.
In some cases, broken pallets are simply trash to bulk retailers and it costs them money to dispose of them. These are the pallets we want! Call around to see if any bulk retailers near you have any broken pallets that you can scoop up for free.
Also ask if they have any scrap wood set aside for disposal. Remember, it oftentimes costs them money to get rid of large pieces of wood or pallets, so don’t feel like you are overstepping your bounds by calling and asking.
You can expand this search as required to specialty retailers like flooring stores, kitchen and bath showrooms, pool equipment retailers and more!
Scour Alleyways for Free Pallets
It may seem inglorious or beneath you, but searching for pallets in alleys, places of trash collection, and behind shopping centers is a viable means of securing free pallets. This technique is way down on the list because it is more like a treasure hunt than it is a sure thing, which means additional time commitment.
Keep in mind the ultimate goal of gathering free materials. Make it a game to make it fun or set aside an afternoon to get out of the house on a weekend.
Drive Around Neighborhoods During Bulk Trash Pick-Up
Depending on your municipality, bulk trash pick-up occurs between one and four times a year. During these pick-up windows, homeowners can set bulk items on the curb in front of their house to be collected and taken to the dump.
Do some research on your township to figure out when these bulk collection days are and drive around searching for any pallets or scrap wood left out. These pieces are headed to the dump, so don’t feel bad about grabbing anything left on the curb!
Ask Friends and Family to Keep Their Eyes Out for You
Sometimes it’s as simple as asking. Ask your cadre of friends and family to keep a lookout for any of the aforementioned means of free pallet collection. They don’t need to go out of their way, just inform them that you are looking for scrap wood for a project and you’d appreciate a heads up if they see anything. Sweeten the deal with a small gift card to your local coffee shop for any items received.
Expand the Search to Other Reclaimed Wood Items
Barn wood, fencing, dressers or pieces of wood furniture left outside, and wood used for sheds make great materials for reclaimed wood projects. Basically, any piece of wood that has been subject to the elements will bring the same weathered look of pallet wood for your project.
If you aren’t having luck in your search for free pallets, expand the search to other items and go down the list as prescribed. Any materials you can find for free are materials you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money on!
Reclaimed wood projects are a cost-effective way to add vintage charm to your space. What’s more, raw materials will cost you absolutely nothing to procure if you know where to look. Take the ideas laid out here and expand on them as required to acquire enough material to complete your project as cheaply as possible.