Pallet walls are up, roof framing begins

I spent my weekend outside working with pallet wood. It felt good to be making some progress on the Tiny Free House again. The walls are up and I even got started on the roof framing before I ran out of long 2x4s. I had been playing around with the idea of an asymmetrical roof line, but as I stood there, trying to figure out the right way to built it, I quickly realized how less sturdy it would have been. So I decided then and there to build a normal pitched roof. Building with pallets doesn’t make the strongest structure in the first place so attempting to build something even more out of the ordinary seemed like an invitation for more trouble.



I’m framing the roof with simple trusses that I build on the ground from pallet wood. Saturday morning I picked up a bunch of pallets including four over-sized pallets. They were about six feet long and longer which turned out to be perfect fit for my roof.

Some people see trash, I see lumber.

I decided that I didn’t want full pallets in the roof so it made more sense to break the pallets down into the lumber and build the roof from the raw materials. The six foot long pallets turned into very nice trusses. I’m not going to put a cross tie between the rafters because I suspect the loft will add enough strength to keep the roof from settling.



By making the trusses on the ground I’ll be able to keep the roof fairly square. Actually I was pleasantly surprised how strait the walls ended up. They are not as strait as a normal wall, but they aren’t as crooked as I expect them to be. They are also feeling more stable as I add more to the house.


Now I’m on the lookout for long pallets. I think I have enough standard pallets stacked up for the siding and maybe even the interior. So I’m going to hold off on collecting any of those until I use up the ones I already have. I’ve found that the long pallets are out there, you just have to know where to look. Auto repair and heating and air shops are great places to look for free pallets because these businesses get deliveries of bulky objects and regularly discard odd sized pallets.

Once I have the the rest of the wood for the roof framing collected, which is the equivalent of 24 6-foot 2x4s, I can finish the roof framing. I also need to find five or six 8-foot 2x4s for the loft.

After the rough framing is complete I’ll cover the roof in pallet boards, roofing felt, and some kind of metal roofing. I’m hoping to find some corrugated metal but I’m also playing with the crazy idea of using flattened #10 tin cans. I love the idea of tiny can shingles; that would be a sight.


15 thoughts on “Pallet walls are up, roof framing begins

  1. If you do a google image search “recycled cans as siding” there are some pretty cool things out there. My favorite is recycled pop and beer cans carefully washed and flattened and used as siding.
    I have a 1935 copy of a hardcover copy of “Make It Yourself” by Popular Mechanics press. There is a very detailed section on building an RV using a Model T undercarriage. It has all the bells and whistles–bed, kitchenette, the whole thing. It is a tent on wheels, the sides are canvas but there are lots of good ideas there. Everything old is new again!

  2. Have you considered packing peanuts or shredded paper for insulation? You could put plastic bags down in the walls, then pour in the fill.

  3. Actually I am thinking that styrofoam peanuts are probably the best stuff to use. I like your idea of using bags to contain the material, whatever I use. Thanks Elizabeth!

  4. I like your idea of the free tiny house. There are a lot of tiny houses out there now, but who could afford them if they were in an emergency situation. I would like to see you stay with simple materials and systems. things that might be available to poor people, or those in an emergency who can not wait for their insurance or FEMA money. Five gallon buckets make great toilets and sinks, with a valve of some kind even a shower or laundry tub. corigated card board has decent insulating properties,provided you keep it dry. Just ask any street person. think about katrina, one of the things to arrive first is bottled water on pallets, boxes containing food items and literally tones of clothing, much of which went to waist. much of the palleted items come shrink wrapped with plastic. Can you figure out a good use of cloth and plastic?

  5. I would stick with the traditional roof or go with a gambral roof for maximum loft space. I also think that the can roofing is to time consuming, and that in many poor arias and disaster areas mettle roofing can be salvaged from destroyed buildings or old sheds, its every where. If you want people with limited resorces to be able to replicate you design, keep it simple.

  6. Hi Micheal, Its me again.
    I know that it is spring on the farm, but I am so excited about your project that I check your site every day. I hope your planting gets finished so you can get back to new posts! Sorry to be so impatient, but I would like to try this myself and was hoping to bennifit from your expirience: read (learn from your mistakes). I want to get started soon. If I work past you, I’ll have to start my own blog!

  7. I almost got up there last weekend but instead worked on our economic victory garden and around the ‘big’ house instead. I think I’m going to need to take a day or two off work with Easter coming up. It’s going to be a big day.

  8. Pingback: Tiny Free House Update - Roof Framing Begins | Tiny House Design

  9. Hi Michael, I really like your pallet house!My Father built a conventional house but using plastic as sort of a barrier insulation thing and had a mold smell problem devolope inside the walls sometime after the house was completed.Just thought I would let you know about our experience with trying that.Best Regards James

  10. Hello….am thinking of constructing a single storey house of approx 1500sqft & am looking at the feasibility of pallet construction for the frame….is there any information available about pallet structures of my proposed size, would greatly appreciate advice etc; thank you

  11. I don’t think I’d try building something bigger than a small house or shed from pallets unless I were stacking them up like bricks.

    I’m just not sure you could get the support needed for a real second floor. I would also use dimensional lumber for the second floor loft or deck and in the roof for safety.

    In any situation I would not try building with pallets if the local building codes were too restrictive simply because it would be too much of a pain in the rear. :-)


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