How to Build a Simple Wood Pallet Fence

Having a wood or vinyl fence installed can be pretty costly. If all you need is a basic fence—and you don't care how fancy it looks—you can build your own fence out of recycled wood pallets. These pallets can often be obtained cheaply or for free from local stores or warehouses. The only other supplies you need to build the fence are plenty of deck screws, a drill, and a helper. Follow these instructions to construct your own pallet fence.

Step 1: Measuring

Use a tape measure to measure off the perimeter of the area you'll need to enclose. Add the lengths of all four sides (in inches), and then divide by 40 to figure out how many pallets you'll need. (Standard pallets are 40 x 48 inches, and you'll be placing the pallets on the shorter ends to create a 48-inch tall fence.) Grab a few extra pallets in case any of them break or are too warped to use.

Step 2: Laying out the pallets.

To make sure you have enough pallets and that all of the ones you plan to use are in good condition, start laying them out on the ground along the perimeter of the area you plan to fence in. If any of the pallets have warped sides, set them to the side. You won't be able to attach a warped pallet to another one.

Step 3: Drilling the holes.

Place a thin drill bit (1/8 inch works well) on your drill. Then, proceed to drill three holes into each long (48-inch) side of each pallet. The holes should extend from the side of the pallet towards its center. The holes should be placed as follows:

  • The first hole should be 12 inches from the top of the pallet
  • The second hole should be 24 inches from the top of the pallet
  • The third hole should be 36 inches from the top of the pallet (i.e., 12 inches from the bottom of the pallet)

You can premeasure and make marker dots at the location of each of the holes if this is easier for you. On one pallet in each corner area of the yard, drill the holes into the "front" of the side panel, rather than the "side" of the side panel. When you're done, each pallet should have six holes in it—three on each 48-inch side. The pallets should be lying side by side with their 48-inch sides touching.

Step 4: Attaching the pallets.

You will need a friend to help you with this step. One of you will need to hold the pallets in place while the other one drills. Start in a corner, as this will make it easiest to stand the fence up. Stand the two corner pallets up, lining up the holes on the "side" of one with the holes on the "front" of the other. Then, use your drill to drive a deck screw through each of these holes. When the screw is in place, the pallets should stand up on their own at a right angle to each other.

Lift up one of the pallets next to one of the corner pieces. Line up the holes and drive a deck screw through each one. Continue attaching pallets in this manner, alternating between sides of the fence so that one side does not become too much longer than the other (this will ensure the fence stays standing). When you get to another corner, attach the next corner piece just like you did the first corner pieces. Eventually, you will have an entire rectangle of fencing.

Step 5: Finishing the fence.

If you won't need the fence for long, you don't have to seal or paint it. However, sealing or painting will slow down the wood decay process and keep your fence functional for longer.

If you wish to seal the fence, simply purchase a few gallons of waterproof sealer and apply it according to the package instructions. If you wish to paint, start with a coat of acrylic primer. Let it dry and then brush on a couple of coats of outdoor paint, allowing the fence to dry between coats.

Step back and admire your work! You just built your own fence from recycled materials. If you need further help, get in touch with a fencing contractor from an establishment like Harrington & Company.