If you've ever walked down a city street and seen a few kerbside pallets waiting for the rubbish pickup, you've probably wondered what all that wood could be used for. Most wood pallets are used once before being discarded, but there are clever ways to rescue them from consignment to a landfill. You can save money, invent a guest room and feel good about your shrinking carbon footprint at the same time. Guest bed, sofabed or your bed, all it takes is two pallets and a mattress for a really cheap, really green pallet sleeping platform.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 2 shipping pallets
- 4 or more flat metal braces
- Electric sander or sandpaper
- Paint -- optional
- Clear lacquer -- optional
- Flat board for brace -- optional
- 4 or more casters -- optional
- 2 or more locking casters -- optional
- Twin mattress
Hunt for pallets that are in good shape. The lumber used to build them, because they are made to be throwaways, is cheap, splintery, full of knots, splits and cracks, and sometimes it's streaked with dirt, grease or cement. Avoid total grunge with some careful kerbside shopping. Choose pallets that are reasonably smooth with platform boards set close together, made solidly and unbroken.
Examine the pallets you choose for interesting shipping stencils. Instructions, destinations and other information look exotic and street-chic, so try to highlight stencilled words and symbols when you are assembling the bed.
Haul the pallets home and attach two together with strong braces screwed into the frames or longer boards screwed to the underside where they are not very visible. Sand rough spots or the entire pallet to remove splinters and particularly rough patches of wood. Pound in or remove any nails or staples that are sticking up.
Add casters at all four corners. You may want to add casters in the middle, as well. The casters make your bed portable for easy cleaning or use in more than one location. Get a couple of locking casters to anchor the bed when it is supposed to be stationary.
Paint the whole platform white or another colour, finish the wood in clear lacquer, or leave it natural. Purists would argue that natural, unfinished pallet wood is the authentic way to go. Use your own design sense and paint it or not to go with your decor.
Layer some sheepskins or a faded quilt over the wood if you are concerned about splinters. Then put a twin mattress on your new pallet frame. In keeping with the minimalist aesthetic, wrap the mattress in fitted bedding and toss a down comforter and a lavender-scented or buckwheat pillow on it. Flowers, stripes and other patterned bed linens will turn a chic, green idea into a fussy one.
Tips and warnings
- International shipping regulations still allow chemical treatment of pallets to inhibit pest infestation. Some pallets are not healthy to sleep on, because they can release toxic chemicals. Pallets stamped with MB, for methyl bromide, are not good choices, although they were phased out as of March 2010. Pressure-treated wood is chemically treated. Most domestic wood pallets are not pressure-treated, but sorting out the safest wood takes some sleuthing and is probably worth the trouble.
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