How to Create a Wood Pallet Accent Wall

Love the look of a shiplap wall? You can get that popular look using inexpensive pallet wood to cover a wall or a section of a wall in your favorite room. Once you choose safe pallet wood, the project is relatively simple to tackle and transforms the look of your room.

Upcycled pallet wall background
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How to Create a Wood Pallet Accent Wall

Pallet Wood Safety

Using shipping pallets as the wood for your accent wall saves you money, but you need to make sure the wood is safe first. Some pallets are treated with chemicals, and those chemicals off-gas into your home if you use them on your wall. Look for a stamp on the pallet to help determine if it's treated. It's also a good idea to only use pallets stamped with the IPPC certification symbol, which means the wood was inspected and approved by the organization.

Stamps showing "HT" for heat treated or "KD" for kiln dried underwent high temperatures during treatment and should be safe for use. "DB" stands for debarked and is another chemical-free treatment process, making the wood generally safe. Always avoid a pallet stamped with "MB," which stands for methyl bromide, a chemical substance used to control pests.

It's also a good idea to inspect the pallets to look for stains or other marks. Since pallets often get reused for many different purposes, you don't know for sure what those stains are and whether or not they're safe. If you're unsure about the safety of pallet wood, you can get a similar look using inexpensive one-by-four boards instead of pallet boards.

Breaking Down the Pallets

Pallets are meant to hold lots of weight, so breaking them down into usable pieces of wood can take some work. You can use a pry bar and a hammer to pull the boards apart, but this option is often time consuming and more physically demanding. Another option is to use a reciprocating saw with a long blade to cut through the nails that hold the boards onto the pallet.

You'll also want to remove the nails left in the boards before hanging them. Use another nail and a hammer to pound the remaining portion of the nail out of the board. Once enough of the nail head is exposed, you can pull it out with the hammer.

Finishing the Pallet Wall Wood

You always want to start with clean pallet wood since it's going on your wall in your home. Sand the wood to smooth out the rough spots. The wood is then ready for stain or any other treatments you want to add to create a custom look.

Keep in mind that wood from different pallets will likely look different. That variation is part of what makes a pallet wall so unique. You can stain the wood a particular color, whitewash it or paint it any color you choose.

Creating a Layout

Because there can be so much variation in the look of each pallet board, it's a good idea to create your layout before you start installing the boards. Doing a test run on the floor helps you balance out the different boards to create a look that you like. You also want to pay attention to the ends of the boards to create a staggered look.

You also want to figure out how much of the wall you plan to cover. You can cover an entire wall or just a section of the wall. For example, you might make a pallet wood accent TV wall covering a smaller section of the wall to define your entertainment area, or you might cover a nook in the room with the pallet wood.

Installing the Boards

Attaching the boards to the wall is a two-person job to ensure each piece stays level while you're nailing it in place. Starting at the ceiling and working down toward the floor with your installation makes it easier to hide any cut boards along the floor where it's less noticeable. You also need to be aware of outlets, light switches and other fixtures on your wall for which you need to account with your boards. You may need to cut a hole into the board to accommodate those things or end boards at those fixtures.

Attach the boards to the wall with a nail gun or a hammer and nails. Marking the studs on the wall before you start nailing the boards in place makes it easier to ensure you're attaching them securely. Continue working across and down the wall until you've attached all of the boards.

Shelley Frost

Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.