Pallets are multipurpose items with a primary function in logistics and freight movements, but they also perform excellently in other fields. They make great fences as well. But you might be wondering how long will a pallet fence last.
A pallet fence will last between three and ten years. How long the pallet fence will last depends on several factors, including its use, treatment, and construction. That is why it’s essential to learn how to pick and construct pallet fences correctly.
This guide will discuss how long pallet fences last and the factors contributing to their longevity, so let’s jump in.
What Determines the Lifespan of a Pallet Fence?
Pallets come in about seven types, each with differing features, advantages, and disadvantages. The type of pallet used for the fence is the first factor that affects its lifespan.
Therefore, a wooden pallet fence may not last as long as a plastic fence, not forgetting that someone has used these pallets in the past.
Here’s a look at all the factors that determine a pallet fence’s lifespan:
- The type of pallet used
- The pallet’s previous usage
- The pallet’s treatment procedures
- How you plan to use the pallet fence
- The construction of the pallet fence
Now, let’s analyze each factor that affects a pallet’s lifespan to see how long they typically last.
The Type of Pallet Used
A pallet’s design and entry point have a minor effect on its lifespan when used as a fence. The biggest factor that determines its lifespan is the type of material used.
Let’s look at the following types of pallets:
- Wood pallets: These pallets are the most common types, offering outstanding durability for freight and fencing purposes. Wood pallets are susceptible to rot since they retain moisture over time, so they probably won’t last longer than five years. However, you can still use them for fences.
- Metal pallets: These pallets may not be the most common types, but they can last a lifetime, making them expensive. They last long periods; hence, they are not typically available for recycling purposes like fencing. Steel and aluminum are the most common types of metal pallets.
- Plastic pallets: Most manufacturers compare plastic pallets to their wooden counterparts because of their features. These pallets also make good fencing options, depending on what type of fence you want to make, and they can last for around ten years.
You cannot use all pallet types to build a fence. In the most popular order, the most commonly used are wood, plastic, and metal.
Apart from the types described above, there are specific classes for each pallet type. For example, some types of wood used in wood pallets include:
- Press wood
The properties of the wood used to make the pallets will affect the longevity of the pallet fence.
Plywood is a versatile material that can be used to make many items. For example, you can use plywood to complement a metal bed frame. Learn how by reading my guide on the topic. [Can You Use Plywood on a Metal Bed Frame?]
The Pallet’s Previous Usage
As I have explained, pallets are industrial equipment used for logistics and freight purposes. Fencing with pallets is an afterthought, and as such, you will only have access to recycled pallets.
You cannot know what the pallet has been carrying in the past or how long it has worked. Also, you probably won’t know every material used in the pallet. These factors influence how strong your pallet fence will be over time and how long it will last as a fence.
For instance, if a wooden pallet has worked for more than three years, carrying heavy-weight products, the wood will be weak and will not last as long.
Before installing a fence, always check the pallets you buy for signs of weakness, cracks, or damage.
Health and Safety Concerns When Using Wooden Pallets to Build a Fence
Another reason to check your pallets is for your health and safety. Most pallets have been spilled on, since they carry so many things. Pallets carry all kinds of products in them, including:
- General merchandise
In May 2010, the National Consumers Organization called on the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the logistics industry after finding bacteria on the pallets used for transporting food.
According to the test results on wood pallets, about 10% of the wood pallets had Escherichia coli, and almost 3% had Listeriosis.
Therefore, when you’re looking to build a fence with pallets (especially wooden ones), you could unknowingly be exposing yourself, family members, or pets to bacteria. You should wash any wood pallets properly before bringing it into your home with these steps:
- Rinse wood outdoors
- Sand with sturdy sandpaper
- Wash with soap solution
- Rinse and wash multiple times
Check out this YouTube video for a more detailed look at how to clean a pallet.
The Pallet’s Treatment Procedures
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandates users to treat all wooden pallets and other packaging materials before use to reduce the spread of bacteria and pathogens.
There are two ways to treat a wood pallet:
- Heat treatment: This process subjects the wood pallets to a high temperature of 56°C (132.8°F) in an enclosed chamber for thirty minutes. This is the most popular treatment option for wood pallets.
- Methyl Bromide treatment: This process uses an enclosed chamber like the heat treatment. But instead of heat, they use a chemical to spray the wood pallets, removing bacteria. This chemical can cause terrible illnesses, so you shouldn’t use these wood pallets for anything. You can identify these wood types through the “MB” stamp.
If your wood pallet has the methyl bromide stamp, you should not buy or install it as a fence around your home. However, if a wood pallet has a heat treatment stamp, you can rest assured that it has minimal bacteria and is safe to use as a pallet fence.
You can try to heat the wood again to ensure no contaminants. Be careful to use the proper steps and tools, as too much heat will burn your wood, weakening them.
Heat treatments can also result in softwood pallets, which can shorten the lifespan of your pallet fence.
How You Plan to Use the Pallet Fence
What you decide to use the pallets for will determine if it will make a good fence or not. The first question you need to ask is if the fence is outdoor or indoor.
Outside your home, you may need a pallet fence to barricade your garden or prevent unwanted animals from making it into your yard.
Inside, you may want perimeter protection for your toddler or pet while you take on some dangerous DIY tasks. Everyone will use their pallet fence differently, and it will affect how long it lasts.
Outside, a wooden pallet fence is susceptible to rain and UV rays from sunlight, weakening it.
Therefore, indoor pallet fences last longer than those used outside the home.
The Construction of the Pallet Fence
How you build the pallet fence will affect how long it will stand firm in that position. A hastily-constructed pallet fence will not last long. Thankfully, constructing a pallet fence is not a tedious task—just focus on the stability and firmness of the pallets.
Here is the process involved in constructing a pallet fence:
- Buy pallets of equal sizes if possible: You need equivalent pallet sizes to construct a fence properly with no confusion or irregularities. Remember to do all health checks beforehand.
- Take measurements and sketch: The next step is to measure the area you will fence in line with your pallet measurements. After that, you can sketch what you want to design with the fence.
- Use a string to construct a fence first: This string is to remind you of the correct positions for all pallets.
- Install the first pallet: Support this pallet with a T-shape steel rod to ensure its firmness.
- Fix the next pallet: In the same process, align the next pallet with the string and existing pallet.
- Join the pallets: The first pallet is firm on its own, so all you need is to join the second to the first to ensure its firmness. You will need to drill through the pallets to join both. The size and type of drill bit you will use depends on the material type and thickness.
- Repeat process: Keep repeating this process until you have completed the perimeter.
For more information, this video will provide you with a visual demonstration of how to build a pallet fence:
A pallet fence is not only an easy way to meet your fencing needs, but it is also economical. You can get these pallets for free, and with the proper steps, you can build them on your own.
Moreover, these pallets will last for an extended period if you:
- Buy the correct pallets
- Install the pallets correctly
- Manage and treat the pallets properly.
Keep in mind that the type of pallet will determine its longevity. Metal pallet fences can last a lifetime, while wooden fences wear out more quickly. So, choose the right one to suit your needs.