How To Treat Pallet Wood For Outdoor Use? (5 EASY Steps!)

how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use

Pallets are mostly cheap, and you can persuade them to give extra pallets for free. They are used as bookshelves, coffee tables, chairs, planters, tables and so much more.

When it comes to outdoor use, I was curious about waterproofing wood pallets to protect them from outdoor elements. So, let’s find out, How to treat pallet wood for outdoor use?

You can treat pallet wood for outdoor use by applying an epoxy finish, oil finish, paint, varnish, or stain. Dry the pallet wood, and sand the entire surface before treating it to get protection from outdoor elements like moisture and UV light. Staining or sealing makes pallet wood waterproof and prevents pallets from rotting.

But that’s a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about treating pallet wood for outdoor use.

So, in this article, we’ll explore, how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use, things you can use to treat pallet wood, and more.

Furthermore, I’ll answer frequently asked questions about treating pallet wood as well.

Let’s jump in!

Why Treat Pallet Wood for Outdoor Use?

Treating pallet wood for outdoor use is important to prevent them from rotting and to protect the wood from environmental elements such as moisture, UV rays, and insect attacks.

By treating pallet woods you’ll be able to make them safe from bacteria, mold, chemicals, and other harmful substances.

Nowadays, pallet wood can be used literally for anything.

Chairs, planters, tables, bookshelves, porches, patio furniture, flower boxes, wooden fences, and many other woodworks and furniture can be made by using pallet wood.

This is because they are affordable and easy to repair. In order to make them safe from environmental elements, you need to treat pallet wood properly.

Plus, you can increase the lifetime and durability of pallet wood by treating it.

Never leave pallet wood furniture or woodwork outdoors without treating it because the wood will begin to rot so quickly as soon as the moisture went inside of the wood through the fibers.

Once the wood starts to rot, it will get an unpleasant appearance. Restoration is also difficult if things went worse.

You’ll have to use special chemicals like flex seal to restore rotted pallet woods. Therefore, better to take action by treating pallet woods before keeping them outside.

Plus, woods will discolor when they are exposed to sunlight for so long because of the harmful UV rays.

Treating helps to prevent wood discoloration and keeps them so long fresh as new.

Treating sealants and stain products have anti-UV agents that absorb UV light by avoiding them from entering the wooden surface.

Treating protects wood from cracking and splitting upon temperature variations and humidity changes.

Sealing and staining tolerate environmental impacts on wood pallets and protect the wood while enhancing the wood’s appearance.

In a summary, here’s why you should treat pallet wood for outdoor use,

  • To prevent pallet wood from rotting
  • Protect pallet wood from water damages
  • Protect pallet wood from UV light
  • Protect from insect attacks
  • Protect from temperature variations
  • Prevent wood discolorations
  • Keep pallet wood from cracking and splitting
  • To enhance the wood appearance

So, let’s find out what sealants and stain products you can use to treat pallet wood for outdoor use.

What Can You Use To Treat Pallet Wood For Outdoor Use?

You can use sealant or stain to treat pallet wood for outdoor use. Apply sealant or stain all over the pallet wood and let it dry before keeping it outside for best use.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using any product on pallet wood to apply without making any mistakes.

Here’re the best products that you can use to treat pallet wood for outdoor use.

  • Epoxy finish
  • Oil finish (Tung oil, Linseed oil, Danish oil, Hemp oil)
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Stain

All the above wood-treating products help pallet wood to get protected from environmental elements such as moisture, UV light, insect attacks, and more.

So, let’s discuss each of the above products separately to see how they work on pallet wood.

Epoxy Finish on Pallet Wood

The epoxy finish provides waterproofing ability to pallet wood and prevents pallet wood furniture and woodwork from water damage.

Epoxy finish is consisting of epoxy resin and hardener. Mix both resin and hardener well in a container before applying to the pallet wood.

After mixing pour and apply epoxy finish on an entire wooden surface without missing any spot. Use a bristle brush to apply on edges and tough corners.

Epoxy resin doesn’t give much protection from UV light. Therefore, if you are going to place pallet woods in an area that expose to direct sunlight, better not to use an epoxy finish.

A single coat of epoxy finish is enough to treat pallet wood for outdoor use.

Water particles cannot penetrate through the epoxy layer and damage the wood. epoxy finish protects wood from rotting.

Oil Finish on Pallet Wood

Oil finishes protect pallet wood from water damage and UV light. Oil finishes penetrate deep into wood fibers and make them protected from outdoor environmental impacts.

Oil finishes harden upon exposure to the air and are able to produce a rich glowing look to pallet woods.

Plus, they protect the wood from cracking and peeling.

Here’re some of the popular oil finishes that can be used for treating pallet wood,

Curious how they work on pallet wood? let’s discuss each one of them.

Treating Pallet Wood with Tung Oil

Tung oil is a natural wood finishing oil that provides a transparent, wet look to your pallet woods. Tung oil is waterproof and protects pallet wood from cracking.

Therefore, tung oil-treated pallet wood can be used outdoors.

Tung oil-treated pallet woods are able to tolerate environmental impacts because they repel moisture, are resistant to acids and alcohols, do not crack upon humidity variations, and have lots of benefits.

Tung oil finish is non-toxic, food safe, easy to apply, attractive in color, doesn’t yellow over time, and has excellent elasticity as well.

On the other hand, it takes a lot of time to dry, is expensive, and doesn’t smoothen the wood grain.

Overall, tung oil is one of the best oil finishes for pallet woods. Once tung oil is applied, you’ll be able to use pallet wood for any kind of woodworking project.

Treating Pallet Wood with Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is an eco-friendly finishing oil that helps to hide dents and scratches of pallet wood and enhance the wood’s appearance while providing excellent protection from environmental elements like moisture.

Linseed oil finish is water resistant and prevents pallet wood from rotting due to moisture absorption.

It is easy to apply and can use as a wood conditioner as well. Linseed oil is filled with lots of benefits over regular finishes.

Linseed oil is food safe, non-toxic, and able to tolerate humidity variations due to high elasticity.

But linseed oil finish needs regular maintenance, and it yellows over time.

Therefore, linseed oil needs to be reapplied on pallet wood at least once per year.

Plus, it doesn’t provide UV resistance.

Therefore, never use linseed oil on pallet wood especially if your woods expose directly to the sunlight.

Linseed oil provides extra sheen and glossiness to pallet wood furniture or woodworks to increase the natural beauty and appearance.

Treating Pallet Wood with Danish Oil

Danish oil is one of the most popular finishing oils for pallet woods since it is a waterproofing oil that dries faster than other oil finishes.

Danish oil improves the sheen of pallet woods while providing excellent resistance against scratches and chemicals.

Danish oil is easy to apply, food safe, able to use as a primer, and repels water particles.

Therefore, Danish oil can be used to treat pallet wood for outdoor use since its water resistivity.

But on the other hand, Danish oil needs regular maintenance and is able to apply only on bare woods.

Therefore, make sure to sand the entire pallet wood surface before treating it with Danish oil.

Treating Pallet Wood with Hemp Oil

Hemp oil protects pallet wood from UV light and water damage.

Plus, it will enhance the wood appearance and add a unique look to your pallet wood furniture and woodwork.

Hemp oil is an environmentally friendly oil that will last up to 2 -3 years with proper care.

Regular maintenance is needed to keep hemp oil finish as fresh as new and for better protection from environmental elements.

Paint On Pallet Wood

Paint is an excellent treating product for pallet wood. Paint coatings protect pallet wood from moisture, UV light, scratches, cracks, and peelings.

Apply paint on pallet wood for better tolerance against temperature variations, humidity changes, and harsh weather conditions.

Paint helps to keep the wooden surface as fresh as new by preventing UV light from contacting the wood.

Varnish On Pallet Wood

Varnish is great to protect pallet wood from moisture, UV light, and other environmental impacts.

Among general varnish products, marine spar varnish is the best one so far for the outdoor use of pallet wood because of its excellent UV resistance.

Marine spar varnish is useful for pallet wood furniture, fences, floors, chairs, tables, planters, and all other woodwork.

A varnish finish repels water particles and prevents pallet wood from rotting.

Varnish is easy to apply without making any mistakes.

If you’re a beginner in wood finishing, the varnish is a good treating product to get a good outcome with ease.

Marine spar varnish is tough and durable with an excellent lifetime.

Not like oil finishes, varnish finish is able to live more on pallet wood providing excellent protection with enhanced wood appearance.

Stain On Pallet Wood

Stain is able to protect pallet wood from UV light, water damage, insect attacks, scratches, and dents.

Plus, wood stain helps to give pallet woods any color you want with an attractive appearance.

You can mix wood stains before treating on pallet wood to get customized colors and most hardwood pallet wood stains so well.

If your pallet wood doesn’t stain well, better to apply wood conditioner first to control absorption speed.

With the use of a wood conditioner, you’ll be able to apply wood stain on any pallet wood without making any wood stain mistakes like blotches and streaks.

Now you have a clear idea about the best products that can use for treating pallet wood for outdoor use.

Let’s see how the treatment process should be done correctly.

How To Treat Pallet Wood for Outdoor Use?

Treating pallet wood for outdoor use is important to keep them protected from environmental elements, such as moisture, UV light, insect attacks, and harsh weather conditions.

Treating pallet wood will also help to improve their sheen by giving an attractive look to outdoor pallet furniture and woodwork.

Here’s the process of treating pallet wood for outdoor use.

  1. Select a safe pallet
  2. Clean and prepare the surface
  3. Sand the entire surface
  4. Treat the pallet
  5. Let the finish dry and cure

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps one by one to see how to treat pallet woods correctly for outdoor use.

1. Select a Safe Pallet

Before treating you need to have a good understanding of where pallet woods came from since they use in different industries.

Some of them can be so harmful and not in a good condition to be treated.

Some pallet woods were placed next to the trash cans and grew mold and habitat for rats and cockroaches. So, never use that kind of pallet wood for outdoor furniture even after treatment.

Get pallets from local used pallet dealers by knowing where they came from and how were they used.

Check if your pallets are marked with the letters “MB” stamped on them. MB means Methyl Bromide which is a harmful chemical.

That means Methyl Bromide has been used on your pallets as a pesticide.

Those MB-stamped pallets should not be used as outdoor furniture since they can be toxic to humans.

Check whether your pallets have stain rings that occurred due to chemicals.

Better to avoid those pallets for outdoor furniture since they can contain toxic chemical compounds even after treating the wood.

Follow the below table before treating any kind of pallet wood.

Code In PalletTreatable or not
IPPC LogoNot Sure
DBSafe to treat
HTSafe to treat
MBDo not treat and use
EPALSafe to treat
EURDo not treat
Colored PalletDo not treat or use

In summary, here’s how you should select a safe pallet for treatment.

  • IPPC logo stamped pallets came from abroad and not sure whether they are safe to treat or not.
  • DB stamped pallets (Debarked) are chemically free and safe to treat.
  • HT stamped pallets (Heat treated) repel bugs without chemical treatments and are safe to treat.
  • MB stamped pallets (Methyl Bromide) do not treat due to high toxicity.
  • EPAL stamped pallets (European Pallet Association Logo) are debarked or heat treated and safe to treat.
  • EUR stamped pallets are the old versions of EPAL and do not treat without the EPAL logo.
  • Colored pallets are toxic and do not treat or used for outdoor projects.

DB, HT, and EPAL stamped pallet woods are good for treating. So, better to use only those pallet woods for outdoor woodworking projects.

2. Clean and Prepare the Surface

After selecting a safe pallet for treating before outdoor use, clean the entire wooden surface using a pressure washer.

Before treating you need to remove all the dust, dirt, grease, stain marks, and all other impurities from the pallet wood surface for better absorption of the treating compound.

Cleaning helps to treat pallet woods without making any mistakes and increases the durability of the wood.

After cleaning the wood properly, let it dry completely before moving to the next step.

3. Sand The Entire Surface

Once the pallet wood is completely dried, sand the entire surface with 220 grit sandpapers to eliminate surface randomness and make the surface ready to take the treating product.

Sand along the direction of the wood grain for better treatment and it helps to make the surface even and smooth.

After sanding, the pallet wood surface is easy to finish, and the coat has less tendency to crack or peel.

If your pallet wood has protruding nails, and screw heads, better to remove them before sanding to prevent your grinding tools from getting damaged.

Once you’re done with sanding, remove sawdust using a dust pipe or rag and prepare the surface for treating.

4. Treat The Pallet Wood

Now you can treat the pallet wood surface with epoxy finish, oil finish, paint, varnish, or stain. Apply the treating product along the direction of the wood grain for better absorbance.

Let the coats dry between coats.

Apply 2 – 3 coats to treat pallet wood for any kind of outdoor woodworking project.

Make sure to treat the pallet all over the surface without missing any spots. Use a paintbrush when treating.

If you’re using stain to treat pallet wood, better to apply wood conditioner first to control wood absorption rates and to avoid making wood stain mistakes.

Treat pallet woods in a well-ventilated area for proper drying and to avoid breathing harmful chemicals.

Once pallet woods are well treated, they are waterproof, UV resistant, and do not rot easily for a few years.

5. Let The Finish Dry and Cure

After treating pallet wood, let the finish dry and cure completely before using it for outdoor use.

Let treated coats dry and settle for at least 48 hours.

Curing time can be 2 – 3 days which varies on the treated product type and environmental humidity.

If you live in a humid area, this can take even more than a week. However proper drying and treating are a must to get a good protective coat over the wooden surface.

After drying and curing pallet wood will get its new look and now you can use it as outdoor furniture or woodwork since it has a good protective shield against environmental elements such as moisture, UV light, insect attacks, and more.

Drying and curing are essential for excellent treatment.

That’s it, Folks! Now you know how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use with simple treating steps.

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about treating pallet wood.

Can Pallets Be Used for Outdoor Furniture?

Pallets can be used for outdoor furniture only if they have DB or HT or EPAL stamped codes.

MB stamped pallets are not good for outdoor furniture due to toxicity.

Here are some popular outdoor furniture that can be made using pallets,

Porches

  • Patio Furniture
  • Flower boxes
  • Planters
  • Wooden fences
  • Outdoor tables
  • Outdoor chairs
  • Garden beds

As you can see pallets can be used literally for any outdoor furniture only if they are safe to use.

How Long Will Pallet Wood Last Outside?

Without proper treatment, pallet wood will last only a few months on the outside. But after proper treatment, pallet wood will last 2 -3 years outside with being waterproof and UV resistant.

Bare pallet wood will get easily attacked by moisture and start wood rotting.

Plus, molds will grow and won’t last much longer under harsh weather conditions.

Therefore, proper treatment is a must for pallet wood to last them for years with excellent protection from environmental elements like moisture, UV light, insect attacks, and more.

How To Treat Pallet Wood for Termites?

You can treat pallet wood for termites by applying a borate preservative solution to the wood.

It will repel bugs, insects, and termites and make pallet wood protected from termites’ attacks.

Here’re the steps you need to follow when treating pallet wood for termites,

  1. Clean and sand the wood.
  2. Cover the work area and ventilate the space.
  3. Prepare borate preservative solution by mixing borate preservative with water in a bucket and stirring well.
  4. Apply to prepare borate preservative solution on the entire pallet wood surface evenly.
  5. Let the wood dry for 4 hours.
  6. Apply another coat of borate preservative solution and let it dry.
  7. Apply water repellant finish on dried pallet wood along the wood grain using a paint brush.
  8. Let the surface dry and cure.

After treating as above process, your pallet wood will be termites-free.

But never use bromide-treated pallet wood as tables or chairs that contact human skin since they are extremely harmful.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: How to Treat Pallet Wood For Outdoor Use?

In this article, we have deeply discussed how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use and what types of finishes we can use to treat pallets with their pros and cons.

You can treat pallet wood for outdoor use by cleaning the wood, sanding the entire surface, applying oil finish, epoxy finish, paint, varnish, or stain on the surface, and letting the finish dry and cure before use. Treated pallet woods are waterproof and UV resistant with an enhanced wood appearance.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions regarding how to treat pallet wood for outdoor use as well.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about treating pallet wood for outdoor projects.

Make sure to try things you have learned from this post for your next pallet wood outdoor project. Keep practicing!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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