Using Wooden Pallets as a Building Material
06 Aug 2017
Upcyclers have long been a fan of the wooden pallet, seeing it as a versatile resource for building. They are now so popular that architects and designers are finding more inventive and attractive ways of using wooden pallets, from constructing family residences to creating temporary offices in high-density cities.
Wooden pallets can be used in a number of ways, including just as they are for what is sometimes called the upcycler aesthetic. Alternatively, wooden pallets can be taken apart and reassembled with glue or in other ways to be used for almost any purpose requiring wood. Plane, sand or stain the pallet planks, and you can have an attractive wood source for furniture, walls and interiors.
In the US state of Colorado, a Denver architecture firm used wooden pallets to add value to a distinctive and practical home. Wooden pallets were used to make shutters and screens to enclose the house, making it very private while allowing in plenty of natural light and allowing the home’s occupants to appreciate the views. Pallets in two-storey sections covered the building’s side windows, and some panels can be adjusted to increase or decrease privacy. The exterior of the house is white and the pallets were stained black, creating a stylish contrast that suited the home’s contemporary look. The monochrome theme extends into the house.
Creative Office Space
In Tokyo more than a hundred wooden pallets were taken apart and used to construct walls, floorboards and even furniture for a temporary workspace in the Japanese city. This was an innovative solution for a company that needed a space customised but was only renting it for an indeterminate period. Three types of pallets were used for the project. The best pallets were reassembled as a parquet floor, and middling-quality pallets were placed in stacks to make furniture and cover parts of the walls. The cheapest pallets were used to build a ceiling with tiers and integrated lighting. A screen of slatted pallet boards was also used to create privacy by covering windows facing onto the street.
Another innovative office area was created in a canal house in the Netherlands for an advertising company. Pallets were used to make a staircase, and on different floors of the house the pallets made areas for working, sitting or lying down. The pallets were deployed to complement the structure of the house and give it a unique character, which was then finished with accessories such as lighting and banisters. The use of pallets throughout the space unites it into an homogeneous whole.
Furniture designers are also discovering the huge potential of wooden pallets. One artisan based in Berlin has been taking pallets apart and giving the planks a new sophisticated finish. Once the boards have been planed and sanded back, they can be stuck together with glue to create interesting patterns and then cut to create boards in a variety of shapes for furniture. When the planks have been sanded, the grain and any marks on the wood are accentuated, forming a low-cost building material with lots of individual character. This is a great solution for those who are open to the idea of reusing wooden pallets but not so enamoured of their original rough-hewn finish.