Pallet beds look all fine and dandy #Organic #Zen #D.I.Y.Porn. But either nobody ever explained the surprise ISSUES that can result from making one, or we are just super unlucky. With our track record with this house lately, it just may be the latter…
A pallet bed is pretty simple to make and can be done in a number of ways. We’ll take you through how we made ours but then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, we’ll tell you just how badly we fucked it up in order to save you from maybe ruining your house like we may have.
Why a Pallet Bed?
We’re not small guys and we like our space at night, especially because I’m a roller. So a king size bed was a must, which in Newfoundland costs more than $2,000! Any chance for us to pay $0 for something while renovating, we took it, and pallets were an abundant resource we just couldn’t pass up.
So, there are a ton of pallet bed designs out there…
… but most of them have a large overhang from the mattress to the end of the bedframe. And open slats of rough wood and nails do not a comfortable dismount make. It hitches clothing easily and it’s painful to accidentally walk into.
Also a lot of them are super low, many only 6-12 inches off the ground, which may work fine for temporary living or in our college years, but now fresh into our 30’s, we like the littlest effort getting in and out of bed.
So we planned to make a high frame that fit the mattress.
How to Build
Step 1: Find Pallets
- There are a million places to get pallets you just have to keep an eye out for them
- People sell them on Kijiji and other buy/sell sites for as low as a few dollars each, but what’s the fun in paying for them?
- You’ll see them placed out by dumpsters especially at warehouse stores, the mall or furniture shops
- Check your local dump or recycling centre as they usually have tons
Step 2: Choosing Pallets
- You’ll need 12 for our version
- Select pallets based on style preference whether you like the weathered look, painted (blue and orange are common) or fresh wood. We went for the greyed weathered look.
- For easiest build, avoid super dirty or oil stained ones or those that have planks that have become unsecured or about to split. You don’t want ballets that won’t be able to handle your weight.
- No need to get all the pallets the same day and don’t be desperate and take just anything. Pick up the best ones as you see them.
- We ended up missing a very important step in this phase which we cover later in the “What the Fuck Have We Done” section.
Step 3: Planning
- We planned to make the bed 3 pallets high, and 2×2, the height of a standard bed.
- The short end of a pallet is the same width of half of a king size bed or a twin mattress. As we already had two twin mattresses lying around, it was perfect (And again, free) to use two twins.
- Measure the length of your mattresses to see how long your pallets need to be.
- Once more, we missed a step in the planning process but we’ll chat about that later.
Step 4: Cutting
- Two pallets lengthwise are too long so you’ll need to cut half (6) of the pallets so that the combined length of two pallets are the right length of the mattress. We used a reciprocating saw.
- To make cutting easier and cleaner, select pallets where the required cut off length, can be done within the gap BETWEEN slats. This avoids additional and likely uneven cutting.
Step 5: Preparing the Pallets
- Hose down or handwash the pallets as necessary and let dry. If you selected good pallets from the start, much cleaning won’t be needed.
- Ensure all nails are flush in their placement, if not, either hammer them in or pull them out altogether
- Sand all external facing edges and corners. Best to use a handheld electric sander if you want to save time. Sanding the corners will limit snagging issues and bloody toes later so best to do this right. This could be done by hand with sandpaper as well but it will take longer.
Step 6: Putting it together
- To protect your floors put some strips of carpet scraps or an alternative material under the corners and edges of the first level of pallets.
- If the pallet stacks are uneven at all, mix and match pallets between sides til they’re even across the top. The carpet/cushion material can also be used to adjust height as needed.
There you go! If you’re lucky, you’ve got a problem free bed and life is fantastic!
But if you’re us, on the other hand, you royalllyyy fucked it up. And here is why:
What The Fuck Have We Done?
Why the HELL does our house smell like an onion flavoured skunk??
This may have been the last thing we expected.
The same day we set up the bed, we also opened up exterior vents to the attic that had been closed up. The next day we started to notice a bit of a funky smell in the bedroom, like the subtle scent of warm used gym shorts soaked in fermented potatoes. But we couldn’t pinpoint from where.
We handled the pallets ourselves, washed them and had aired them outside so had no reason to suspect the bed. It seemed more likely it was the aroma of a home of dead squirrels in the attic floating down?
So we left it assuming it would pass….we left for the weekend for 3 days. And boy were we in for it…
We came back with Larry’s aunt visiting from Halifax to show her the house. But once we opened the door, we were ASSAULTED by an unholy smell that filled the house like a thick morbid gas. It smelled like we needed to exorcise the house of bad spirits again…
After much investigation, we tracked it to a part of one of the pallets that wreaked to high heavens. We have no idea how we didn’t notice this to begin with.
We burned the pallet and aired out the house. And even though the pallet wasn’t even touching it, the mattress captured the smell so well it had to be washed like 10 times and aired outside in the sun for almost a week before it finally went away. And we were DAMN lucky it did, any longer time festering in the house and it may have become permanent.
Morale of the story, have a good long whiff of the pallets before you start using them for ANY project.
Our House is collapsing…
As mentioned in past blogs, our house is almost 70 years old. It’s made of all wood and held up off the ground by timber and a few cement blocks. Because of the age and material, the house has shifted over the years causing floors to become uneven.
After many months, the second floor seems to be giving way a bit. The floorboards seeming to come loose and slanting ever so slightly towards the centre of the house.
We’ve come to learn wooden houses like this breathe/contract between winter and summer and could be attributing to some of the shifts. But also reviewing the design of the house it looks like it may be missing a load bearing support pillar on the first floor.
But the floors seemed sturdy to a standard so it never occurred to us to take into consideration weight when putting in a bed.
An average bed frame averages from 90 to 180 pounds. Our three layer bed is 270 pounds (Upwards of 200 pounds more than many beds) and was placed in the centre of the house on the second floor.
Since realising the sinking floor issue we moved the bed to the exterior wall for greater support. We are monitoring how the floors react as we move back into summer (If it matters at all) and we’ll be putting in a new support pillar for extra measure.
For your average house this shouldn’t even have been an issue. But make sure you take the structure of the house into consideration when building furniture that may weigh a lot more than your average pieces.
Overall we think we have and will be able to overcome these issues but if left unmanaged could have become disastrous.
Don’t let this discourage you from making the bed though, it’s really awesome, just make sure to learn from our mistakes!
So until our next disastrous attempt at a DIY project, follow us on:
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Chris & Larry