Life & Work

Creative ways to recycle wood pallets


A bed made out of pallets. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

Ever wondered what to do with the waste shipping pallets you probably dumped in your backyard? Or are you looking for affordable, unique furniture? Buy wooden pallets, paint them and stack them up to make unique pieces of furniture.

Used wood pallet recycling is one way to bring the rustic charm to your foyer or garden. If you want, add glass on top to give the pallet table a modern touch. You can also turn the pallets into interior décor accessories.

Daphine Okonji, the managing director of Elle Interior Designers, says there are many ways that pallets can be reused in the house or an office.

“Pallets can be repurposed to beautiful furniture whether at home or at the office at a very accommodating budget. They can be used in making customised outdoor lounge tables, indoor coffee tables, storage furniture, desk-top surfaces, kitchen islands, soft structures and so many more,” says Ms Okonji.

A pallet costs between Sh350 to Sh1,000, or even higher depending on its use. Caro Irungu of Woodtex Kenya says a standard-sized pallet at their warehouse measuring 110 by 113 goes for Sh1,000.

“Most of the time we make pallets according to a client’s specifications so the prices can go up,” says Ms Irungu. However, you can buy used Euro pallets which are smaller at Sh350 to Sh400.

Local pallets will, however, cost you more because they are bigger.

Ms Okonji says before you start the do-it-yourself pallet project, check for stamps on the boards to ensure safety of use. Check out for an HT stamp, which means that the pallet is safe for home use or indoor use. An MB sign means that chemicals have been used to treat the pallet and it is not suitable for indoor use.

“Do not use any pallet that has been used to ship pesticides, chemicals, or other harmful supplies,” she says.

You need to be clear on the size of the furniture and its function as pallets come in different types and sizes.

You want your piece not to be too low or high. If it is a seat, it should not have sharp edges.

Do not shy away from combining different pieces and adding glass, plastic poles, metal, cushions or upholstery.

When turning pallets into furniture, give it a smooth finish by waxing, painting or sandpapering.

“If you prefer working on your own, it is always best to seek the advice of an expert even on a collaborative level. Especially if it’s your first time on a do-it-yourself furniture project,” she says.

Here are some creative ways of turning waste pallets to unique furniture.

Couches and tables

If you love recycling, wooden pallets can give you the rustic couches and beds you are unlikely to find in another home.

Stack up the pallets to form a couch or use nails or glue to stick them together. Then add a mattress or bright-coloured cushions. You can choose any design depending on the purpose of the furniture.


Lounge chairs made out of pallets.

You can use different pallets to create levels in your designs. The bottom level can be used as a storage area for magazines or books. Apply varnish or you can leave it as is. For easier movement, if it is indoor furniture, fix wheels.

Day beds, kids beds, bed frames

Children love creative furniture. Stack up the pallets and add a mattress and you have a bed for a child.

The bed can be created to include a storage area for items like books or toys. You can also make toy boxes. A outdoor pallet daybed, modern-looking lounge chair or swing are ideal for relaxing in the yard.

Bed stands, lamp shades, creative flower pots, skateboards

Cut into different shapes, you can create unique flower pots or lamp shades.

Wall clock

Cut out the pallets into desired shapes and if you love colour, paint in bright shades of green, orange or pink. Choose a warm colour.

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