Pallet Project-Update a Counter for a Fun and Lively Fresh Look

Posted by Customer Service on

 Pallet project, updating a desk

Sometimes you look around and think "why do I still have this piece of whatever?"  I mean it is useful with its just-right counter height, shelves for keeping stuff... but it is so plain, old and unattractive.

So, time to reference the Pinterest Pins I've been racking up and see what strikes me.  And tada!  I found a wall covered in random pallet boards that I just love.  Lucky for me, this piece had good bones and what it needed was a makeover and some pallets to play with.  Following I will give you a guided tour of this pallet project, I hope it is the first of many... it was so much fun!

Prep List:

  • Counter or Desk with solid sides
  • 2-3 Pallets, sawzall, hammer
  • Paints, stains, lacquer(optional), paint brushes, tape
  • Sander with course and fine paper
  • Saw and a nail gun (thankful my friend had both I could borrow, had to have a saw and the nail gun made it fast and finished.)
  • Usual safety equipment, glasses and/or gloves

First I spent a weekend afternoon with a sawzall (reciprocating saw) cutting apart my pallets.  I had been saving them for what my fella thought was FOREVER but I knew eventually I would want to make something awesome.  I laid them flat and ran the blade under the top boards cutting through the nails all the way down one side of the pallet.  Then I did the other end of the same boards and then carefully worked through the middle nails.  Having both ends cut meant the boards could twist slightly and I could get in there to cut through those last ones.  Why cut them off?  Perhaps newer pallets could be pried apart and the nails removed but these boards would have split.  Also, some had been nail-gunned together so there was not really a nail head to pry out and cutting though was just cleaner.  And some boards with the nails in them added to the random and recycled look I was going for.  I did this for the boards on two pallets, top and bottom.  The three boards that held the pallets together had so many random nails that I was afraid to use them(and cut them with the saw later) so I threw those away.

Even with only those two pallets I had a variety of types of wood and sizes, both in width of boards and thickness.  And that's what this project needed, variety.  I spent the next afternoon sanding each board.  I checked each board for nails that needed attention, some needed to be hammered in, some pulled out to be safe with the sander(and my eyeballs).  I sanded the nail side down to "pretty" with a course paper and then hit the back and sides to clean them up. I wanted this to be funky, but still clean and these are recycled for sure!

I chose two similar paint colors in aqua and got them two for one at Lowe's (thank you!) and I already had some white paint.  So 3 colors in paint. 

I also wanted some weathered looking boards mixed in the collage so I made up some Oxidizing Wood Stain with a steel wool pad and vinegar in a jar.  Leave overnight, officially.  But not for a couple of weeks, then the steel wool is disintegrated and a mess.  I had some left over from my Table Refinished project in the last blog but it had been too long.  So just make some more, so easy.  If last minute(like my redo) wait at least an hour...

 painted boards for pallet project at Beach House Linens

The next weekend I painted random size and texture boards with my white and 2 aqua colors. I painted the top, ends and short sides.  Then sanded so the grain showed.  For some I needed the course sandpaper and then would finish with the finer paper.  I painted the short sides because when pieced together on the furniture some of that would show because all the boards are so irregular.  It was an extra step that I was glad I had taken when it came to putting it all together later.

I also stained some with the oxidizing stain that I made up and then I left some of the interesting plain ones just sanded plain for a lighter natural color.

I now had boards that were

  • White
  • Aqua
  • Darker Aqua
  • Stained darker with oxidizer
  • Variety simply sanded in natural colors
Random pallet pieces spaced out

As I finished sanding boards, I spaced them on the ground to get an idea of what boards were the same width.  Then I tried to assort them - to get an idea of mixing boards for a visual effect that worked for me.  The widest boards I used on the bottom, both for visual weight on the finished counter and also in case I needed to rip any to fit when I got to the bottom.  When I got these boards down, I measured them and discovered they were very close to the height of my counter and I was tickled!

 painted boards for pallet project at Beach House Linens Finally I get to use the giant saw my friends let me borrow, and the nail gun.  After a lesson and some measuring tips, I was off!  Simply put, I sawed off the ends since they weren't square and just started nailing them up!  First board top left in light aqua, sawed off left end past the nails.  Left a little overhang so the front was the most finished side(the shorter sides' boards tuck in to the overhang) and nailed up.  Second stained board on top right, I held up and penciled the length, cut, nailed up. Third board second left in natural, help up, eyeballed random length, cut and nailed.  4th board-dark aqua, held up, penciled length to match board above and cut, nailed up.  And so on.  When I got close to the bottom, I stood up the wider boards to get an idea of where I was headed.  So close! 
 side to pallet project-cover counter

For the sides of the counter, the same steps apply.  Assort, cut, nail up.  The boards tucked in to the front boards and were cut to finish flush with the front of the cabinet.  Here the photo shows the first 4 rows finished and the bottom rows planned out.  Unfortunately I had to take a break here and go cut apart another pallet, look how close I got with 2 pallets, basically 1 board off.  Since I had to get the sawzall out again I just cut apart another whole pallet, I'll be ready to go for the next project!

When it was all done, the gap at the bottom was so small I bought some 1/2" quarter round, painted it white and although almost hidden by the larger boards on the bottom, if you were really short (or checking my work), it looked finished.

Once the three sides of the counter were pallet-ed I needed to think about the top.  The laminate top had to go but this was a project on a budget.  I decided to go with a hardwood glued board that was thick but nicer quality than your average plywood.  They cut it for me at Lowe's and I painted it with the paints from the project.  I wanted a weathered look but also clean so I painted white with an aqua border.  I actually painted the border first and white on top.  Sanded down to the wood and to the border so it showed but looked more used.  A couple of coats of lacquer with fine sanding in between and all done!

 Table top to pallet counter project

Above you can see the aqua border taped out and painted. Boy do I love that step of removing the tape and seeing the straight lines!  Then you see the top after it was painted white, sanded and lacquered.  It is rough looking but actually so smooth and lovely.

Below are two larger shots of the counter.  The left image shows the top still painted white, it has not been sanded down to the natural wood, nor can you really see the aqua border underneath.  And bottom right, the finished counter in our shop with a slightly weathered table top and plenty of room.  The counter is fun and fresh and makes the whole space lively.  With the glare from the lights on the lacquered top it is hard to see the border but it is just there, a hint of order to the chaos of the whole project.

almost done, pallet counter re-do All finished, pallet counter refurbished!
So, some numbers.  Counter measures 48" wide by 36" tall, and it is 20" deep(already had counter). It took two pallets plus a couple of boards to cover.  Pallets were free, you can ask around and find them.  Or I have heard you can buy them already broken down at some hardware stores.  Paint $20, board for top $50.  $12 for brackets not shown, for the overhang on the shelf side of the counter.  Made the top larger than the original at 30x60" so there was a 8" overhang on the working side of the counter.  And thanks to friends (a big Thank you and some salsa!)  the tools we didn't have were free.   Any questions or comments, please post below, we love to hear from you.

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  • Cute colors, looks great and easy and cheap! Thanks for sharing!

    Hilda on
  • A bit surpeisrd it seems to simple and yet useful.

    Mua on

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