Reduce Plastering with Recycled Wood Cladding

It’s easy to make wood cladding with pallets, barnwood or other recycled wood. (click to enlarge)
It’s easy to make wood cladding with pallets, barnwood or other recycled wood. (click to enlarge)

Top view showing four methods of adding wood cladding to earthbags or pallet walls. (click to enlarge)
Top view showing four methods of adding wood cladding to earthbags or pallet walls. (click to enlarge)

Look at all the benefits of recycled wood cladding: almost completely free, reduces or eliminates plaster work, creates an interesting and beautiful contrast to plastered walls, can use short sections of wood from pallets or scrap wood. Wood cladding is a good way to avoid plaster work if you’re more of a carpenter than a plasterer. It’s a great way to add warmth and texture to your home, hide any irregular earthbag walls and utilize some of the recycled materials that our wasteful society has piling up everywhere. And best of all, wood cladding like this is super simple and easy. You could even do this on gently curving walls!

I want to hammer home the advantages of using wood cladding instead of plaster. For many, it goes beyond aesthetics and convenience. For instance, you may live in a very cold climate where plaster work is not practical or the cost of plaster is not affordable. You could use wall cladding, and similarly wood siding on the exterior if you want, to continue construction work through the winter.

Construction notes:
– Rent or buy a used brad gun and air compressor to speed production and eliminate hammering and bouncing wood. (Sometimes you can get good deals on used tools.)
– Rent or buy a chop saw, orbital sander and bench size table saw for greater efficiency.
– Prep the wood in advance. Do all the cutting and sanding preferably outside with a good dust mask.
– This method is perfect for pallet wood. Use a saber saw or sawzall to cut off the slats. Then use a chop saw or radial arm saw to trim one end. Then use a stop block to cut all the pieces to the same length.
– The vertical nailers can be made by using several short pieces put end to end. Example: pry off 1 meter slats with a hammer and crowbar for use as nailers.
– Save the best looking wood for cladding. Use inferior wood on the back part of nailers and where it won’t be visible.
– Tamp the earthbags relatively flat as you stack the bags. It’s more difficult to straighten/flatten the walls after the bags have dried.
– For best results on straight walls, use string-lines on the floor and ceiling to align the nailers. Make sure all the nailers are plumb and spaced correctly so the cladding fits neatly.
– To reduce waste, the spacing between nailers can be adjusted to match the size of your wood. For instance, you may decide to cut the slats off pallets instead of prying them off to save time and effort dismantling pallets. Allowing 1” for trimming the ends, you would have boards about 15” long for horizontal cladding.
– You could cut rabbets on the shoulders of the vertical nailers with a table saw as shown in drawing #3. It may be easier to assemble the nailers from smaller pieces of wood as shown in drawings #1 and #2. Join the pieces with a bead of glue and brads.
– Use logging spikes, large nails or possibly ¼” rebar (put in bench vise and flatten one end somewhat) to secure the vertical nailers to the wall. Drive in the spikes or nails at different angles so the nailers can’t pull loose. Counterbore for the nail head so the cladding will sit flat.
– Cladding can be installed with cladding boards set edge to edge (flat) or lapped like exterior siding (see photo).
– Other designs are possible: modified batt and board, angled, chevron.

Interior Pallet Walls

2 thoughts on “Reduce Plastering with Recycled Wood Cladding”

  1. I appreciate your blog Posting on Plastering work.i work with plaster and stucco here in Boston Massachusetts, always looking to learn more about my trade.


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