Introduction: Creating a DIY Pallet Wood Floor With Free Wood

Picture of Creating a DIY Pallet Wood Floor With Free Wood

It took some effort, it took some time, but in the end, we're super thrilled with it.

Step 1: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started

Our pantry floor was a disaster. Or, the tiny scary purposeless room we turned into a pantry had this horrible cheap carpet in it. Hardly up to task. Stopping by a pallet recycler for another project, I discovered these cut block pieces. Slowly over time I amassed enough for the whole floor.

Step 2: Start of Installation

Picture of Start of Installation

I picked up a roll of foam underlayment to add a layer of insulation as I'm 95% sure there is nothing but air under this floor. In hindsight, I could have rolled more than one layer, but, so it is.

Step 3: Re-placing Blocks

Picture of Re-placing Blocks

Next I moved the blocks back over the foam. Once all the blocks were back down, I borrowed a friend's compressor and nail gun, tacked all the blocks down.

Step 4: Figuring Out the Step

Picture of Figuring Out the Step

We have one small step leading into this room so I used some thinner smaller pieces I had collected to cover it.

Step 5: "Grouting"

Picture of "Grouting"

Once everything was tacked down, it was time to "grout" the floor. I mixed up a creation of fine saw dust, gloss oil based polyurethane, and mineral spirits to thin. I won't lie, it was challenge getting it between the joints.

Step 6: Scraping, Unfortunately

Picture of Scraping, Unfortunately

The next day, the floor was a mess. I hadn't been as tidy with the grout as I had hoped and I ended up having to scrape the excess off the blocks. Sad face.

Step 7: Time to Polyurethane

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The last step was two coats of the same oil based gloss polyurethane. I'll add a few more but at the time, it was all I had time for.

Step 8: Another View

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The floor has held up very well. The temperature in this room doesn't fluctuate much so the wood hasn't gone all kitty-wampus. The majority of the wood was already well aged when I got it too, so it's been all good.

Step 9: Last Step: Enjoy

Picture of Last Step:  Enjoy

We're really enjoying this floor and it's perfect for our pantry. In the end, this project cost less than $100 for an approximately 100 sq. ft. room with all the wood being free.

If you're intrigued, come read all the details in my blog post here: http://humboldtartdept.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-pantry-floor-is-done-done-done.html

Comments

DADDYC. (author)2016-06-22

Hi, can you/anyone tell me what the wood was nailed/secured down to besides the foam underlayment, I guess I'm asking foundation? My mother added a den (WITHOUT city permit) about 30 yrs ago (yes 30 yrs) & currently floor is rolls of fake tile look, so I'm not sure what's under. And any special screws or nails I would need? Thank you for any & all help.

Humboldtartdept (author)DADDYC.2016-06-23

Your best bet is to peel up some of the fake look tile and explore a bit to see what's under. There's likely either a wood subfloor or concrete but you'll need to find out for sure. If it's concrete, you'll have to put in a floating wood subfloor. In my case it was old porch floor boards and particle board so I was able to nail into it.

DADDYC. (author)Humboldtartdept2016-06-23

OK sounds good thanks for the help.

JeffA2 (author)2016-04-19

Pretty cool... And you've mentioned multiple times that you like the texture as-is. I think people need to respect that and stop suggesting that you sand it.

For the sake of anyone else that does this though, I wanted to point out that you took a big chance by not removing the baseboards first, especially with this being an uninsulated floor (as you stated that you suspect it is...). By placing the wood right up against the baseboards, any expansion and contraction will result in the floor buckling. I know, I know, you already mentioned that it hasn't yet, and that's great. Basically though, you've gotten lucky so far... (Or, in this particular case, it's possible that the softer woods are actually absorbing the pressure from the harder ones expanding. I don't know...).

Again, this is just for the sake of anyone else, and/or your own future reference. Removing the baseboards and re-installing them later is easy. And if you're gentle, you won't even need to do any touch-up paint. That would have allowed you to lay the floor with at least 1/4" gap all around, to allow for expansion/contraction.

Having said that, back to the compliments... It looks cool. And, personally, I agree with you about the texture. I like it too... Cheers! :-)

Humboldtartdept (author)JeffA22016-04-20

Thanks for the comment and the compliments!

I know it's hard to see but there is a slight gap between the wood and baseboard; not 1/4" but there is a slight one. And some of the "grout" lines are over 1/4". To your point though, I probably did luck out with this room not changing temperature much over the course of a year.

No worries -- I understand where the suggestions to sand it down come from. Everyone has different tastes and ideas and that's a-ok. But thank you, I'm glad you like the texture too!

Thanks!

bubbabassman (author)2015-11-22

Excellent idea of re-purposed materials to create a beautiful looking durable floor.

I want one.

Thanks so much!

dcady (author)2015-11-16

What an awesome idea, a great use of scraps that normally have to be tossed, burned, etc. I applaud you for this creative idea. And the floor is very pretty.

Humboldtartdept (author)dcady2015-11-16

What an awesome bunch of compliments, thank you very much!

DonnaL34 (author)2015-11-14

We are going to do this in our house too. Have several ideas for pallet projects throughout the house and yard.

Humboldtartdept (author)DonnaL342015-11-14

Excellent! I hope it turns out fantastic!

DonnaL34 (author)Humboldtartdept2015-11-15

Thank you me too. I work in a auto factory so I get lots of free pallets all the time. My hubby has made a couple really nice coops for his chickens and pigeons already.

Surcease (author)2015-09-01

pretty cool. To make it the best awesome, I'd go back when I had time and sand it. After sanding and repoly it will be massively beautiful. You laid it all out very pretty.

:D

Humboldtartdept (author)Surcease2015-09-03

Thanks! We liked each individual piece so much as-is, we opted not to sand. But it can be done. Thank you!

Surcease (author)Humboldtartdept2015-09-03

You already worked so hard with the grouting, it will sand fine too, if you ever decide you are feeling froggy and want to up the class one level.
I agree it is nice like it is tho. I like a smooth floor. Lol :)

Humboldtartdept (author)Surcease2015-09-03

I did work hard on the grouting, you're right. We'll see how it goes but for now we really love how the floor turned out, flaws, quirks and all. Everyone is different so I understand where you're coming from. Thanks!

SRDsPoppa (author)2015-08-15

Skimming over the comments I'm curious if it would have been easier to have finished out your floor, use the sawdust from sanding it with a drum sander so it's smooth as well as the rest of the sawdust you had on hand from cutting the pieces and basically sweep the sawdust into the cracks to make the mortar, or at least keep everything level, and then apply an. Industrial flooring type polyurethane or epoxy resin over your floor. You definitely wouldn't have to worry about splinters at that point because you could literally put as much thickness as you wanted this way with just one pour. It's tricky to work with, mostly because if air bubbles arising in it but if you get it right, mixing the resin with the hardener as well as most times pros will use a thinner like Xylenol, and of course ventilation and protecting your airway this floor would last a lifetime. This system is typically used on garage floors and I randomly grabbed a link off Google to illustrate http://www.vanguardconcretecoating.com/resins.htm

Thanks for the helpful information. I hadn't sanded the floors, the pallet wood, as I wanted all the patina to remain as-is. But brushing sawdust in is a good idea. I suppose I couldn't have brushed on the poly after that though as the pad would have pulled the sawdust out.

Resin would have been great -- unfortunately my wallet couldn't handle that option.

Thanks for your ideas!

You'd be surprised at how cheap you can obtain it. The best way to buy it is scour Google and set up your searches for "the past 7 days". You'll find that it's rather plentiful via auction if you're not on a time frame. It would detract from the natural wear of the wood obviously and if you've got kiddos they'd have to learn not to run in with wet feet but the sawdust would work because this is poured on. I guess if you poured it thin enough you could maybe keep some of the beauty of the natural wood.

GoGmaGo (author)2015-07-06

What kind of wood is this made from? I'm wondering if it would be hard enough to hold up to a commercial application?

Cheers

Humboldtartdept (author)GoGmaGo2015-07-06

It's a whole variety of different woods -- some appears to be pine, poplar, oak, one or two are mahogany, and others I can't identify as readily without sleuthing further. Considering it's all from a pallet rehabber, it could be anything.

I suppose it would depend on the commercial venue, how it's adhered, and finishes. If you did clear epoxy over it, I imagine it would hold up extremely well.

a8n9678s (author)2015-07-04

exelente proyecto de reciclaje

Humboldtartdept (author)a8n9678s2015-07-04

Thank you!

freddo63 (author)2015-07-04

It looks great! It sounds like a lot of the people on here have a bit of carpentry experience which is why they freak out a bit. Some woods take a while, but eventually start splintering on their own and I'm not sure how the polyurethane will hold those splinters in. Also, I'm not sure how big this room is (it looks like it could eventually have heavy furniture in it), but moving heavy furniture will be quite the pain if you need to slide it across the room. Considering how cheap it was, maybe you don't really care.

Humboldtartdept (author)freddo632015-07-04

I understand. I have plenty of experience too and know this isn't for everyone. This is in a 5'x11' pantry so it gets minimal use and I keep an eye on it. I specifically chose pieces with low splintering, gave a hand sand where necessary, and chose gloss oil based poly for it's more "locking" ability. Cost was a consideration but functionality was most important. It works for us and my hope is it provides creative thinking inspiration for others. Thanks!

freddo63 (author)freddo632015-07-04

how well the polyurethane will hold those splinters down*

markheyns (author)2015-07-04

In Africa, the guys spread a mix of cow dung and water on their hut floors, it polishes up really well (and if truth be told, it is kinda comfortable and warm to sleep on)
This looks really good, an awesome idea and the grain is beautiful.
And downsides you have noticed?

I don't know that my husband would let me do that, but thanks for sharing! Nope, no downsides yet that we've found, other than maybe the poly I used yellowing more than I had hoped. We really like it. Thanks!

pandadude (author)2015-07-03

Cool idea- but as others have mentioned- if you want to make this into a real floor get a sander, sand it all super nice and flat, and then coat with polyurethane and it'll be a real beauty.

Thanks. It's a beautiful real floor to us. All a matter of opinion and taste.

paqrat (author)2015-07-02

It looks good but seeing that photo of the floor I don't think that it would be anything that you'd want to walk on barefoot or have young children crawling around on.

Humboldtartdept (author)paqrat2015-07-03

We have no problems going barefoot in there but you're right, it may not be young kid crawling friendly. We only have a four legged kind so we're good. Thanks!

antioch (author)2015-07-02

Holy pants, Batman, this is the most awesome wood floor ever. And all from palettes, my fav upcycling item! Thanks so much for this inspiration!

Humboldtartdept (author)antioch2015-07-02

Holy cats and dogs, Robin -- thanks for the awesome compliments!

osaihama (author)2015-07-01

Well done you, what a fantastic idea! i am sure going to put this to practice in my newly Completed garden lodge.

Humboldtartdept (author)osaihama2015-07-01

Thank you! I hope it works out well for you!

lclaiborne (author)2015-07-01

Cool! Thats a swell look. I have a problem kitchen floor, this has inspired an idea. Very different, but possibly a solution... Thanks.

Thanks! So glad you found some inspiration!

mosescapetown (author)2015-06-30

I am very impressed with your floor. I agree and disagree with some of the previous comments. Firstly. I love the look and understand the natural rugged look you went for. I have done this on request for some of my clients in the past. I have even found a way to whitewash a floor and seal it properly through experimenting. (trial and error... mostly error..lol) Doing personalized floors is great for oneself.

Going the route of sanding it down and then triple sealing will also have worked well and i must agree with a previous comment it will aid when trying to sell your property. Nailing it to the concrete is not a problem in your case because you have expansion gaps between the blocks as well as a matured settled concrete floor.

Personally i like it allot. Thinking of doing my bar-floor the same way. Thanx for sharing

Thanks for your thoughts.

No on can predict the tastes of potential buyers down the road, so we'll see. The floor can easily be removed if need be but we don't plan on it.

Just FYI, floor under this isn't concrete -- it's a mix of particle board and wood slats, hidden over by cheap carpet that I removed.

david.luftig (author)2015-06-30

Great job! Very inspiring as it comes to mind there are many, many! ways to embellish or customize this depending on time, tools and budget and usage.( ie for a public "fun" space each piece could be custom embellished by a participating "kid" or artist. ) I have been a carpenter on a film sound recording room and this "style" on walls and ceiling (2-3 layers) would allow for an inexpensive sound dampened party/recording room.

Thank you! And very creative thinking there!

brightled (author)2015-06-30

ok I am going to tell you the truth,you need to hire out someone who knows how to run a floorsander,go over the whole floor with 60 grit paper and then 80 grit and take it up to 120 ,after 80 go 100 grit then 120 ,next stain the floor with an oil based stain then poly and wax ,thas the proper way, because if you decide to sell that home you will have to do to get a sale...WCH

Ok, thanks for all your truth. To each their own, right?

JohnR17 (author)2015-06-30

I think to finish off, I would have rented a industrial sander to level the planks more and allow for the new oil urethane finish to soak in better. Other than that, a great project and you cant beat the cost

Humboldtartdept (author)JohnR172015-06-30

Thanks! I wanted to highlight the different pieces for what they were, in their as-found condition but I imagine they could be sanded as well for a great look.

skoko (author)2015-06-26

Wood contracts and expands in different temperatures nailing it to the floor is not a good idea.There are types of glues that expand and contract with the wood.Also you need a 7-8mm gap between the wood and the walls so it does not warp the floor when it expands.You can give it a nice sanding whit a hardwood floor sanding machine and 3 layers of lacquer and it is going to be the bomb :).Otherwise its great i love wood as a material, its the best insulater and if you take care of it it will last you 50+ years.

Humboldtartdept (author)skoko2015-06-26

Thanks for all your tips! There are plenty of gaps all around as every block is different. I went minimal with the nailing, using one, maybe two per block. The floor is holding up fantastically after almost a year. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

Nice project for a small space.

I would think twice before you rent a floor sander to smooth it out. Depending on how far you sunk the nails, they might tear up the belt. And when you make it down to your "grout", the polyurethane will gum up the belt. Been there, done that.

Given that you spent $75 on the project, you shouldn't have any problem removing instead of refinishing.

All excellent points to consider. Thanks for sharing!

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