Rustic Pallet Wood Ceiling Tutorial


Submitted by Maple Leaves and Sycamore Trees


pallet ceiling tutorial rustic boys room2

First things first, this is what this room looked like prior…well several years ago anyway when Ryder was a baby. You can read more about that here.

before boys rustic bedroom

What made us decide it was time for a wee makeover was when I saw a metal bed in my neighbor’s burn pile one day. (Read more here.) I didn’t want to put a new (to us) bed in a periwinkle room. It was time for a change.  Check out how we pulled the room together.  For now here is the tutorial for the ceiling:


Hey, this is Mitch, from Maple Leaves & Sycamore Trees, resident carpenter, electrician, plumber, pretty much whatever I need to be to make our house more into the home of our dreams. (Pretty funny when you think about it, since we live in a two bedroom rancher.) Last week Kathleen posted pictures of Ryder’s new bedroomwith this pallet wood ceiling.


pallet ceiling tutorial rustic boys room

It all started several months ago, when she showed me some pictures on another blog where they made an accent wall out of recycled pallet wood. From the time that I first saw it, I loved the way that it looked and the whole idea of reusing old, weathered (and of course free) wood. It looks so warm and rustic which is right up my alley.

So last month, we were sitting in my son Ryder’s room and looking at the walls and the ceiling. We have both hated the ceiling in his room for a long time and you can see why. Hello, 1980s!

It was so ugly, dated and dirty white. Not what a little boy wants to stare at while he lays in bed at night listening to his Lightning McQueen storybook CD (for the thousandth time I might add).  So anyway, as Kathleen and I were there talking about what we would change in the room, she suggested that we paint the walls. Then if we are going to paint, why not do something to that hideous ceiling while we are at it. We both thought of pallet wood and before we knew it we had a new project (like we didn’t have enough to do already.)

Here is the room getting prepped to be painted after I pulled down the crown molding.

The painting part was easy, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to secure the pallet wood to the ceiling. I did some online research and pinned some helpful pictures and websites (yes I am a man and I am on Pinterest, don’t judge me). Although I didn’t find anyone that had used pallet wood on a ceiling, there were a few that had done some accent walls.

The problem was that our ceiling had a layer of half inch drywall with another layer of bugly (butt ugly) half inch ceiling tile. Also, the joists or studs in the ceiling were 24 inches apart. I decided that my best bet was to get some cheap particle board from Lowe’s and glue and screw it to the ceiling and ceiling joists. I think these 4`x8` sheets cost like $7 a piece.

Next I brought home from work about 40 old broken pallets. Thanks Good Food, Inc.(shameless plug for our new website designed by yours truly) for the donation. Note: pallets are not really that hard to find if you ask around. You can even find them on Craigslist for free.

I bought a reciprocating saw from Harbor Freight for $29.99 and used it to cut through the nails to remove the boards from the pallets. I made a mistake and bought blades with 6 TPI (teeth per inch). The first day of cutting I wore out a lot of blades really quickly. After switching to more adequate blades of 18 TPI, the boards came off in no time. Cutting them off like this is easiest and leaves the nail heads in the boards which gives the appearance that they were actually attached to the ceiling with these nails.

Apparently, Ryder is very excited about this project and to have his picture taken.

I only cut off the boards that were in good shape and not badly cracked or warped. After the boards were removed, I sanded each board with 120 grit sandpaper to get the large splinters and dirt off.

The boys are loving all these loud power tool sounds.

Ryder thought this board that had “Product of Canada” printed on it was cool. And of course being a born and raised Canuck myself, I did too. That board went prominently right above his bed.

I scrubbed each board thoroughly with a stiff bristled brush and soapy water and then rinsed them off. This got a lot of dirt off.

And then I let all the boards air dry.

I then sanded all the boards again with 220 grit sandpaper to make them smooth and remove any lingering dirt or splinters before finally being ready to attach them to the ceiling. I decided to use both wood glue and nails. It may have been overkill but the last thing I wanted was for one to fall on Ryder’s head in the middle of the night.

The first board.

Despite how this picture appears, I want to be clear that I do not have a Hitler mustache. I think it is a shadow on the wall or something.

Kathleen helped pick out each row by making sure they were all the same width and similar in color. I varied all the seams by randomly cutting a board to start each new row. The thing I realized as I went along was that the boards are obviously not perfect and there were occasional gaps and unevenness here and there but in the end its all part of the rustic character.

One of the many advantages of being 6`11“

After all the boards were all up, I reattached the crown molding.

And this is how it turned out with the addition a new modern ceiling fan.

It was a lot of time-consuming work but totally worth it and actually really not that difficult. And the best part is that Ryder loves it and can enjoy it for years to come. I know that pallet craft seems to be all the rage right now and may be just a fad, but it really does look cool. So if you want something unique, why not give this budget friendly project a try? With the right tools, I am sure that anyone can do it.  If you like this please check out the room reveal!

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Meet the Author: Cassity

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. She is an interior designer, wife, and mother of two. She and Justin have remodeled three Read More


  1. says

    Great rustic and unique look. I wonder how difficult it was for the fan to go up with the extra layer of ceiling around the electrical box. Very cool though and I love the decor chosen to accent and bring it all out.

    • says

      It actually wasn’t that hard. I just had to use long enough screws to mount it to the ceiling box. The other thing was we made sure the thickness of the pallet wood around the fan was exactly the same width so the fan would be level when I secured it to the ceiling.

  2. says

    I totally love this, i am so into the pallet reclaimed wood thing at the moment so really appreciate the inspiration, you really did a fabulous job on this, TFS

  3. Mike says

    Having worked in several warehouses in my past, I would not take pallet wood to make anything I put in my house, much less a kids room. I’ve seen some pretty nasty chemicals leech into pallets. Even if you get the pallets from a known source that doesn’t use nasty chemicals, pallets get recycled all the time, so you can never be sure unless your getting them from the original source, but then on course they wouldn’t look rustic either, unless you aged them yourself.

    • says

      I was thinking the same thing as I read the article. I wonder if a few coats of polyurethane or primer and paint would be enough to prevent the off-gassing of any chemical residue…

  4. Nury says

    Very cool and creative, I love this idea, and would love to also try it, how long did it take you to do all this?

  5. Lawanda says

    Thanks for the great idea. We’ve been trying to figure out how to do our ceiling rustic and affordable. The pallet idea is wonderful It’s exactly the look we wanted and I love the price……free! All of our trim is rough cedar, but that would be way to expensive to do the ceiling since we have to cover popcorn ceiling in a great room. Thanks again. We will send photos!!!

  6. Debbie Monaco says

    Thank you so much for providing a tutorial with your photo’s! We are making a mason jar light fixture for a farm house themed kitchen and this pallet ceiling will be perfect with it! Our old plaster ceiling fell last year, so we have an ugly, unfinished drywall ceiling to mount them too!!

  7. Pallet Furniture DIY says

    Hi,,, I love pallet furniture because it easy to make and not very expensive, thanks for share it. So continue your work about pallet projects. also i love diy things

  8. says

    This is so neat! I have a room with that exact ceiling tile and it’s awful! I’m very tempted to show this post to my husband and plead for a new ceiling! Love it!

  9. says

    Oh my Gosh – WHERE can I do this – LOVE it so much !
    Have to pin this –
    What a beautiful job you guys did – just to let you know here in Montreal you can take as many pallets as you want for free from Home Depot!
    Hugs from here to there

    • Cass says

      Hi Rob, this is a post from a guest so I can’t answer your question, but if you’ll head over to their blog (linked up toward the top of the post) then they can help! Thanks!

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