As I have mentioned before, when we bought this house there were many things we knew we would want to change at some point. One of the biggest disappointments to us was our kitchen floor. Not that it was awful - the previous owners had recently re-tiled it - but it wasn't really our style. And even worse, after about a year or so the tiles started breaking. Especially in the frequently traveled path to the back door. One day after being frustrated at replacing these tiles for the 100th time, we decided to make this our next DIY project! And where did our inspiration come from this time - in a place we least expected - pallet wood!
At the time, pallet wood DIY projects were just starting to become a big thing and I thought why couldn't we use pallet wood for a floor. First of all you can't beat the price - free - and second of all if it is sturdy enough to hold all the big loads that these pallets are used to then I felt it should be sturdy enough for people. Of course my contractor Dad thought I was crazy - but I think I couldn't of asked for something better - What do you think?
This project was done in a weekend. When we started pulling up the tiles we realized why they were breaking so frequently - the previous owners laid the tiles over the original linoleum floor!! Big no no people!! So not only did we have to rip up the tile but then we needed to rip up the linoleum as well.
One of the hardest parts of this project was the first step, which was pulling the boards apart as the nails are steel spiral nails and not so easy to take out without damaging the wood pieces. The second difficult part of this DIY is making sure you have planks that are in the same width. Matching them up is very important as they need to be able to rest up against each other with no gaps. This can mean frequent trips to the dump or whatever place you may find your pallets. Important tip here - not good to use pallets from a grocery store as if they carried produce they will have been sprayed with pesticide and not something you want to have in your home. The ones you want to look for should have a stamp or brand with an HT which means they have been heat treated.
After we found the planks we wanted and pulled them apart, we did a really good sanding on them. Since they are going to be walked on by bare feet, they need to have no splinters or rough edges. We spent a bit of time making sure they were sanded as smooth as possible. Then came the process of lying them down. As we did want a vintage look to the floor we were OK with the fact that each row may not be of the same width. Some rows were wider then others but the mismatched widths made the floor look like it had been there for 100's of years. Also, made it easier on us as we didn't have to worry about finding pallets all in one width - which is not easy!
To finish off the aged look we were going for, we used vintage flooring nails to really give it that antiqued look. You can try to find orignal ones or you can buy them new at any hardware store.
After all the boards were secured in place, the final touch was the staining. We used Minwax Dark Walnut stain. We used two rags - one to apply the stain to the wood, the other to wipe the stain off as we moved along. Because pallets are often made of different types of wood, it created the stain to pick the color up in various ways. This added to the aged look. Make sure you like this look as it will be pretty hard to get all pieces to look the same exact color! Once we let this dry overnight the final step was applying a protector. We used Polyurethane to protect the wood. When using this realize there are many different Polyurethane finishes you can use - matte, gloss, semi-gloss - it really depends on what look you are going for. We used a semi-gloss.
Two and a half years later and thousands of foot steps after and the floor still looks amazing - not to mention it is often a topic of discussion when we have guests over! We are so happy to not have those breaking tiles to walk upon any longer.
One tip to keep in mind when doing this - have plenty of pallet wood as you will need it!!! And if you have furry friends like we do, you may need to restain again at some point as these two have worn a path from running outside through the doggie door! Happy pallet hunting!!