Stacking firewood up on pallets is a cheap and easy way to store firewood up off the ground. It keeps your wood out of pooling water, away from bugs, and significantly speeds up the seasoning process. So how do you stack firewood on a pallet?
Set pallets side by side and start stacking up your wood in two rows one in front of the other. You can use additional pallets as side supports, add pressure treated side walls, or stack the wood in a crisscross pattern to prevent it from falling over the sides. Keep your stacks under 6f tall to prevent spillovers.
That’s just a general breakdown of how I use pallets to store firewood. Keep reading to find out more!
How To Stack Wood On A Pallet: Storing Firewood On Pallets
Storing wood on a pallet is fairly straightforward. It gives you all the benefits of a traditional rack without the added cost. So, why do we store wood on pallets instead of storing it on the ground?
Once your firewood is split into smaller pieces there are 4 steps to completing the seasoning/drying process. You need to get your wood up off the ground, cover up the top of your pile, leave the sides open to promote airflow, and give the stack lots of sunlight.
Stacking your wood up on pallets gets it up off the ground and away from ground moisture and pooling water. It also increases airflow to the bottom 2-3 rows, but that secondary to the moisture reduction.
Moisture is a firewood piles worst enemy. The wood will be really hard to light, smoke excessively, and quickly rot away. Plus you’ll have to deal with bug infestations, rodents, spiders, and mold/fungal growth (maybe snakes). That’s not what you want to deal with when storing your firewood.
By simply elevating your wood you can almost completely eliminate rot, mold, and the unwanted pests living in your firewood. More importantly, the wood will be dry and properly seasoned when you’re ready to burn it. So how do you use pallets to stack your firewood?
Stacking Firewood On Pallets
- Make Sure The Grounds Level: Make sure the ground is level before setting up your pallets. You don’t want the firewood pile to lean and eventually fall over. Try to setup your racks in a place that’s both sunny and convenient to your main burning area. I like to keep wood within 20ft of my backdoor so I can quickly hop out and grab a load on cold mornings.
- Set Out Your Pallets: Figure out how much wood you need to get you through the winter and set a few pallets side by side in a convenient location. As a general rule, a pallet should be able to hold just under 1/2 cord of firewood. I usually use 3 cords of firewood in a winter so I would use 6-8 pallets set side by side with side supports every 2ft. You might be tempted to make 2 pallet deep rows, but that makes getting wood hard in the winter. Stepping over and through pallets to get your wood is a serious fall risk.
- Build Side Walls For The Pallets: Side walls keep your wood from falling over off the sides of your pallet. You can always use an alternating stack pattern on the ends if you don’t want to mess around with sidewalls. Stack 2-3 logs next to each other running straight with the board and then add a pile running the sideways to the pallets and repeat the process up the stack. I recommend attaching pallets as sidewalls or using pressure treated boards, but lots of people use 6ft green steel fence posts like they use for farm fencing.
- Make Sure Firewood Is Cut To Length: Your firewood should be split and cut down to 16 inch lengths so that it can fit in 2 rows on your pallets. You can technically fit 20 inch logs, but those would be too big for the typical fireplace and wood stove. Longer logs aren’t that big of a deal if you’re using the wood in an outdoor campfire. I toss a few of the longer logs on top of my racks to be burned outdoors. That way I don’t have to go back and deal with cutting them.
- Start Stacking The Wood: Stack your wood in two rows starting from the back and working your way over. Some people recommend stacking wood with the bark side up, but I don’t think it makes a difference. Keep stacking your logs until you’ve filled up both rows of the pallet rack.
- Stick To 4ft Height: Most people should stick to 4ft heights so they don’t have to worry about their firewood stack falling over. I usually go up to 6ft since I store a lot of wood, but you need stronger/additional end support braces throughout the rack and taller poles. Shorter people and families with kids might want to stick to 4ft piles.
- Cover Up The Wood: Cover up the top of your wood while leaving the sides exposed to promote airflow. Allowing your wood to breathe will significantly speed up the seasoning/drying process. I’m talking about cutting the drying time from 1-2 years down to less than 6 months. Toss a 6×8 tarp over the top of your wood and tie it down with rope. Uncover one stack at a time and use logs stacked on top to keep that tarp on.
Why Choose Pallets Over Traditional Racks?
There are 2 main reasons why people like to store their firewood on pallets. Pallets are cheap and really easy to use. Plus it’s an easy way to measure how much wood you have. You can instantly estimate that a filled up 4ft wide pallet stacked 4ft high has about a half cord of firewood. That’s really convenient when selling your firewood since customers know exactly what they’re getting.
So how do you find pallets? You can find cheap/free pallets everywhere and most people want to get rid of them. Some people sell their pallets to remanufacturing companies, but they mostly get burned or tossed in the garbage. If you drive around for a bit and ask around you can usually find them for free. Drive down the alley behind stores and you’ll probably find a few sitting next to a dumpster.
If that doesn’t work you can usually find pallets on craigslist or Facebook marketplace. They’re normally free to pickup, but you might have to pay $2-3. That’s a small price to pay for a pallet that will last 5-10 years. It’s a small price to pay not to build your own rack.
I actually like the commercial options that are out there. I have a few sets of the Mofeeze Firewood Rack Brackets that you use with pressure treated lumber. They take less than 5 minutes to screw together and you’re looking at less the $50 for a nice rack. Plus you can easily swap out the boards after they start to look bad in 5-10 years.
That’s not as cheap as pallets, but the racks look really nice and you can use real covers (My Favorite) instead of fooling around with tarps. It’s so nice being able to walk up to your pile and unzip the side for easy firewood access. You don’t have to fool around with a tarp and straps.
Storing Firewood On Plastic Pallets
Most people that picture pallet racks imagine wood, but you can also store firewood on plastic pallets. Plastic pallets look cleaner than wood, but they have a major downside. The plastic cups on the bottom of the pallets will trap leaves and rainwater.
You need to find a way to deal with that to avoid stagnant standing water. Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, bacteria, and other nasty creatures. So you don’t want to give water a chance to accumulate.
The easiest way to deal with this problem is to drill quarter inch wholes in the bottom and around the sides of the pallet cups. This will give the water a place to drain and significantly reduce the chance of catching water. You will still have to occasionally remove leaves when the racks running low, but drilling holes in the bottoms of your pallet should considerably cut down standing water.
How To Build A Firewood Rack With Pallets
Building a firewood rack out of pallets is fairly straightforward. You just need to find a few pallets and find boards or additional pallets to build sidewalls. Then you’ll need to secure the sidewalls using a drill and screws. Here’s how to build a firewood rack out of pallets.
- Find Your Pallets: There are a handful of ways to find free pallets. The easiest way is to look on craigslist or Facebook marketplace. Lots of companies are constantly trying to get rid of their used pallets. You can also search behind stores looking for pallets that are left next to dumpsters. Searching through the trash and taking out pallets is legal in most areas, but check your local laws. Just don’t climb a fence or enter into a secure area, because that’s usually considered trespassing.
- Find A Sunny Area To Stack The Wood: Sunshine will significantly speed up the seasoning process and help prevent mold growth. Look for a sunny area close to the area where you’ll be burning wood and at least 20ft away from your home. Woodpiles will draw in insects, mice, and snakes so don’t stack wood where that will be a problem.
- Lay Down Your Bottom Pallets: Lay down a couple of pallets wherever you chose to stack your firewood. Each pallet holds a half cord of firewood so laying down 2 pallets will be enough for a full cord or 8-12 weeks of wood. I recommend making multiple 2 pallet wide racks.
- Attach Bottom Pallets Together: Attach your bottom pallets together using either a pressure treated 2×4 or boards from a stripped down pallet. Use a drill and long screws to secure the pallets together.
- Build Your Side Walls: Your sidewalls can be built out of pallets, or you can use pressure treated 2x4s ran vertically. I like to use boards so I can increase the height of my rack to 6 ft, but pallets are a cheaper option 4ft. Increasing the heat of your rack to 6 ft will allow you to fit an extra half cord of wood on your rack.
- Secure The Sidewalls: Run pressure treated boards or pallet scraps diagonally on the corners of your pallet to support the side walls. Running 2 support beams on each side of the rack is enough to secure the side walls.
How Much Firewood On a Pallet?
The standard pallet is a 48″x40″ rectangle so it’s the perfect size for 2 rows of firewood. It’s also 6 inches tall so it’s tall enough to keep the wood up off the ground. That’s why pallets make such great firewood racks. I recommend setting 2-3 pallets next to each other, attaching them together, and building up 4-6ft end-walls to prevent tip overs.
So how much wood can you fit on a single standard pallet? The typical pallet stacked 4ft high will hold just under half of a cord of firewood. So it takes two pallets stacked next to each other to get a full cord of firewood.
A cord of firewood should last an average of 8-12 weeks. That’s assuming you’re heating an average sized 1000 square foot home and loading the fire twice per day. You will likely run through wood faster if you’re heating a larger house or dealing with extreme temperatures.
How High Should I Stack Wood On A Pallet?
The typical pallet stacked firewood pile will be a double row 4ft tall by 8ft long. That would be just under a full cord of firewood which is the perfect amount of wood for 90% of people. You might want to go taller if you burn a lot of wood and need bigger piles. Just be careful because tall piles can fall over if they’re not stacked right.
Personally, I don’t like to stack firewood taller than 6ft tall (8ft isn’t horrible). A 6ft wood pile is the perfect height for most people to grab firewood. It’s not so high that you risk fall overs and it gives you an extra half cord for every 2 pallets used.
Stick to 4ft piles if you have children gathering up firewood, because they can pull down a stack trying to reach higher on a pile. The slight amount of space saved stacking taller piles isn’t worth risking injury.
Does The Wood Need To Be Split First?
Yes, you definitely need to split your firewood before stacking it up on pallet racks. Large logs will take decades to dry out and properly season. They will usually rot before getting close to drying out.
Cut, split, and stack your firewood immediately after the tree comes down. That’s the point where wood will be easiest to cut since there’s still lots of moisture. A log splitter will make quick work out of a wet tree and it will be less likely to knot and twist up in your splitter.