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Will timber pallets withstand harsh weather conditions?

March 22, 2022

There’s no doubt that wooden pallets are a fantastic resource for packing and distributing goods. They are affordable, versatile and recyclable, but the question is, are they durable? The good news is, timber pallets are generally very hard wearing and can easily withstand common outdoor weather conditions like rain, wind and sunlight. However, they are not completely impervious to the elements, and pallets that are stored outside and uncovered for extended periods of time can start to show signs of damage. So, what exactly can timber pallets withstand and how can you ensure they aren’t damaged by the elements?

How well do wooden pallets withstand rain?

Standard timber pallets can definitely withstand a downpour or two, so there’s certainly no need to rush outside to protect your pallets every time it starts to rain. Timber pallets are able to maintain their strength even when they’re wet, so you can still transport your goods as normal during a downpour (although you may need to protect the stock inside the pallet if it is water sensitive). However, while wooden pallets are certainly rain-resistant, they can also be damaged by long-term exposure to moisture. If you leave wooden pallets out in the rain over a period of months, they will begin to develop mould and the wood can start to rot. Mould and wood rot are the biggest threats to the condition of your wooden pallets.

What to look out for – areas of wood that are darker or appear mouldy.

How well do wooden pallets withstand the sun?

Wooden pallets are generally very resistant to extreme heat and sunlight, so it’s usually very safe to store them outside in the sunlight. However, it is possible for damage to occur if pallets are exposed to extreme sunlight for extended periods of time. The wood will likely change colour over time (which doesn’t affect its functionality) but it can also dry out, causing the boards to warp or crack which can compromise the strength of the pallet.

What to look out for – cracks or distortions in the boards.

How well do wooden pallets withstand wind?

Wooden pallets are very resistant to wind and are unlikely to be damaged by exposure to windy conditions. The only real concern when it comes to storing pallets in windy conditions is the risk of a large stack of pallets falling or being blown away. If there is a cyclone in your area, you will need to move pallets to a protected area or secure them in place.

What to look out for – stacks of pallets that appear unstable.

How to tell if your wooden pallet is rotting?

The main risk with leaving your pallets outside for long periods of time is their potential to rot due to extended exposure to moisture. While mostly pallets will simply get wet and dry out, returning to their original state, you can tell if a pallet has started to rot by hitting one of the boards with a hammer. If the pallet is rotten, the board will likely appear brittle and will break in a straight line. A board in good condition will splinter when struck.

How to prevent rotting/damage to your wooden pallet

While wooden pallets can certainly be left outside in the elements for a number of months without starting to rot, if you’re planning on storing them long-term, it’s worth following a few simple steps to store them safely.

  • Keep them off the ground -elevate your pallets slightly so the bottom board is not in direct contact with the ground. This will allow the bottom board to stay completely dry and ventilated.
  • Allow for good airflow – the best environment to store wooden pallets is a dry, breezy area. This will prevent the build-up of mould and moisture.
  • Rotate your stock – if you’re storing pallets in a stack, move the top pallets to the bottom and vice versa. Also, rotate newer pallets with older pallets.

Which type of pallet is the most moisture resistant?

Moisture is by far the biggest risk to the health of your pallets because mould that develops in the board can cause rotting. While standard pallets are not treated, heat-treated pallets are more resistant to moisture.

Timber pallets are extremely hard-wearing and durable and can allow you to transport goods in even the most adverse weather conditions. Pallets will only become damaged if they are stored out in the elements for months on end without any regard for their exposure to heat and moisture.

Contact Cooperage Pallets today for expert advice or a free quote on your pallet requirements.