By Holly Crossley published
Pallet furniture ideas are having a moment. And really, we're not surprised. First of all, they are incredibly budget-friendly – and by that, we mean you can often get them for free. Second, pallet furniture is totally on-trend – it's got a chic, pared-back look that we adore. And third (if you need another reason to be persuaded), it is hugely customisable. You can paint it all your favourite colours, you can add wheels, you can even turn pallets into a bar! Now we're talking.
Our best garden furniture may have you inspired, but what's the harm in a little mix and match? Plus, an outdoor project is good for the soul – especially when the results are this functional and stylish. Of course, it's also an eco-friendly alternative to buying new.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our favourite pallet furniture ideas and get inspired to create your own DIY masterpiece.
1. Up the fun factor with a swing
If you want to add a playful edge to your plot, then take inspiration from this fabulous idea from The Merrythought. All you need is a couple of pallets, a covered mattress, a strong branch overhead, some rope, and a scattering of soft cushions and throws. And voila – a great feature for your plot, that will draw everyone's attention in the best kind of way.
Adults, think of it as an alternative to one of our best garden swing seats. Just imagine lying back on a summer's afternoon, admiring the leafy canopy above or reading a good book, as you gently sway back and forth. Bliss! No doubt kids will find slightly less relaxing uses for it – but you can be sure everyone will love it.
2. Create a focal point for a garden picnic
Just two pallets is all is takes to create a quaint picnic table, perfect for when the warmer weather arrives. It'll look adorable surrounded by comfy outdoor cushions or the best outdoor beanbags.
String bunting nearby and add a glass jar of freshly cut blooms for an extra touch of vintage charm.
3. Go bright for a seating area
One of the plus points of pallet furniture is the ability to get creative with your customisation. Here, just three pallets have been transformed into a stunning outdoor sofa with a bit of DIY skills, a lick of the best exterior wood paint, and a few complementary cushions.
The result is a great alternative to our best wooden garden furniture and is bound to turn heads. A perfect example of how to inject a good dose of vibrancy into your upcycled treasures.
4. Paint them purple and pile on the plants
If you love a touch of boho-chic in your garden, then try this idea. Build a coffee table from pallets and then paint in a sumptuous purple tone, before piling on masses of potted plants. It makes a stunning feature – a lovely way to liven up a patio.
For more patio ideas, check out our guide.
5. Decorate your walls with hanging pots
Sometimes a simple idea can be all it takes to transform a dull corner of your plot. This beautiful blue pallet is a perfect example – painted in soothing hues and hung on a stone wall.
But don't let the creativity stop there. Turn your brushes to old tins and containers to create upcycled plant pots, then attach these to the newly-painted pallet. Fill with your favourite flowers or foliage and you have yourself a beautiful, and very affordable, new display.
It'll look fantastic in all kinds of plots. But, it's a particularly great option for small garden ideas, as it optimises vertical space.
6. Use as a screen to hide an eyesore
Every garden has it's less-Instagram-worthy bits. The compost bins, a jumble of bikes... Or, perhaps you'd simply like to create a little more privacy between you and your neighbours.
Either way, a pallet is a quick and easy way to create a versatile screen. And what's more, it can be decorated however you see fit. Festoon lights, plants, and bunting are all used to decorate the scene above and make it into an eye-catching display. And we love the use of apple boxes too, for extra interest.
7. Go simple with multifunctional seating
If you love our best garden benches but fancy getting a little handy with some DIY, why not give this idea a go?
Simply stack a few pallets and screw them together. Sand it down (you don't want to sit on a splinter), brush over a protective coating, and add a cushion or two. Before you'll know it, you'll have a handy bench which can also double up as a plant stand or table.
8. Shelter from the elements with a cover
If you're ready for a serious project and would love to add more shelter to your seating area, then this idea is for you. All you need is a bit of creativity, a handful of pallets, a splash of vivid colour, and a bit of DIY-know-how to create an ingenious covered bench.
Once assembled, you could surround with climbing plants, or even fairy lights, for an extra dose of enchantment.
If you'd rather save the challenge for another day, then check out our best garden parasols in the meantime.
9. Turn into a fragrant herb garden
Everyone loves a herb garden. Not only do they look great and smell fantastic, freshly chopped herbs add a ton of flavour to cooking. If you've been wanting one of your own, then check out this idea.
All you need to do it hang your pallet on a wall and secure a panel of wood at the bottom of each 'shelf', ready for soil and plants. Our favourite part of the example above is the addition of chalkboard paint – it's a modern twist and means you'll always know what's what.
Check out our advice on how to create a herb garden to get started.
10. Embrace a tropical vibe with neon colours
Ready to make pallets a part of your tropical garden ideas? Then it's time to get out the neon-bright colours, add a show-stopping parasol, and a flamingo or two (naturally).
It goes to show how pallets can be used all across your seating area. A bench and small table makes a budget-friendly alternative to our best bistro sets, whilst you can spot another one being used as a pretty planter to the right.
11. Use as the base for a bug hotel
As the RHS Campaign for School Gardening explains, tidy gardeners often like to clear away debris to make their plot more attractive – and understandably so. And, with the rise in popularity for low-maintenance, contemporary plots, there are often less natural materials around anyway, having been replaced with hard surfaces or artificial lawns.
This is all fine and well, except when it comes to insects, who usually would use the extra debris to shelter from bad weather or predators. But, don't worry – you can still give them a helping hand.
If you've read our advice on how to make a bug hotel, then you'll already know that you need some pallets to get started. Then, fill the gaps in-between the layers with lots of interesting materials full of cosy nooks and crannies.
It will add an interesting feature to any plot, plus is great fun for kids to get involved with.
12. Create your own DIY bar
A photo posted by on
'Lots of people dream about having a bar outside,' says the team at Homebase. And, all you need is a few pallets to create one. 'To give it a bit more zing you can paint it in any number of tropical tones,' they add.
Danielle from @theblossom_x has added her own outdoor bar ideas to her plot, complete with cute signs, and we absolutely love the result. It's perfect to pop a refreshing drink on during a summer BBQ.
13. Or, use to revamp your shed
A photo posted by on
If you've been swooning over our she shed ideas and are ready to give yours an update, then why not add a pallet bar inside?
@houseno169 has created a cosy retreat to be used come rain or shine – complete with bar stools, fairy lights, and even a dartboard attached to the door. It's a brilliant way to expand your living space and make evenings outdoors feel a little more special.
How do you treat pallet furniture?
To treat pallet furniture ready to be used outdoors, follow this simple checklist:
- Start by removing any sticking out nails, and then thoroughly clean your pallets, using warm, soapy water and a brush.
- Hose them down and leave to completely dry.
- Sand the wood to make it smooth. Matthew Brown, Technical Consultant from Sadolin, says, 'We recommend a light abrasion using P180 pr P240 grade sandpaper. Abrade in the direction of the grain, as you might leave visible marks if brushing across. Dust off the surface using either a cloth or a brush, wiping and brushing across the grain as well as up and down.'
- 'Finally, clean the surface with methylated spirits on a lint-free cloth before using your chosen woodstain or exterior paint colour,' Matthew adds.
- Then, it's time to get the brushes out. 'Painting or staining is the best way to both customise and protect your pallet furniture from the elements,' says the team at Homebase. 'Just make sure that you cover all the wood, even the bits that might usually be hidden from view.'
- You can then seal your design using a polyurethane wood varnish.
Where can I find free pallets?
If you're wondering where to find free pallets (or at least, for very cheap), then try asking at these places:
- Wood reclamation yards
- Schools and universities
- Pet stores
- Landscaping companies (but watch out for ones that have been used to transport fertiliser)
- Online marketplaces such as Ebay or Gumtree
- Furniture stores
Remember, although pallets are often free, it's not a good idea to automatically assume they are. Always ask, just to be on the safe side.
Can pallet wood make you sick?
Unfortunately, there is a chance that pallet wood can make you sick, but that's only depending on their original use.
This is because pallets are used, at least initially, for transporting goods from A to B. Sometimes those goods can be chemicals, and sometimes they can be food products, both of which may spill onto the pallet during transit. It is the fumes of such chemicals or the bacteria from food spills which can lead to you feeling poorly if you come into close contact with them, over a period of time.
But, don't let that put you off, as there are a few things you can do to stay safe. Firstly, look for clean pallets. If you spot a stain, then it may be best to pick a different one.
Eric Brennan from Fix.com also explains how you can check for markings, as these can determine whether your pallet has been treated. For instance, DB (de-barked), HT (heat-treated), and EPAL (European Pallet Association Logo – meaning pallet is both de-barked and heat-treated), should all be safe to use.
Avoid MB labels – this stands for Methyl Bromide – a fungus-killer which is also toxic to humans. Also, don't be tempted to use pre-coloured pallets as these are often used for transporting chemicals. Do your research if you're unsure, to avoid risks.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
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