Pallet Wood Ceilings

These drawings show two ways of making wood ceilings with pallet wood. (click to enlarge)
These drawings show two ways of making wood ceilings with pallet wood. (click to enlarge)

Shipping pallets are incredibly useful for building. They’re typically free, widely available and very strong. The wood is cured, and often hardwoods such as oak are used in pallets. There’re just good to waste.

The two ceiling discussed here use short or longer pieces of pallets (or any wood, actually) that are cut to fit your ceiling joists or rafters. Measure ‘center to center’ – the distance between the center of one board and the center of the next board. The most common spacing is 24”. This is the length you will want to cut your pallet boards. This distance will likely vary and you’ll have to adjust the sizes accordingly. If you have longer boards from large custom pallets, go ahead and use them because they will add a little strength and save some cutting.

Method 1: (top drawing) This method uses pallet wood nailed on the underside of joists or rafters. Here, the wood framing is covered for a more finished look. You can use trim to hide the joints. This method is best suited for insulated ceilings.

Method 2: (lower drawing) You can also nail pallet wood to the top of joists or rafters to create a ceiling with open or exposed framing. This method would look good on a loft floor where no insulation is necessary or other areas where you want to highlight the framing.

The recommended finishing method involves pre-sanding the wood with a belt sander and 80 grit sandpaper. The wood doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, but it will look better if you clean it up and remove most of the roughness. Sanding makes finishing easier and also aids cleaning the ceiling in the future. The easiest finish is a wipe on Danish oil finish. The most popular color is called Medium Walnut. One coat is all you really need.

The following videos show various ways of disassembling or breaking down pallets. Combining techniques from various videos will greatly speed the process and minimize damage to the wood.
Introduction to Reclaiming Pallet Wood
Pallet Stripping Bar by Cargo Cycles (it wouldn’t be hard to make one of these)
How to Dismantle a Wooden Pallet
How to Dismantle a Pallet Without Splitting It (tip: use a 2 or 3 lb. sledge instead of an awkward concrete object)
Taking Apart Pallets – Sarah’s Workshop 1
How to Dismantle Pallets to Obtain Free Usable Wood for Construction and Woodworking
Hammering Out Ring Shanked Nails from Reclaimed Wood with the Nail BOSS
Cleaning Wood Pallets

We’ve already discussed how pallets can be used for floors, trusses and pallet/straw bale walls. And, in case you missed it, how you can use pallets as a base under straw bale shelters.

3 thoughts on “Pallet Wood Ceilings”

  1. Thanks for all these references and info. I think we may try constructing one of those pallet stripping bars. I know a few welders around here. :)

    Funny thing is to see how popular recycling pallets has become. Decades ago in the Maine woods they were scavenged and used by most of us living in the backwoods. My favorite pallet project was the four-bin compost complex. Provided a never ending supply of compost all year round.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.