Sometimes you can take found or inexpensive materials and repurpose them into something that’s truly amazing. And many times, this can be done relatively easily. Case in point: Using wooden pallets to create a focal wall of wood. It’s a great way to recycle those wooden pallets while also giving a room in your home a chic, rustic look. Once you see how easy it is to do, you might even want to do this in more than one room.
For this project, you’ll need access to pallets. Free would be best and you will surely find a local retailer that would be happy to let you take some pallets off their hands. Measure the area that you need covered in feet and make sure you get enough pallets to cover that area; each pallet will give you about ten planks that are three feet long and three inches wide, and it’s a good idea to get a couple extra pallets just in case. You’ll also need a sawzall saw, a sander (preferably electric), one or more stains depending on the look you’re going for, nails and a nail gun, a stud finder, a pencil, brushes or rags for applying stain, some protective gear, a level, and some outlet extensions. Step One: Breaking Down and Cleaning the Pallets After you’ve obtained your pallets, the first things you need to do is break them down and clean them. Some people want to use a crowbar to break down pallets, but that can damage the boards. A sawzall saw works best since it can cut through both wood and nails, turning that pallet into single boards. Since pallets are used to transport all sorts of things, they can get very dirty. You don’t want to get them too wet when cleaning them, but a ring-out soapy rag should suffice. Step Two: Prep the Boards Before they’re ready to go onto the wall, the boards need to be sanded and stained (if you’re going to stain them). Don’t sand too much if you want them to keep the color applied during the manufacturing process to give your wall a more rustic look. The main purpose of sanding is to remove the rough parts and snags, so most of the sanding will be on the ends and edges. As for staining, it really depends on your desired look. If your goal is to match the pallets to other wood in your home, you’ll want to be more selective about the stain you use. Otherwise, you can select whichever stain or stains that give you the look you want to achieve. If you’re unsure about which stain to use, you can consult a staff member at your local hardware store and they can point you in the right direction. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the stain with your rags or brushes and allow them to dry. Step Three: Find the Studs You’re going to be nailing quite a few boards into your wall, so it’s important that you know where the studs are so that the boards are appropriately secured. Use your stud finder and a pencil to draw lines over the studs. This will show you where to place your nails as you install your wood wall. Step Four: Plan the Pattern Even though you could simply start attaching boards to the wall, you’ll probably want to lay the boards out and plan a design. Similar to the way bricks are laid in an offset pattern when masons use them to build homes, you should stagger the boards so that every row isn’t vertically even. It looks more authentic when each row’s boards are different lengths, beginning and ending in different places. This gives you a little more work and gives the project a puzzle-like phase, but the end definitely justifies the means. Once your floor pattern looks how you want it, you’re almost ready to start nailing. Extra Credit: You might consider “framing” your wall by using boards to create a border on all sides. Use the pallet boards and cut the corner pieces diagonally as would be done for a picture frame. Then you can just begin your pattern one board’s length inward on all sides. This is a great way to give the rustic wall a more contemporary, polished look. Step Five: Extend the Outlets If you’re electrically-inclined, this is something you could do yourself. Otherwise, you’ll want to hire an electrician so that the outlets in your new wood focal wall will be even with the wall and not sunken into the wall where they are now. If the wall you’ve chosen has no outlets, you can just skip this step. Step Six: Installation Using your level and pencil, start at the top of the wall and trace the lines on the wall where each row of boards will go. Work from top to bottom, left to right. It’ll also be easier if you have a helper with you so that one person can hold the board in place while the other nails it to the wall. Try to keep boards that need additional trimmings toward the bottom of the wall so that longer, more solid boards are closer to the top of the wall. Continue each row until the entire wall is covered. By Jane Blanchard. Head to Modernize.com for more design advice and inspiration.