How To Build A Transportable Pontoon Raft Out Of Old Pallets And 55 Gallon Plastic Drums


Pallets are always advertised, on the web and especially in the DIY community, as an almost miracle solution to any type of project that will improve your interior design and garden or yard decor. Now, we’re about to show you how you can use wood pallets to build your very own pontoon raft! Besides it’s cheaper than a boat, you can get your friends into the whole building process, so all of you could have fun both before and after finishing it.


In the photo tutorial you will see clearly the raft is being put together, step by step. You start by making the outline with pieces of 2 by 4 wood planks. Then, it’s time for fitting all the pallets together and reinforcing the part for standing afterwards. We should mention that in order to complete this DIY project, you will need a bunch of plastic barrels which provide the buoyancy every pontoon needs. The pontoon is not that hard to make and as easy to disassemble and transport. Follow the tutorial provided and you can get a similar fun result! You can even add a simple tent to provide a well-deserved shade on those sunny days.







  • Do not use pallets for this deck. Pallets are made of very low quality wood. They will rot out so quick, and make for a dangerous situation when falling through rotten wood.

    • Actually pallets are made from many different woods, pine, oak, fir, maple, or whatever is available. It all depends on what area of the country or world they where they were made. I use pallets often for many repurposing projects. I mostly find fir and maple. It’s just they are never treated. The pallet wood can easily be sealed too.

  • Brandon on said:

    My friends and I have been talking about building something like this for a long time now. About how much weight would this hold?

    • Steve on said:

      Brandon, with 2 drums per pallet my dock will keep both myself(6′ 6″ tall and about 260 lbs) and my wife(5′ 11″ tall and about 150 lbs) high and dry while standing on the end of our dock which is 2 pallets wide. Hope this helps a little.

  • Steve on said:

    Five yrs ago we built a boat dock 2 pallets wide x 5 pallets long. We used treated 2x4s for the long stringers and sprayed sealer on all of the wood before and after assembly, then again (top and bottom) each Spring about 2 weeks before putting it back on the lake. The dock is mixed woods and is on the water from April 1st till November 1st. This year is the first time that we have needed to replace any of the decking( yes, I do inspect it every year) Our dock was intended as a 1 yr, temporary unit but has worked out so well that we’ve decided to keep it due to the low $$ maintenance cost. One gal. of sealer per year is very affordable, and replacement(pallet) wood is free. The one thing we did do the 2nd year was epoxy the bungs into their holes in order to permanently seal the drums against leakage. Also, the 8 ft x 8 ft gear shed with attached fish cleaning station is pallet wood with a 4 ft chunk of salvaged counter top for the work area. The total cost of the dock(including drums) and shed together was $196 or about the cost of 2 dock floats from Mennard’s

  • Kevin Bako on said:

    I built one of these for a school project. Each 55 gallon drum represents about 400lbs of buoyancy. My raft is made of pressure treated 2×6’s and is quite a bit heavier I had six under my raft with four people and a weeks worth of camping gear. It rode pretty low in the water, but I wouldn’t want to sit any higher

    • where did you find this information ? I know several docks in TVA waters with barrels and I’m going to build floating house using them !

    • TVA-Act-26a-Standards-and-Regulations
      1304.400 sections A and B Point out the reasons why ‘METAL’ barrels/drums are prohibited… I don’t believe plastic drums are a problem at all for TVA

  • Back in the 70s we’d get used truck tire inner tubes for floatation, free from a local trucking company’s maintenance shop, and patch them. Won’t last as long as plastic drums, but cheaper, and less tippy as they’ll ride a little lower in the water. More recently I’ve seen folks use plastic milk jugs (the ones with screw-on tops), held in cages made from chicken wire. Neither of these floats will stand up to rocks as well as the drums, but for a tight budget, short-term, nearly fully-recycled materials raft….

  • Nosby on said:

    These rafts suffer from inestability, because a high center of gravity. I suggest to place 4 drums, one on each corner, but in VERTICAL position, and fill them with water to a third or a half (experiment a little):
    Also, for security purposes, it is better to fill drums with scrap of expanded polyestirene. If a leak occurs, it will remain afloat.

    • Justin on said:

      Nosby , so which is it, fill it with some water or the scraps? or are ya saying do both? because that sounds like a bitch to drain if ya do both

  • Tracey Bradshaw on said:

    Plastic water bottles? just hang a net around it likea skirt and you can put thousands under it and a heavy weight from the dead center for a keel and thou can add more drums to increase buoyancy and still have a stable platform or doc or party barge and a 12-volt 100 pound thrust motor like a trolling motor but it’s meant to be on the back a ganoo uses them with solar panels and a battery tender let’s assume you never have to worry about and you can have stereos electricity 110 if you need double deep cycle batteries you’re good to go all the amenities of home on the lake if you wanted to ride higher but not really high so it is unbalanced you add another layer of drums underneath to the pontoons and filled halfway with water

  • Tracey Bradshaw on said:

    Every State’s laws are going to differ at least im pretty sure inflorida if it has a gas powered motor on it yes also we have laws about running gas Motors on a closed Lake you can’t even get them near it severe damage to the ecosystem so you can run the Electric Motors but they won’t even let you put a gas motor in the water like just use your trolling motor on the front of your bass boat or something but a platform designed to be like a dock would not have to it’s considered a raft then changes again if you put a fridge or something like that on it you can even open the tops of the ones that are immediately under the boards and use those four storage but a valve that you can open from the top to allow water in and then 12 volt pumps in them to pump it out would make buoyancy ballasts like a sub has I don’t know if they use them on big boats I would imagine so .I’m no engineer nothing I’m just I’m just the broke hillbilly from Florida

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