So this has been a long post in the making. I am not quite sure why it has taken me so long to post this one, especially since it has been one of the more talked about projects I’ve done in a while. Unfortunately, I built this wall before starting my blog so I don’t have great step by step photos, so I’ll do my best to explain.
It all started a year ago, last February, when I said to Paul, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s hang a bunch of old pallets on the wall!” Trust me, he stared at me like a deer in headlights. But as usual, we discuss it and he let’s me do whatever I want. Boy, that’s trust I’ll tell ya! So it was a go, we’d create a feature pallet wall in Paul’s music studio.
I’ve seen quite a few blogs out there that used pallets for various re-purposing projects, including walls. I don’t know why it is exactly, but I love giving life to old worn out things that most people would consider trash, and making them things that people marvel over. I love all those “re” words like re-use, re-purpose, re-store, re-claim.
To get started, the first thing obviously you need to do is begin a journey to find these old beauties. The older and more weathered the better.
Important tip #1: Not all pallets are created equal.
It is very important to get wood that is safe and not loaded with pesticides and other gobbely-goop. Depending on what the pallets were used for, like plants etc., they may be chemically treated. To be safe, only use pallets that have an HT stamped on them. This means they were heat treated and no pesticides or chemicals were used.
Once you start looking for pallets, you’ll amazingly see them everywhere. We found a few abandoned here and there, but it was taking us a while to compile the amount we needed. Then one day we happened to drive by a pallet company, so Paul stopped in and asked them if they ever get rid of old pallets. It was like the mother-load in there. The answer was YES they do, and the even better part was they were already broken apart which is the hardest part of the job. The icing on the cake was they sold us the boards at 50 cents a piece. Cha-ching!!!
We finally figured we had enough pallets to finish the wall. Some of them were already separated into individual boards and the others were still intact. Initially, I would have loved to not pay for any pallet boards, but let me just say, breaking them apart is a pain in the A to the double S! You really have to have a reciprocating saw, or you will practically kill yourself and the boards trying to pry them apart.
Use the saw to cut through the nails where the two boards are connected. That way you end up with those beautiful nail heads still in the wood. Once they are all detached, separate out the useable wood from the old trashy wood. Use a wire brush to scrape any loose debris, then use a light sandpaper to take down any obvious splinters and rough spots. Do not sand too much though, as you will remove a lot of the wonderful patina that has aged on there.
After the wood is prepped, sort it by size. I swear one pallet can have up to 5 or 6 different widths. This step is important because as you plan your layout for placement on the wall, you will use the same width per row and you need to make sure you have enough to go across the entire wall.
Important tip #2: Bring the boards in the house and let them dry out for at least one week.
I know you’ll be anxious to get this party started, but trust me on this one. After those boards get acclimated to the house temperature and dry out, it is possible they can warp a little. Not good if they are already on the wall. Lay them out flat so they have a good chance of staying straight then let them be. You’ll thank me for this later. In the meantime, you’ll need to paint your wall. Pallet boards do not line up perfectly so you will see through them here and there to the wall behind. Paint your wall a dark color that compliments the board colors. We chose a dark khaki color. Trust me again, don’t skip this part.
When the big day arrives and your ready to go, start shopping through your boards. Paul and I picked out our favorites and made sure they were placed on the wall where we could see them well. We started in one upper corner and used a level to make sure the board was straight. All the other boards will follow that first one. We applied a small strip of liquid nails on the back, which actually helped keep the boards on the wall, then used dark colored drywall screws to secure in place.
Now just keep going across the row making sure you use all the same width boards. Obviously when you get to the end, you’ll cut your last piece to fit.
Keep repeating this over and over and over and…. you get the idea. Don’t be afraid of funky pieces with cracks and knot holes, it adds character. Remember to get creative. Stagger the seams and vary the colors.
Important Step #3: Wear Gloves. I think the splinter possibilities speak for themselves.
When you get to an outlet or light switch, don’t panic. What you’ll need to do is use an electrical extension ring like the these ones here. This will make the outlet stick out so you can make the outlet plate flush with the boards. As you can see the hubster is a great handy man!
As we got closer to the bottom of our wall, we decided that we didn’t think the white baseboard would look good at the bottom, and decided it had to go bye-bye. We ripped it out and placed our boards all the way to to the floor. When you get to the last row, you will have to not only make cuts in the length of the board but also the width so they will fit in exactly to the floor.
Well, there you have it my friends. I never thought hanging trash on my wall could look so beautiful. We cleaned up and put the drums back in the room and it looks mauh-ve-lous! We get so many compliments on it because of it’s uniqueness. Either that or people are just being nice. Ha! I’d like to believe it’s because they have never seen anything like it before.
What “re” project have you done lately?