How to Use Wooden Pallets for a Shed Foundation

April 21, 2021

An outdoor shed can be a great addition to your custom home design and can enhance your backyard. Choosing the best shed design to fit your needs is the most critical decision for building an outdoor shed. For instance, if you want a place where you can engage in your favorite crafts, the shed plan you decide on will be different than if you need a place to store an ATV or motorcycle.

One of the most important decisions to make is the shed foundation. Common options for shed foundations include concrete, gravel, pavers, etc. But, did you know you could also use wooden pallets for a shed foundation? Wooden pallets make for suitable shed foundations and offer a myriad of benefits. Here’s what you need to know about a wooden pallet foundation and how to build one as you consider including a shed as you build a custom home:

What is a Wooden Pallet?

Wooden pallets are used across almost every industry to efficiently and safely transport, stack, store, and transport goods. Pallets are designed so that forklifts and pallet jacks can easily maneuver them around warehouses, in stores, and on and off vehicles.

Wooden pallets can be made out of various wood types, with the most common being oak and pine. Although they have traditionally been used in transport, they are also useful in a lot of other ways too. In fact, there are plenty of creative ways to repurpose pallets for your home decor.

4 Benefits of Using Wood Pallets for a Shed Foundation

Each type of shed foundation offers its own set of benefits. Using wood pallets as your shed’s foundation offers the following benefits:

1. They Are Cost-Effective

Wooden pallets are more cost-effective than other types of shed foundations. This allows you to allocate more resources to the interior of the shed and adding other features.

2. Wood Pallets Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Using recycled wooden pallets means that you are using materials that may otherwise end up in a landfill instead of using new materials. It’s an environmentally conscious and sustainable choice for your shed foundation.

3. They Have a High Load Capacity

Wooden pallets can be a great choice as a shed foundation because they have a high load capacity. Each pallet can withstand an average of 3,000 pounds in weight.

4. Treated Pallets Last a Long Time

The USDA requires the treatment of pallets with a wood preservative. This means each pallet is resistant to decay, insects, and rot and will last for years to come.

5. Assembly is Relatively Easy

Last, but not least, shed foundations made of wooden pallets are relatively easy to assemble. Not only does easier assembly make the process less stressful, but it also provides some savings when it comes to materials, installation, and more.

How to Use Wooden Pallets for a Shed Foundation

Whether you decide to work with your builder to include a shed on your lot while you are building your custom home or try to do it yourself after you’ve moved in, there are some standard steps to follow for building the shed and for when you use wooden pallets for a shed foundation:

1. Check with Local Regulations

Before you begin construction on your outdoor storage shed, it is crucial to check your municipality’s regulations. Most localities allow a 10’x12′ shed as the largest-sized structure you can build without a permit. Each county is different. Be sure to check with yours for the specifics.

In addition to checking with Planning and Zoning, if your neighborhood has an HOA, you will need to check with them as well. Many HOAs have their own set of rules regarding the maximum size of buildings permitted.

You will also need to work with local utilities to make sure there are no wires, pipes, etc. where you will be digging to place the foundation. This is all part of the permitting and approval process. If you’re working with a builder and the shed is part of constructing your home, they will be able to handle a lot of these details for you.

2. Choose Your Pallets Wisely

The number of pallets needed will depend on the size of your outdoor storage building. Follow these tips to choose the best pallets for your shed:

  • Pallets come in different sizes, with the U.S. standard size being 48″ x 40″. Other common sizes include 48″ x 48″ and 42″ x 42″.
  • Since all pallets are treated, it doesn’t make a difference if you choose pallets made of hardwoods or softwoods.
  • Make sure that pallets chosen are not missing boards. Complete pallets are crucial to the structural integrity of your shed’s foundation.
  • All pallets chosen must be uniform in thickness. This is most easily achieved by getting all of your pallets from the same source.

3. Define the Perimeter

Precision is vital when marking the perimeter of your outdoor storage building. It is advisable to build your foundation to the exact dimensions of your structure. Otherwise, you run the risk of water collecting on top of the foundation and seeping between the foundation and the bottom of the wall.

Use a tape measure, stakes, and string to mark the perimeter of your shed’s foundation. Take your time with this step. If you don’t, you will end up with a foundation that is too large or too small, which could affect the structural integrity of your building.

4. Dig out the Foundation Site

Clear out any trees or shrubs from the foundation site. Next, dig out the area to a depth of half the width of the pallets. If you decide to use a gravel or paver base, which will lengthen the life of the pallets, be sure to dig out the width of the base as well. The top of your shed’s foundation should sit above the grade.

5. Level the Building Site

Once the shed site is dug out to the proper depth, it’s time to level the area. Afterward, compact the site to avoid settling of the shed. If you have chosen to add a base to set the pallets on, you should do so after the site is compacted.

6. Get the Pallets Ready

Before the pallets can be placed, they must be altered to fit correctly. First, remove the boards on one side of each pallet. Be careful not to crack or bust the remaining boards. Next, ensure the remaining boards are flush with the base of the pallet. Cut off any excess. This allows for the pallets to fit together tightly.

7. Place the Pallets

Install each pallet on the site as tightly as possible with the edges touching. If you’ve chosen to add a base, be sure that all pallets are equally supported. If this means adding more gravel or an additional paver, then it is worth taking the extra time to make sure you get this step right.

After the pallets have been placed, you should fasten the pallets together to create one large foundation. This will make the entire foundation sturdier. You can use one of two methods to do this:

  1. Deck screws – Drive each screw in at an angle from one pallet to the next.
  2. Metal fastening plates – Use each plate to attach two pallets.

Please note that it will take more than one deck screw and metal fastening plate per pallet to create a strong attachment. The number you will need for each will depend on the size of the pallets.

8. Move on to the Rest of the Shed

Once the pallets are correctly connected, you are ready to build your shed on top of the pallet foundation. However, if you wish, you can take your foundation a step further by installing an exterior grade, pressure-treated plywood on top of the pallet foundation.

This will increase stability and give you the option to put in tile, laminate, carpet, or hardwood flooring in the interior of your shed. Because there are many ways to use a shed, this is a great option that can help you create the perfect environment for your needs.

Wooden pallets are an excellent option for creating a sturdy foundation for your shed while being easy on the wallet, reducing your carbon footprint, and requiring minimal assembly. If you are considering putting a shed on your lot, wooden pallets are an option to consider for the foundation.