Are you the do it yourself type?
Then installing a DIY pallet wall in your home is the perfect project for you… only if you're up for a true challenge.
I will be the first to admit that I am the ultimate “Idea guy”, the person who gets an idea and runs with it, but has some trouble finishing my little side projects!
However, the fact that my wife let me do the pallet accent wall (After taking a year to finish a kitchen remodel) was a bit surprising.
She only had one stipulation:
The pallet wall could not cost over $50.
So with $50 and about 15 pallets, I started my first accent wall – a custom pallet wall to surround our living room TV!
- See how to create a DIY pallet wall in your home (Step by step)
- Learn from the mistakes I made when making my first pallet wall!
How to Create a Pallet Wall (On a Budget).
When I first bought our home in 2010 the former owner presented me with a unique proposition. Knowing he 65″ TV and couches were four years old and would be hard to move, he asked if I just wanted to keep them.
(What 23-year-old wouldn't want sick couches and a 65″ flat-screen TV?)
So the former owner and I worked out a deal and I had a furnished living room before ever moving in. Fast forward a few years and the TV in the photo above (From 2006) was quickly becoming outdated. And truthfully, it was just too big.
Since we had a flat-screen mounted in the basement that hadn't been used in over two years, I decided it was time to ditch the brick and mount the flat screen in our living room:
As you can see above, the TV just didn't look good sitting on the wall by itself. So I decided to hop on Pinterest to see what I could figure out.
I simply typed “DIY entertainment center ideas” and I was instantly bombarded with tons of ideas. Most looked expensive, but one stuck out – a pallet wall.
Knowing there were about 16 pallets sitting by a dumpster at work, I decided a DIY pallet wall would be the accent we needed for our living room, so I got to work!
Here is the exact step by step process we used to create our pallet wall in our house!
Step 1: Collect Pallets (About 10-15)
You will need lots of pallets. Some will be warped, some will have cracks, and some will break trying to take them apart.
Depending on your wall size, it's better to have left over than to come up short.
- Measure the area of your wall
- Calculate how many boards you will need
- Most pallet boards are roughly 3 .5 inches in height and 40-48″ in length
- Be resourceful when finding your pallet boards
- You can buy “Stressed Boards” at hardware stores. You might even be able to have Lowes or Home Depot cut the wood for you too!
You will start seeing pallets everywhere, but the quicker you collect your pallets the quicker you can break them down and get started. Call landscaping companies, look around construction sites (dumpsters only) and ask friends in delivery or construction if the can get you some pallets!
Additionally, I had to purchase $12 in furring strips and $16 in stain from the store.
Step 2: Break down pallets.
This will take a long time. Not trying to scare you, but when you build a DIY pallet wall you need to plan on spending 1-3 hours breaking down pallets.
Here is what I learned works the best when breaking apart pallets:
- Use a pry bar and loosen ends of boards
- Use a reciprocating saw and cut nails
- This will equal less damaged to boards
This results in more broken boards and more time (IMO)
- Use a hammer and pry bar
- Remove and dismantle pallets
- Get all the nails out of your pallet boards
This works well and I did this in addition to 1 and 2:
- Take a skill saw and cut the inside of each board releasing it from the outside
- Then use a hammer to knock each board off the middle support
- See photo below:
Step 3: Stain pallet boards (Optional)
Depending on the look you're going for, you don't have to stain the boards. I also wouldn't recommend sanding them, that will take too much time and is not necessary.
If you decide to stain boards or at least a few, be sure to have enough pallet wood and stain them all at once! Do not make the mistake and underestimating the number of pallet boards you will need.
I used a Minwax Gray Stain, however here is where I messed up:
- I stained the wood on different days
- The second set of pallet wood was wet the day before, and it absorbed the stain more, creating a very dark gray look (You can see in final product photos below)
- I had to get creative when adjusting the pallet boards and mounting them, however, the different colors turned out really well!
Bonus -Step 4: Paint wall & Stain furring strips
I skipped this step and it came back to bite me.
I would recommend painting the wall because no matter how good you are, there will be tiny cracks and gaps when you install the pallet boards. Using a solid dark color is what I would recommend.
Also, be sure to stain the furring strips. This was something I didn't complete and I regret not doing so.
The furring strips were very obvious when the pallet boards were installed where there were gaps.
I highly recommend coloring the furring strips at the bare minimum if you don't want to paint the wall!
Step 5: Install furring strips
You don't have to use furring strips, you can simply find the studs and mount the boards right onto the wall. However, I wanted to hide the cables/cables and really make the accent wall stand out.
So I personally recommend using furring strips, the process of installing furring strips is pretty simple:
- Figure out the size of the pallet wall you want
- Line studs with 1×3″ furring strips (Don't do thin strips, I replaced the thin ones that are int he photo below)
- Add extra furring strips if needed in between studs (Pallet boards will lock in design)
Step 6: Mount planks to walls
I will admit, this took the most time when building my pallet wall.
Getting the pallet boards to line up, compensate for warps and cracks, and making proper cuts took some time. I also made the mistake of cutting most of my boards too short when dismantling the pallets!
When it came to mounting I tried a few different things, but here is what I recommend:
- Start at the bottom with really straight boards and make sure they're mounted level. Everything will flow off this!
- From the bottom, work your way up the wall staggering the pallet boards each layer.
- As you approach the middle you can stop and work from the top down OR keep going
- I wanted to make sure the bottom half and top half were level, and I figured I could adjust around the TV area, so I did the middle last!
Just remember – it won't be perfect, but the TV will complete the wall, trust me!
Use Screws to Secure.
For securing the boards, I went with screws after having to reconfigure the planks so many times. A nail gun would work great, but remember I had a budget and I didn't have a nail gun.
Also, if I ever need to access the wires and cables it's simple with a drill!
Step 7: Mount your TV
I wanted the TV to stick out some, so I mounted a 1-inch board to the wall, then placed the TV mount on that board. This added some depth to the TV!
To help with aesthetics, I ran the cords behind the boards and down to the bottom of the floor. I actually have a very small piece of pallet that I can take off the wall with a drill to access the cords/cables.
Another option is to place them in a pipe to keep them corralled together and easily accessible! If I could do it again, I would most likely move an outlet to the actual wall or possibly behind the TV itself!
Step 8: Enjoy your new DIY Pallet Wall!
Once you mount the TV the project is complete. You might have to mess around with hiding the cables and whatnot, but the TV in the middle really completes the pallet wall.
I really liked how the wall turned out and it was a cheap way to make our living room look great without going house broke trying to remodel it! Over the month's the wall has really “settled” in and the colors blend very well.
When guests come over they always ask about the wall and notice how unique it is! Our next goal – ship lap a bathroom wall and replace the mirrors and lighting!
My take on an accent pallet wall:
Truth be told – I am torn if I would ever build a pallet wall again. If I decided to build a pallet wall again, I would know how to go about it and I would be sure to cut every board straighter as I went.
(I would also have enough pallets from the get go!)
A skill saw also wasn't the best tool (but I didn't have a table saw to cut boards straighter). But here are a few of my overall take aways when it comes to building a pallet wall:
- I greatly underestimated the amount of time it would take
- Find enough pallets
- Break down the pallets (Total time was about 3 hours)
- Customize and install each pallet board (this took the longest)
Total Time & Effort: Roughly 16-20 hours
If I were to do it again I would use a bigger budget and I would just buy shiplap from the store. As I alluded to earlier, the pallet boards were challenging to align because some were warped and uneven.
Because I had a project goal of staying under $50, spending $130 on material just wasn't going to work, so I went with the free pallet wood option.
However, lining up the pallet boards was sort of like a jigsaw puzzle and was actually fun. Since we were on a budget, I can't complain. If you are afraid to start inside of your home, consider starting by building a corrugated metal-raised garden outside.
For $30 we have an awesome wall that looks modern compared to the old setup!
Question: Would you ever build a DIY Pallet Wall?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and many more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their newborn son, their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! In case you were wondering, Josh uses Personal Capital to track his net worth and his first investment account ever was an Acorns account 😎