Learn how to make your own Pallet Patio
By Cassie Fairy
and photography by Andy Greenacre
Traditional decking can cost a small fortune to install in your garden. If you want to save some money and still be able to build a deck for alfresco dining, why not use pallet wood instead? Even though it may not last as long as decking planks, pallet wood is intended to be used outdoors and, if you install a quality pressure-treated timber base, it won’t rot away from below. If any planks crack over time you can simply replace them with more pallet wood for an easy, low-cost fix.
Here a step-by-step guide to turn old pallet wood into an outdoor deck of any size:
You will need:
- Multiple pallets of the same size
- Wrecking bar or pallet pry bar
- Pressure treated timber
- Postcrete fast-setting concrete
- Hammer and screwdriver
- Saw and circular saw
- Electric sander and sandpaper
- Self-drilling wood screws and nails
- Wood stain or garden paint
- Roller, tray and brushes
Decide on the length and width of your deck. We went for an angled deck to the make the most of the space available in the garden. Clear the space and construct the outer frame of the deck using pressure-treated timber. Then dig holes around the inner-edge of the frame and use postcrete fast-setting concrete to install some pressure-treated timber uprights, making sure that the top of the upright is flush with the frame. Once the concrete has set, you can screw the outer frame to the uprights.
Lay down a weed suppressing membrane on the ground before adding the pressure-treated beams across the frame. We added beams at intervals of every 30cm to ensure that the pallet planks wouldn’t flex when the deck was walked on. Screw the beams into the frame and then use offcuts of pressure-treated timber between the beams to add extra strength to the base.
Take the pallets apart using a wrecking bar or pallet pry bar. Try to keep the planks of pallet wood intact, but if you have any cracked planks, keep hold of them as they may be useful for finishing off lengths of the deck. Knock any screws through with a hammer and pull them out. Keep planks from each pallet together so that it’ll be easier to match them up when you’re laying the deck. It doesn’t matter if you have planks that are slightly wider or longer, it is only the thickness of the wood that will make a difference as it will cause a slight ‘step’ if they’re not all the same, so try to only use planks with the same thickness.
Using planks from the same pallet, add a run across the decking base. You will need to cut down the pallet planks so that the lengths finish in the centre of a beam. You could cut off the ends with the nail holes for a neater finish. Nail down one run of planks (allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the deck) and then move onto a different type of pallet wood for the next run. You might want to start the run with a shorter plank than before, so that the joins on the beams are staggered rather than all the cuts being in one long line down the length of the deck. Be sure to nail the wood onto every beam across the base, to attach the planks securely.
When you’ve finished laying all the pallet planks across the deck, you can cut off the excess at the edge using a circular saw. Temporarily screw a long piece of wood alongside the edge of the deck, allowing space for the width of the circular saw, so that the saw blade is flush with the pressure-treated framing. Run the circular saw along the piece of wood to neatly cut away the excess pallet wood at the edge for a tidy finish. If you don’t have a circular saw, you can simply cut the pallet planks to the right length when you’re installing them but, because we wanted an angled deck, it was easier for us to trim away the edge after laying the planks.
Use an electric sander to get rid of any rough edges and splinters from the pallet wood so that the deck is smooth and safe to use. Then you can treat the pallet wood to protect it from the elements. If you like the rustic finish of the pallet wood, you can use a clear outdoor wood preservative treatment to give the deck extra water-resistance and help it to last longer. Alternatively, you could stain it with a decking treatment to give the wood a uniform finish. We decided to paint the deck with outdoor paint in a grey shade. One layer of the paint is more of a stain/wash so we gave it two coats for depth of colour, and you can still see the original wood grain through the paint.
If you can get hold of used pallets from a builders’ yard, one of our stores
or factory, pallet wood is a great, low-cost way to create a rustic deck. It’s simply a case of putting in some time to disa mantle the pallets and to carefully remove all the old nails before beginning to lay the deck. With a substantial, pressure-treated base beneath the deck it should last for many years and could cut the usual cost of installing traditional decking by at least half!
As with all our projects, please take care while using tools, materials and equipmentm and all projects on the Safestore blog must be completed at your own risk. We do not take responsibility for any harm or injury that may occur. Be safe!