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  #1  
Old 01/29/09, 11:27 PM
cnsilver
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: SC, NC
Posts: 40
can I build a deck from pallets?

Hi everyone! We are wanting to build a deck off our homestead(the rusty cabin; aka airstream). We would like to build it about 25 by 10 ft, greatly expanding our living space but the cost of treated lumber deters us. There is a pallet place down the road from us and I have gotten several pallets already. I hear it is very durable wood, it would be very affordable although time consuming. Does anyone have suggestions or designs we could use? I have searched this site and googled but found very little. We would like to have the deck to be off the ground level with the camper. Thank you for all inspiration and wisdom in advance

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  #2  
Old 01/30/09, 12:00 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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Will the deck be covered by roof?

How long do you want/need the deck to last?

Painting the wood will help keep it from drawing moisture, and will prolong it's life before rotting. Many times, pallets are built from lumber that is still pretty wet. It will need to be dry wood before you paint it. Lots of hardwoods don't hold paint well, which are two things that should be mentioned. You could just keep painting it, maybe once a year, to keep the wood sealed where it flakes off.

You might be surprised how long the deck will last if it is painted and maintained correctly.

Just a couple of thoughts to help you in your endeavor.

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  #3  
Old 01/30/09, 01:22 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Southern Alberta
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Hey, that sounds like a great idea! Also, keep in mind that there are many different sizes and configurations of pallets, matching them would be ideal. Also, they would have to be staggered somehow to provide strength between gaps. Other than those details, it sounds like an interesting idea.
In my opinion, most of the pallets I've encountered are a little TOO seasoned, meaning they've been left outside to rot. I use them for firewood, and mine are always dried right out.

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  #4  
Old 01/30/09, 03:48 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: SW WA
Posts: 8,803

There is a book about building decks from pallets and other "free" lumber - I have a copy of it at home. Of, course, I'm at work right now and can't lay my hands on it. I'll try to find it in the morning and post the name of it.

The hardest part of building with pallets, in my experience, has been trying to drive a nail through them. If you can predrill your holes, it saves a lot of frustration.

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  #5  
Old 01/30/09, 05:18 AM
In Remembrance
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,844

I would be concerned about the gaps between the slats being trip hazards. Perhaps you could make it 8' x 24' and then use six sheets of 3/4" outdoor plywood (staggered seams) to cover the pallets. Paint with deck paint and plan to repaint about every other year.

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  #6  
Old 01/30/09, 06:19 AM
just_sawing's Avatar
Haney Family Sawmill
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Woodbury,Tennessee
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NO NO NO
I know that you can accomplish a deck cheaply with pallets. I have cut pallet wood on my Sawmill, some of the wood wood work, most will not. Pallet wood is normally the lowest grade of wood that I can find period.
Get with your local independent Sawyer. I would be happy and do on a regular bases swap labor for wood.
If you have access to trees get with someone knowledgeable and a couple of mature trees will build something that will add value not take it away. The problem with many things that we are forced in to (At least we perceive that we are forced) are the wrong way to go. Believe me I have been there. I once built a barn for 25 dollars out of slabs from a sawmill. At least I thought I did, The 40 hours of word the blisters from cresote and the diminished value to my farm the price was different.

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  #7  
Old 01/30/09, 06:49 AM
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Indiana
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Do a search for "building with pallets" and you will find a wealth of information. In the past my DH and I built many things using pallets. One of them was a 10 x 16 deck. Will the deck last forever? No. Will the deck be perfect? No. Will it serve it's purpose? Yes.

We use boards from pallets we tore apart to fill in the gaps in the deck. Once we had the deck built, DH sanded it down and applied Thompson's water seal.

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  #8  
Old 01/30/09, 06:53 AM
Banned
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 119

I would never build anything that might bear any human weight with pallet wood. As a poster above points out, it's not great wood, and all the pallets I've ever seen degrade quickly.

You'd be rebuilding it again before you know it - you might as well use more durable wood and save yourself the trouble of rebuilding down the line.

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  #9  
Old 01/30/09, 07:13 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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My expeirence with pallets has been good so far. We store large round bales of hay on them to keep the bottoms of hay dry. These bales weigh 1000 lb. and the pallets survive several winters of this use.

When we had no grass started we had a pallet sidewalk like in the old west to dodge our mud bog. Still have pallets for back steps because of our budget. Not pretty but it does the job.

I would suggest the following:
*you have to level the ground they are on so that they are flat on top, very time consuming process.
*staggering is a good idea because otherwise they like to shift.
*putting plywood down over the top should keep a nice flat floor to displace weight as you walk across it and if screwed together right it would add stability.
*paint or treat the plywood so it doesn't rot.
*consider a very slightly sloping angle for water to run off instead of pool up
*use some rebar or metal spikes of some kind at corners and middle, just under main floor to keep pallet frame from shifting and sliding around under use.


While I agree that a well made porch of quality lumber is the best idea I also understand budget considerations. If you are in an airstream I am not sure that a porch would diminish property values. If it does and you need to sell out disassemble it and burn it.

As for safety, just use common sense like with anything else that is home made or homestead related.

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  #10  
Old 01/30/09, 07:14 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: kansas
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our neighbor has a nice one built from pallets.

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  #11  
Old 01/30/09, 08:56 AM
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Just howling at the moon
 
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Yes you can. I built a 8x10 platform that was used as the floor of a steel storage shed. I was a lot of work but the results where more than saticfactory. I tore several pallets apart to add a layer of boards on top of the pallets to work as decking to keep the gaps to a minimum.

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  #12  
Old 01/30/09, 09:20 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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I want to add that alot is going to depend upon the type of wood and quality of the pallets.

We, too, have a pallet company in town. Some of the pallets they build have very, very thin 1/4 face boards. These are often pine or spruce that have lots of big knots. I would never consider using these for a deck.

They also build pallets using face boards that are native hardwood and are over 3/4" thick. Sometimes I wonder how this rough sawn material was selected for pallet grade, instead of furniture grade. Lots of it, mostly white and red oak, is really nice.

Can you get enough of the pallet material to make it worth while?

Is it free?

Clove

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  #13  
Old 01/30/09, 09:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnsilver View Post
the cost of treated lumber deters us.
Another option:

You could buy the treated lumber as you go. Maybe you just buy a few boards a week.

I have an uncle that was pulling himself up by his boot straps. He lived in a camper for several years, and then upgraded to a house trailer.

We all kind of smiled politely when he talked about building a new home, believing that he would never be able to afford it.

Want to know how he did it? He lived on a very strict budget. Every week, when he went to town, he bought $10-$20 worth of material, and stored it under the house trailer, and later in a barn that he built.

His distractors howled and laughed, saying it was impossible to build a house out of a few boards.

But those few boards add up over time, and today, he has a house that no one would be embarrassed to call home. It appraised at over $130,000 in a very depressed area. It truely is a nice home.

So why not buy a few posts this week, and again next week? Eventually you would have enough for a full deck. Being treated material, the weather will not affect them much. The great thing about treated stock is that it usually can be re-used later, just in case you build another deck.

Clove
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  #14  
Old 01/30/09, 09:43 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clovis View Post
Another option:

You could buy the treated lumber as you go. Maybe you just buy a few boards a week.

I have an uncle that was pulling himself up by his boot straps. He lived in a camper for several years, and then upgraded to a house trailer.

We all kind of smiled politely when he talked about building a new home, believing that he would never be able to afford it.

Want to know how he did it? He lived on a very strict budget. Every week, when he went to town, he bought $10-$20 worth of material, and stored it under the house trailer, and later in a barn that he built.

His distractors howled and laughed, saying it was impossible to build a house out of a few boards.

But those few boards add up over time, and today, he has a house that no one would be embarrassed to call home. It appraised at over $130,000 in a very depressed area. It truely is a nice home.

So why not buy a few posts this week, and again next week? Eventually you would have enough for a full deck. Being treated material, the weather will not affect them much. The great thing about treated stock is that it usually can be re-used later, just in case you build another deck.

Clove

That is a really inspiring story on many different levels.

Thank you for sharing.
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  #15  
Old 01/30/09, 10:36 AM
In Remembrance
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,844

Pay as you go. Reminds me of my visit to Croatia in 2001. From what I could understand home mortgages are virtually unknown there or the interest rate is quite high. Those who build houses do it largely themselves over a period of years. Foundation this year. Some walls the next. Etc. When they get it enclosed they move in and then live/build as they can go.

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  #16  
Old 01/30/09, 10:54 AM
cnsilver
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: SC, NC
Posts: 40

All points considered and welcomed!! I just might take a calculator to Home Depot and figure what is the cheapest board foot that are sold and consider adding on in the future. Thanks Everyone!

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  #17  
Old 01/30/09, 11:27 AM
Honorine's Avatar
Carpe Vinum
 
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Location: PA
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Here are some pallet building sites

http://en.espritcabane.com/garden/pallet-wood-deck.php

http://www.backyardchickens.com/coops/pallet-coop.html

http://www.i-beamdesign.com/projects...e/refugee.html

http://summerville-novascotia.com/PalletWoodShed/

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  #18  
Old 01/30/09, 11:52 AM
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I like the Few boards at a time idea.
But Id take it one step farther.
It seems like you can always find a few boards. left in dumpsters. thrown out after a remodel, excess to a building project. used blocking Etc
Pick em up at takem home! Soon you have a house full.
Look around in industrial areas lots of things get shipped on Nonstandard pallets that are then scrapped. Lots of 8 10 or 12 foot wood in these.
And just to make you drool the Navy ships gun turrents in a "Pallet" 14' wide 24 ' long with 8"x 12" stringers on 16' centers and 2 inch flooring and the sides are 3/4 plywood on 4"x6' posts all oak cept the plywood!

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