Build Your Own DIY Industrial Pipe Shelves with Tutorial, Step-by-step Instructions, Detailed Supply List, Pipe Shelf Decorating Ideas
DIY Industrial Pipe Shelves are an easy weekend project that require no special skills. Here is a budget-friendly step-by-step guide to make your own.
Urban | Rustic | Industrial
These DIY industrial pipe shelves are everything. Whether you are looking to fill an empty wall, create a fun storage option, add rustic charm to a kitchen, office or family room, these industrial pipe shelves will add a modern urban-farmhouse vibe to your space.
And, instead of spending thousands of dollars with the pre-made versions you can build them yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Follow my step-by-step tutorial to make your own DIY industrial pipe shelves.
DIY Pipe Shelf Update
After about two years enjoying our beautiful DIY Industrial Pipe Shelving I decided it was time for an update. Originally, we wanted to complete the project as cheaply as possible and that was the main reason we decided to go with the inexpensive 1-inch boards.
Fast forward to this fall when we decided to upgrade the shelves with some higher quality, thicker pine boards. You will see photos throughout the post with both types of boards. It’s really just a matter of preference and budget.
For a reference point, here are the stats for the DIY industrial pipe shelf we built:
Industrial Pipe Shelves Stats
Time: One Weekend
- The first day we made the plan, bought the supplies and put the first coat of stain on.
- The second day we put the second coat of stain, assembled the pieces and put them up on the wall.
If you count the amount of time it took me to research the project and then convince my hubby to do this with me the total time involved would be over six months. But, in the end we made these for about $350 and had them completed and ready for styling within two days.
We made the measurements, drew out a plan (including labeled picture with measurements) and made a detailed list of supplies. Then we headed to the hardware store. Actually, to be totally honest, my husband made eight trips to the hardware store(s) looking for all the pipe pieces we needed, and to exchange a few pieces we got wrong.
Tip: Do not let your kids pick out the pipe pieces. You will need to double check the shapes and sizes because they aren’t always in the correct box. And finally, I did the first coat of stain so it could dry over night (this step is optional).
Day two we saved for the “good stuff.” We put on the final coat of stain, assembled the pieces, and put them up on the wall.
How to Create Your Own Industrial Pipe Shelving DIY
Step 1: Choose Your Design
- What do you want your shelves to look like?
- Do you want it “floating” on the wall?
- Perhaps you want it hanging from the ceiling?
- Or, do you want it connected to the floor?
For simplicity, we decided to go with “floating.” My hubby didn’t like the idea of making holes in the ceiling nor did he feel like cutting into the carpet. Honestly, at this point, I was just trying to keep him happy and focused so we could get this project done.
Step 2: Decide on the Size of Your DIY Pipe Shelves
- Measure your space and find your studs.
- Most studs are spaced 16 inches on center so this is where your brackets will go. You should use a stud finder or double check just to make sure. You don’t want to plan your whole shelf unit only to find out it can’t go where you want.
- If you are making a smaller shelf and do not plan to put anything heavy on it you could manage to hang it without attaching it to the studs (you should have seen my hubby cringe when I asked him about this). But, while he probably wouldn’t risk it, he did say it would be possible to use sheet-rock anchors to attach it. However, with a large shelf like the one we made this wouldn’t be a good idea.
- Start to map out what you have space for and what will look good.
Step 3: How Many Supports Do you Want for your Pipe Shelves
Here is when you decide whether you want two or three support brackets for your industrial pipe shelves. I thought the hubby was going for over kill when he suggested three support brackets. I had seen a great design on Pinterest that had only two support brackets and it looked awesome. But he was worried it would not have enough support with just two.
Remember, I was trying to keep him happy so of course I let him win. Here’s the deal. I hate to say it, but he was right. Mostly because we were trying to cut costs and bought the cheapest boards sold at the hardware store. If we had used only two brackets these boards would have bowed under the weight.
Step 4: Look and Function of your Industrial Pipe Shelves
So, decide the look and the function of what you want to make. If you want to create a media center, for example, and are going for some amount of symmetry then you really want to go with two brackets. In this case you will want to plan ahead and buy stronger, harder (read: more expensive) boards.
Decide how many industrial pipe shelves you want and then count up the number of boards you will need. We wanted one shelve in the center that we could use for bigger items so we counted one fewer boards. I’ve seen one with no board on the very top and this is a good look, especially if you are putting your shelf close to the ceiling you might want to leave it off so you have at least one shelf with more space for bigger items.
Step 5: What Kind of Finish Do You Want for Your Pipes?
- Galvanized is more of a plain silver finish. This finish is specifically made to withstand rust and is more expensive.
- The black finish is cheaper but may be harder to find in the quantities needed (and thus the multiple hardware store runaround). And, warning, it’s kind of messy to work with. It is covered with oil so you will need to wash these. Even so the black will continue to come off on your hands.
- I’ve heard of people using spray paint to make their pipes look more uniform.
Note: Some galvanized are treated with a special coating and you may have trouble getting the spray paint to stick. Before you go crazy with this idea I would test it out.
Based on your above decisions start making your shopping list to make DIY pipe shelves free standing.
Our DIY Pipe Shelf Shopping List
To build our shelf unit of five shelves, six rungs and three support brackets this is what we used:
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5 – 1″ x 10″ x 6′ boards (least expensive) – Home Depot sells Poplar boards like the ones we bought for about $5/each. In reality they are .75″ x 9.25″.
When we upgraded our boards we chose 1 1/2″ x 10 x 6′ pine boards.
Quart size can of stain:
I used Dark Walnut by Minwax on the thinner, less expensive boards.
For the thicker pine boards we chose a lighter, warmer stain called “Early American.”
Step-By-Step to Build Your Industrial Pipe Shelves
- Assemble one bracket at a time and lay out on the floor.
- Be very sure to line up every fixture so they are exactly in line with one another. This is essential or you will end up with a wavy shelf. Note: In order to get all the pipes facing the exact same direction some will be tighter than others. This is not a problem because once pipes are secured onto the wall that will provide the secure connection necessary for shelf stability.
- Hold assembled unit against the wall at pre-measured location (this should line up with the studs). This is when four hands are really useful–ok, essential.
- Use a balance to ensure it is straight and mark the walls for the screw anchors.
- Align unit and screw in place. Note: We only put screws in the top and bottom holes because the left and right side holes are wider than the studs.
7. Put up the third support bracket.
Hopefully your boards are dry and you can put them up right away.
Then comes the fun part. Decorating them. My hubby was laughing at me. When the boards were finally dry (the next morning) I was literally running around the house gathering up decor from every room of the house, and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.
Every season I have had fun changing up the decor.
This is a summer decor version of my shelf. I really wanted more white accents. And the pop of natural green felt very fresh.
These iron pipe shelves are like a decor entity all to themselves. I enjoy decorating them and changing them up every season.
And the funniest part about this project? My hubby loves them at lest as much as I do. Go figure.
More DIY Projects
If you loved this easy industrial pipe shelves project, check out these other do-it-yourself home decor projects.
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