Low-cost Landscaping: Build a pallet deck

With a bit of care and some nice finishing touches, a deck made from pallets can be a good low-cost choice for a small patio area. While a pallet deck won't last you nearly as long as a deck built from treated timber, you can at least hope to get a couple of years out of it and it will only cost you the price of a packet of screws.

What you will need

as many timber pallets as you can get
decking screws
1 roll weed membrane
gravel

Tools

handsaw
hammer
power screwdriver
spirit level
crowbar
belt sander

Preparing the frame

For the deck frame, you're going to need a number of uniform pallets in good condition all over. Lay out your pallets in the shape of your deck and move them around until you are happy with the final position. Mark around the deck shape, remove the pallets and dig out the soil to allow for a layer of gravel beneath the framework for drainage. If the ground is not level, level it as you dig. The site should be as level as possible after you have dug out.

Put down a weed membrane and cover with gravel before you place the pallets for the frame back into position. Push the pallets together and level them using a spirit level. You can use pieces of broken slate to lift the edges or corners of the pallets until you are happy that the whole frame sits level in one direction and with a slight fall for water run-off in the other.

Preparing the boards

Now you need to remove and de-nail the straps from all the pallets you have left. Choose only boards in good condition and discard any that have splits in them. This is a time-consuming and somewhat monotonous task so get someone to help you if you can.

Once you have a good pile of pallet straps, sort them into sizes and saw off any ends that are split.

Laying the boards.

Your top boards should run in the opposite direction to the boards on the pallets making up the frame. Start in the middle of the deck making sure you lay your first board across two of the pallets that make up the frame to hold them together. Cut the boards so that they finish in the centre of a strap and stagger the boards as you go to hide any imperfections and give your deck a rustic feel.

Screw down the boards using deck screws and be careful not to put too much pressure on your drill as you may split the thin straps.

Continue screwing down all the boards until you have covered the whole deck area.

Finishing

Using more straps from pallets, edge off the faces of the deck so that the underlying framework is hidden.

Your finished deck won't look as good as a real deck but it will have a certain rustic charm and will be good enough for a small table and chairs.

Finish it off by sanding down the boards with a belt sander and apply clear decking seal to help prolong its life. You can also apply tinted decking oil to smarten up the boards.

Finally add a few well-placed containers and allow for some planting around it to soften the look of the deck




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