I’m currently planning to build a family eco-village made using pallets for our own little family village but am wondering about the challenges of building with pallets.
Pallets are often made from hardwood which is really hard to work with. Pallets are also not super sturdy when you screw, nail, or bolt them together vertically. They are really best lying flat and supporting the weight of something heavy. I suspect that laying them horizontally and stacking and nailing them together might be a smarter way to go.
This approach would also make an incredibly insulated structure on almost any size. Think of it like building with any kind of big block, much like how one builds with straw bales or adobe. The difference here is that pallets can be found in trash piles and have an open cavity that would need to be filled with some kind of insulation.
Roof – The roof should really be framed from dimensional lumber. Pallets walls seem safe enough but anything that goes over your head should light weight and strong. A conventionally framed roof seems the most logical. I don’t think I’d ever put a flat roof on a house myself. I’ve got a flat roof now and have been fighting a leak so a shed or pitched roof with a metal surface seems like the best way to go.
Floor – The floor could also be made from pallets but covered in plywood and laid on a dry flat surface. Placing wood pallets on the ground will invite termites and other infestations. I think the best floor in this house would actually be a concrete slab which would also act a a nice heat sink.
Walls – The walls could be covered with anything, stucco, pallet boards, plywood, etc. I like the idea of stucco because the walls as so thick it almost looks like an adobe. The wall cavity would be filled with some kind of insulation. I imagine some kind of low emission environmentally friendly spray foam would be ideal. Stuffing the pallet cavities by hand with something like packing peanuts would be another potentially free option. But the spray foam just seems like it would be much faster and air tight.
Windows & Doors – In an adobe the openings are framed with large wood bucks made from at least 2×6 pressure treated lumber. A header is then embedded in the block wall above the opening. The walls here would be much lighter than adobe but window and door bucks with a header over them seems like a good solution for pallet walls too. The windows and doors themselves could be hand made, dumpster dived, or store bought.