You might have seen pictures online of sheds that have been built out of pallets. You have to wonder how feasible this might be. It would be easier to build a shed from pallets, as it’s not building from the ground up, but instead using pre-built panels to build the shed.
Building a shed from pallets can be easy, if you have the pallets or can get access to pallets that are the same size.
If you live in an area that has businesses that receive sizeable shipments of materials, such as grocery stores, lumberyards, or small manufacturers, you have probably seen pallets stacked outside, perhaps near the company dumpsters. Very large companies have arrangements with pallet companies, sending back used ones for new ones.
Most companies that use them don’t use enough to do this. Many smaller companies have shipments of materials come in on pallets but don’t have a reason to use them for shipping items out. What becomes of them? Can somebody use them?
If you see a business with a few pallets outside by their dumpster, chances are those pallets have broken slats or other damages and won’t be good for much. However, it’s a sign that they do have pallets and may have many stacked up inside the business just to keep them out of the way.
Many of these businesses will let you have their extra pallets either for free or for a small fee. All you have to do is haul them away. Then all you need to pay for are the fasteners and other hardware such as hinges.
Don’t pass up the pallets by the dumpster, either. Those are definitely free and may have nothing wrong but one broken top slat. They can be used for parts or in cases where you don’t need a whole pallet to finish off the height of the shed. Another tip is to make sure all the pallets you get are the same size. The most common size is 40 x 48″ with three skids.
How Many Pallets Do I Need to Build a Shed?
Of course, this depends on the size of the shed you plan to build. For a small shed, people use six pallets or so. For larger sheds, you may need 15 to 20 or even more. Remember that you’ll need to keep the shed off the ground, as pallets are made to be somewhat disposable and aren’t made of treated lumber. Some do carry a stamp reading HT or CT, which means that the pallet was heat treated or treated with chemicals, but that’s not the same as pressure-treated lumber.
Your pallet shed will be open to the weather because of the spaces between the slats, which is why many people use pallet sheds for a woodshed instead of a secure garden shed. You can remove slats from other pallets to nail over the spaces. This is why you shouldn’t pass up pallets with a little damage.
How Do You Make a Pallet Shed Floor?
Most people use plywood sheets to make the actual floor. It’s a lot less work than making a floor out of pallet slats. Once you have your foundation in and your base pallets down and connected, just nail the sheets over the pallets. When you start attaching other pallets for the walls, make sure you nail or screw through the plywood into the pallet skids below.
How Do You Join Pallets Together?
Many people use 1 x 4s as joining pieces. You also may need some scrap wood to use as temporary joints to hold upper tiers of pallets while you fasten them firmly. Pallets are constructed in different ways. Some have the outside skids right on the edge, enabling you to nail these skids together on two pallets.
However, some have the outer skids inset, preventing you from joining them directly. Pallets are usually open on the short end, so you’ll need some extra wood to join them. Using pieces of pallet slats for this is not the best idea, as the slats are thin. Walls are built with the skid side on the inside and the skids facing vertically.
Some people believe that it’s a good idea to alternate full skids with skids that are sawed in half when building the first row of the walls. This keeps you from having one long joining line that goes all the way around the shed, forming a possible weak point.
You may prefer to use screws rather than nails to build a pallet shed. This does have some merit, as screws are less likely to loosen up. Remember that your shed will be subject to winds, so it’s wise to be thorough with fastening.
Just dispense with a pallet and a half for a doorway. Since most outer house doors are 36 inches wide, the 40 inches of pallet width will do just fine. You can build your door out of plywood to fit the opening.
Can I Build a Shed with Plastic Pallets?
Plastic pallets come in various forms. Some are constructed much like wooden ones, except that instead of slats, they have a crisscrossed grid top. Others have six separate hollow legs shaped much like the holders on egg cartons.
There are several problems with trying to use plastic pallets to build a shed. For one thing, while they are very sturdy and built to hold a lot of weight, they aren’t indestructible. When one cracks or breaks, perhaps from the shed being struck by a falling tree limb, that pallet is shot. You’ll have to replace it; there is no way to repair it. When a wooden pallet on a wall is damaged, the damaged slats can easily be replaced.
Plastic pallets are much more expensive than wooden ones. You won’t see them stacked out by company dumpsters. When plastic pallets are damaged, they are melted down and recycled instead of being thrown out.
That being said, they do make good shed foundations. They aren’t subject to moisture damage, rot, mold or termite damage. The ones with feet can be set on level ground and the feet filled with gravel or cement.
Those feet can even be sunk into the ground first. The top grid can be filled with fine gravel to add weight. There are several brands of shed foundation tiles sold that are made from plastic. They look much like the plastic grids on the top surface of plastic pallets.
How to Use Wooden Pallets for a Shed Foundation
You’ll need to form a firm, level foundation first, such as a concrete slab, tiles, or a pier or deck block system. If you like the idea of deck blocks, which are made with slots at the top to hold joists, it would be good to make sure that the pallet skids will fit firmly into the block slots. You don’t want the skids to have room to slide within the slots.
Some people advocate putting the pallet skids right on the ground, but this isn’t such a hot idea for more than one reason. As has been mentioned, pallets aren’t made from pressure-treated lumber, as they aren’t made to last for a long time.
They’ll suffer from being made to sit on the ground, subject to moisture and eventual damage from mold, rot and termites. Of course, you can use a waterproofing sealant on the pallets, but that doesn’t solve all the problems.
The pallet skids will eventually sink into the ground as rain softens the ground. Your shed will then start to sink, most likely becoming crooked or warped. Get more information in my article What’s The Best Shed Foundation Option For You?
How to Anchor a Pallet Shed to the Ground?
If you are using a concrete slab as a base, you can drill through the pallet skids into your concrete slab and insert anchor bolts, just as you would with any shed sill plates. You can also use T or L brackets, attaching them to the sides of the slab and skids as long as the skids are flush with the slab sides.
If you are using a gravel, block or tile foundation, you can use a cable anchoring system. You can use the pier system, which consists of digging four-foot-deep holes with a post hole digger, putting in around six inches of crushed gravel for drainage, then inserting a sonotube into the hole, making sure that it sticks out of the ground at least four inches.
Put one off each shed corner, making sure that all the tube tops are level. Then pour in concrete, inserting anchor bolts or brackets before the concrete sets. Then use metal cable ties attached to the brackets and also to holes you’ve drilled through the bottom shed skids at the corners. You can drill holes in both skids that meet at the corners and run the cable in and out.
Another method is to use a ground auger system. These are long metal rods with auger blades on the bottom and a loop on top. The loop is the connection for the cable, but it’s also used to insert the auger rod into the ground. Thread a piece of pipe through the hole and you have a turning handle. It’s a good idea to angle the auger a bit away from the shed. Check out my article What Are the Different Types of Shed Tie Downs? for the best option for you to anchor your pallet shed to the ground.
Using pallets to build a shed is a way to build a shed on the cheap. As long as you have a way to haul your pallets, you can get quite a few of them for free or at very little cost. It’s becoming a popular way to build a shed, and you can find some actual plans and plenty of photos online.