Let's Talk About Kitchens - Video follow-up #3

Today we talk about backsplashes. Our beachy backsplash is currently the favorite thing in our kitchen. It was a pretty easy DIY project and the impact is tremendous. Better yet, it cost almost nothing! 

Supply List:

PALLETS - You will need pallets. We used 8-10 pallets for about 40 sq ft of backsplash area. Build in extra pallets because all boards are not created equal and you will be tossing some.   

PALLETS - You will need pallets. We used 8-10 pallets for about 40 sq ft of backsplash area. Build in extra pallets because all boards are not created equal and you will be tossing some.


RECIPROCATING SAW -  Some people call it a "Sawzall." Call it what you like you need to buy, borrow or rent one. It's by far the fastest way to get the top boards of the pallet free. By far.

ORBITAL SANDER - Again buy, borrow or steal one. You'll need it to sand each board until it's smooth.

CHIP BRUSHES - These are super cheap paint brushes. Get a variety of widths. If you live near a restaurant supply place, check it out for bulk packs of pastry brushes! 

Unless you're going for a specific look, you want to use FINISHING NAILS to attach your pallet boards to your wall.  If you want the nail heads to show, look for roofing nails. Usually, nails are bought by the pound.  One pound was more than enough for us.


  • Variety of paints and stains in your chosen palette.
  • Coarse and medium/fine sand paper
  • Safety goggles!!!! These are essential when you are breaking the boards away from the pallets. And, no, your regular glasses are not enough. You'll feel stupid if you have to go the ER with a splinter or worse in your eye. I will be checking.
  • Hammer
  • Rounded wood edging - depending on your kitchen you are likely to end up with raw edges. This simple pieces, cut to size, give your project a finished look. Find them in the "trim" aisle. 
  • Miter box/hand saw or (best bet) a miter saw (again - borrow, rent or buy) 
  • rubber gloves - if you have pretty hands and want to keep them that way

Okay - with the list and pictures you've probably pieced it all together. If not, here is the step by step process for creating a pallet backsplash.

  1. Collect pallets. Go to a commercial section of town and just ask businesses - particularly those with warehouses - if they have pallets. Some will sell them super cheap others will gladly load your truck. Get more than you think you'll need. You'll end up tossing the most uneven, warped or stained of the boards.
  2. Get out the reciprocal saw and cut between the bottom of the board and the top of the support piece. There is usually one nail on each side of the pallet for each board. Safety goggles are a must. I'd also advise wearing a decent mask as you don't know the origins of the wood or what it's been treated with. 
  3. Once the boards are free, pry any remains of nails out. Set up a work table - use a few If folding tables or create some makeshift tables with sawhorses and a board or old door. Put on your mask and safety goggles again as you reach for the orbital sander. Start with a row of boards and use your coarse sand paper to get the big chunks smoothed away. Do both sides of each board. When that is done - switch to the finer sandpaper to remove any remaining splinters and to open up the wood for color.
  4. Clean up the saw dust and wipe down your boards with a fiber-free cloth. Maybe take a shower as you'll be pretty dusty as well.
  5. If you haven't already, decide on a color palette. Use a couple of your sanded boards for practice if you need a visual. I used a combination of paints and stains to get the beachy look. I think a backsplash in variations of white (or any color) would be striking. I've also seen rainbow variations that are fun as well. 
  6. In this example, I used what I had:  Behr Battleship Gray, satin; Varathane Vintage Turquoise Stain; Behr Bright White; Varathane Worn Navy; Sherwin William's Eider White; Behr Dolphin and Varathane - Gray.  I randomly brushed the boards - not being super-thorough - you want a hint of wood to come through.  In the end, though I liked all the colors, I knew it would be too busy for me. I used Minwax White Wash Pickling stain over all the boards. Brush it on with a big brush and wipe it off with an old towel. You could do this with any stain over any colors. Gray stain over yellow-y boards would be amazing! So would blue stain over white/gray boards. Pick what makes you happy.
  7. Now is the time where it really helps to have a partner in crime. Measure your walls. Cut some of your boards into random lengths. From there, you use trial and error to see what works. When you have a pattern you like on one section, go ahead and nail it in. Use a hammer. If you have a lot of space to cover, use a nail gun to save time and avoid callouses. 
  8. Don't judge. Leave the kitchen. Take a bath, read a book, go to bed. View it with fresh eyes in the morning. If you like it, keep going. If not, pull it down and start over. It's important to leave time for fresh eyes. It's impossible to judge something when you've been up close and in its face for hours on end. 
  9. When it's all up, add the curved finishing boards if needed (those should be painted/stained in the color of your choice.) 
  10. Cover your backsplash with 2-3 coats of Polycrylic (NOT polyurethane which will turn it all yellow over time).  Give it a good 4-5 days to cure before resuming your usual kitchen activities. 
  11. Take lots of pictures and send them here!!!!


As always, if you have more questions or need more detailed information, please ask! I am more than happy to talk about these kinds of projects (for hours and hours LOL).  

If you find this helpful, please share it with friends, family and strangers.