With the tough economic times, furnishing your house might be a challenge, whether you are newly employed and moving into your first apartment or a married couple furnishing their home. However, there are creative and affordable ways of reducing costs, and using pallet boards is one of them. These off cuts can easily be turned into unique pieces of furniture for your home.
Mr Cleophas Nyagaka, the founder of Fine Urban Interiors, says pallet boards have several advantages that can benefit anyone looking for affordable furnishing.
“Not only are pallet boards cost-friendly compared with materials like plastic and metal, but they are also recyclable,” he says. “For example, if you had the boards set up as a table and have no more use for the table, the boards can be rearranged and used to make a shelf or shoe rack.”
He adds that the boards are durable, and that wood is easily reparable if it gets damaged.
Pallet boards might seem like simple, plain bits of wood, but there are numerous ways in which you can decorate and personalize the boards to make them appealing and to also match the theme of your home.
“Pallets need not be plain. The boards can be decorated by attaching metal designs to them,” suggests Mr Nyagaka. “Also, designs can be carved onto them for an artistic finish.”
While the use of pallet boards is not common, Ms Karen Rollier, an undergraduate theater arts and film technology student at Kenyatta University and co-founder of the Cake Art Affair social event, has enthusiastically taken to using them.
“I think normal furniture is boring. It is too uptight and monotonous,” says Ms Rollier. “You can’t really have a different variety of designs of what you want with ready-made and furniture.”
She says she first saw the pallets used at a friend’s house and decided to also use them in her house. She adds that the boards save on space, are comfortable and cheap, which makes them affordable to students, who don’t have a regular income.
Pallet boards are versatile and can be used to make a variety of items, including tables, chairs, shelves, walls, ceilings, beds, shoe racks and even hammocks.
“Many Kenyans are not aware of just how economical pallet boards are,” says Ms Rollier. “For example, for my sofa, I used six pallets, each of which cost Ksh 350. Having the cushions made is what might be a bit costly.”
But she has a suggestion on reducing the cost of cushions: getting a heavy-duty mattress and cutting it into the desired sizes.
So for less than Ksh 7,000, you can have a complete and beautiful sofa set that is durable, compared with buying a ready-made sofa set for several times that amount.
Another advantage of pallet boards is that they can be bought almost anywhere and are easy to transport.
“Pallets are sold everywhere. If you get a woodwork store, you can easily get them. On average, the boards cost Ksh 500 apiece, but you can get them even cheaper, depending on how many you want and where you are buying them from,” says Ms Rollier.
Her enthusiasm for the pallet boards has caused several of her friends to invest in the boards while furnishing their homes too.
“Once people realize how useful pallets are, they become eager to use them. And pallets are not just for home use,” emphasizes Ms Rollier. “They can be made into office desks and shelves. Pallets can also be used at large social events as a form of seating. The pallets are even used by hawkers in town as stands for placing their goods.”
But like with everything else, the wooden pallet boards have their disadvantages.
“Because they are wooden, the boards can attract invasive insects and pests such as cockroaches and termites,” notes Mr Nyagaka. “So it is important to fumigate the pallets before using them to ensure this is not a problem.”
Other problems include molding, if the wood is exposed to moisture and difficulty cleaning the wood since the agents for cleaning the boards are generally expensive.
Ms Rollier says that one of the major disadvantages of pallet boards is the sawdust that sheds from the sawdust blocks that are used as leg stands. “If your pallets have the sawdust boards as leg stands, your house might end up often being dusty. However, you can avoid this by buying chair wheels and having them fixed to the pallets,” she says.