How to Create a Wood Pallet Accent Wall

Wood accent walls have been popular for a long time because of the warmth and texture they add to a room, infusing it with a rustic cabin vibe. Because pallets can be found or obtained for little-to-no cost, they can be an inexpensive option to completely transform the look and feel of a room, in just an afternoon.

Wood pallet accent wall behind TV
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors
Pallet stamps
credit: USDA APHIS
4 stacked pallets
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 1 Take Apart the Pallets

Using a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting saw blade, cut through the nails that hold the pallet in place (four locations along one board). You will need to slide the blade between the pallet frame and the pallet plank where the nails attach, then turn on the saw to cut through. The saw should cut through the nails in about 30 seconds, so if it takes longer, then you are probably cutting at an angle and cutting wood. Readjust and make sure the blade is straight.

Cutting through nails on pallet planks
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 2 Sand and Stain the Pallet Wood

Pallet wood is notoriously rough, so some sanding will likely be needed. Use 150-grit sandpaper with an orbital sander to sand the surface and edges so that splinters are gone and the surface is mostly smooth. Some texture showing grain and saw blades showcase the character of the wood, so lots of sanding isn't needed.

Since sanding the pallet planks can reveal "newer" or light-colored wood, you can lightly apply a weathered gray stain to the boards using a scrap rag and wearing gloves. This gray stain will bring back the appearance of aged wood. Once the stain is dried, lightly and quickly sand the planks again to distress the wood and make it less noticeable where the stain was applied.

Sanding and staining pallet wood
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Pallet planks that are ready to attach to the wall should be dry and free of splinters and dust.

Stained and sanded wood
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 3 Remove Everything From the Wall

Prep the wall where the pallet planks will be attached by removing everything on it. Pull away any furniture that is against the wall, so there is clearance for attaching the planks. If you plan to mount a TV on the wall, attach the mounting unit to the wall at the desired location.

Blank wall prepped for pallet wood
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 4 Find Studs and Attach Boards to the Wall

Using a stud-finder, mark where the studs are located on the wall. Use a circular saw or miter saw to cut the 1 x 3 boards to the height of the wall (subtracting the height of the baseboard trim and crown molding). Attach the 1 x 3 boards, centered over the stud marks, using a cordless drill and 2 1/2-inch interior wood screws. About five screws per board is sufficient.

Finding studs and attaching 1x3s
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 5 Create a Pathway for Wires (Optional for TV mount)

If mounting a TV on the wall, to hide the cords (for internet, power, speakers, etc.), you will need to create a pathway for the wires to follow behind the pallet planks. Cut small angled pieces of 1x3 board to create this pathway, making sure to not create 90-degree angle turns. A 30 to 45-degree angle turn will be easier for wires to follow, without getting caught. Attach these boards with 1 3/4-inch nails and a electric brad nailer into the drywall, nailing at a downward angle.

Boards attached to wall with wood paths for wires
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 6 Attach the Pallet Boards

Once all the 1x3s are attached to the studs on the wall, begin to attach the pallet planks to the 1x3 boards by using 1 3/4-inch nails and the electric brad nailer. Make sure to stagger the planks as you attach each row. Try not to have two seams sit directly above each other in adjacent rows.

Attaching pallet planks to 1x3s
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors
Half-way completed pallet accent wall
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 7 Run Wires Under Planks (Optional for TV mount)

If a TV will be mounted on the wall, after the first few pallet planks are attached, run the wires through the pathways you created in step 5. Tape them temporarily in place, removing the tape just before you attach a plank over it.

Wires running through pathways below TV mount
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 8 Measure and Cut Around the Outlets

If a cut-out is needed in a pallet plank to make room for an outlet, measure the distance the outlet starts from the closest wall, the width of the outlet (allowing some clearance), and the height the cut-out needs to be. Be sure to account for the outlet and the coverplate, as the coverplate needs to be mounted flush on the drywall, not on the pallet wood. Mark these measurements on the pallet plank and cut out with a jigsaw before attaching to the wall.

Completed pallet accent wall with TV mounted
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Step 9 Hang TV (Optional)

If mounting a TV on the wall, connect your wires first, then hang the TV on the mounting unit. A simple shelf can be installed under the TV to hold a speaker and decorative items by screwing wooden brackets into the planks and setting a wooden board on top. Because the wooden planks are attached to studs, the brackets don't need to be attached to the same 1 x 3 studs under the planks.

Pallet accent wall
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors

Re-hang any artwork, push furniture back into place, and enjoy decorating around your new accent wall.

Before and after of pallet accent wall
credit: Shades of Blue Interiors