Last Updated on November 19, 2018 by Bryan Fiveash
There’s literally hundreds of ways that pallets can be used as home and wall decor. From bookshelves to art, pallets are a DIY-er’s dream for projects in and around the house, at little cost.
Dismantling a pallet can be hard work, but the results are always rewarding! Read on to see how I transformed a few pallets into a eye-catching decoration in my living room.
o Two full-size 42″ x 48″ pallets
o KILZ primer
o Finish nails
o Small block of wood
o Miter saw
o Reciprocating saw
o Nail gun w/ air compressor
o Paint brush
o Small bucket
o Pry bar
o Tape measure
o Stud finder
o Torpedo level
Obviously, the main material to procure are pallets. Checking around town at various stores and places that manufacture items might yield great results. Someone with extra pallets might be thrilled that you’re willing to take away an item that would otherwise take up valuable storage space.
Be mindful of what kind of pallets you choose, though. Pallets are used to transform all kinds of materials; you wouldn’t want one that might have traces of toxins on it. This article at www.fix.com has some great information about choosing a pallet and things to be on the lookout for.
I used two 42″ x 48″ pallets for the wall art shown in the opening image. I didn’t use the larger 2×4 pieces that make up the frame, just the thin exterior planks. Your pallets don’t have to be the exact size; just use whatever works for you. Now comes the most laborious part of this project: dismantling the pallets. I used a couple of techniques… one of them mainly for visual purposes.
You can dismantle the old-fashioned way by using a pry bar and hammer. That’s what I did for the most part. It can be rather tough as good pallets are built to last, so you’ll likely come across spiral nails. It’s also tricky, because you can easily damage the wood if you’re not careful.
I like using split wood because of its rustic look, but I’d rather not break the wood to pieces. Slowly prying with care on both sides of the planks worked for me. After I pried the planks off, I pulled some of the nails out while being careful not to leave hammer marks in the wood. Placing a block of wood between the hammer and the plank while pulling nails out will prevent dents in the plank.
You can avoid pulling nails out altogether by using a reciprocating saw. Cutting the nails off flush with the back of the plank will leave the nail heads in the front of the board, which really adds to the finished rustic look. You can use that saw at the start of the prying process if you like, and just cut the boards loose… if you can fit the saw where you need it.
Its time to paint once the planks are dismantled and the nails are pulled out or cut. I used KILZ primer and a separate small bucket filled with water.
First, dip the brush about 1/4″ into the paint and stroke along the center of the board. Then dip it into 1/4″ of water, start your stroke at the center of the board, and lightly brush toward the outside. You’ll lightly spread the KILZ layer across the entire board. The objective is to give the board a worn, weathered look, not a pristine one. Once dry, KILZ is a dull, light grey color, which I like as a weathered look. Of course, you can choose whatever color you like.
While brushing, allow the patina of the board to show through in places. You’ll notice in the picture above that my brush isn’t covered in a glob of paint. I just want enough to spread thinly across the board. Painting like this will take time, but consider each individual board as a piece of art. Enjoy the process, and make each board look different!
Once dry, the final part of the project is nailing the boards to the wall. I use a simple brad nail gun; quick, easy and it leaves minimal nail marks.
Use a stud finder to find where you need to nail up the boards. The board pattern is up to you. I chose to stagger the planks in each row for a very rustic look. I used a level for the first row, then butted up the following rows underneath. Occasionally I checked to see how level the subsequent rows were and made minor adjustments along the way.
Again, I didn’t aim for a perfect symmetrical look. My goal was a rustic look with cracked boards, rusty nail heads and multicolored boards. I’m very pleased with my results and I think you’ll be too!
The pallet planks provide a great backdrop for framed photos or even as stunning wall decor in themselves.
I’ve got more DIY for you!