diy pallet wall

Back in March I shared a peek of my son's pallet wall, then in April I shared his whole room and you got to see how the pallet wall looked with all the other features in his bedroom. How about today we finally talk a little about making a pallet accent wall, okie dokie?

Procuring your pallet wood
Through my experience I have come to the conclusion that most people that obtain wood pallets, probably do so illegally. Gasp! It's not as easy as I would have thought to find pallet wood to reuse. The fact is, most businesses send their pallets back to whichever company sent them in the first place. That means that the pallets are the property of that company and if you take them you're stealing someone else's property. For example, I saw many Coca Cola and Pepsi pallets that were stamped with the company name and a price (usually $15.00). Don't take those. But don't despair, because there are still several places where you can (legitimately) get your hands on some pallets, you've just got to keep your eyes open and know what to look for.

  1. Go for a drive, drive in the alleyways behind businesses, and check out their dumpsters. I found that if pallets were damaged, or thrown carelessly by their dumpsters, then they were typically fair game.
  2. Steer away from painted pallets or pallets with brand names on them. In my experience, these are pallets that for sure are being sent back to their original company to be reloaded and reused.
  3. Search for wood pallets in Craigslist. Steer away from posts that are asking to be paid for the pallets. These people are geniuses since they see a demand for these wood pallets and they're taking the opportunity to get money for something they got for free, but trust me, keep looking and you'll find someone who is giving some away. In the 1 1/2 weeks I searched my local Craigslist for free wood pallets, I was able to find two listings. One from a business that simple gave you the address and said you could come any time and take what you wanted, another from an individual who had three pallets you could pick up form his house. Act fast though, you're not the only one who is looking for pallets.
  4. Look in unexpected places. Taking a short cut one day I drove through my local industrial park and saw a few buildings with pallets by their dumpsters. Score! I never would have thought to look there had I not been driving by.
  5. You'll likely have more success with small business. The larger chain stores, such as Lowe's, Kmart, or Les Schwab Tires (all actual businesses I asked) are more likely to be returning their pallets. Smaller businesses often are just throwing them away.
  6. When in doubt, ask. You can either call a business from the beginning and see if they have wood pallets you can get, or drive around and when you see pallets stacked up, go in and ask if you can have some.

Prepping your pallet wood
Breaking pallets apart is by far the most annoying part of a pallet wood project. I know several people online talk about using a reciprocating tool for cutting through the nails. I don't have one of these and I didn't really want all those nails in my boards anyway. So for the most part I was simply using my hammer and prying them apart; pounding on the back of boards sometimes had good results as well. Sometimes the pallet wood was so dry and brittle that it would just start cracking, in those cases I used my jigsaw to cut along the edges. This made some boards really short, but I was able to use them on ends and was much faster than trying to save old, dry wood from splitting.
If you don't know for sure that your pallet wood in untreated, you'll want to make sure you seal it. Most of my wood I painted or stained a variety of finishes, but the ones I left natural I treated with some non-toxic Zinnser shellac. I only used leftover paint and stain (including chalkboard paint, so fun!) so this part of the project was cheap, I only had to buy the shellac.

Prepping your wall
It might help you to lay out all your pallet wood ahead of time on the ground; for one thing, if you're doing a variety of finishes like I did then you can make sure that you have things spaced out well. Secondly, the widths of pallets are going to vary and it really helps to match up widths ahead of time. 
I took a page from the Bowers and put plywood up first, well, the hubby did most of that part. :) We simply screwed the plywood into the studs on the wall. Genius idea and they have a great tutorial so you should check it out. Once that was done I could just nail the boards up wherever I wanted and I didn't have to worry about finding a stud.

The finishing touches
My decision to not take the pallet wood all the way to the ceiling started out because I didn't want to have to find any more pallets or break them apart. I. Was. Done. But as I was putting my wall up and once the room came together, I am so glad I did the wall like that. I love the way it looks and I love the little ledge that we can put things on. It's just 2x3 with a lip cut into the bottom so it fit snugly over the pallets boards, and then a grove cut into the top with a table saw to create a place to hold pictures. My daddy did it for me when he was here working on a million other projects. I love that guy.

I hope this was helpful or informative to you in some way. :) What kind of things have you made with pallet wood? What do you want to make?

Linked to: Craft-O-Maniac, Skip to My Lou, 52 Mantels, Somewhat Simple, Lamberts Lately, Mr. & Mrs. Winslett, Organized 31Keeping It Simple, Mabey She Made It, Feature Friday

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