How to Build a Deck from Recycled Materials

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Building a deck for your yard out of recycled materials is a great way to improve the quality of your yard for little or no money invested. Now, this is not going to look like a highly structured cedar deck you would pay thousands of dollars for, yet it is a great alternative when you are working with a tight budget or if you want to create a "green" backyard.


These recycled decks work great next to an above ground pool or in that shady area you just can't get the grass to grow. This project describes how to build a 12' X 12' recycled deck. You can easily change the dimensions by using more or less pallets.

Things You'll Need

  • 9 Pallets
  • 3 8' X 4' 3/8 or thicker Plywood
  • 2" Nails
  • Hammer
  • Jig-Saw or Skill Saw
  • Wood Sealer
  • Optional: Paint
  • Optional: Artificial Grass
  • Optional: Throw Rugs
  • Gather your material. Used pallets and plywood can be obtained from your local recycling center or landfill. They usually separate them and you will find a large pile somewhere on the property. For a 12' X 12' deck, pick up 10 pallets. Nine for the deck and one for extra wood that you may need to replace boards on the used pallets.

  • Level the ground the deck is going to sit on. Using the stake method described in the article "How to Level a Plot of Land" (see Resources), make sure the ground is level and free of large debris, rocks, etc.

  • For a 12' X 12' deck, lay down a 3 X 3 square of the pallets. Pallets can come in different sizes, ranging from 3'6" to 4'. Arrange them so the outside edge of the pallets are even.

  • Cover your 3 X 3 square of pallets with the sheets of plywood. Choose one side to run the plywood evenly on. The other side may hang over the pallets, depending on their size. The last piece of plywood may also hang over the end of the last row of pallets. Nail down the plywood to the pallets with 2" nails.

  • Trim the plywood with a jig-saw or skill-saw along the edges where the plywood is hanging over.

  • There are several options to covering your deck. At a minimum you should treat the plywood with a sealer. After your wood is sealed, you can treat the top of your deck anyway you want. Artificial grass, carpet, and throw rugs all work well on top of a recycled deck.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure the ground is level before you lay your pallets.
  • Walk on pallets before installing plywood. Find any uneven areas and add soil to make them even and secure.
  • Always use caution when using power tools!
  • When trimming the plywood, clear the area underneath. Ensure the saw blade will not hit rocks, soil, etc.

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  • Photo Credit Chris 27 | L.E. Duncan | Luis Brito
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