How to Make Flooring Out of Used Pallets

Lisa Wampler

You can repurpose old pallets, which are often made of old hardwood, and use them as flooring for a home. However, you must do a lot of work to get the pallet boards in shape for flooring.

Pallets can make for interesting flooring.

This includes planing the boards to uniform thickness and adding a tongue and groove into each board so you can lock the boards together on the floor. Although the process is not difficult, it does require a significant investment in woodworking equipment.

  1. Disassemble the wood pallets by prying the surface boards off the pallet framing with a claw hammer. Remove every nail no matter how small it is. If you do not, you could damage the cutters on your equipment.

  2. Pass the boards through a thickness planer to smooth out one face of the board. With one face smoothed out, flip the boards over and then pass them though the thickness planer until each board is smooth and has a uniform thickness. Keep the boards as thick as possible to ensure they remain rigid.

  3. Place a board on its thin edge and pass the board over the blade on the jointer until you have a complete cut across the length of the board. Flip the board over and repeat the process. This creates square edges on the board. Repeat this with each board.

  4. Place a board on the base of the miter saw and then cut each end of the board. This creates a square edge between the sides and ends of the board. Repeat this with each board. It is okay to have random length boards as this will make for interesting flooring and it will help to make the floor rigid.

  5. Measure the thickness of your boards with dial calipers and set the rip fence on the table saw half that distance away from the center of the groove blade (which is ¼-inch thick) on the table saw. Set the depth of the groove blade at ¼-inch high.

  6. Pass one edge of each board over the blade to cut a groove into the side of the board. This is called the “groove.”

  7. Subtract ¼-inch from the total thickness of your board and then select a saw blade that measures half the thickness of your total. For example, if your pallet boards are ½-inch thick and you cut a ¼-inch groove into the center edge of the board, you need a blade that cuts at least 1/8-inch wide.

  8. Move the rip fence on your table saw so the back edge of the blade just rests in front of the rip fence.

  9. Pass the edges of the board opposite the “groove” side past the blade. Flip the board around so the side of the board you just cut faces away from the rip fence and then pass the board over the blade a second time. This leaves a ¼-inch slot protruding from that side of the board. This is called the "tongue." The boards are now flooring and are ready to install.