DIY Dumpster Desk

Whoever said dumpster diving isn’t glamorous hasn’t been dumpster diving in the right places! Ok…maybe it’s not that fabulous but that doesn’t mean the end result has to be as sticky as its beginnings. I can’t express how excited I am about this latest DIY do-over! It turned out better than I could have imagined and although took quite a bit of work, it was well worth it. Find below how I did my latest rustic farmhouse addition!





DIY Dumpster Desk:


Materials Needed:

  • Miter Saw
  • Nail Gun
  • Chalk Paint
  • Wax Finish (Clear & Dark)
  • Round Wax Brush
  • Wood Stain
  • White Paint
  • Sandpaper or Electrical Sander
  • Paintbrush
  • Wood Clamps
  • Clear Sealant
  • 1 x 4 planks of wood or pallets (amount varies)

Let’s Begin! : I found this desk sitting out by a dumpster one day on the way home from the office. It was a tad torn up and in some desperate need of some TLC!

I decided to start with the top. Since the original desktop was a little water warped, I decided to start from scratch. I purchased a large slab of plywood from Home Depot and had them cut it down for me in the store so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at home. I decided to put a herringbone pattern so I started by finding the center of the new top.

Using a lot of spare 1 x 4 pieces I had laying around & a few pallets I worked from the center cutting each board as I went to fit it to the top. The initial middle pieces I made all the same length.

I worked my way all around the top till all the pieces fit like a puzzle! Using my sander I smoothed out some of the freshly cut pieces.

Next I wanted to add a little more texture, so I painted some of the wood pieces with white acrylic paint and let it dry overnight. The next day I took the sander to the white painted pieces to make them a little extra rough. (Pictured in the bottom right).

Next, I used a variety of brown wood stains over the top of the painted pieces to create a more distressed look.

Once the pieces were dry, I reassembled the newly stained pieces back to their original spots and used wood glue & a nail gun to secure them to the plywood.


I then moved to the base. Using Annie Sloan’s “Old White” chalk paint I painted the base & drawers. (It ended up taking about 2 full coats).

Once the chalk paint was try I took my sander to the corners of the base to give it a more distressed look.


After the base was sanded I used Annie Sloan “Clear Wax” as an initial coat. I then used Annie Sloan “Dark Brown Wax” with a round wax brush over the clear wax coat. The dark was goes on pretty thick, so I used a lint free towel & rubbed in the dark wax after I painted it on with the brush as I went. This part is all very individual, so if you prefer a lighter look I recommend lighter brush strokes & more cloth rubbing! If there are any areas that are too dark you can always go back over it with the clear wax before the dark wax hardens.

— Waxing can be a bit tricky, so if you’ve never used wax before feel free to check out this video from Shades of Blue Interiors on how to! Click HERE – How to use Clear & Dark Wax

Let the wax sit at least 24 hours before moving or adding your decorations. After everything dried, I added a thin strip of wood around the edge of the top to finish off the look and cover where the plywood and pallet wood connected. (Pictured below).

Annnnd Voila! Who knew you could love something out of a dumpster so much?!




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