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Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Art Of Pallet Wood Flooring

We have blogged Pallets Repurposed where we explained how we took the pallets apart.
abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com

We have blogged Just The Plane Facts where we told you how all the pallet wood was prepared, to be used as flooring.
abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com

We have blogged Prep Time where we shared with you how we installed the sub floor.
abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com

We have blogged Pioneering where we explained some of the difficulties we have had and solutions we found, while installing the pallet wood flooring.
abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com

What we haven't blogged is the finished product!


Are You Ready?


It took us several weeks to put all the pallet wood down.
This was not an easy task!

We didn't want a pattern on the floor but we also didn't want the same type of pallet wood together in the same spots.
We had four widths of planks. (2 inch, 3 inch, 4 inch and 5 inch)
There are so many different types of pallet wood, it was almost like putting a puzzle together without any idea of what it is suppose to look like. 
abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com

We started by sorting light wood and dark wood.
We then top nailed the wood down with our new dinosaur, alternating light and dark.
Doing our best to mix the textures of the wood.
We ended up setting a patten by placing a row of 2", followed by four rows of 3", then adding a row of 4", following again with four rows of 3", nailing the 5" planks and placing the last four rows of 3" planks before the pattern started over.
It worked out perfectly!
Each set of the pattern was 4 feet wide.

This is where Flower Boy and I realized we are not young!
Being on our hands and knees for hours at a time is not an easy thing when you are in your 40's!

We got to the half way point in the room and ran out of prepared pallet wood!
Another lesson learned...
There is a difference between board feet and square feet.
This was not an issue for us, as there was other construction going on in the house at this time.
The stopping point allowed the other contractors less worry of damaging the wood with the amount of traffic needed to go across the floor in order to complete their projects.
It was also a time when Flower Boy was gone for training, so Drewman and I had plenty of time to prepare the remainder of the wood.
Funny how things have a way of working themselves out!
No need for panic!
Just look for the positive and move forward!
When Flower Boy returned, the contractors were finished with their projects, Drewman and I had the rest of the planks ready
AND
we finished nailing the pallet wood down.
Princess Sheba likes the new floor!

The floor set for a few weeks while the remainder of the construction was complete in the house.
We didn't cover it with paper to protect it.
We wanted the Dust, Dirt and Grime to distress the wood.
After the entire house was dust free, Flower Boy and I started the sealing process of the flooring.

We started with a liberal coat of mineral spirits.
The mineral spirits cleans the pallet wood and soaks into the grain of the wood, to open it up so the sealer will penetrate and adhere.

We applied the mineral spirits with a low nap wool applicator and brushed it on around the edges of the room.
When the mineral spirits were completely soaked into the wood, we then started applying the finish.
The finish was applied in the same manner as the mineral spirits.
We are using a product used on basketball gym floors.
The product is for high traffic and resists scuff and marks.
Perfect for our ranch style life!

The grain of the pallet wood popped when the floor finish was applied!

With each coat applied, the floor became richer and richer in appearance.
A total of four coats, of the finish, have been applied.

We each have our favorite plank!

Flower Boy's is the center board in this photo.

Drewman's is the center of this one.

My favorite is all the planks with the knot holes.

The builder walked in the door yesterday and gasped when he saw the floor.
We have had so many nay sayers and negative reactions when we were researching ways to lay this floor.
We had one contractor give a bid of $12,000 to put the floor down.
We never once thought this floor wouldn't be beautiful or even thought it couldn't be done.
We are so proud of our stellar job and all that our hard work and efforts have produced!


The Art Of Pallet Wood Flooring!
MASTERED!!!!!!



Note:  Since this post was originally blogged, there has been an astounding amount of activity here.  We are honored and blessed to have so many people search us.  We do ask those sharing, please give credit where credit is due and ask permission prior to sharing our post.  There is an email us button on A Building We Shall Go to contact us.  
We in no way are attempting to toot our own horn.  We are simply proud of our work and efforts to create such a beautiful floor.


Thanks,
Rancher Girl


Below is a photo of the living room after the furniture was moved into the house. 

Copyright 2013 A Building We Shall Go!
All rights reserved

94 comments:

  1. I love your floors! I too am installing pallet flooring in my home. I was wondering how your floor have held up and if there is anything you would do differently? In all your research, can you glue the planks to concrete? One floor installer told me no as I would have moisture problems and the boards would pop off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Pallet Wood Floor has held up just as we expected it to! It is wonderful! We LOVE it!
      We wouldn't have done a single thing different! It was worth every cramp, late night and sleepless hour!
      We installed the sub floor as the moisture barrier. Your info is correct. Our research showed the sub floor was necessary as a moisture barrier between the concrete and the pallet wood.
      Good Luck!
      Make a Beautiful Floor!
      WE DID!!!

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    2. So the plywood was treated for moisture works better for the moisture barrier than the "vinyl" ones used with laminate or other floorings from the flooring stores?

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    3. We r hoping to cover some hideous laminate tiles. Would they glue easily to those? Or how would u recommend us getting it to stick down?

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    4. Crystal,
      Our recommendation would be to pull up the laminate and attach the pallet wood to your subfloor. We would never overlay an existing floor. This is only our opinion.

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    5. Did you glue the sub flooring down? As I have concrete, and have to replace my floors, and I am LOVING these floors..so I am curious about the sub flooring..

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    6. Thank you! We LOVE our floor too! The sub floor post can be seen at "Prep Time". It should answer all your questions.

      Delete
  2. Did you sand them, I have looked they seem like there very rough? Thanks for your reply

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    Replies
    1. All the boards were ran through a planner. None are rough. When I get home, I take off my boots and walk around in my sock feet. Nights and weekends I will walk around barefoot. There are no splinters or sharp areas on any of the boards. We did, however, use a hand sander on some of the boards to remove some sharp areas, prior to sealing.
      We would not have changed a single step in creating this beautiful floor. We love it!!!

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    2. Instead of using a planner, could they be put down and a big drum sander used? Sliding each board thru the planner seems more difficult!!!

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    3. Ruth,
      You could sand one side, but the pallet planks are very uneven on both sides. We felt it best to plane both sides so the planks would set evenly on the subfloor and not pop up do to the warp of the plank not being flat. Planning the planks also took off any type of material or chemical that may have soaked into the wood. We felt taking the entire plank down to natural wood was best for us.

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  3. Your floor is amazing!!!! I would love to have one but at 61 I just don't think the knees would survive and I know I would never convince the Hubs to try. So I'll just admire yours and dream about what it would look like on my floor. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Carol!
      We LOVE our floor! It is one of a kind, that is for sure! I think each floor, done with pallet wood, would make it's own pattern and detail, as all the boards are unique!
      We are in our 40's. The floor was a ton of work! We felt old by the time we completed it. BUT it was worth every second!
      Had it not been for our teenage son, who collected every pallet, helped tear apart every pallet, prepared every board, and helped lay the entire floor, we couldn't have done it! We are so proud of him and his drive to make this floor happen.
      If you read the beginning blog "HOUSE FIRE", you will understand what this floor means to us. It was a huge healing for our family! Not to mention the bonding and glue to put us back together.
      The pallet wood floor is a vision I have had for a long time. It is a blessing how that tragedy has allowed us to take the vision and bring it to life!
      We are so proud of ourselves and the work we have done to create such a beautiful floor.
      Dreams Do Come True!

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  4. Very cool! How many pallets did this take in total? We're looking at milling boards for a floor, but this might be easier if we have access to enough pallets.

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    Replies
    1. Easy is not a word we would use to describe the preparation of the pallet wood or the laying of this floor.
      Long hours, back breaking, knuckle busting, sleepless nights, timeless research, and a lot of hard work. Including blood, sweat and tears, would be more descriptive. We wouldn't have had it any other way! We love our floor! But "easy", it was not!
      The number? It simply wasn't something we kept count of. So much of the pallet wood was unusable, warped, damaged, stained or too thin. We do estimate 100+ pallets were used to complete our floor, but the number torn apart to collect the amount of pallet wood needed is unknown

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  5. You may want to check out PalletTruth dot com. Using wooden pallets indoors brings some serious health and safety risks, never mind environmental damage. Those things are loaded with formaldehyde.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hygge,
      Agreed, SOME pallets CAN cause serious health and safety risks when used indoors. NONE of the pallet wood used on our floor was "loaded" with anything. We were very cautious when choosing the pallets used for our floor. All, of the pallet wood used, was stripped to bare wood and approved for indoor use.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. how can one tell whether or not a pallet is fit for indoor usage? I have started collecting pallets and I would like to know how to tell the difference.
      Thanks!

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    3. http://greenupgrader.com/19085/how-to-tell-if-wood-pallets-are-safe-for-crafting/

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    4. I don't understand the "environmental damage" comment at all. How is re-using something that would otherwise go into a landfill damaging the environment?

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    5. Seriously?? Carpet, linoleum, paneling, drywall, every construction material builders use is "loaded" with formaldehyde and many other poisonous chemicals unless you pay extra to buy the "green" items that do not have as many chemicals in them!!!

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    6. Nice job by the way....floor is beautiful!!!!

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    7. Thanks Much!
      We do LOVE our floor!

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  6. How big was the room? It's beautiful and we are considering doing it ourselves, but we have a VERY small house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicole,
      The room is between 400 and 500 sq feet.
      Without a tape measure in hand, I am not real sure.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  7. I did this years ago in a much smaller scale when I built my kids' tree house my daughter wanted hardwood floors, granite counters, and stainless steel appliances like she always seen on HGTV. I wasn't about to spend lots of money on hard wood floors, so I took some pallets from work that were going to be thrown out. I stripped the wood off laid them over the plywood floor, carefully nailed them down in the existing holes with roofing nails, when I got done I sanded them down with 60 grit and then 240 grit sandpaper. Then swept vacuumed mopped then swept and vacuumed again when dry. I then put down 6 coats and when dry I laid down a thick coat of Johnsons paste wax and buffed it really good. My Daughter is still waiting on the granite and stainless but I think she will have to get her own real house for that. My son who could tear apart a concrete wall with a rubber mallet has yet to destroy the floors in the tree house despite being exposed to hot cold and wet not to mention muddy boots and things being scooted across the floor. I have added some more paste wax every once in a while and my only complaint is it can get pretty slick when wet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great story, Josh!
      We are glad to know our floor will hold up to our Ranch lifestyle, just as we expect it will. It has done so to date! Thanks for the confirmation that is will be here a long as we live.
      Rancher Girl

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    2. Cool Story Bro

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    3. If you want to keep it from being slick, you can add white sand to the paste wax. Gives it a bit of traction.

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  8. How large was the floor you did? How many pallets did it take

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our floor is 18' 6" x 16' 8".
      The number? It simply wasn't something we kept count of. So much of the pallet wood was unusable, warped, damaged, stained or too thin. We do estimate 100+ pallets were used to complete our floor, but the number torn apart to collect the amount of pallet wood needed is unknown.

      Delete
  9. How large was the floor how many pallets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our floor is 18' 6" x 16' 8".
      The number? It simply wasn't something we kept count of. So much of the pallet wood was unusable, warped, damaged, stained or too thin. We do estimate 100+ pallets were used to complete our floor, but the number torn apart to collect the amount of pallet wood needed is unknown.

      Delete
  10. Wondered how I might lay something like this on a concrete floor. Any ideas there? I believe back home, my late husband laid some type of plywood down and glued it to the floor, but I'm not sure. Been a very long time ago.

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    Replies
    1. Our pallet wood floor is laid over a concrete floor. There are links within the blog that take you back to each step of our processes.
      Good luck,
      Rancher Girl

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  11. Thanks for sharing nice information. Its really very useful for us... Oak Flooring

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by!
      We are honored that you and other flooring companies have taken an interest in our project.
      We are beginning to believe we are true pioneers!
      Rancher Girl

      Delete
  12. This turned out AMAZING! We build many many things with pallets, and I think I will have to convince my husband to do this with me! Our living-room is in need of a new floor, so this may be the perfect time! What's your secret on taking the pallet boards apart?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We used a sawsall to take the pallets apart. Then we drove the nails out, instead of pulling them. All is explained in the blog post ~ Pallets Repurposed http://abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com/2013/02/pallets-repurposed.html
      Thanks for stopping by!
      We would love to hear how your flooring project works out for you all.
      Stay in touch!
      Rancher Girl

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    2. LOVE the floor,you should be proud.I would be.

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  13. I have wanted to tackle this for my home but got so much push back ... Your hard work ends in a beautiful result, something to be proud of and enjoy for a hundred years!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Caroline. We too received much push back and negative comments. We never once thought our floor wouldn't be beautiful! We are very proud of our floor and the work we have done.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  14. If your floor already has wood sub-flooring, do you need to use the moisture barrier paper?

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    Replies
    1. LadyLuck,
      That would be a question for the flooring professionals.
      Sorry, we can't answer that question.
      Rancher Girl

      Delete
  15. It's amazing how you managed to do all this by yourselves! We're planning to do flooring in the coming weeks as well. I'm sure it will be hard work, but looking at your finished product, I think it will be well worth it for us in the end. Best of luck and I hope your 40-something-year-old bodies recover from being on your hands and feet for long. :)

    Kendra Dennis @ ChuDitch.com.au

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kendra! Our bodies have recovered! We have enjoyed our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in the new house. The pallet wood floor has held up beautifully! We are very proud of our work and had always wanted to do it by ourselves. This floor was the project that glued our family together after our house fire.

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  16. Beautiful work ! You guys did an amazing Job.

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  17. Your flooring is beautiful, what was the brand name of poly that you applied? I was thinking that Fabulon might work, but have been on quest to find quality gym poly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure of the brand name we used. It has been too long... We purchased it from a local "Mom and Pop" Paint and Paper store. It was costly. ~$100 per gallon
      We didn't want to go with the products "off the shelf" at the larger box stores. We wanted to get a product from someone that had knowledge and could advise us on the application.

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  18. Your floor looks amazing! My hubby and I just picked up the pine flooring for our living room (if we had seen this blog a month earlier probably would have gone the pallet route instead) and I too am interested in knowing in the brand of product used to finish the floor. Thank you for pointing out about the mineral spirits... did you use it because the wood was re-purposed pallets or because it helps open the wood up (no matter what type)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure of the brand name we used. It has been too long... We purchased it from a local "Mom and Pop" Paint and Paper store. It was costly. ~$100 per gallon
      We didn't want to go with the products "off the shelf" at the larger box stores. We wanted to get a product from someone that had knowledge and could advise us on the application.
      The mineral spirits will open up any type of wood. It is a cleaner and conditioner to prepare the wood for the final finish.

      Delete
  19. Just curious about the edges of the wood if they were sealed with something to keep water from going between the pieces of wood when the floor is mopped etc.???

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    Replies
    1. The sealer took care of covering any exposed edges. The planks are butted tightly together, as it took the three of us to lay the floor properly. There are no gaps in the planks.

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  20. What an incredibly beautiful floor! I didn't even know you could build a wood floor out of pallets, but that is such a great idea! I now want to try doing something like this when I get a house; I never really liked wood floors because I felt like they would get more damaged than anything else, especially with kids and pets. But this is gorgeous, I love all the textures and colors! It's so unique.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Angela. We do love our floor! We are very proud of our work.

      Delete
  21. How does this hold up against dog claws? I have six dogs and would like something other than tile in my house! This is beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. We have two German Shepherds that live in the house with us, as well as being a ranch family. The floor has held up as we expected it to. No scratches, mars or marks!

      Delete
  22. how did you nail this down? From the top or the side? what type and size nail did you use? Di you use a nail gun or hammer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The nailing process is explained by following the highlighted link "PIONEERING" post.
      Attached is the link if you missed it...
      http://abuildingweshallgo.blogspot.com/2013/04/pioneering.html

      Delete
  23. Going to share this on my fb page https://www.facebook.com/Greatrowing everyone will love it. Of course Credit goes where it belongs. I don't want to loose this powerful more than welcome information. This will be the flooring in our new home, would you like to come and supervise? Thanks for sharing!!

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    Replies
    1. We would love to supervise! Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
      Thanks for sharing our blog!

      Delete
  24. In some of your posts you stated you didn't want pallets to be too thin, do you remember roughly about how thick the boards were that you used. I have been thinking about doing this for about a year now. I have found 2 places I can get pallets. it will be a small mudroom floor on the left and then on the right area, I will have a wood furnace that I will put slate down in that area and then the actual walk way I would love to do the pallet wood there too. I was even thinking about using some on the walls too and then dry brushing some with a white wash. I have some old doors that I am going to use to make closets out of. I can't wait to start this project this year. unless I can find some cheap help most of the work is going to be done myself. the basics are all ready there. I can't wait

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    Replies
    1. The floor planks on our floor are from 9/16" to 5/8" thick.

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  25. Most awesome thing I've seen in awhile, beautiful job

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! We are very proud of our work. We too believe we have made a beautiful floor.

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  26. Did you tongue and groove the boards?

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    Replies
    1. We did not tongue and groove the planks.

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    2. Charles,
      We have had no headaches from the floor. Actually the professionals shared with us their experience in restoring a 100 year old train station floor that had been top nailed. Their boards were not tongue and grooved either.
      We love the look of the floor and the fact that it was top nailed.

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  27. I'd love to see the room now with furniture in it. I think the floor looks amazing but I can't picture it with furniture... I worry that the floor is so interesting the room might look too busy in the end?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ricki,
      I will upload a photo of the living room with furniture. Remember we are a ranching family, so the living room furniture is all leather ranch style. We think it complements very well together.

      Delete
  28. Thank you for this post - I am seriously tossing around the idea of laying a pallet floor in our motor home - it is small and I don't think the weight of the pallet wood would be a problem - if anything, it may even help with stabilization by adding the weight to the bottom (not sure since I am not an engineer or anything but, it just sounds logical to me - LOL)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for sharing your story. Two years ago I started with pallets building the vanities for our new houses bath rooms and will be building the island in the kitchen. In the process we begging looking at thes boards as flooring.

    I did not go the route you did ( which I think has a lot of character ) I took all five inch by five eights and sized them a uniform width than resawed them to half inch, finished them off by cutting three eights half joints. All of the fastening down was with one and one quater star drive screws face driven.
    The sanding was with a body grinder with thirty six grit cross sanded and with the grain to leave more swirl than showed up on their own . I will use a light stain to even out the range of colors, but also show the variations
    The finish will be Waterlox ,three coats.
    I figure about sixty boards to a square and we will have a total fifteen hundred sq ft.
    I bought the board from a place that remakes pallets so all I had to do was drive nails with a air Hammer with a nail set bit in it just thought you would like to know how the other lives...oh yesterday you can lay a floor like this over concrete, put the plastic roll stuff down with three quarter ply over it, cheers. Mark and Waneta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is good to hear from others who have done the same with pallet wood. I am not sure which one of us has done the most work. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  30. What type of nails did you use for the planks? Did you find the different thicknesses of the planks to be a issue?

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    Replies
    1. We used the nails that fit our dinosaur. The information can be found in the Pioneering post.
      We did not find the different thicknesses of the planks to be any kind of issue. We loved the look it gave to our floor and still do!

      Delete
  31. Wow ....... it amazing. A great job done and I know now it feels in the end to do it and then laugh off at the estimates contractors give. I'd say totally worth doing it.
    I have a marble floor that I want to wood, would I still need a sub-floor to counter the moisture factor or can I just hammer away on top of the marble?
    Would it paste or should I drill and nail it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam,
      We are in no way flooring professionals. We got several tips in laying the pallet wood from our building contractor.
      We are sorry, but you questions are questions for contractors or flooring professionals.

      Delete
  32. Absolutely beautiful! Can you tell me what a "dinosaur" is?

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    Replies
    1. Our "dinosaur" is explained in the Pioneering post. It is the tool used to drive the cleats into the plank securing it to the subfloor. We named it the "dinosaur" because there are no top nail pneumatic nailers available. We had to go old school! Each nail was driven by hitting the "dinosaur" with the mallet. Lots of manual labor to put this beautiful floor down.

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    2. As long as you planed both sides equally there will not be any warping, I did wood floors for twenty something years. It looks "Okay" but it is not my thang. to splotchy for my taste. And did you put down a moisture barrier?

      Delete
    3. We did just what the flooring professionals told us to do.
      We LOVE the look of our floor! It is very fitting for our Ranchey lifestyle!

      Delete
  33. Hey Rancher Girl, Another great accomplishment from your blog. Love the floor, time well spent ... Congratulations!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!
      This was the project that bonded our family back together after the house fire.
      We love the floor too!

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  34. Hi just wondering about the cost? Can you give me some insight. Looking to do something like this to save money. Thank you for any info. The floors are beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! We think the floor is beautiful, as well.
      The cost was in the tools and equipment to prepare the planks and the "dinosaur" to lay the planks. The cost wasn't an issue to us. This was a project we wanted to do as a family. I will say the project was very time consuming. That again, was not an issue to us. This floor was the glue that bonded our family back together after our house fire.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  35. Did you have trouble finding pallets that were safe to use? Some pallets are fumigated with Methyl Bromide which would not be good to use for any household purpose.

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    Replies
    1. Richard,
      We did not have a problem finding the pallets. Pallets that are fumigated are marked. We also had the planks tested. All planks on our floor were safe for household use.

      Delete
  36. I will be doing this to my house. I found a perfect place to get free Pallets. If you have a lumber liquidators near your place like I do they told me that any time I see pallets to come and get them...Right now I have a closet to lay and I will be starting my livingroom.. Question I have is did you lay anything under it and 2 how does it hold up against the pets opps?

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    Replies
    1. Drewman actually had a pallet route when we were collecting pallets. One of the places on the route was a large liquidator box store. We did have a hard time getting the hardwood pallets from the big box stores.
      We did install a sub-floor. That post will be under "Prep Time".
      We are German Shepherd breeders, as well as being a cattle ranch. Our floor has held up just as we expected it to. It has withstood cattle poop, water, snow, ice and whatever else has been tracked in on our boot, as well as the dogs. We have no scuff marks, mars or dents on the floor and have lived in the house almost a year now.
      WE LOVE OUR FLOOR!

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  37. We're about to start pulling pallets apart after seeing your blog. I'm SO excited to start! We're finishing approx 1200 ft2 as well, and I have a few questions.

    1. How did you "test" the wood to make sure it was safe for indoor use? I know each pallet is marked, but how did you also test yours? Or is running each board through a planer on both sides enough to eliminate any potential health risk?

    2. With 4 coats, plus the mineral spirits....just wondering how many gallons of liquid you went through to finish your floors? At $100/gallon I'm thinking this might get more pricey than I originally thought?

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    Replies
    1. The planks were taken to Drewman's shop class. Testing was done there.
      Cost on this beautiful floor is not cheap. Although the pallets were free, there is a significant cost in tools, equipment, blades and supplies. The planks are very dry (and should be so there is no shrinkage after the floor is laid) therefore they soak up A LOT of mineral spirits and sealer.
      Totally worth every dollar and second spent! We would not have changed a single thing in our process!

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  38. I'm in awe .... just saying, I like the character of the floor. inspired

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