What To Look For When Buying Used Wooden Pallets

On October 30, 2022

How To Decide Between Used Wood Pallets vs New Pallets?

Many companies find themselves picking between new and used wooden pallets. It can be the difference between often times thousands or millions of dollars per year in expenses. While the average 48 x 40 new pallets cost being around $20-25. The used counterpart typically hovers between $8-10 per skid. That being said if you choose to go the used route and your company is in the food manufacturing, chemical or medical industries you may find your self in a lawsuit if something goes wrong with the used pallet.

Wood is a very common material for pallets in the united states, making up nearly 90% of the skids used in the country. It’s sturdy, relatively cheap, and easily recycled. Wood pallets are also widely available and reliable for a company to source. In 2022 alone, over 500 million used wood pallets were recovered and 400 million were sold as used.

Used wood pallets are typically used for shipping or storing bulk products. They are also popular for art projects and DIY projects at home. So whether you need them for business or personal use, used pallets may be a great option for you. That being said it is import to evaluate the quality carefully before buying.

Here is a couple things to go over before purchasing wood pallets:

1. Structural Integrity and Damage

Due to being a used product, there is a very good change they may have sustained some damage over the course of their reuse. It is import to make sure they are still strong enough to be reused again. Typically they are classified into different grades, Grade A(#1), Grade B(#2), and Grade C(#3). Grade A are often used by food manufactures, pharmaceutical businesses, and beverage companies. That being said it is recomded to use new pallets if possible for those types of companies. Grade B is a great option for any company doing 3pl shipping or some sort of internal shipping. These pallets may have some damage but are typically in ok condition. They are capable of shipping heavy weights, are fully functional, and will still look good enough for use in retail store displays.

2. Size and Dimensions

Dimensions(W x L) Dimensions, mm(W x L) Popular Industries
48″ × 40″ 1219 × 1016 Food Manufactures, Standard Local Shipping
42″ × 42″ 1067 × 1067 Telecom and Paint Companies
48″ × 48″ 1219 × 1219 Steel and Plastic Fiber Drum Shipping, Gaylord Boxes
40″× 48″ 1016 × 1219 Military Use
48″ × 42″ 1219 × 1067 Chemicals and Beverage Companies
40″ × 40″ 1016 × 1016 Dairy Industry
48″ × 45″ 1219 × 1143 Automobile Manufactures
44″ × 44″ 1118 × 1118 Drums and Chemicals Companies
36″ × 36″ 914 × 914 Euro Pallet, International Shipping
48″ × 36″ 1219 × 914 Paper products and recycling
35″ × 45.5″ 889 × 1156 Military 1/2 ISO Container
48″× 20″ 1219 × 508 Retail

It is important to determine the size of the pallet you need before purchasing. Often times there is a standard size for different industries. The standard size set by Grocery Manufacturers Association or GMA, is the standard 48″ x 40″ GMA. When using gaylord boxes to ship material often time the 48” x 45” pallets or 48″ x 48″ size is used due to larger size.

The size of the used skid is important because it can effect how many pallets you can fit in a dry van or flat bed truck. Having a standard size makes it possible to determine how many pallets will fit into a container per shipment and causes transport to be much more efficient . It also ensures you have the correct machinery dimensions.

3. Pallet Material and Quality

Pallets are either wooden, steel, or plastic. Typically Wooden pallets are constructed with softwood or hardwood. While they are similar they both have some advantages and draw backs

Softwood is more standard and cheaper due to it making up the majority of the timber produced. It much lighter  and less dense than hardwood. Due to it being lighter, it also has a lighter weight capacity and can be susceptible to humid environments, so many have to heat treat their softwood pallets first to remove any fungus, mold, or contamination.

Hardwood Pallets  are much stronger and have a longer shelf life than softwood. An excellent for transporting heavy material, but this advantage comes with its disadvantages as well. Due to it being heaver they are typically more expensive and will also run you more in shipping costs do the heavier shipping costs.

4. Clean Used Pallets – Free of Animal Droppings, Mold, and Dirt

One of the biggest reasons for rejected shipments and return of used pallets is them being dirtier than imagined. The majority of time these pallets are stored outside, have been weathered, and may have animal contamination. Unfortunately this is just the reality of the used product market and must be expected when purchasing. If you’re in the food or medical industry you should NOT be buying contaminated used pallets. Stains or discolorations can be obvious signs that these might have been contaminated with a chemical spill or mold. Old pallets should still smell of wood and not of chemicals or mold.

There are many important local, federal, and international restrictions to consider when in the food, medical or chemical industry.

5. Local Markings and Stamps

Many pallets are marked or stamped at the time of production to indicated any certifications or treatments they have undergone . While this can be a good indication of where they came from a lot of these markings are null and void after the pallets are reused. They were given at the time of creation and not valid after multiple reuses

DB (Debarked): Tree bark has been removed.

HT (Heat Treated Pallets): This is a treatment code that means it has been heated.

MB Pallets (MB Methyl Bromide): These chemically treated pallets have been treated with the toxic Methyl Bromide. Research shows that human lungs can be severely injured from any Methyl Bromide inhalation. DO NOT USE.

EPAL Pallets (European Pallet Association): These are untreated and safe for use.

KD (Kiln Dried): This treatment code that the wooden pallet underwent heat treatment and is designed to reduce moisture. It is not harmful.

These marking are very important as may not meet regulations for shipping requirements, or they might contaminate your home if used for a project or renovation.

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We are always happy to assist with any pallet needs or provide consultation of any questions you may have

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