October 8, 2012

$20 DIY Pallet Wall

We finished the pallet wall, whoop whop! Can I get a “heck yes”?

Last time we checked in we’d left you with this. And last time we did a walkthrough in the living room it was looking pretty sad, like this:

Solution. Pallet wall!

Before we get into the details I’ll show off the good stuff, the after pics! I can hardly contain my excitement for this project. It’s possibly my favorite to date. Which says a lot over our recent kitchen makeover and Zoey’s original nursery, both tied for first in my imaginary ranking system.

Here she is!

 So, if you’re a pretty close follower, then you’re probably wondering where everything else in the room came from. I wasn’t kidding when I said I had at least a handful of projects going on. Stay tuned, as we’ll be covering those throughout the rest of this week!

Now, back to the pallet wall. Oh. My. Gosh. I am drooling over it. I could NEVER have imagined it would turn out so well. Props to my hubs. He’s the man.

As for how we did it. First up, finding pallets. Several retailers have hundreds of leftover pallets on a daily basis. Think home improvements stores, Lowes, Home Depot, even Ikea had them available. And for free! Do not, I repeat, do not pay for pallets. I would advise to be careful, as far as where you get them from though. You never know what they’ve carried in the past, and they could be crawling with nasty pesticides etc. A deep, deep clean is advised. We were lucky enough to get them from the hubs workplace. They get shipments in daily, and we were able to fish through them and find the best pieces.

Once you have the pallets on hand it’s time to start disassembling. I’ve had several requests for tips and tricks on the easiest, most efficient way to go about this. Spoiler alert. There is no easy route. This part is a pain, and at most times, a two person job. But don’t get discouraged, once you make it through, you’re in the clear. Everything else is smooth sailing.

We first tried using a pry bar to pull apart the boards. Seven seconds in we realized that was an epic fail and went straight for the sawzall. We wedged the blade in between the boards and cut through the nails individually. Throughout most of the cuts, I held the pallets in place while Rick worked his way through with the sawzall. It was not a short process, but not entirely difficult either. Just time consuming. And in case anyone is curious, we used around 70 pieces of pallet wood and eight actual pallets total.

Once the pallets were separated, we used an orbital sander with 80 grit sand paper. Rick was careful just to smooth the exposed edges and clean them up a bit, and not to sand away the distressed look that we loved so much. And although we were pretty confident in where the pallets had come from, we used a cleaning solution on them just in case.

On to staining. We shared a few of our inspiration pics last week, and after reading a few tutorials from others, we learned that most others chose to install the wood as is. Which is great. If you’re pallets are “pretty”. Ours however, came in array of wood types and a lot of them, although still distressed, were fairly new. Meaning that they were still a light wood that hadn’t yet been exposed to the weathering conditions. Point of the story, we chose to stain ours. We loved the look of varying woods, but we also wanted the uniform of one stain color that would bring all of the wood into the same color tone. This was the BEST decision made.

We used Minwax’s “Special Walnut”, applied lightly (very important, as pallet will soak up stain like nobody’s business) with a rag. Don’t worry if the stain isn’t going on evenly, this only adds to the distressed look once installed on the wall. These pieces actually wound up being a few of our favorites. Also, make sure that you stain the edges of the wood if they’re drastically different in color, as they may show a bit if the pieces sit unevenly… and they will.

We left the stained wood outside to dry and air out for a few days before moving on to installation. Surprisingly, the actual install took us the least amount of time. We knocked it out in two evenings with two kids in tow and an 8 o’clock bedtime. Not bad.

(sorry for the poor picture quality, we had to take this one at night)

Start by finding and marking all of your wall studs, for nailing the wood pieces in place. We’ve seen others used plywood behind the pallet wood, but we chose to go straight into the wall. Yes, this will be less than pleasing to remove and may result in completely replacing the drywall if the time ever comes that we grow tired of the wall. We’re willing to take the chance, and unfortunately becoming far to familiar with the ins and outs of hanging drywall. We’re much happier with a little extra work down the road, and for one main reason that we might as well get into.

Unlike most other DIY pallet walls, our wall is not surrounded by two adjacent walls. The left side is an open corner. We decided to “frame” the vertical sides of the wall to cover any exposed edges on the horizontal pieces. We weren’t originally thrilled with idea, but turns out, we LOVE it. Love. It gives the wall an extra finished look. But, with the open corner comes a side view, and extra plywood would only add to the thickness of the wall. Not so good on the eyes. Anyway, completely your decision.

Once the studs were marked, we began electric work. We used “add a depth liners” to extend the outlets from the wall and accommodate the plank wood. As you may know, Rick is an electrician. And that may or may not have a play in the advice I’m about to give. Regardless, unless you are highly experienced in electric and know exactly what you’re doing, I would not under any circumstances mess with it. After remodeling two homes of our own, and seeing several others (friends, family, and customers) it is amazing what people come up with. And incredibly scary. Please, please, please. Ask for help or hire someone. The consequences outweigh any money you may save by doing it yourself. Enough on that, lets build this wall!

Side note: All of those holes are a result of my husband being “too lazy” (his quote) to get into the attic to run the television wires to a new location. And “A hammer was easier, especially on a wall that is going to be filled with nail holes anyway.”  Love his honesty.

Here are a few tips that we compiled as we went:

- Start at the top of the wall, not the bottom. If you have to trim the last few pieces to fit, it’s better that they sit at floor level where they’ll be less noticeable and possibly covered up completely.

- Think of the wood placement and sizes as you would a hardwood floor install. Random is key. That goes for color too!

- Organize your wood pieces by width and don’t begin a row until you’re sure that you have enough of the same width pieces to complete it.

- Check for gaps and level placement as you go, but don’t obsess over it. The wood pieces aren’t brand new straight cuts and perfection is not the goal. Ours actually ended up at a half inch difference from one end to the other. Which bothers Rick more than he likes to admit ;)

Finished product!

We used pallet wood for the trim pieces as well, but like I said, if you don’t have an open corner there’s no reason for trim. The piece on the right is solely for aesthetics to compliment the right side. We also chose to keep the white baseboards and white cove ceiling exposed. Although, there really was no way of working around the cove if we’d wanted to.

It’s hard to capture in pictures, but we love the detail in the varying depth of the wood.

And as for a cost breakdown, we’re looking at just under $20! (an $11 pack of 2 inch nails and $8 worth of stain)

Now, brace yourself for a week of DIY projects that can’t possibly produce posts as lengthy as this one.

Your turn! Anyone else gearing up to tackle a plank wall of their own? Could this be the new wood paneling that is doomed to go out of style within the next 10 years? Lets hope not! 

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109 thoughts on “$20 DIY Pallet Wall

  1. Katie

    Looks great! I’d love a tour of the whole room (is that what you’re hinting coming up this week?!?!) including info on where you got accessories, pictures, artwork, etc. I think it all looks really fabulous. Well done :)

    Reply
  2. Samantha Horseman

    This is FABULOUS!!! I want to do one…when I have a house haha I don’t think this would be okay at my apartment! And I am drooling over that “tv stand” :) New follower! I would love for you to follow back

    Reply
  3. Becky

    O.M.G. Absolutely incredible result!!!!!!! Green with envy here. The before and after is so dramatic!!! What a comfortable, stylish, and warm space you’ve created.
    I’ve been wanting to do a project with pallets for a while and this just sent me over the edge.
    This is going to be the hottest thing on Pinterest!!!

    Reply
  4. Vicky Couch

    Awesomeness! Kudos to you and hubby. You two make a great team! It turned out way better than I could have ever imagined. Beautiful job.

    Reply
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  7. Nia

    What’s the area of your wall? I want to so something similar and wanted to calculate how many pallets I would need. Thanks and great job!

    Reply
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  9. anotherbigbite

    Holeee COW! I have been eyeing all the pallet walls on Pinterest for months now, but yours is seriously my favorite! (It’s that or you are a bang-up photographer; either way – awesome!!) I re-found you through YHL, and with a big move in our future, I’m going to have to tuck your pallet wall in my back pocket. :)

    Congrats on the house crash!

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Our walls were already painted in Ben Moore’s Gray Husky, and that seems to be dark enough to hide any gaps. There really aren’t many gaps anyway, and mostly small ones :) Hope this helps!

      Jessie

      Reply
  10. Shavonda@AHomeFullOfColor

    OK Seriously this is freakin amazeballs!!! At first i was considering tackling a pallet wall, but now you can consider it as good as done!!! Ive been wanting to do something dramatic with our fireplace wall for a while now and this is def it. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
  11. tiffany

    LoVE the wall!!! Can’t wait to do this in my house, but have been hesitating because I have heard they spray the pallets with chemical. what did you clean the pallets with??????

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Hi Tiffany!

      We used a hot water and bleach combo to clean the pallets. I’ve also heard of companies that sell pallets without the chemicals. Google around, I know I’ve seen some really good articles on this topic. Certain places are definitely better than others to pick-up from. Hope that helps!

      Jessie

      Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Thanks Irushka! We actually found it at a thrift store and then painted it gray with the herringbone pattern ourselves. Read more about that here if you’d like :)

      Jessie

      Reply
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  13. Casey P

    Getting ready to start my pallet wall today. Well disassembly of pallets starts today anyway. My girlfriend was gung ho to start, so rather than wait to collect free pallets we bought 25 mattress pallets (they are ginormous) for $25. I love your tip on staining them, as ours are new non weathered slats and will look soooooooo much better unevenly stained. Since its winter and rarely above freezing the process may take a lil longer than yours because we have to figure out how to dry the wood after cleaning, then stain indoors (limited space equals staining in limited quantities at a time).

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Not a bad price for 25 pallets! Definitely worth the money to get started earlier. Staining the pallets was our best decision, as ours were the non weathered ones as well. Good luck with pallet wall!

      Jessie

      Reply
  14. Jeff

    I’m having trouble understanding how your trim pieces on the side worked out. They look great from the front, but is there a gap on the side?

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      The trim pieces on the side sit directly on top the the horizontal boards. It surprisingly doesn’t look bad from the side view. There shouldn’t be a gap, just make sure you use boards that are straight for those areas. Hope that clears up any confusion!

      Jessie

      Reply
      1. David

        …but in the first picture there is a gap on the left from the end of the boards to the corner. Can you explain or show how the trim cover pieces look from the side? Did you use more vertical strips to fill the gap between the trim and the wall? Thanks

        Reply
        1. Jessie R. Post author

          Sorry to be unclear about that! We actually doubled up the vertical trim pieces, one on top of another. The first layer is slightly smaller, meaning that although it sits flush with the corner edge of the wall, it doesn’t necessarily meet flush with each horizontal piece. Then we used a wider vertical trim piece on top of that, which also meets the corner edge of the wall AND barely sits on top of each horizontal piece. So, the trim pieces stick out from the wall a bit more than the others. A feature that we’ve grown to love!

          Hopefully that makes sense!

          xo,
          Jessie

          Reply
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  16. Darren

    Weird question, but did you ever get any crazy sulphur smells when you were cutting the pallets up? I’m cutting up some pallets now for a project and I’m getting crazy whiffs of sulfur

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Nope, no weird sulphur smells over here. Could be a result of what the pallets were used for previously. Not sure. Definitely something I would look into though, if you plan to bring the pallets into your home. Wish I had more advice!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
  17. Ch

    just convinced my husband to get started on our upstairs bathroom walls. Wainscoting is so passe!! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
  18. rachel j.

    just discovered your blog, and i am in LOVE with your gorgeous house! lucky you to have such a handy hubby, as well!

    Reply
  19. Tara

    Hello! This is beautiful. I may have missed this somewhere but did you just nail the wood directly into the wall with the 2 inch nails? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Thanks, Tara! Yep, directly into the walls. We’ve seen others use plywood behind the pallets, for a less destructive approach on the walls, but we took the easy route. It’ll be a little more work if we choose to take it down some day, but nothing a little drywall mud can’t fix! Hope that helps!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
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  21. Amy

    Absolutely amazing! Great job…Simply LOVE it and thanks for sharing!! Did you use any anti-termite treatment on the wood before starting?

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Thanks, Amy! Nope, no termite treatment. Just a quick cleaning! Hope that helps!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
  22. Just-ify

    Looks fantastic!

    I would love to try this project, my only question is – I have a brick and plaster wall, how would one hang the boards on such a wall with the least amount of hastle?

    Thanks! :)

    Reply
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  24. kaara

    Loving this! Was thinking of doing this just under the tv above the fireplace to cover up the tv cords that can’t go behind the wall because of the fireplace… This just motivates me more!
    xo- Kaara

    Reply
  25. Luke

    Did you use the same stain, and just let the wood do the magic? Also, what did you do about outlets? Thanks, looks great!

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      We used one stain and changed the amount/time that we left it on each board before wiping it down, giving more of a varied look. As for the outlets, Ricky just cut the boards to fit around them, no major moves there :) Hope that helps!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
        1. Jessie R. Post author

          Hi Mindy,

          Ricky used box extenders on the outlets to scale them out evenly with the new pallet wall. Something like these. Hope that helps!

          xo,
          Jessie

          Reply
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  27. Amanda

    I love this so much that I started this process today on our living room/ dining room wall! Thank you so much for your help!

    Reply
  28. roy

    Hiii this is beautiful!!Gives the motivation to do up my plain looking wall for my tv feature wall!Awesomeness!!

    Reply
  29. julie kulbago

    this is so beautiful! would you be able to share a picture of the “open” edge on the left (if you are looking at the wall) from the side perspective? I would love to do this and just trying to figure out how to get that end looking finished.

    Reply
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  31. Lesley

    I just got all of my pallets and I am going to start my wall soon! So excited. You said you didn’t nail them to plywood first to hang it. So you just nailed each piece into the dry wall? I just want to make sure however I do it that the wall is strong enough to hold it. Does that sound crazy?

    Reply
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  34. Richard Howell

    Since you were limited to studs for the mounting process, does your pallet wall have a noticeable vertical pattern of nails directly in front of each one?

    Reply
  35. jack

    I am doing one in a bedroom and it has a slanted ceiling. Should I still start at the top. I got my pallet slats already removed. They only cost .10 cents each. So $30.00 for 300 and saved a lot of work and time.

    Reply
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  37. Janet

    Looks awesome! I’m planning on doing this in our bedroom…..how did you calculate how many pallets you would need!

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Since we picked ours up from my husbands workplace (right down the road) we just grabbed a truckload and made a second trip for more after running out. So, not much calculating haha. We figured, since they were free, we’d just return the ones we didn’t use :) Sorry, wish I could be of more help!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
  38. Jessica Cox

    LOVE this! I was wondering what the dimensions of your wall are? I want to use this idea for a wall in our sitting room but I’m having some trouble guesstimating how many pallets I should use.:)

    Reply
  39. Kat

    We are starting on our wall tonight!! Does anyone know what nails we should use? I know you guys used 2 inch nails but any specific kind? Like drywall nails? Roofing nails? Framing nails? Pls help!

    Reply
  40. Bruce A. Ulrich

    Thanks for the write-up. This wall looks great! Good job on that one.
    I have found another way to get the pallets apart, without having to cut nails. Still using a sawzall, I cut down through the major, center board, in between the boards I want to keep. When I get a section off, I just take a hammer and hit the small piece left with the nails in it. It pulls right out, and you just have to back out the nails from the boards you want to keep. Fairly easy and doesn’t split the boards.

    Reply
  41. Don

    Doing a pallet too thanks for the advice. Question though once you cut the nails
    did you remove the nail head out of the board? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Some of the nail heads fell out naturally as they were cut down, and we removed any rusted ones, but the others we kept in. We thought it added to the rustic appeal!

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
  42. Katie Griffin

    Hello,

    I am wondering how safe you consider the wall with children in terms of them running into it and getting splinter?

    Your wall is beautiful! I was thinking of doing this in my basement as well, but just a little nervous about my toddler.

    Reply
    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Hi Katie,

      We haven’t had any issue with the wall and splinters. Our girls don’t really seem to go near it though, since it holds a lot of furniture. Ricky sanded down the boards pretty good, so you could give them a deep sand if you’re really concerned. It probably depends on the child, honestly. We don’t have any wall-scalers here (so far) ;)

      xo,
      Jessie

      Reply
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  45. diyhomefun

    Hello Jessie,
    I love this wall and I wanted to let you know that I’ll be featuring this project on my website along with a link to your site for the how-to instructions.

    My website is http://www.DIYFunIdeas.com. It’s a hub for all kinds of fun and creative DIY projects. Here is the link to the page: http://diyfunideas.com/diy-20-pallet-wall-gorgeous/.

    Please let me know if you have any concerns with with and again, thank you for the incredible project!

    ~Jenise

    Reply
  46. Michael Presley

    I’m doing this! I built a L computer desk, coffee tables, and wine racks using pallets. The worst part as you state is separating the pallets. Great work looks beautiful.

    Michael

    Reply
  47. Andrea

    Can you use screws to attach to the walls? Seems like removal would be easier if I choose to in the future??

    Reply
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  53. Christie

    Jessie, on the end wall piece, how does it look from the other side that ends in the hallway area ? Can you see the pallet pieces or is there another piece of trim on the other side as well ? Thanks !!

    Reply
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  56. Thomas

    The wall looks great! I picked up 30 pallets to do one wall in my mancave and am curious if your husband put up plywood first? Not sure how to know where the studs are when attaching the pallet wood.

    Reply
  57. Miranda

    Hello, I just got some re-claimed wood from a mill that is being demolished in my town. They are GORGEOUS. I have already built a deck with them cleaning them with bleach and water, and applied a water sealant. This was going to be my next project for my entire bathroom. BUT the mill was built in 1808. I have no idea what the wood has been exposed to or what. Im afraid something may be in it that could harm my family. What are your thoughts on this because I really want to get started on this project! THANKS!

    Reply

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