Tips for Inspecting Used Wooden Pallets Before Purchasing 

On January 15, 2023

What to look for when you receive a load of used wooden pallets? 


When buying used wooden pallets it is always a good idea to check the quality of pallets before bringing them into your facility. While one or two damaged pallets is not a huge problem, if the entire load is damaged or broken it is an easy way to waste thousands of dollars on scrap pallets. Unfortunately, this is common in the pallet industry due to recyclers and brokers selling junk pallets to cut costs. This is guide on what to look for when inspecting used wooden pallets.

During the inspection process, look for visible signs of wear or damage, like cracks, splinters, or missing boards. Your pallet should still be sturdy and able to support the weight of your load. If you notice holes or droppings, you may have pests or infestations. If there is any discoloration or a strong odor, remember that it was likely caused by previous chemical exposure. If the pallets are unusable, consider rejecting the pallet load.

Check to ensure cleanliness?

Probably the most obvious sign of a pallet load is when they are covered in mold, animal droppings, or any other contamination. This can be a major problem for any food manufacturer or company in the medical industry. However, companies in these industries that have high quality standards probably shouldn’t buy used pallets and should purchase new ones. Due to the amount of reuse a used pallet has gone through, it is unrealistic to expect them to spotless.

When purchasing pallets, be sure to inspect them for mold, structural damage, stains, dirt, or discolorations. If you work in the food industry, this is even more important. There is a possibility that stains may be caused by chemicals that contaminate food. A forklift can damage pallets with mold and structural damage, weakening the wood when lifted. Used pallets with these conditions are best avoided, even if there are ways to fix them.

Always ask for pictures before buying used pallets from a new company that you have not done business with before.

Entry Type (Stringer vs Block)

Another common reasons for pallet loads being rejected is incorrect forklift entry. Typically the base is either block or stringer and 4-way or 2-way entry. Communication between the pallet manufacturer and the purchasing department is crucial. Always clarify what type of entry your company needs and what is compatible in your facility. Make sure the size and entry of the wooden pallet is on the invoice and matches whatever you receive.

Correct Size

There are wide range of wooden pallet sizes in the United States, the most common being the 48 x 40 GMA. One of the first things you should check is that the used pallets you are receiving are the size you bought and uniform.

Make sure you buy the correct pallet size for your type of business as every industry has its own standard dimensions. It is more efficient to ship and store goods when all businesses in an industry use the same pallet sizes. Logistics teams can also calculate costs faster with it. If you purchase pallets that are the wrong size for your machinery, accidents may occur when you try to lift them with the wrong equipment.

Structural integrity

You need to ensure that the pallet is durable enough for what you’re using it for. You should use Grade A (#1) if you will store items for a long time or pick them up with a forklift frequently. Warehouses should use those types because they are the strongest. Grade B Repaired pallets can be a good option for companies sending their product one way and don’t have high quality standards.

Know what the Pallet Stamps mean

There are stamps and markings on pallets that indicate what treatment has been done to them and where they came from. For instance, KN stands for kiln-dried wood; HT stands for heat-treated wood; and DB stands for debarked wood. There is a possibility that they do not meet regulations or are contaminated. MB-stamped pallets should not be purchased for safety reasons. Methyl bromide is sprayed on them to protect them from pests. There are some dangers associated with it, including its flammability and its reaction with ethylene oxide (found in antifreeze and some adhesives). Ensure you are not provided with wooden pallets that bear these stamps by checking with your wooden pallet supplier.

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