Reusing or repurposing wood pallets is good for the environment and can help save you money on things like DIY projects. Some businesses will share their unwanted pallets with you for free or sell them to you cheap.
Not all retailers offer their pallets to the public, but you may be able to find free pallets near you through an online marketplace, pet store, hardware store, or construction business. Below, we explain where to find free or cheap pallets — plus where not to go, since some companies have strict pallet disposal policies.
What We Recommend
Large businesses like big-box retailers have strict rules about what they do with their pallets, so you’ll usually have more luck at smaller, locally-owned stores and companies like pet stores, hardware stores, and furniture stores.
However, the easiest way to get free or cheap pallets is to use an online marketplace. Sites like Craigslist and the North American Pallet Recycling Network allow you to either find pallets people are giving away/selling or post your own “wanted” ad so people with extra pallets available can contact you. By posting an ad or finding available pallets online, you’ll save the effort of visiting or calling multiple stores to find one willing to share its pallets with you.
Tips for Requesting Pallets
Keep the following tips in mind when requesting pallets from businesses:
- Come early. Deliveries are usually taken overnight or before opening, so it’s best to contact the store earlier in the day.
- Be polite. The business is doing you a favor by giving you pallets. A grateful and friendly attitude will encourage the company to work with you,
- Buy something. Ask the cashier about pallets while making a purchase from the store. The cashier will probably call over a manager or owner, who may be more willing to give you pallets knowing that you’re a customer and not just someone looking for freebies.
- Don’t make assumptions. While some businesses will give you pallets for free, others will charge a small fee. Don’t assume the pallets are free — ask before taking any.
Below, we list the places where you can commonly find free or cheap pallets, beginning with the overall best options. We gathered this information by contacting several small businesses of each type and researching customer reports online. Note that because chain stores usually don’t offer their pallets for free or for sale, you may need to contact several smaller companies near you to find pallets.
- Why it works: People advertise pallets they want to get rid of, so you’ll know exactly what’s available to you and can negotiate pricing and pick-up options.
- What to keep in mind: Inspect the pallet(s) before taking them. You might also want to ask how old they are and what was delivered on them. Use caution when meeting up to buy pallets, too; try to meet in a public place, if possible, and bring someone with you.
Pallet Exchange Marketplaces
- Why it works: Pallet exchanges like the North American Pallet Recycling Network connect people with excess pallets with others who need them. Find out more in our research on recycling and selling used pallets.
- What to keep in mind: You might want to post a “wanted” ad for the pallets you need for your project if there aren’t any listings in your area.
Dry Goods Stores
- Why it works: Stores that sell things like appliances, furniture, clothes, pet food, and other dry goods typically have pallets that are clean and dry. Keep in mind that locally-owned stores are less likely than big box stores to have pallet rental or recycling agreements, so they’re more likely to have pallets on hand.
- What to keep in mind: You should always get approval from a store manager or owner before taking any pallets, even if they’re stacked outside the store.
Hardware/Home Improvement Stores
- Why it works: Home improvement stores use a large number of wood pallets, which they may be willing to part with. Smaller hardware stores don’t usually get deliveries on pallets every day but may be more inclined to work with you since they may not have a high enough volume of pallets to reuse or recycle.
- What to keep in mind: Policies will vary by location. Be sure to get approval from a manager or owner before taking any pallets, even if they’re outside or in the dumpster.
- Why it works: Construction sites exist in most cities and tend to have a large number of pallets on hand.
- What to keep in mind: Don’t assume that a stack of pallets outside means they’re up for grabs; the contractor could be renting them or storing them outside. Always find the site manager and get approval before taking any pallets.
- Why it works: Recycling centers may be willing to sell or give away pallets, particularly those that are odd-sized or partially broken (which might be just right for a DIY project).
- What to keep in mind: It’s best to call before visiting to determine the center’s policies. Some centers may not be open to the public or may not give away/sell pallets at all.
Where Not to Go
In the course of our research, we found some businesses that are unwilling to give pallets to customers because they send them back to the distributor or recycle them. Some individual locations may have pallets available, but in general, the following stores don’t offer their pallets to the public:
- Bass Pro Shops
- Hobby Lobby
Additionally, some stores are better to avoid because their pallets may be stained or soiled. It’s best not to request pallets from chemical and pesticide supply stores or grocery stores.