So yes, the DIY bug has definitely hit my husband and I.
Soon after we built our backyard pallet bar (you can check it out here), we wanted to do something else ASAP. We were talking about various ideas but were kinda dragging our feet a little bit. Mostly, we just couldn’t decide! Plus, we had some fun times with friends when we went to Long Point Provincial Park, which you can read about here.
After a Saturday morning coffee, sitting on the wooden stairs leading out to our backyard, I told my husband I really wanted a build a deck. And he rolled with it. No hesitation, none whatsoever. I’m so lucky!
When we moved into our townhouse, in 2004, we always said we wanted a deck. We’re big dreamers but always had better places to put our money. Tyler, our oldest son, had grown so tired of hearing us talk about finishing the basement and adding a deck, it literally went in one ear and out the other. Things were about to change.
We had quite a collection from pallets we’d already torn apart. He tore apart a skid, I sanded each board and put it aside in the garage. We only had a few pallets built up, so my husband spent a bit of time on Day One, going back and forth to work, picking more pallets up.
We decided to use orange pallets for our deck base. They were stronger and would make a good foundation to our deck. I definitely recommend using the sturdier pallets for this.
The pallet boards I had sanded and set aside were from plain pallets (not orange or blue). We definitely weren’t aiming for multi-coloured results, that’s for sure!
Our backyard is sloped… it’s the major thing I hate about our backyard, with the exception that this has helped us avoid a flooded basement each spring. But forget trying to set up a patio table… the uneven ground was definitely a pet peeve. Unfortunately, this meant more work.
We knew where we wanted the deck, it would continue from our wooden stairs and extend along one side of the yard, in front of our bar, and over toward the left fence, but not meeting it. We really wanted to have some grass area, and I had worked hard on the garden on that side of the yard. Basically, we just wanted a seating area.
This meant more work, because we had to create a flat surface by digging and building up the area to make it level before we could place the pallets. Unfortunately, because of the running around, and collecting the heavy-duty pallets for our base, my poor husband was pooched. I’m no weakling but I didn’t have the upper body strength to continue the work for him.
This was all on Day One. So when plan A was incomplete, I suggested prepping some more boards. Of course, the pallets weren’t cooperating and many split and cracked. We gave up and called it a day.
Day Two came along, and with zero complaints, my husband got to work. I think part of the problem was he hadn’t eaten all day the day before (silly man!), so for the second day, I made sure he had enough fuel and water to keep going.
We worked hard to place the pallets tentatively, digging and placing and moving dirt. It was such a time-consuming job. We knew it would be but still, it was a real pain in the butt. Once we were good to go, it was time to get started!
I brought the prepped boards out, and he brought his tools to the backyard, including his table saw. While I was making lunch, he got started, and I could immediately picture how the deck would turn out. He started applying the boards diagonally, and while it created a little more waste, wood-wise, the finished deck was going to be well-worth it.
Once the first pallet was covered, we were completely sold. I remember asking him what on earth took us so long to do this? Were we just being lazy? (I imagine that was part of it!). In the above picture, you can see me sanding the boards. Like my safety flip-flops?
We didn’t have a lot of prepped boards left, so we cleaned up the backyard and made a second attempt at tearing apart the pallets we had. We had the same issues as the first time. I’m not sure why this batch of pallets was so much more work. Not that the first few were easy, but they weren’t like this!
Enough is enough
My husband decided he wasn’t going to pry them apart anymore. It was time to bring out the big guns and just cut them apart. We didn’t need the full lengths, anyway, we were piecing the boards together as it was. Our light at the end of the tunnel!
We are the type of couple who definitely retires to the couch after dinner. We’ve been binge-watching Friends for a couple of months by this point, and I gave up the idea of watching more until the deck was complete. Still, no complaints from my husband. I gotta say, I was a little shocked but he said he was super excited about how it was turning out. He really wanted to finish it sooner rather than later, and who was I to argue?
Crowbars just weren’t doing the job, though. We lost a number of boards due to cracking and splitting. But wow, do we ever have a boatload of firewood for our chiminea! It was time to get serious. I did a quick search on Pinterest (be still, my heart) on how to dismantle pallets, and people claim they did fine with a crowbar. But what caught my eye was the number of people pinning about using a Sawzall. I emailed the video link to my husband. Within minutes, he was texting a friend to see if we could borrow one!
He brought three pallets home and the Sawzall. Within an hour and a half, he had all the stubborn pallets dismantled, and the pieces were sanded. What a time saver!
**Notice: The only thing I didn’t like about using the Sawzall was the fact that it cuts through the nails and then you’re stuck with nails still in the wood. To remove these, we had to hammer a nail into each of these spots and knock out the pieces. A bit time-consuming but still, it took less time than using a crowbar!**
We continued dismantling skids and sanding the pieces almost every evening during the week and built up a collection of boards to use to finish the deck.
On Friday night, we even skipped dinner to finish it. When we were done, we lit a fire in the chiminea, and BBQed a meal to enjoy on our new deck!
The following day, I used a paint tray and paint roller to apply the weather sealant. I used a large paint brush to carefully apply the “paint” to edges around our bar and around the stairs.
What You Need:
- a rough idea of how and where you want the deck
- base pallets to cover this area
- pallets to dismantle
- palm sander
- table saw
- measuring tape
- deck screws
- weatherproofing paint (we used Thompson’s water seal)
- paint tray/roller
- shovel and string line level (if your area is sloped or uneven)
Have you ever wanted to build a deck using pallets? Have you already done so? I’d love to see pictures if you have!