backsplash follow up part 2: pallet wood

Let’s discuss the controversial pallet wood backsplash, shall we?

I’m totally in love with it as are many of you based on the sweet comments I’ve received. But I also got a ton of questions about how practical it is.  Let’s see if I can overcome your objections!

Several were concerned with its cleanability after a deep fry.  How will grease be removed?  Fortunately (for the backsplash and our health), we don’t fry much so I’m over that issue.  If you decide to replicate this look in your house, you can easily treat and seal the wood with varathane.  We like the look of raw weathered wood in this particular kitchen.  And you can take a soapy rag to it if necessary.

Let me take a minute to remind you that this is not our primary kitchen.  This makeover was completed in a beach house where the kitchen gets little use in comparison to our everyday kitchen.  We tend to use the grill more.  We certainly do prep work on the counters but overall wear and tear to the galley is minimal.  While I love the transformation, I’m not sure that I would do it in our primary kitchen that gets a ton of use.

And for the most controversial topic that was commented on…I’ve read quite a bit of hubub on the internet about the safety of pallet wood.  Or lack there of.  The concern being whether pallet wood is heat-treated or chemical treated as a shipping pallet.  Chemical treated being most dangerous. Pallets are supposed to be stamped with this information.  Fortunately, we do know a little bit of back story on the pallets we used and where they came from.  I am not going to pretend we know its entire life story as if the wood could speak.  “I was born on a cold winter morning in a manufacturing facility in Newark.” No. 

I soaked the wood in an ammonia based cleanser and scrubbed prior to use for my own piece of mind.  Research that I’ve done on the potential hazards of wood pallets seems to be published by plastic manufacturers as in plastic pallet manufacturers so I have to question the source and how much of a sales tactic it is.  At any rate, I am quite comfortable with the pallet wood on the wall.  I do not plan to eat off of it and there are no small children in the house.  Plus the counter goes up the wall about 6 inches so if food were to lean against the backsplash it would most likely touch the counter.  Anyway, this is our choice and it may not be kosher with others but that’s life!  We are comfortable with this decision as I am sure there are many other potential hazards we encounter everyday in and around our home. 

This reminds me…our headboard in the same house is made of an old reclaimed door.  Yes, as in lead paint.  We’re ok with that.  We took necessary pre-cautions.

If you really like the look of the backsplash but are not comfortable using pallet wood, you can certainly buy new wood.  We desired the aged and weathered look of the pallets.  Plus we like recycling.  I will also suggest using slate as your backsplash.  Many readers thought the wood was actually slate at first glance so you could achieve the same rustic look that way…and maybe fool people into thinking it is pallet wood!  It will obviously cost you more than FREE though.

And another reader was worried about the wood having room to expand.  I’m on top of that Rose.  There are little spaces between the wood.  See?

We take risks everyday.  That’s life.  What you bring into your home is your choice.  You have to find comfort in the materials you use to decorate and introduce to your family.  The vintage chair you picked up on consignment last week, you don’t know where that came from.  We choose to recycle and repurpose instead of constantly buying new.  It keeps things out of those pesky landfills.  And we like the eclectic style that recycling allows.  Bottom line:  Trust your gut when reclaiming materials for your home.

Did you miss the follow up on the laminate cabinets in the kitchen?

21 thoughts on “backsplash follow up part 2: pallet wood

  1. I love the idea, & your thought on what you bring into your house is your decision. I just bought a little cabin near a lake and wanted to make it my beach house! Love your ideas and will definatly be using the pallet idea in the kitchen. We have a friend who has lots of them in her barn for FREE!!!! Can’t wait to start remodeling in the summer! Thanks for your inspiration!

    1. I have been searching for a very different backsplash for my kitchen and yes I finally found it ,I am antique glazing my cabinets ,redoing countertops given it a very old and country feeling this will be perfect ,cant wait to find pellets and start doing it ,again its beautiful .

  2. Dana, I am still loving this backsplash! Thanks for this informative follow-up. I have reclaimed wood all over my house with lead paint on it. But we do not ingest it! Plus I am an artist, and the oil paints I use are toxic. There are many toxic plants in the forest, too. I do not eat any of them!!! ;P

  3. My wife and I just happened to fall about this site. We had been looking for an idea for our kitchen in our main (and only) home. I actually like this idea for us. We are in the process of giving our 1950’s kitchen some character with a wood and wine theme. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. We will be sure to treat the wood the same way you did first though. Take care!

  4. Regarding your door headboard, you said you “took the necessary precautions” because of the old lead paint. What precautions should I take?

    1. Paint right over it with primer, then two coats or non-lead based paint. Do not sand it at any point as to put particles into the air you breathe.

  5. I have tons of treated fence boards (never been used)… Could I use these to do the same thing you did? I am looking for a cheap, but cool looking backsplash ideas…


  7. Instead of treated fence boards, I used old flooring… cleaned it up, polyed it, and put it up… Absolutely love it… it has held up great so far and tons of compliments!

    1. Oh that’s another great idea. We’ve done a few old floorboard projects too but never thought to use them for a back splash. I’d love to see pictures of these reclaimed wood wall installations!

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