The look of rustic wood has never been hotter, and with a DIY pallet wall project, you can bring this great look to any part of your home – for free!

How about a gorgeous rustic wood look for your bar or game room? Or, perhaps a beautiful vintage wood accent wall for your dining room, bedroom or kitchen?

It’s all possible using free pallets and a little elbow grease.

DIY pallet wall
With a DIY pallet wall, you can bring the vintage wood look to your home for free.

The look of old wood brings a warming touch to any home. But it can also be quite expensive. Reclaimed barn wood, and even new wood made to look “old” can carry a heavy price tag.

However, by carefully selecting pallets that are both safe and free for the taking, you can create a vintage wood look anywhere in your home – on the slimmest of budgets.

Here is look at 5 easy steps to create your own incredible DIY pallet wall without breaking the bank.

How To Create A Gorgeous DIY Pallet Wall – For Free!

#1 Finding Free Pallets – Where to look for free pallets

It all begins with finding a free source of pallets. And it is actually easier than you think by following a few simple guidelines.

First and foremost, always ask before taking any pallets from anywhere. Some pallets need to be returned by stores for a deposit fee.

DIY pallet wall
Small local companies are the best resource for free pallet wood.

Stay clear of big commercial and manufacturing businesses. Most have existing contracts with pallet pick up and delivery services to recycle their pallets.

Concentrate instead on local stores that get a small but steady supply of pallets. Most of these stores receive equipment and parts on untreated, single-use pallets and small shipping crates, which are great for re-purposing. They are usually more than happy to give away their pallets.

Small garden, hardware, motorcycle, lawnmower and specialty shops are a goldmine. So are small construction sites.  See : 6 Great Places To Find Free Pallets.

But remember to always ask first!

#2 Select Safe Pallets

Yes, some pallets are definitely safer to work with than others!

Never use stained or painted pallets. The fumes and dust from these pallets can be extremely dangerous to work with.

Sawing and cutting wood with paints and sealants releases their chemical compounds into the air, all of which can be harmful to people and pets.

DIY pallet wall
Look for the HT letters on pallets. These are the safest to use.

Pallet manufacturers are now required to mark their pallets with a two letter code. This identifies how they were made and treated.

Be sure to select only pallets with the HT symbol brand. The HT stands for Heat Treating. Heat Treating is a safe method that involves taking wood to a high temperature prior to use. This destroys bacteria and insects in the wood, making them ready for commercial use.

Avoid pallets stamped with the letters MB. MB stands for Methyl Bromide fumigation. This is sprayed on pallets by some manufacturers to help avoid rot and insects without heat treating.

When placing wood inside your home, it is best to never use wood that has been chemically treated.

#3 Cleaning The Pallet Wood

No matter how clean pallets might look, they should always be cleaned and sanitized before bringing indoors.

The easiest way to perform the cleaning task is while the wood is still attached in pallet form. And the best tool to use is a simple power washer.

You will be amazed at how easily dirt, grease and grime can be dislodged from old pallet wood simply by using high-pressure spray of water.

DIY pallet wall
A pressure washer can make quick work of cleaning pallet wood.

A 30 or 45 degree fan nozzle head works best for removing the grime quickly. Avoid using direct and harsh nozzles that can chip and damage wood.

Spray in even strokes with the wood grain to keep from causing grooves or splinters from the high pressure water.

Before spraying the wood off, brush down with a simple solution of 1 cup bleach in a few gallons of water. This will help to clean as well as disinfect the wood as well.

As always, use proper protection gear such as gloves, goggles and dusk masks when working with pallets for personal protection.

#4 Taking Apart The Pallets

Before you can build that wall, you need to take those pallets apart!

Although the internet is filled with horror stories of the difficulty and challenges of disassembling pallets, you can actually take apart pallets quickly by using a common reciprocating saw.  Product Link : Black and Decker 20 Volt Cordless Reciprocating Saw

DIY pallet wall
A reciprocating saw makes quick work of taking apart a pallet

Using a 12″ construction blade, you can easily cut through the nails by running the blade underneath the boards. It makes quick work of the process, and leaves you with great looking boards for your wall project!

For more on this simple process, see :  How To Take A Pallet Apart In 2 Minutes.

#5 Building Your Wall

Now – on to building that DIY pallet wall!

To quickly assemble a wall, a nail gun is must. If you don’t own your own, they can easily be rented from your local tool rental store. Use a finish nailer, with nails that are at least twice the thickness of your pallet wood.  Product Link : Complete Nail Gun Kit

If you will be installing your wood wall over drywall, take time to mark the studs before assembly. Use a simple stud finder and trace a pencil line down the middle of each stud. This will ensure your nails find a secure mark to hold the wood securely.

DIY pallet wall
Mixing wood species and shades of colors makes for a great vintage look.

Another great tip is to paint the wall black before installation. This keeps any light from showing through if there are small gaps or crack between the wood. It goes a long way to a great finished look!

If you are installing your wall on open studs, simply sheet the wall with plywood first. This gives a level, flat surface to adhere the pallet boards to. Again, paint the plywood black to keep it from showing through.

Installation

When it comes to design  – the sky is the limit. Once you have your wall prepared you can install the wood pieces vertically, horizontally, or even on a diagonal.

For a great rustic look, mix different wood species, sizes and thicknesses as you install. Stagger joints to create a random pattern that is easy on the eyes.

Installing boards of equal length on the same seams can result in “too perfect” of a look. Remember that the key to create a charming, rustic feel is all in the random placement. The more random – the better!

Before starting, bring the pallet wood pieces into the project room for a few days. prior to installation Wood shrinks and expands due to the air temperature and humidity. This will give the wood time to acclimate to temperature of the room.

Using the finish nails, attach the wood to as many studs as possible per piece. But the ends of each piece as tightly together as you proceed. Before you know it – you will have an incredible looking rustic DIY pallet wall to enjoy for years to come!

Happy Building! Jim and Mary. Sign up to follow our blog via email in the right hand column to get all of our DIY, Gardening, and Recipe articles. You can also “like” and follow us on Facebook to stay in on the action there too!

3 thoughts on “How To Create An Amazing, Gorgeous DIY Pallet Wall – For Free!

  • December 14, 2018 at 9:36 am
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    Thank you for reiterating the importance of asking before taking. Having worked for CHEP, I can say that negligent pallet furniture DIY-ers can become a real nuisance. Not to mention, many pallets are chemically treated and not safe to keep at home around pets or children…and think about what’s been transported on those pallets — sometimes raw meat! Definitely steer clear of the blue CHEP pallets (which are never free or for the taking), and the red PECO pallets. Both are part of large pallet pooling supply chains, and both are chemically treated .

  • December 13, 2018 at 8:43 am
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    After you cut the pallet apart, how do you remove the original nails? If you don’t remove them, are they flush enough with the surface or is there any damage of getting scratched or caught on one?
    Thanks.

    • December 13, 2018 at 11:01 am
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      Great question Jane – When cut from behind like that, the nails are flush with the wood, so they attach with no problem. You could then dig out the metal in the front, but honestly, it gives it a really cool look to leave it in flush.

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