In this post I am going to talk about my baby.. my pièces de résistance… my pallet wall.
I have always wanted to do this and we finally made it a reality.
Here is the before and after to really get your creative juices flowing.
LIES, that can’t be the same room..
BUT. IT. IS. And here’s how we did it.
When we moved into our house, this is what the wall looked like.
All of the built-ins were here and they also left a lot of books and things. The previous owners were using this book case as a radio/entertainment area where they kept CDs and sound systems. When I walked in, I knew this would be PERFECT for a pallet wall and TV area.
I would also like to note that we painted the shelving. I will be talking about that process in a different post, so stay tuned, but this is only about the beautiful wood wall!
First things first, we mounted our TV on our plain sheet rock wall. We made sure it was centered and the correct height for our viewing pleasure. Andrew mounted the TV and we could finally watch something while we labored away.
Now the real question… How did you spend under $30?
We got our pallets for FREE. I wasn’t sure how many we needed but we were at an ACE Hardware store picking up various things for the house and I had the great idea of leaving Andrew with the paint brushes and finding the store manager. I finally found him and asked him in my very best sweet, helpless woman voice, “Hi, do you have any pallets that you’re looking to get rid of?”. He replied, “YEA, I think we have like 6 or 7 in the back. That’s when Andrew found me and I felt like a child who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. (Just as a side note, I have A LOT of ideas. A ton. So please give Andrew credit for putting up with me).
So, Andrew and the store manager loaded up 7 pallets into our Ford Escape. I felt like I got ALL of the cookies in the cookie jar at this point. That elated feeling was short-lived once I realized how hard it was to separate the pallet wood.. but I’ll get to that, for now I’ll just revel in my most successful thrift experience I have ever had, and this is coming from the girl who won’t spend more than $10 on a shirt. I felt as though I have reached a new level of “cheap”. I also think Andrew was questioning his decision to want to marry me as I grin ear to ear in the front seat while the pallets bang around in the back of his freshly cleaned SUV. Gotta love that man…
But I digress,
Later that week when we both had some time we started the painstaking task of ripping the pallets apart and trying to saving as much wood as possible. As I said, we only had 7 pallets and not all of them were completely usable due to wear and tear. We took a very neanderthal approach and physically ripped apart the pallets with a crowbar and hammer. It took a while and some pieces splintered and broke but overall, we were able to separate a bunch of usable pieces. When the pieces splintered or were uneven we trimmed the piece down into a more usable size. We laid them all out on our driveway and Andrew power washed them for me.
Andrew being the math guy that he is, calculated how many we would need. We were slightly short but I pressed on and figured that I would come up with something as we moved forward. Of course it was going to rain that night so we stacked all of the boards inside the garage against the wall so that they could dry. I work nights so I planned on working on this project tomorrow during the day while Andrew was at work!
Thankfully, when we mounted our TV on the wall, we found old schematics from when the house was built and found out that the wall with the bookshelves was riddled with large pieces of plywood that they book case was built upon, so we didn’t need to find studs, which was truly amazing..
If we did not have this luxury, we would have had to find the studs and place all of the screws into the studs so that they would be nice and secure. I have seen some other blogs where people have placed small pieces of wood onto the wall first into the studs so that they have somewhere to screw it into in order to keep from damaging the wall. I was already chalking the wall damage up to a loss at this point. If the wall came out bad I would have to fix it a crap ton anyways so we just went forward (panicking) while putting holes in the wall every few feet wondering if I should buy stock in Spackle.
I took the raw wood and started to lay it out on the floor in front of the wall to start getting the some placement ideas together. Occasionally, I got lucky and would create the perfect number of boards together and I wouldn’t need to cut anything. That was rare and most of the time I needed to run down into the basement and cut the wood to size using a table saw. Make sure that in this step you are starting each row with a different length piece of wood so that all of your breaks in the wood will be at different points (if they all lined up the entire wall would look odd and very purposefully placed). It worked out in my favor that we had so many different sizes from our barbaric separation of the pallets. I started at the top and thought that the ceiling line was more important to me and that the bookshelf would hopefully hide any imperfections on the bottom.
Let me just tell you…THIS TOOK ALL DAY.
Also, I ended up being a little short on wood so I went into the basement and found a weird half built table from the previous owners that had similar sized planks as the pallets. I broke those apart like a savage beast and then cut them down to size and used them like a true cheapskate would. I could have easily gone to the hardware store and picked up some lumber but NO. USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE. Plus, I didn’t want to put on real pants…SOOOOO
Back to the wall.
We bought a box of 2 inch wood screws and they were perfect (only $9.00 for a pack of 100). I used a power drill and my brute strength to put up the boards and by the end of this process I could have entered a power lifting competition with how swollen my tris and bis became. I used around 2 screws per board. Some of the boards had holes in them from where the nails were in the pallet and my lazy self made sure to use those as often as I could to make the process easier.
We left the TV up during this process.
1. It was too freaking heavy to lift off the bracket.
2. There was enough space to slide the boards behind the TV.
I tried to place the boards so that there was at least 2 inches hidden behind the TV so that from any angle you couldn’t see the bare wall anymore. I must have looked like an idiot peeking my head around the room from all different angles BUT it ended up looking completely polished.
I’ve been climbing up and down the ladder all day, hair a mess, wearing yoga pants and looking a sweaty hot mess but finally the wall was completed. Now, I decided at 10pm that I was going to start staining the wood. In my head I told myself that I would finish this project today even though all of us know that was an unrealistic expectation. So, against my better judgement, I start staining. We bought a can of Minwax 1qt Wood Finish Penetrating Stain (only $8.49) at our local hardware store. I used a crappy paintbrush that we just had lying around to apply the stain to the edges where the wood met our bare wall and then I used a rag for all of the pieces in the middle. We used painters tape ($3.00) around the edges next to the ceiling, wall and white bookcase. And ta-da!
All done. Yeah right.. I finished 5 boards before I realized how bad I needed to sleep. I picked the project back up the next morning and 3 hours later it came out beautifully.
It took a bit longer than expected because most of the pallet wood was very “raw” and the planks were’t sanded. I chose not to sand them because I really wanted a rustic look and I wasn’t took concerned about people getting splinters because it was so high up and we do not have children. If Andrew gets a splinter from rubbing his face on them then I think we have different problems..
Overall, things I would do differently:
- Paint behind the wall a darker color before putting up the boards. There were some points where the wood didn’t meet perfectly and you could see our light gray walls behind it. I went through after with some crappy cheap ($0.99) brown acrylic paint from the craft store and a tiny paintbrush and I painted in between the cracks and it looked perfect.
- Bum another pallet off of a hardware store so I didn’t have to scrounge for more wood in the basement.
- Possibly use two different colors of stain to give more dimension to the wood. Some pieces were so raw that they just picked up every ounce of stain and turned nearly black. I love how deep and rich it came out but it could have been elevated a little bit more with some lighter pieces of wood.
So now go get out there and make yourself a pallet wall!
It definitely changed the entire aesthetic of our living room. It feels so much more warm and homey, I would do it again 10 times over.
Until next time,