The past year or so has changed so much of what and how we do things in so many ways. For a lot of people it has also been the year that has bought more focus on family, health and overall wellbeing by changing the way we work and live.

The lockdowns caused by the pandemic meant that, although key workers or those employed by essential businesses were required to continue going to work, many people were furloughed or asked to work from home. Those working from home often found it difficult or impossible to find a place of peace and quiet in which to concentrate within their family home, because of this the popularity of garden rooms began to soar. Garden rooms come in a range of sizes and styles but some people found that even the most basic was beyond their budget; this meant that many resourceful workers began to look around for materials that they could use to build a garden room on a DIY basis, either very cheaply or for free.

Pallets are commonplace throughout the UK, once they have fulfilled their delivery purpose they are often surplus to the requirements of the recipients and are either taken to recycling centres or offered at low cost or for free, some companies will even deliver large batches at no charge.

The wood used to make pallets in the UK is generally a combination of hardwood and softwood, the most common being oak and pine. Care should be taken as older pallets were often treated with toxic chemicals, check for an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) logo and do not use any with an MB stamp, which stands for methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide, you should also reject any that have no markings at all. Pallets safe to use are the newer ones from Britain, Canada and the US, these are largely heat treated and the IPPC logo will include an HT stamp.

Having checked that your pallets all have the correct IPPC markings and are safe for you to use, you should now sort through them looking for any errant nails sticking out or any that are just too damaged to use. Once you have finished disassembling each pallet and ensured that all nails have been removed you can store them until they are needed, whilst your pallets are being stored it is advisable to cover them with plastic sheeting or a tarpaulin, wet pallets are not pleasant to work with. Some pallet garden room builders do not disassemble all of their pallets, preferring instead to use whole pallets as a kind of prefabricated panel to construct the walls; this is a matter of choice.

Before any construction begins you will need to give a great deal of consideration to the size and style of your pallet garden room and where you will position it in your garden. You should also consider what it is to be used for – whether it will be a dedicated garden room office or a multipurpose garden room for the whole family to enjoy, as this is likely to affect the size and style requirements. Once you are satisfied with your design you will need to level the ground and lay a foundation, you cannot just build straight off the ground as your pallet garden room may be affected by settlement, also pallets, even those that have been heat treated, will eventually begin to rot if laid on the ground without protection. A good foundation will allow you to use a damp proof membrane and insulation, vitally important if your pallet garden room is to be used all year round. We recommend that you rear our article on laying a foundation for garden rooms for additional information in relation to garden room bases.

Popular and Recommended Types of Garden Room Bases

The next stage is to lay your damp proof membrane; if you have opted for a concrete base then this could have been laid one stage earlier if preferred, under your concrete foundation. A damp proof membrane (DPM) prevents rising damp from entering your pallet garden room from below, concrete is actually quite porous and moisture can travel through it into the flooring level.

It is advisable to insulate your pallet garden room floor, particularly if you intend to use the room all year round as a great deal of heat can be lost through the floor. There are many types of insulation available to suit a garden room floor; these can vary greatly in price so it is well worth shopping around for a good deal. For advice on insulation please read our article on garden room insulation.

Garden Room Insulation

Many people choose to construct their pallet garden room in the same way that one would build a timber framed building, using the disassembled pallets as external cladding. These pallets can also be used for interior cladding in the same way if desired, or another form of lining the interior walls can be used, such as plasterboard. Insulation can be added prior to fitting the cladding. The disassembled pallets can also be used for the roof with a weatherproof covering of your choice laid on top; tiles, shingles or even roofing felt are all suitable material for a pallet garden room roof. Another way of construction is to use each pallet as an individual prefabricated panel and joining them in a row to make the walls, using this method you are limited to keeping the size to match a fixed number of panels. The floor can be constructed in the same way but the roof will probably need to be built in a more traditional manner as pallets are rather weighty. Insulation can be inserted into the void between the pallet sides. Disassembled pallet wood can then be used to clad the exterior and also the interior if desired.

After working so hard on your pallet garden room it would be a shame to skimp on the glazing, shed style single glazing may be the cheaper option initially but double glazing is definitely the more cost effective choice as it will pay for itself very quickly with lower heating costs. Double glazed windows and doors can often be found cheaply in local classified ads, social networking sites or online auctions, you may even find them listed as free to collect!

The finishing on pallet wood is rather rough so it is recommended that you spend time sanding your cladding before applying wood stain or paint, this will give it a really smart and professional finish. Pallet wood can also be used to make window boxes and planters, filled with colourful flowers they will make the perfect touch to a successful project.