Building a Pallet Wall Backdrop with Real Wood
As promised I said I would write a little blog on the how-to and more importantly, the what not to-do's in building your own pallet wall. I had many people comment, message and email me about my pallet wall, so hopefully some of you will find this article helpful. It's taken me awhile to get this up, but I wanted to get a few shoots that I shot on my fab, but less than perfect wall, under my belt first. You can find images from recent shoots with this wall/backdrop below. If you would be so kind to share this on your social media and Pinterest boards if you find this helpful that would be most appreciated! Thanks for that in advance. By sharing my blog you are helping me get my little business off the ground!
For starters I'm so happy to be typing right now instead of hammering a crowbar into pallet planks! This wall was a little back breaking if I'm being honest. I had been staring at this unfinished wall for quite some time. I've patched holes, and changed the color many times, but that didn't hide the imperfections of this particular wall that I shoot on in our old warehouse loft. Instead of fixing it I would just photoshop out the wall's blemishes, thank goodness for technology. However, for a few months now I had been staring at it more and more, knowing that I was ready to change the face of the wall, but I couldn't make up my mind on what to do. I could have fixed the drywall seams, but that would only fix half of it and that makes a huge mess! I could wallpaper it, but what if I would get sick of the pattern I chose or the paper wouldn't be perfect because of how imperfect the wall is, and I have rafters and exposed sprinkler pipe too to cut around! Ugh! Not knowing how it would turn out I thought my best bet was to use something I could get for cheap, or free *cough cough*, and something I could recycle...even better. I hopped on Pinterest, looked at a few similar projects and decided to just go for it. I had two days off, it was 6am, I knew where I could grab some pallets outside of some warehouses in the nearby industrial parks, I have a truck and all the tools I needed, so off I went.
Tip #1: You may want to take measurements of your wall and also the pallets you plan to use. I collected two truck loads of pallets, I needed only one. I'm a wing-it kinda girl.
Tip #2: Make sure your pallets have not been peed on by homeless people or drunk tourists. I think I managed to collect sans pee pallets, but I still sprayed my pallets down with bleach water. Ya never know.
Tip 3#: Pallets can be chemically or heat treated. Some chemicals can be too hazardous for your home. And some untreated pallets can have bugs...ewww. Most pallets have a code on them somewhere. Click here to find out how to check to see how your pallets are treated.
Next up is the back breaking and eardrum busting part. You want to hammer the crowbar between the boards you wish to use and the boards that are holding the pallet together structurally. This isn't the easiest of tasks.
My father taught me how to do this. Years ago we built a table together from pallet wood. I wouldn't have known how to do this had he not shown me. This maybe common sense for some, but it wasn't for me. lol.
Tip #4: You also want to remove the rusty nails, and keep track of them so they don't end up in your tires or your feet!
A girl with her tools…and cool outfits
Day 2: I was back at it bright and early. I ended up moving some of the boards I had attached the first day. It's kind of like playing Tetris if you wing it like I did. Again, because this is a backdrop for my photography I think its ok. If this were just in my living room for example I would have spent more time making everything fit perfectly and I wouldn't have used any split boards.
After two days of this I had nasty blisters and my hands seriously ached from gripping the crowbar, the hammer and my drill. I eventually pulled out my trusty circular saw. You do lose a little character in the old weathered look of the boards and length so keep that in mind if you choose to use a saw. I reached the point that I just needed filler boards so I cut at the ends of the pallet and still had to crank the planks off in the middle of the pallet, but life got easier with this strategy for sure.
In between crankin' planks, I'd take loads of boards up to the studio (our loft). I used drywall screws to adhere the boards to wall.
Tip #4.5: Take a break to walk your dog, or dog depression will set in. See below image for reference of what dog depression looks like.
Tip #5: Don't destroy a wall like I just did unless you plan to sell your home with the pallets still in place or you want to spackle a whole bunch of holes later.
*Side Note: My landlords are awesome. And knowing me, I will take all of these boards with me when I go...If I ever have to crank pallets apart again it will be too soon.
After lots of sweat and smelling homeless (like the people I was concerned may have peed on my pallets) I completed my project. In total it took me 2 & 1/2 days to finish, I went in thinking it would take me only 12 hours, boy I was wrong. It was a huge undertaking and I can't image what it would take to actually do this properly with the right measurements and cuts. I had gaps between boards that I cut small pieces to fill and there are still a few small gaps.
A table saw is going on my Christmas wish list. <--- (hint to my husband and father).
Tip #6: Finally! JUST HAVE FUN! If you are a visually creative person who loves a unique space then go for it!
Before & After Are My Favorites
The Pay Off: Shots from sessions that I used my pallet wall backdrop for. ;)
All in all I'm pretty happy with the outcome. And I'm elated that its completed too! From some professional shots for business, to a music shoot and a newborn session and my latest endeavor @thevauntproject <--- click to see more from that on Instagram.
I feel like my wall is diverse enough for all sorts of shoots! YAY!
Thanks for following the journey of this project. I'm sure there are many more to come. I'm always up to something so stay tuned.
Peace, Love & Projects,
P.S. For more of my work or to contact me for a session you can go here.