Pallets have been all the rage for the past several years, and while it is currently really trendy, I think it is a safe bet for a permanent installation for years to come. After all, wood is a pretty timeless material. Even if the rustic feel of mismatched shades of wood goes out of style, you can still paint over it with any color and maintain a cool textured wall.
I’ve had the daunting task of creating walls like these on a few different occasions and here is what I’ve learned.
Tip 1: Use the right tools.
As with any project, it is important to use the right tools. Pallets are a huge pain to disassemble, mainly because they are made to hold a ton of weight and not fall apart. Getting them apart is really easy with a fresh blade on a reciprocating saw. Get the blade under each board to cut the nail. This way you get the full length of the board and keep the nail head intact. If you don’t already own one, I would strongly recommend a compact version like this. Having all the weight centralized really saves your arms! We’ll look at more tools in the next couple of tips.
Tip 2: Where to find pallets.
The biggest challenge you’ll face in this process is finding pallets. You are going to need a bunch! I was prepping to do a wall with a pastor friend of mine, we were unloading a few pallets we had found behind a store when we had a chance encounter with the church’s cleaning supply rep. He was like “you guys need pallets? I’ve got all the pallets you could want at our shop.” He wasn’t joking, we got 50+ pallets from them for free and had lots of wood left over. So think outside the box, chemical supply companies, farms, T-shirt shops, pretty much any place that gets large shipments of supplies.
Tip 3: Clean the wood.
It’s a good idea to give the wood a light power wash before putting it up on the wall. You never know what has been spilled on them over the span of their life. Don’t use a lot of pressure or you’ll ruin the rustic look, just enough to get the grime off.
Tip 4: Paint the wall black!
Even though you will be covering the wall completely with wood it is important to prep it first. Painting it black makes the finished product look really professional. There will be cracks in and between the boards, and the black wall behind will just tie it all together.
Tip 5: Rip the boards down.
If you want the wall to look really slick, take the skinniest board you want to use and put it between the blade and fence of a table saw. Then run every other piece through the saw cutting them to the the same width. This makes it easier when putting the boards up because they are all the same width, at that point all you have to puzzle together are the different lengths. I’ve done it with and without this step, and trust me, it looks way better this way!
Tip 6: Use a pin-nailer & liquid nail.
Draw a zig-zag line of glue on the back of the board, then put it in place on the wall and shoot a nail into each side. The nails will hold it in place until the glue dries, and the glue will keep it up permanently.
I’ve been really happy with this Porter Cable combo, I don’t do any framing or decking so the compressor handles jobs like this just fine!
Tip 7: Top to bottom.
It is best to start from the top of the wall and work your way down. The point where the ceiling and the wall meet is often times more visible than where the floor meets. You don’t want to have weirdly thin boards at the top for everyone to see.
Tip 8: Use a brick layout.
Mount your first row across the wall. For the second row start a board away from the edge straddling two pieces from the previous row and work your way across. It is quicker to go back and forth like this all the way down, then go back and cut pieces with a miter saw to fill in the edges.
Bonus Tip: Uplighting!
Pallet walls look amazing with up/down lighting, especially changing colors. Get some led color bars to put on the floor and shine up onto the wall. If you are doing the front of a stage you can use led tape under the lip of the stage to shine down onto the wood.
Have fun making a mess!
Remember, pallet walls are a lot of work, but people are always impressed by them!
Have you made a pallet wall before? Have any tips to contribute? Put them in the comments!