Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Man Cave Wall, Part Three: Walking on the wall

Ever since pallet walls have become a 'thing', The Hubs and I have wanted one. It speaks to our Texas roots, the country-and-we-love-it down home feel that makes us comfortable. So when we had to take down an entire wall of the man cave and start from scratch, we knew how we wanted to replace it.

The Man Cave before we got our hands on it. We saw potential.

Pallets were placed in our backyard, and we researched how to take them apart, how to weather them so they looked naturally weathered, but wouldn't give you splinters if you rubbed up against them.

Months went by. The pallets sat there.

See, a pallet wall looks awesome. Sounds awesome. But it also sounds like a whole lot of work, and we already have a whole lot of work to do on this house. Why did we want to create more?!

Walking around Home Depot on Saturday morning (Home Depot is the new Target) The Hubs suddenly stopped, pointed to an end cap display and said "THAT'S what we will use for the wall."

Laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring?!?!

I was hesitant (how would that look? Would you be able to tell it was flooring?) but seeing as I had no desire to saw off pallet pieces, sand down rough spots and hammer out nails, I was willing to give anything a try. Even laminate flooring.

We loaded up three different colors: Saratoga Hickory, Alameda Hickory and Lakeshore Pecan. With three different patterns and colors, we hoped to make a random design on the wall, not unlike what you would get with pallets.

An online tutorial suggested Liquid Nails on the back of the flooring to attach it to the wall, but I very strongly suggested to The Hubs that we skip that part. In the off chance that we wanted to change the wall in two, three or fifteen years, putting liquid nails on it would destroy it completely, and we would have to do yet another redo on it. Since the boards locked together, we decided to try and lock them in place and then use a SUPER DUPER POWER TOOL to ensure they stayed up.

This thing was LOUD. And effective.

Disclaimer: I'm not like other DIY-ers. I HATE power tools. They scare the buh-jeezus out of me. I am always worried that I will be the idiot that trips while carrying the nail gun, accidentally shooting myself in the foot. I would rather spend 10x as long with a regular hammer than with something that has to plug in.  I also forget that power tools can be used to aid in small tasks. Many times The Hubs has walked into a room where I am grunting with a screwdriver, straining to "Leftey-loosey" a tight screw out. He reminds me that that is why electric screwdrivers were invented, and pops out the screw in 6 seconds. 

The Hubs borrowed a brad nailer from a friend, and besides making me jump every time he touched it, and making the kids cover their ears and watch with wide eyes, it worked perfectly. The flooring pieces stayed up easily.

The bottom row was the most important row, for if we got that part level, the rest would be simple. We spent close to 45 minutes probably on that row alone, leveling, then raising the boards 1/8 of an inch. Lowering, then raising, lowering then raising the whole way across until we got to the end. It was tedious to get it exact, but once that was level and set, we didn't have to do it for any other row, so the rest went much faster.

Row one. Done!
It didn't take long - less than 6 hours start to finish for the entire wall. That included multiple breaks to get the kids snacks and drinks, a good 1/2 hour to try and fry eggs on the sidewalk, and the numerous cuts that were made to fit in smaller pieces. See, when we got to the end of a row, we had to cut down many pieces to make them fit. Fortunately, we were able to work in most of the cut pieces throughout the wall so we didn't have to waste full pieces by cutting them. The theme of the process was "Make it work". If it looked good, and it fit, we made it work. Nothing was uniform. There was no "wrong way".

Looking good!

Spacing around the outlets and wall unit was the hardest

When we got to the second to last row from the top, we realized that it might have been better had we started at the top and worked our way down. We have a 3 1/2 inch strip at the top because a full board didn't fit. My suggestion to you would be to measure EVERYTHING before starting and figure out how it will fit before beginning. After completion, it didn't seem like a big deal - the strip at the top looks perfectly fine to us, but maybe you would want that at the bottom, where it might be covered by furniture? Up to you.


Wowza. It looks awesome.

We still have a few things to finish on the room (quarter round molding at the top. baseboards along the bottom, electrical extension on the boxes to make them flush with the new wall). But at least the most time consuming part of it is done. And just in time for football season, too.

Time now to turn this barrel into a pub table!

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