Recycled Pipe and Pallet Walls

This is a short blog post that’s based on a simple concept I haven’t seen done yet. The aim of this method is to speed and strengthen the construction of pallet walls. Feedback is definitely welcome.

The basic idea is to build posts about 6-1/2’ (2 m) apart with recycled steel pipe (galvanized is best) set in cylindrical concrete footers. The posts would go up through the inside of the pallets. You could use wood poles, recycled wood, etc. instead of pipe. I’ll focus on using pipe here because a lot of people live in areas where pipe is more practical. Some people have access to well drilling pipe or other kinds of recycled pipe. Wood is scarce in some areas. And some areas have high winds where the added strength of steel is advantageous. The posts extend above the pallets for attaching a top plate or beam.

Questions? Comments? Use the search engine on the right side of the page to find dozens of uses for pallets, including more info on building pallet houses.

2 thoughts on “Recycled Pipe and Pallet Walls”

  1. Your idea is sound.

    Many old rusty chainlink fences have excellent pipe that might work well. Many people think rusty chainlink is ugly and want it removed. Don’t be afraid to use the long crossbars that span atop the chainlink between posts.

    In my humble opinion, pallet walls are the type of design where a builder needs to be flexible. Instead of engineering a strong structure, then looking for the perfect materials to build that design. Try changing perspecive and work backwards to get to your design.

    Go find what materials are easily and cheaply available at your location, then adapt your design to take maximum advantage of those materials.

    Seek out other peoples’ or businesses’ trash heaps. Find items that can strengthen your structure and design around those items.

    Perhaps you can’t find pipe, but can find lots of scrap fence wire? Use the fence wire as reinforcement inside concrete columns that run inside the pallet walls? Of course, someone can always disassemble a bunch of pallets and glue up their own large laminated beams and columns. Just be sure to use a strong waterproof adhesive.

    My point is to adapt. Find materials first, then start designing around them.

    It has become standard practice for a land buyer to have a survey completed before purchasing land. That survey then gets incorporated as the baseline in beginning to design a house to place on the property to take maximum advantage of the site.

    I suggest taking that general concept father, beyond the property lines to the surrounding area and community. Just as it is important to look at sun angles, terrain elevation, soil condition, and other factors before beginning to draw up plans. Take inventory of all the resources available on the property, and NEAR the property that are free or inexpensive, and easy to acquire.

    A quality property inventory might include such things as rock/sand/clay already on the property and where. Including how difficult or expensive it will be to excavate and amend. The inventory should also include any scrap materials left behind by previous owners. Is there an old structure to be dismantled? Piles of debris? Creating a rough inventory of what is there may provide useful insights and inspiration about using those materials in building new structures.

    A high quality surrounding community inventory might include the types of materials available at the local landfill or dump, and the distance away they are. The types of things found in local dumpsters. Local sites where there might be construction debris, and distances to each one. Is there a woodland nearby? Does it have an abundance of undergrowth with saplings? Do nearby properties have useful debris? Is there a nearby river that has riversand? What about fieldstones causing a neighbor farmer headaches for his plow? Old cracked concrete slabs nearby that need to be removed that would make excellent urbanite? I picked up some magnificent limestone slabs along side a highway roadcut once. They naturally broke into flat layers and were falling out of the hill right next to the highway. Made great walkways. These kinds of resources should be written down and locations noted. Don’t forget to inventory local businesses such as hardware stores and lumber yards, for the occasions when purchasing new tools and materials is appropriate. If he nearest lumber yard is several hours away, the designer needs to keep that fact in mind.

    I keep a small notepad in my truck. Whenever I drive by something that looks useful, I write down what it is, and where I found it. Then at an appropriate time, I can look up who owns the property and give them a call to see if they want to get rid of it.

    90% of getting free building materials is paying attention and not being embarrased to just flat out ask someone if they want stuff hauled away. Don’t be afraid of someone telling you “no.” As long as you are polite and friendly, most people will appreciate that you asked instead of simply driving up and trying to take stuff, which happens all too frequently in many places. A smile and a friendly voice is as negotiable as currency.

    Sorry if I wandered off topic, but I kinda got on a rant, but I hope it’s a worthwhile rant.

    Getting back to the main point. If someone is building with pallets, those pallets are coming from somewhere that has pallets. You don’t typically find pallets stacked up in a wilderness. They usually are found stacked up in areas where there are multitudes of other materials getting thrown away. Pay close attention to that waste stream. The answer to strengthening your walls probably is waiting there for you to find it, if you are willing to adapt the design to make it work.

    • Lots of great points. Thanks again for sharing, Jay.

      He’s right. Free for the taking building materials are often all around us. Most people don’t notice these things because they’re used to buying everything new. Places like industrial parks, abandoned mills and old farms often have tons of useful items. To them it may be junk and they’ll be glad to see someone haul it off.


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