Pallet headboard: pros, DIY tips, and design ideas

Today’s environmental requirements are increasingly prompting us to combat overconsumption and use recyclable materials. Today, the use of such solutions is no longer a rarity in home interiors. At the same time, everything is used – from building materials to packaging, especially if the materials are made from natural and safe components.

In the list of such materials, there are also some kind of favorites – something that becomes a trendy solution and, over time, gains significant popularity. This is precisely what happened with wooden pallets, which today are actively used in various design and decoration areas – and primarily in DIY. There are many options for using industrial pallets today; however, such solutions turned out to be the most demanded in the design of sleeping places. It is the headboards of the beds that are of particular interest in the framework of the latest trends. What are the advantages of pallet structures in bedrooms, how-to DIY, and in what interior styles you can use them – let’s take a closer look.

Pallets began to be used during World War II (1939-1945) to facilitate the delivery and transport of certain goods. The product packages lifted by small cranes were tightly placed on their surface, and the low sides significantly reduced the risk of falling.

Traditionally, one of the areas where pallets are most commonly used is the agri-food sector. However, since the late 90s, when the eco-activist movement began to develop actively, pallets were noticed precisely as an excellent example of products made from natural materials that can be reused.

Gradually, pallets’ potential aroused designers’ keenest interest who were looking for eco-friendly and extraordinary solutions for stylish interiors. Wooden pallets fully met expectations and today are among the materials in demand both for those who like to create something with their own hands and in furniture workshops. Such popularity is quite natural since it was due to the following advantages:

  • The very same environmental friendliness. Indeed, wooden pallets are a cherished natural material that always remains trendy and is especially relevant today. At the same time, we should discuss about its safety – but more on that later.
  • Naturally aged surface. With active use, wooden pallets darken noticeably, crack in places, slightly get dirty and acquire the same heterogeneous color and scuffs, which are extremely valuable in design trends that are relevant today – we will also talk about them in more detail below. Simultaneously, the wood does not require any processing to give such a “shabby” and time-worn texture – everything has already happened by itself.
  • Variety of solutions. Pallet structures of any kind open up ample opportunities for the implementation of the most unusual design projects. Simultaneously, in some cases, you do not even need to carry out extra work on fastening wooden boards: ready-made pallets can save time.
  • Availability. The price of new wooden pallets is meager. Moreover, in some stores, shopping centers, and enterprises, you can even get them free of charge – all you need to do is negotiate with a competent employee.

Pallet in interior design: appropriate styles for such solutions

Of course, not every interior will be friendly to this use of recycled materials, especially when it comes to the bedroom – where every detail’s aesthetics and perfection are valued above all else. However, there are directions in design in which such a solution seems not only harmonious but almost the only possible one. Let’s talk more about the most popular ones.

Industrial and loft

Using the attributes of trade and industry in the interior is an excellent move for industrial style. A bed with such a headboard will perfectly harmonize with concrete, metal, and rough textiles.


The simplicity and unpretentiousness of pallet structures is the best match for the laconic Northern European interiors, which gravitate towards natural solutions.

Farmhouse and rustic

Rough and time-worn wood fits into the concepts of both design options – however, in the first case, the wooden elements will need more subtle processing.


Only natural wood and nothing extra – this is entirely in the spirit of the times, welcoming ergonomics and laconicism. Just don’t forget about the impeccable fit and careful handling of the elements.


The pallet headboard is the perfect backdrop for the various color accents and decorative elements that characterize the most modern bedrooms.

Can pallets be used for the headboard?

Since the headboard will be located near you during rest, it’s time to talk about the safety of this kind of materials. At first glance, it may seem that there can be nothing terrible in an unpainted tree – however, this is a dangerous delusion.

The fact is that the wood of pallets can often be contaminated with toxic chemicals, harmful bacteria, and other substances and microorganisms, which is categorically undesirable in a residential building. That is why it is essential to pay attention to the following factors:

Pallet use

Borrowing wooden pallets from grocery stores and industrial plants is considered the riskiest decision. In the first case, the risk of harmful microorganisms remaining on the surface, including E. coli, is exceptionally high. In the second, no one guarantees that chemicals and other toxic substances were not transported on pallets.

The best way to prevent this is to buy a new pallet – especially since the products are inexpensive, and for a bed, you do not need so many pallets. However, if you still want to save money and take advantage of used structures, then take them from trusted stores – where there are no food products and hazardous chemicals.

Processing method

Wood for all pallets is necessarily processed following specific requirements. Each country has its own department responsible for this – for example, it is the US Department of Agriculture in America. Special treatment prevents the spread of pests and pathogenic microorganisms in the event of cargo arriving at its destination or in transit; therefore, this aspect is monitored especially carefully.

Today, there are two processing methods – thermal (in special ovens with heating to a high temperature) or impregnation with methyl bromide – a somewhat toxic pesticide that poses a certain health hazard. Although the use of methyl bromide has been significantly limited over the past few years, no one can guarantee that you will not get a pallet from the past.

In this case, stamps will come to the rescue, which must be affixed to the wood. Thus, pallets must be marked with IPPC – International Plant Protection Convention. The decontamination method is also indicated using the following stamps:

  • HT – confirms that the wood has been heat treated.
  • KD – wood was kiln-dried at high temperatures in a hermetically sealed chamber.
  • DB – the wood was debarked (only the top layer was removed without destroying the wood structure).
  • MB – fumigation performed (the same treatment with methyl bromide).

Of course, if you take new pallets, in most cases, you will hardly be able to find all the pallet documentation and study it thoroughly. However, the stamps will definitely help you out. If there is absolutely no marking on the material, then it is better not to take it for the headboard: you don’t joke with your health after all.

Pallet condition

Not sure if it’s worth saying that heavily soiled, cracked, or foul-smelling pallets shouldn’t even be considered for use in a headboard. Moreover, some designers do not even recommend considering slightly stained pallets. Of course, you can clean them and treat them with a disinfectant, but wood is a somewhat porous material, which means that treatment will not always help eliminate certain “harmfulness”.

However, even if the pallets are dusty or darkened but retained their integrity, you can reasonably trust such material. However, we will repeat: processing and disinfection of pallets are strictly required.

Types of wooden pallets for the headboard

So, if you decide on a headboard of this type, it’s time to think about pallets’ right choice. In this case, designers recommend paying attention to four factors, which will be discussed below.

Pallet materials

Today, pallets are supplied to the market from various materials – wood, wood composite, plastic, paper, and metal. Of course, we will exclude the last three points, but it is worth talking about wood and composite in more detail. The fact is that cases when both of these materials are confused occur quite often, so when choosing designs for the head of the bed, make sure that you have ordered just natural wood.

Construction type

Block (four-way) and stringer pallets remain the most popular types of pallets today. The first is a wide surface that rests on wood cubes. This design is beneficial for forklifts that can grip the pallet from either side – however, when using the pallet for the headboard, you have to tinker with it.

Stringer pallets, also known as grocery pallets, are supported on long beams that are perpendicular to the deck surface so that forklifts can only grasp them from two sides. A stringer pallet is most often considered more convenient from a design point of view since it allows the elements to be mounted without unnecessary carpentry work.

Functional surfaces

There are two types of pallets – double or reversible and single or skid. As the name suggests, doubles can use surfaces on both sides as a loading area, while a skid can only use one. If you want a voluminous headboard with wide gaps, you should choose a reversible design. For a more concise solution or planned rework, single-sided pallets are more suitable.


The pallets’ dimensions are recommended to be taken into account when calculating the amount of material for the headboard. Internationally, ISO recognizes six pallet sizes:

  • 1219 x 1016 mm (48 x 40 in.) – for North America
  • 1000 x 1200 mm (39.27 x 47.24 in.) – for Europe and Asia
  • 1165 x 1165 mm (45.9 x 45.9 in.) – for Australia
  • 1067 x 1067 mm (42 x 42 in.) – for North America, Europe, and Asia
  • 1100 x 1100 mm (43.3 x 43.3 in.) – for Asia
  • 800 x 1200 mm (31.5 x 47.24 in.) – for Europe

Wood pallet headboard direction: options

It is quite logical that when using pallets for their intended purpose, the wooden planks forming the platform are located strictly in the horizontal plane. However, when creating a headboard, you have many more options – and you can arrange them in the order that you think is the most aesthetic. However, today designers offer the following win-win options:

  • Horizontal arrangement. In this case, you do not need to invent anything – and you will receive considerable benefits. Firstly, the horizontal arrangement of the elements visually expands the sleeping place and makes it more comfortable; secondly, you have more decorating opportunities; and thirdly, in some cases, the headboard assembly will take much less time.
  • Vertical arrangement. It will be an excellent solution for a room with low ceilings, as it visually pulls the space up. However, if the room’s dimensions allow, your headboard may well turn into a kind of accent wall.
  • Vertical with elements of different heights. With this arrangement, the headboard becomes very unusual and reminiscent of a palisade – precisely what is needed for a farmhouse or rustic interior. It is noteworthy that in both dark and light colors, the headboard looks equally attractive.
  • Diagonal. You can assemble the back’s wooden elements with a herringbone pattern or create a one-sided diagonal – and it will look casual and elegant at the same time. Of course, you will have to spend more time on such a design, but the result is really worth it.

The choice of the direction of the pallet elements at the headboard depends both on the configuration of the room and the chosen interior style, as well as on your personal wishes. In any case, you can try to draw all the options that seem attractive to you – and imagine more clearly, which works best for you.

DIY pallet headboard: how to do

If you feel in you the strength to transform your bedroom’s design yourself, you are probably already searching for a suitable guide. We offer you one of the most uncomplicated instructions – of those that are considered essential today. In this case, the headboard is made in several stages:

  • Measurements. It is necessary to measure not only the bed’s width and the height from the bed along the wall to the desired point but also the length of the room to determine the thickness of the pallet you need. Based on the measurements obtained and focusing on the dimensions of the pallets that are available to you, you can calculate the amount of material.
  • Pallet treatment. With a saw, you need to cut the supporting part of the pallet. If you have a reversible pallet, it is enough to cut it in half lengthwise and remove the spare parts – or leave it as it is, if its thickness allows.
  • Fastening parts of the headboard together. Depending on the design and characteristics of the material, these can be either nails or special staples.
  • Decoration of the edges of the headboard. You can cover the top and ends with pallet strips or leave them open.
  • Headboard installation. You can put it against the wall or fix it to the bed – it all depends on your idea.

Of course, this instruction is suitable for the simplest pallet headboard. If you wish, you can create more complex structures – on the web, you can find a lot of different guides and masterclasses.

Wooden pallet headboard: exciting design ideas

So, we have already figured out how to build a pallet headboard – or, perhaps, you ordered this design in a workshop. Now is the time to think about what you plan to do with it next. If you like strict conciseness with a touch of vintage, then you can leave everything as it is, but if such a solution seems boring to you, then you may be interested in the following ideas:

Art painting

As we said above, decorating a pallet headboard with paint remains one of the most practical and affordable solutions. You can paint the wood in monochrome to match the bed sideboards, use contrasting vertical or horizontal stripes, or even find time to do full-fledged ornaments, patterns, or paintings. In any case, decorating a pallet structure in this way is an excellent way to integrate pallets into your chosen interior style intelligently.


The simplest and most effective way to make your bed with such a headboard even more comfortable is to decorate it with a garland of light bulbs – and you can choose their shape, size, color, and glow intensity yourself. This lighting scenario looks cute and casual in modern and minimalistic interiors. However, many go even further when it comes to a farmhouse or rustic – namely, they attach wall lamps of various designs directly to the headboard.

Shelf equipment

If the pallet’s thickness and the width of the gaps between its elements allow, you can use the resulting spaces as a kind of shelves. Of course, a spectacular and voluminous decor will not fit on them, but a book, magazine, photo frames, or small charming trinkets – will be right in place.

Transition to an accent wall

If you are in love with wood, then it is possible that the pallet headboard alone may not be enough for you. The way out in this case is quite simple: you just continue to spread the headboard higher up the wall. You may even feel the urge to go up to the ceiling. However, it is not necessary to suppress such desires since such a solution looks exceptionally stylish. 

A small disclaimer: you can only achieve a stunning look with the help of disassembled pallets and dense stacking of wooden elements relative to each other.

Using wall decor above the headboard

With a tight fit of the pallets in the headboard design, you can easily experiment with decor combinations. Best of all, if it is something vintage – black and white photos in shabby frames, posters in pin-up or retro style, as well as stylish inscriptions made in a deliberately sloppy font.

Fixing the decor directly to the headboard

A wooden surface is an excellent opportunity to design your bed the way you have long dreamed of. Regardless of what you use – favorite photos on clothespins, decorative flags, garlands with tassels, organza bows, tin lanterns, or decorative cotton wreaths – you will have a truly personalized bed.

The headboard for a bed made of wooden pallets is an environmentally friendly interior solution that meets the most current trends. Having taken care of selecting a safe material and carefully considering the design, you will receive a headboard design option that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

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