The Inexpensive Home Improvement Series: Building A Pallet Deck

This stylish deck was created using pallets. You can the complete instructions at Hoosier Homemade.

The patio or deck of a home is often the last feature that they upgrade or improve because they are focused initially on their home’s interior. But with warm weather on the horizon, many of us will be turning to out outdoor areas for relaxing and entertaining. If you have a simple concrete pad that has seen better days, it’s possible to build a wood deck over and around it by using simple, wooden pallets.

Although most used wood pallets don’t look good when you get them, they are usually made of strong hardwoods and with proper treatment can be turned into beautiful wood decking at minimal cost. Most American pallets are 40” x 48” inches, but there is some variation, so keep this in mind when measuring the area, you want to cover with your pallet decking.

Comparison Shop

Many lumber yards and home improvement stores will sell you their used pallets for next to nothing. Occasionally they will even give them to you if they need to get them off their property. Visit a few different places first to see what each has to offer. Some pallets will have the slats closer together, making them suitable for a deck that will have small spaces between each strip of wood. For pallets with larger spaces between the slats, you may also want to invest in some kind of plywood cut to fit beneath the slats to provide stability and prevent things from falling through the deck.

Preparing the Pallets

First, power wash the pallets to remove any grime and let them dry thoroughly (preferably at least 24 hours). Next, it’s always a good idea to give the wood slats a light sanding, which remove any stubborn debris, splinters, or paint. After you’ve done this, you may like the color of the wood. In this case, you can simply paint a clear polyurethane or sealant over it when it’s installed. If there is a lot of variation in the colors of the wood, you can either embrace the variations or use a few different types of stain to try and get each of wood to have a uniform color.

It's critical to level the ground before putting the deck in place.
It’s critical to level the ground before putting the deck in place. You can find more tips at

Preparing the Area

No deck will look good or function properly if it isn’t installed properly, and that means the area needs to be level. Clear out any grass, weeds or debris and rake the area to make sure it’s level. To prevent weeds from growing back up, lay down some weed control fabric. You’ll then use concrete blocks to support the corners of your pallets. Get one cement block for each corner of each pallet. Determine where you’ll be placing each one, then dig a hole that is deeper than the block itself. You’ll add gravel and sand to the hole and tamp it down, the put the block on top and level it. This will be the base for your pallet decking.

Finishing the Project

Install the pallets on the concrete block risers, then let everything sit for at least twenty-four hours so that it settles. If needed, re-level any areas that have settled unevenly. After that, you can paint or stain the wood with a premium product that will not only protect your deck from the elements, it will give your deck a beautiful, custom look.

Pallet Decking Styles

For a rustic, informal look, install your pallets as is, butting one up against the other and allowing the worn look and natural grain of the wood take center stage. If you’d like something more formal or unique for your decking, you’ll need to invest a bit more time and elbow grease. First, carefully remove all the screws holding the pallets together, then sort them by size and shape and cut them to fit the design you want.

Two popular styles of decking that you can build from individual strips of pallet wood are the chevron and the checkerboard styles. With the chevron, you’re using the wood slats to create a zigzag pattern from one edge to the other of the pallet base. A checkerboard square is also very popular and a bit easier to do. Simply place the slats in straight lines across the bases at whatever width you’ve chosen, then alternately placing one pallet with the slats running one way and the next one with the slats at a 90-degree angle to create the checkboard effect. You can also check sites such as Pinterest, where if you use the term “Pallet Deck,” you’ll quickly find links to hundreds of pallet decking variations.

You can find more information on creating a pallet deck and other inexpensive DIY projects at Northern Homestead and Hoosier Homemade. For more information on local lawn care, landscaping and other ways to transform your yard, visit Mr. B’s Lawn Service.  If you’re looking for a home with plenty of yard space in the Ellwood City, PA area, visit Look At My Homes, where you’ll find plenty of homes for rent and purchase.




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