View Full Version : Building a pallet maze, any suggestions?

08-01-2007, 02:11 PM
We are building a pallet maze for our haunt this year, any helpful hints, suggestions, ideas are welcome.

08-01-2007, 02:51 PM
we did one a few years back. we just put 2x4s across the backs vertically at the point where one pallet meets the next. the bad part is we foudn that the wood they are made of is super hard and the dry wall screws had a hard time going in.
as an after though we added cheap cob webs and black light and it came out like this:

08-01-2007, 03:43 PM
Not all pallets are created equal!

Some pallets are made of hardwoods and are very heavy and difficult to work with.

Try to find pallets made of pine.

Your screw-gun (and back) will thank you.

08-01-2007, 10:47 PM
LOL. I wish I had known that when I got my pallets. Of course beggers cant be choosers. I got mine for free. and if I remember right I think my Makita drill gave out not long after that haunt build.

damon carson
08-02-2007, 10:20 AM
Pallets are a bad choice. If they are all you have goodluck. Hopefully your putting them up inside somekind of structure. Not to mention very flammable if these things get on fire they go up quick. A local want to be haunted house here sets up with pallet walls. For several years they put this shack of a haunt up out in this piss poor location of a field with a drive for a parking lot. The wind blew this thing over countless times. I guess the weight involved and them not being all that stable caused the walls to rock and shift and basically have a domino effect. This thing blew over twice in one year before they ever got the damn thing open. Imagine going through this wreck on a stormy windy night! Actors saying your gonna die in here. And you literally do! Pallets I say bad news in many cases.

Jim Warfield
08-04-2007, 07:23 AM
Pre-drill slightly smaller holes before attempting to screwgun them together.
I would not make any pallet wall higher than a total of two pallets.
If the pallets are the other kind then you will need ALOT more of them to make one wall but it will gross people out, especially if the teeth are left in place.
Better get to work real soon! Glue might work?

08-04-2007, 10:02 PM
jim, as always, thanks for the words of inspiration

08-05-2007, 06:30 AM
It's a lot more work, but I thought of taking them apart (at least partiallty as they are difficult to take apart) and rebuilding them. I am in the process of collecting about 200 pallets from a local factory. Sounds like the guys who put up a pallet maze that continuously collapsed had no idea what they were doing. Using the right pallets and securing them properly should hold up just as a free-standin haunt made of plywood.

Jim Warfield
08-05-2007, 06:51 AM
Well sure. You could drive steel fence posts into the ground, slip the pallets down over the posts, then cross-brace across the top . Sounds like an anti-earthquake design to me!
Sand bags put inside the pallets to make it more bullet-proof.
All palllets are NOT created equal! A local factory(since gone) had nice pallets from France, those were taken apart and they became all kinds of things.
Quite a few room additions and garages around here were built from World War Two ammunition boxes, $10.00 for a huge truckload, a price the ambitious 1950 Fathers couldn't pass up.
What is your time worth? It all takes time to do..........
Some will always have more money than time and vice-versa.......

08-05-2007, 10:06 AM
Sometimes I'll use pallets to create an aged effect. Ill build the room or hallway out of the pallets, then ill take some broken drywall and attach it. Then Ill take my hammer and just beat the hell out of the drywall.

this will give you that really old slapframe look. Take some black spray paint and lightly dust the holes you have made, and that gives it a little age.

Jim Warfield
08-05-2007, 01:28 PM
Holes seem to usually increase in size with the years, nostrils flare , lips droop, so no dark spray paint needed on this old face, I already got it going on.
with pallets I always worried about a massive sliver suddenly sticking out and impaling someone.

08-06-2007, 05:13 AM
We have about 12 pallet walls we use. But, never more than one in a row of walls. Mingling them amongst your plywood walls keeps things safe and secure. Two years ago, we lucked upon some great 2x8 pallets all ready to go as walls.
Since we are inside this season and dealing with a different fire marshall, I'm hoping she will pass the use of our dozen pallet walls since they are sprayed heavily with fire retardant.

damon carson
08-06-2007, 03:20 PM
Ya these jokers with an entire haunt made out of pallets. One I believe werent using all pine pallets. Two they were using some of the heaviest oldest stuff you could get. And not to mention this thing was outside with a black plastic roof over it. LOL! Anyway I have used pallets in a small area before for like a black maze and it worked. Its just I wouldnt use them for anything but that. And maybe for a part you want to run cool lighting and fog through. And maybe make it look old and aged. Plus soak them in fire retardant. Now dont get me started on osb board. I call it SOB board. Ha!

08-06-2007, 04:14 PM
Now dont get me started on osb board. I call it SOB board. Ha!
Actually, if it wasn't for taking over the thread and changing the direction of it, I'd ask you to get started on OSB. There's nothing wrong with utilizing OSB whatsoever. In fact, most of our walls have been created by OSB and they are great.

08-06-2007, 05:09 PM
i agree with empress,

for those of us who are non-profit, osb is the cheapest and most sturdy way to make walls. it just needs to be protected from the elements, otherwise it will get ruined, but other from that OSB is great and inexpensive.

08-06-2007, 08:03 PM
We use a mix, of wood pallet's , OSB
and 6x10 chain link fence panels.

08-06-2007, 09:00 PM
We use a mix, of wood pallet's , OSB
and 6x10 chain link fence panels.


we were discussing this week about using chain link panels. Would you mind sharing how you make yours and how tall and wide they are?


08-07-2007, 06:26 AM
The panels ,I build are 6' X 10' .6' feet tall'
I start with a square frame of pipe, weld it up.
attach the fence to the frame with clamps
Once the panels are built.I use a Kennel clamp or (butterfly clamp)
to attach the panels to each other, The butterfly clamps let you angle the
panels left or right. Most of the fence parts ,come from Lowes,
a roll of fence 6 x 100 runs about 82.00 . =10 panels
"One big dog kennel..lol " The best thing about the panels is storage.
Last year i had about 100 feet, this year, i hope to add 200 more feet.


08-07-2007, 07:14 AM
The panels ,I build are 6' X 10' .6' feet tall'
I start with a square frame of pipe, weld it up.
attach the fence to the frame with clamps


I don't think any of us have welding skills. Would it be taboo or a bad idea to build the frames from 2x4s?

08-07-2007, 11:38 AM
"Give me 30min, I could teach you to weld..!"
Or the other option, Lowes does offer a Aluminum Gate Corner.' 90 degree'
You just slide in the pipe and bolt it up. I think they run about $ 2.50 each,
Lowes and Home Depot,have a large hardware section for the chain link fence
stuff, most of the time they have the How to papers to install fence. thats
how i got started.

08-07-2007, 04:54 PM
using chain link fence....would save money????

08-07-2007, 08:18 PM
using chain link fence....would save money????
After I began adding up the prices of the gate corners, poles and clamps for each panel (We already have chain link), it seemed to be a big pricey to me, as well. I think we'll forgo the poles, gate corners and clamps and just make a regular wooden frame to attach the chain link to. Heck, I've even been thinking about using chicken wire in the place of the chain link.......

08-07-2007, 11:57 PM
haha...what ever is cheaper let me know:]

08-08-2007, 04:36 AM
haha...what ever is cheaper let me know:]
bainer, if there's a cheaper yet safe route to go, I'm the one who will more than likely find it. :D

damon carson
08-08-2007, 08:56 AM
My problem with osb or like I call it SOB board is when you paint it. It eventually chips and falls apart in different pieces. So thats when it becomes a real pain in the behind. Yes its cheap, it may work well in a dark hall way? But then again people touch the walls to feel there way around. So they could get a splinter in there hand ect. Ya there are things you could coat it with and what not. But why not just buy plywood and skip on the extra work. I like detail and painting and ect in my haunt. Thats why I dont use osb. What works for some may not for others.

08-08-2007, 10:12 AM

we did a chain link maze last year. We used 2x4 frames and attached the chain link to those with wire ties. it was very simple to build and after we put some fog and a couple different speed strobes it looked awesome! it really distored the guests and gave the walls a "melting" look to them. We dubbed it the acid trip room.

good luck to ya!


08-08-2007, 12:15 PM
I can't think of what there called at the moment but it's a nail in the shape of a "U". These work AMAZING to attach chain link to a wood frame and are very durable.

Once you have all your chain link panels done... add fog, stobes, police beacons, loud sounds/music, and string yellow caution tape everywere; You'll have a winning haunt!!!

Don't forget to use chain link doors on swing hinges, just like in dog kennels. Use them to change pathways or block halls!!! -Tyler

08-08-2007, 09:12 PM
Well, I have time for now, but very little money. I have taken 20 pallets apart in two days and I plan on recontructing them much like a 2X4 and plywood wall panel. It will be very sturdy and to take care of splinter problems I am going to sand them and maybe cover them with cloth or cardboard before painting. I will try to get a pic of one of the panels when it is done to show how it looks. Oh BTW, they come apart much easier with a saw lol.

08-10-2007, 06:18 AM
I also wanted to point out a website a fellow haunter in Vermont showed me. It is the Vermont Business Materials Exchange. There are other states also. This site has businesses listing items for sale or for free like salvaged wood from demolitions and almost anything you can think of. I scored a pick-up truck loaf 2X4s and plywood. Today I plan on building several walls with tye plywood and also the pallets.

08-10-2007, 05:20 PM
Yeah. We have a place like that here in California called CALMAX. I've been on their list for several years, but my county rarely has anything useful on it.

Jim Warfield
08-11-2007, 12:58 AM
I think I once painted osb with 12 coats of paint , it kept sucking it up , finally I got it to smooth out so as not to be splintery but everytime my saw blade had to cut it my face was bombarded by speeding splinters from that crapp!
I don't like it.

09-17-2007, 03:16 PM
Question about pallet walls. Have you ever had problems with people getting snagged or injured (splinters) off of these walls.

I've used pallets for everything but walls. Let's face it free pallets = free building supplies. Oddly enough, my day job is actually building these freaking things and unless you get pallets that are made of heat treated lumber and are in fairly decent condition they're a fairly dangerous animal.

On another note. If you folks are looking for inexpensive building materials you may want to see if you have a local pallet building facility in your area. You'd be amazed at the amount of lumber some of these places have on had and they usually don't have a problem selling it off cheap.

09-17-2007, 03:20 PM
Yes... A quick solution would be:

-Sand down the planks that actually may come into contact with your guest.
-Add padding to "danger" areas
-Sand AND Pad ALL corners!
-Remove or "fix" any loose nails or structural obstructions!

This is what I've done in the past and works VERY well! -Tyler

Gore Galore
09-17-2007, 05:48 PM
We have used pallets for our outside maze. It made it easier to construct it this way. All we did was drive 4x4 into the ground 4' and screwed the Pallets to them.
We did pilot holes. 1 guy doing pilot holes and another screwing the pallets into place. We build 3,000 sq feet of pallet walls in 1 day with this method.

09-19-2007, 01:00 PM
Thanks for the reply regarding the problems with pallet walls. Here's my next question.

If you have to go to all the trouble of repairing, sanding and padding the pallets isn't it easier just to use plywood or OSB?

I mean sure you might get a deal on a truck load of pallets, but if they're a bunch of lightweight, heat-treated, hardwood pallets from Mexico you're looking at a HUGE amount of work to make 'em safe enough to use.

Even the lumber on those pallets is mostly useless. I'm not even sure how they managed to build 'em in the first place.

09-20-2007, 07:55 AM
We built an 1500 square foot pallet maze last year and are working on a 2800 square foot maze this year. Bracing is by far the most important element to consider when making a pallet maze. Last year ours took winds in excess of 40 miles and hour and was fine. I have a few pics on my website: http://www.agonyacres.net/TheMazePt1.htm
I hope this helps!

09-20-2007, 08:38 AM
We get large 8ft x 8ft pallets from a hot tub dealer, and use them to build a maze, make sheds, and the like. They're essentially pre-made walls. We screw OSB sheets to them where the walls need to be solid. They've still got the same problem as any pallet - the splinters, daggers, and flammability - but they're so easy to work with it's worth the extra effort to correct those problems.

09-20-2007, 02:57 PM
wow agony acres pallet maze looks really cool

i have a home haunt,, and need to fill a large amount of space, but need some cheap walls so i figure thi would be a good idea

Jim Warfield
09-20-2007, 08:12 PM
Many years ago a guy was trying to sell metal haunt walls. His designer told me in confidence, that metal was worse than wood because it can rip and tear too only is then more hazardous to people and is more time consuming to repair than wood.
No perfect walls, I guess?

09-21-2007, 01:02 PM
Hey, the maze looks pretty slick, I'd love to see pics of it in operation.

I'm assuming there were no major problems with the pallets attacking people. How much repair time did you put into the pallets themselves? Also didn't the mulch draw damp? and how much of a problem was that? Did you add any supports to the walls or were they just free standing and supported by each other. Sounds like that would leave the interior walls a little shaky.

09-24-2007, 11:10 PM
Actually supports are the most important aspect of our pallet maze. I had five different people look at it and build up the walls. Two of which were contractors of some degree. We took 2x4s across the tops of walls over three pallets long, and used as many triangles as possible to secure everything. The only other trick we used was to never make a wall more than 3 pallets long without another wall (even if it was only a single pallet wide) supporting it. Any wall that is longer than three pallets will get tired and sag by the end of the season. Before we opened it up to the public, I had my three biggest actors (all of them over 6'2' and somewhere between 260 and 360 pounds) just charge into walls and let them determine which walls still needed work. They didn't break anything, they would just kind of bounce off the wall, and mark the wall with trail tape. After that kind of abuse and re-bracing, there wasn't much to worry about. You gotta love those guys.

09-24-2007, 11:18 PM
Oh, another interesting note; we had seven strobe lights inside the maze (all of them set to flash out of sink with each other) to help disorient guests, and keep them from running around. We also had two monsters inside to frighten, monitor, and assist anyone who ventured in. The pallet maze was the first part of our haunt, and our "door-man"/ticket taker, Trey did an outstanding job of making sure that everyone that got out, was stable on his or her feet before continuing. Those strobe lights can really mess with your head when you are in there for a while. We are adding another thousand square feet of maze this year taking it up to 2800, and I am psyched to see the reaction it gets.