How to Distress Wood & Create a Faux Pallet Wall

For a while I’ve been wanting to create a pallet wall but what has stopped me is I wasn’t sure where to create the wall but mostly all the collecting and dismantling of the pallets.  At work we were brainstorming ideas for a backdrop for a video series we are going to do so it was  a perfect opportunity to try it out.  The process to create the faux distressed wood was pretty easy so I thought I’d write my first tutorial on how to do it.


Tools You’ll Need

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Saw blade
  • Nail gun
  • (optional) Ziplock bag full of random nails and screws

Materials You’ll Need

  • Wood Stain (I used Minwax Jacobean and Ebony wood stain)
  • Pine wood (I used 1×4’s in the project)
  • Sand Paper

Time It Takes

The process of distressing the wood took about 45 min.  Staining and building took two half days because of dry time.


Before you begin, you’ll want to grab a hammer, chisel, and/or anything that looks sharp from your tool box like screw driver, paint can opener, old saw blades. You can also grab some nails and screws and put them in a Ziplock bag (grab a couple of bags because they will get holes in them pretty quick). Once you have all of your tools and materials…it’s time for the project.

Any size nails and screws will work for this project. I had a cup full of random screws and nails that varied from drywall screws to tiny nails that hold up picture frames

Step 1.

Lay all of your pieces out next to each other. If your wood has nice crisp edges, take a sander (or sandpaper 220 grit) to them until you get a soft edge. There isn’t a science to this part, just knock down some of the edge so that the wood doesn’t look like it came from a box store.

Step 2.

Take your bag of screws, hold them a foot or so above the material and drop them on the wood. (If you have kids, this is a good part to get them involved). Drop, rub, throw the bag on the wood so that it creates dents and scratches on the planks of wood. At this point you can take any of the sharp items and do the same. I took my hammer and paint can opener and randomly hit and gouged the wood to create a more dramatic look in some areas. Once you’ve gotten all the aggression out and your kids are hyper, it’s time to send them back into the house 😉

Keep in mind that the deeper the gouge/dent and the longer you leave the stain on the wood, the darker the wood will be when it is finished. I found that even though I felt like I went overboard on the dents and scratches, I could have actually done more.


Step 3.

With a rag, spread the stain on 1 piece at a time.  The longer you leave the stain on the wood, the darker the final piece will be.  After the first coat dried, I went back and gave some pieces a second coat.  On the picture above, I used various coats to create the pieces but all of them (excluding the top right) are all coated with the same color stain. Remember that inconsistency is ok and is preferred here.  Here is what my pieces looked like after I was completed.


Step 4. (optional)

After the wood was dry, I laid all of the pieces out to see what they would look like and see how the seams would come together.  Because most of the pieces were the exact same size, I cut the wood pieces in random widths so I would get more of an inconsistent look when I put the wall together.

Before cutting your wood, take into consideration how you will be gluing/screwing these together….the more pieces you cut, the more gluing/screwing you’ll end up doing adding time to your project


Step 5.

Start at the top right of your wall, make your first row level and begin nailing into your wall.

There are various techniques to affix the pieces to your wall.  Take into consideration that if you are installing onto drywall, you will have a bunch of holes in the drywall if you ever want to remove the wall.

Here is what my wall turned out like (sorry for the bad photo)



I hope this tutorial helps you on your next project!

6 Responses to How to Distress Wood & Create a Faux Pallet Wall

  • Michael
    Hi, Just wanted to see what type of stain/color you used for the pallet wall? Looks great! Thanks!
    • ChristanP
      Hi Michael, I used 2 types of stain: Minwax Jacobean and Minwax Provincial (the darker stain), but most of the boards were stained with Jacobean. To get a varied look, I took half of my boards and only let the Jacobean stain sit for 2 minutes. For the rest of them I let the stain sit for the rest I varied the length of time I let the stain sit to achieve slightly darker stain.
  • Jenni
    I am planning on doing an accent wall in my bathroom. The original tutorial used liquid nails to affix to drywall and that idea concerns me a little. My hang up is the fact its in the bathroom and the steam from the shower... We will not be taking this down so nail holes are not an issue but then comes my next question. My wall is only 3' wide there's no way to hit stud every time I nail into the drywall so won't they just come out? Should I do both liquid nail and nail? Please help
    • ChristanP
      Hi Jenni, without knowing exactly where your studs are located on the wall, I'd suggest using liquid nails. The adhesive is pretty strong and should hold the wood onto the wall as long as you give ample time for it to dry/cure. Make sure to follow the dry time and you should be ok. Good luck! I'd love to see photo of before and after.
  • Stephen
    What color is the wall behind this?
    • ChristanP
      The wall was a tan color and I didn’t have any problems with it showing through.

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