How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets

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If you are a farmer or homesteader you know that sometimes things just need to get done. Sometimes you run out of time for fancy buildings. Sometimes money is an issue. But whatever the reason, if you find yourself in need of a shelter now, here is a way to make a quick, shelter out of pallets.

This is a relatively inexpensive project. The bulk of the structure is made from free, recycled, wooden pallets.  You will also need t-posts, cattle panels, a tarp and hardware- such as nails, bolts, screws, etc.

pallet shelter assemby 

To make a 10′ x  10′ shelter you will need 9 pallets (the standard ones that are 48″ x 40″), 3 cattle panelsicon, 9 t-posts and a large tarp that is about 20 x 15 ft, depending on how far down the back of the shelter you want to go (We purchased this 16’x20′ heavy duty tarp). You can adjust the size by adding pallets and cattle panels. Just remember to overlap the panels a little for stability and keep in mind that cattle panels are 16ft long when you are setting up your shelter’s width.

You want to start by placing a t-post into the ground where you want one wall of your shelter to go. Pound it down until it’s about 4 ft tall and simply place a pallet over top. Place a second pallet next to the first and mark where the next t-post should be placed. Keep pounding in t-posts and placing pallets until you have reached your desired length. Once the pallets are in place come through with heavy duty screws or bolts to secure them to each other.

pallet shelter construction 2

Next, measure out your width. You want a width of 10-12 ft. Once you have that marked start the second wall parallel to the first in the same manner. Once the 2 walls are constructed it is time to add the cattle panels. This is a 2 person job, so make sure you have help! We use fencing staples to secure the panels to the pallets.  For security, make sure you place the cattle panels at least 6-10 inches down on the pallets. Once the first panel is in place secure the second, making sure to overlap at least a couple of inches. You can use wire or zip ties to tie the cattle panels together.  Once the cattle panels are in place your can either lay the tarp if you are doing a 2-sided run in shelter or add more pallets along the back side to make a 3-sided shelter.

pallet shelter 1

Depending on your climate, you may want to add siding to your shelter. If the slats of your pallets are far apart they will not protect your animals against wind, draft or slanting rain. You can purchase wood for siding, dismantle more pallets, or use any free, scrap wood you can find. We used old barn wood as siding on our shelter. You can also purchase a longer tarp and allow it to hang down further and act as a wind barrier.

Then you have the tricky job of stretching the tarp. You will probably need at least 2 people, and not very much wind to do this job. We use zip ties to secure the tarp to the cattle panel wire. And if you choose a tarp with grommets along the sides you can drill screws and washers on top and secure it directly to the wood pallets.

And that’s all there is too it! In our area the whole project cost right at around $100 for a 10 x 10 shelter. Cost will vary depending on where you live and how much of the materials you can get used. We have 2 of theses shelters on our property. The first one is over year and a half old and we are just now starting to see signs of wear on the tarp. It has serves as a kidding stall for our does and as a kid pen for the babies when we keep them away from their mothers overnight.

pallet shelter insidepallet shelter 2pallet shelter 2 inside

Pallets are a great, free resource. We have made all sorts of things on our homestead- hay feeders, compost bins and 3 shelters. Have you ever made anything out of recycled pallets?

© 2013 – 2016, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.

65 comments on “How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets

  1. I like what you did here. I have used the pallets in the past to make composting bins and stacking bales of straw or hay.

  2. This is great! We have build a compost bin, too. Well, partly from pallets. We also like to use wood and plywood from construction sides. It is worth to check there bins for useful free materials.

    • I never thought about checking construction sites, but I bet there’s a lot of scrap wood available!

      • tim says:

        Most construction companies because of insurance reasons wont let anyone ‘dumpster dive” or they have just one person they allow to take the scrap wood.I’ve asked before.Some are even keeping the dumpsters in fenced area now. best thing is to ask first if you can salvage scrap wood. Maybe even swap some work cleaning up the site in exchange for the scrap wood.

  3. This looks great! I plan on sharing this with a few people:)

  4. Ricki says:

    I love this! It looks great, and looks more durable than some of the pvc shelters I’ve seen. Thanks for sharing!

    • The first one we made it 1 1/2 years in and it’s holding strong. We get a LOT of wind too.

      • Jim says:

        That was one of my questions about the cattle panel roof; does it hold up to the wind? It seems like it would flop around quite a bit. I’ve got the 3 sides in place but not sure about the roof yet.

  5. Rachael says:

    Wow, I love this idea! I’ve read about so many uses for pallets, but not this one. I wonder if it would work to make a sturdier green house. Thanks for the tips! Found you from Dude, Sustainable, by the way, and I’m glad I did! :)

  6. Sandra says:

    I’m in New Zealand and I’ve never heard the term “cattle panels” – can you explain what these are please? Are there other names for them?

    • I am not sure what an alternative name would be. They are fencing panels- here they are 16 ft long and 50 inches and made out of 4 gauge wire. If you look in the pictures you can see the metal wire acting as the ceiling support under the tarp.

      • Sandra says:

        They sort of look like the reinforcing panels they use in concrete, but those wouldn’t be able to be bent that easily as they are heavier steel. I’ll do some research and see what I can find.

      • Boo says:

        they sell them at Tractor Supply for $20 each!!!

    • Tommy says:

      To give you an idea (with picture):
      Think heavy gauge wire!

    • It is metal fencing panels used for cattle.
      Different strength fence panels are used for different animals; poultry fencing is very thin; sheep fencing is stronger and cattle panels are strong and designed to be used to make a fence for larger animals horses or cows. Cattle panels are sold individually and can be replaced if damaged by an animal. Oh you need to use fence posts for structural integrity. Hope this helps :-)

  7. How creative!!!

  8. tessa says:

    Wonderful! We shared with our FB readers at

  9. […] 2 large pallets and a whole barrel with a window cut out for another. And to be honest, since our shelters are also made from pallets, sometimes I’ll just stuff hay in the pallets […]

  10. Heather B says:

    we made a complete barn out of ours just applyed plywood to the out side of the pallets as well as our pig pen has a pallet house and pallet fencing around it we make every thing out of pallets here

  11. Oh, I love this concept! We are going to get a few calves this fall for our farm and this would be perfect until they’re a bit older! Thanks for sharing with us over at the Homeacre Hop! Please join us again soon!
    Mary :)

  12. Robert says:

    Wow, what a great tutorial! You could use this for so many things, a greenhouse comes to mind!

  13. Good morning from 1840 Farm! Your post was my selection for a weekly favorite from last week’s From the Farm Blog Hop. Your post is one of the six featured posts in this week’s hop. Come take a look and grab a From the Farm Favorite badge to proudly display on your blog. While you’re there, you can add up to three links to this week’s hop. I can’t wait to see what you share!

    Jennifer @1840Farm

  14. Linda says:

    I raise mini horses and I took some larger panels, we got from a factory for free. Then we cut them down some in height as they were extra large and used them in our barn to make separate stalls for my horses. works wonderful and looked great……

    • Sue says:

      LInda… could you post a couple of pics of this… sounds great!

    • Linda what type of factory gave you larger panels for free? I would like to see if there any any available in my area ! Sure would be nice to put up a quick horse shelter for rainy snowy days when they are not in the barn.

  15. […] a previous post shared our quick pallet shelter, but I also wanted to show how you can make a more permanent barn out of pallets. We made this […]

  16. […] and tarp. It's not for everyone, but it looks like it might hold up pretty good to snow and wind. How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets – The Free Range Life 1990 Baretta Phaser 230 OB…ct-624875.html […]

  17. Christa says:

    I wonder if this would be an okay shelter for horses on pasture in the summer, if I secured the sides up better so no feet could get stuck anywhere. Does anyone know how tall is it?

    • I haven’t measured, but one is probably 7.5-8 ft and the other a bit taller…maybe 9 ft? Our alpacas fit fine in them. If you place the pallets closer together you can get a taller arc in the cattle panels.

    • Sheryl says:

      Looks a little low for horses. I would also be concerned that a horse could kick through a pallet and get cut badly. Looks fine for goats, cattle, etc., but horses have a whole different way of looking at the world

  18. Boo says:

    I’ve been looking for something large to house my peacocks….anyone have any thoughts??/ They sell these ‘cattle panels’ at Tractor Supply for $20 ea, btw.

    • I would think this would work for peacocks. Maybe extend it longer and only have partially covered for shelter and the rest just open with the cattle panels for a run?

      • Boo says:

        We’re currently in the process of building this for the peacocks. We backed up 2 sides against one of our wood-fenced garden sides, so we can also secure these sides to the existing side rails of the garden. Going to run a 2 x 4 x 12 across the front over the 3-pallet-wide end, but use the middle pallet for the gate. Then use box wire to secure each open top end. And tarp only about 1/3 of the arch so they can get sun. Very excited about this idea and when I showed the folks at Southern States just what the heck I was building, they were blown away! Such a great idea and saving me hundreds in purchasing a tall carport and retrofitting it for the peacocks.

        Also, because we left about 8″ of t-post exposed over the pallets, we are able to secure the cattle panels to this, and THEN put the staples in….added security.

  19. Brian says:

    I have used 48 x 96 pallets to make a fence for my horse pasture, If you can find a metal shop that works in metal stamping you can find the longer pallets there.

  20. Jessy says:

    Where did you get your white tarp from? It doesn’t really look like its plastic.

  21. chrissy says:

    I made this exactely how the instructions said. Ended up costing a couple hundred because I had to buy t posts, tarp,and the cattle pannels. First snow here in ky and it collapsed. Hoping we can fix it :*( I loved it but if it will colapse that easy I don’t know if its worth it.

    • The height of the arc makes a difference in the shelter’s ability to hold snow. The shelter we have that is wider looks much more likely to collapse under heavy snow, but the one that is about 10 ft wide is perfectly fine after 2 years. You can always support it in the center with some poles. We don’t get a lot of snow here, so I am not sure how this shelter would hold up in an area that gets more.

  22. […] 1. How to Make a Shelter From Pallets […]

  23. Love this!! There is no end to the awesomeness that is free pallets!

  24. Boo says:

    If you have a Southern States in your area, they get TONS of pallets and will either give them to you, or sell them CHEAP! That’s where we get ALL our pallets from.

  25. Goat Nanny says:

    We built an addition onto the goat shed – we now have a milking parlor and a stale for a min donkey and mule! It looks so cool – then for the roof we catted it out and I got “plywood” from shipping crates, covered it with rubber roofing material and viola! I think I spend more for the hardware for the gates than any of the rest of the materials. I troll craigslist for free or cheap materials etc.!

  26. […] For those short on time and money. Check this out. How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets | The Free Range Life […]

  27. […] How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets | The Free … – It is metal fencing panels used for cattle. Different strength fence panels are used for different animals; poultry fencing is very thin; sheep fencing is stronger …… […]

  28. […] How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets The Free Range Life source […]

  29. […] How to Make a Quick Shelter out of Pallets – The Free Range Life See info on making shelter […]

  30. Kathryn Wilson says:

    How do you think this would last through the winter and high winds? We are looking for something temporary to get us through to spring until we can build a nicer one.

    • Ours have lasted though a couple years of high winds, in winter if you get much snow you will have to support the center because it will collapse if the snow load is too much. We’ve had to go out with brooms to knock snow down during bigger snow storms- but we don’t get those very often.

  31. […] How to make a quick shelter out of pallets – the free […]

  32. Elaine says:

    There are called Hog Panels. Tractor Supply or Feed Stored usually sell them.

  33. Jeanine says:

    I don’t quite understand how you attach each pallet to the other at the sides. Could you elaborate a little on that, please?

  34. […] How to make a quick shelter out of pallets – the free […]

  35. Simone says:

    How does it hold up for Pigs? Especially at 200+ lbs. Perhaps two t-posts per pallet?

  36. Kathy says:

    This is a super idea!! Going to build one for our dairy goats in a couple of days. Thanks!

  37. dr.doverylittle says:

    I live where there are high winds that will shred a tarp, any tarp in minutes. This is primarily caused by the whipping effect of a loose edge or sail effect of wind getter under a less than solid surface. This can be nearly impossible to prevent by securing the edges with rope, twine, staples, etc alone. To prevent this and improve on stability of design, apply cattle panels or other solid wired panels over the top of the tarp. This would be the final building step in this plan, that will greatly reduce the whipping or sail effect. The smaller the squares (of the panel), the less tarp movement you’ll experience. Now you’re longevity battle will be against the sun’s uv rays. Good luck with that 😉

  38. Mary Mac says:

    I made one similiar to this last year for my mare. This year we added a plywood west end to it for winter. It has worked very well and is very sturdy. I might make adjustments this summer with the cattle panels to make it taller, right now it’s about 6 ft high, which is fine for my horse but if I ever get someone a little taller than 15.2 hands it would be tight.With the plywood, we cut it a little higher than the top edge of the cattle panel all the way around it to keep the tarp from rising up in the wind.Works great.

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