DIY Pipe Shelves

DIY Pipe ShelvesI’m a self-professed DIY junkie. There are very few projects I won’t at least attempt and even fewer discarded pieces of furniture this curbside diva won’t attempt to pick up & re-purpose or refinish.

Today’s post, DIY Pipe Shelves, will kick off the ‘DIY Wednesdays’ posts I promised when I posted my new blogging schedule. All of the projects I’ll feature are things I’ve done myself and can all be done on a budget.

Supplies Needed

In order to make these shelves for your own home, you will need:

  1. Measuring supplies (tape measure, pencils, marking chalk, etc.)
  2. Spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum Universal in Flat Black)
  3. Stain (I used Minwax in Dark Walnut)
  4. Pine boards (I used 1″x12″x10′ boards cut down to length–done for free at home improvement stores)
  5. Plumbing pipe and fittings:
    1. Steel plumbing pipe cut in various lengths to fit your desired design (some may have to be custom cut, which any home improvement store will do for free)
    2. 90º elbowsPipes and Fittings
    3. 3-way tees
    4. Base Flanges
  6. Tools/Supplies:
    1. Drill/Driver Kit
    2. Anchor screws
    3. Stud Finder
    4. Sandpaper
    5. Dish soap and a bucket
    6. Scrub brush/Brillo Pads
    7. Ladder
    8. Old T-shirts
    9. Rubber gloves


Make sure to sketch out a detailed plan that includes measurements before you do anything else (this is also a handy reference sheet to take with you to the store–mine is pictured in the photo below). Your measurements need to be precise, so adhere to the adage, “Measure 3 times, Cut Once.”

Also, it’s much easier to identify potential issues if you pre-build the pieces to ensure they’ll fit your space (enlist a helper to hold them against the wall while you step back to view the whole picture).

DIY Pipe Shelves

However, you will need to take everything apart for the next step…


After the supplies are purchased, the next step is to completely soak & clean all pipes and fittings. Most will come pre-greased and will have stickers on them–be sure to remove all residue before painting! I soaked the smaller pieces in the bucket with soapy water, and I put the larger pieces in the bathtub.

I let them soak for about 6 hours before scrubbing them with the Brillo Pads. I also let everything dry overnight before painting began.


Once you have the various pieces assembled, it’s time to paint. Slow, even movements with the spray paint are necessary to ensure a smooth finish. Be sure to do your painting in a well-ventilated area and give each coat a full & proper time to dry.

While you’re waiting for the pipes to dry, you should begin staining the boards. I prefer to use an old T-shirt balled up instead of a paint brush–it helps to prevent brush strokes and over-saturation of the stain in certain areas. Don’t forget the rubber gloves to protect your hands!

Staining Boards for DIY Pipe ShelvesStained Boards for DIY Pipe Shelves


After everything is painted, stained, dried and re-assembled, it’s time to install the shelves! I used a stud finder to locate the wall studs, pre-drilled the holes for the screws and secured everything using extra heavy-duty cabinet screws. Here is a (rather ugly, un-styled) photo of the finished result on one wall of the room:

DIY Pipe Shelves

Stay tuned for more updates (these were built at a friend’s house, not mine so updated photos may take quite some time)…


What are some of your DIY projects or adventures?


The Happy Homeowner

The Happy Homeowner

We're a team of freelancers who are on a mission to inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Work from The Happy Homeowner has been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Wisebread, Lifehacker, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Housekeeping Magazine and many other outlets.
The Happy Homeowner

7 thoughts on “DIY Pipe Shelves

  • December 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I love DIY projects! We just finished making a standing makeup mirror, and a coffee table. Both were ideas off of Pinterest. Oh, and we crafted up a wreath last weekend too.. it's really pretty. It's so much fun to DIY. Love the pipe shelf idea!

    • December 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

      Wow, nice work! Yeah, I love, love, LOVE DIY. These pictures do this project no justice–gotta get better with the camera bit 😛

  • December 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    That is pretty awesome. Makes me think of other DIY project ideas to make things out of. Good work!

  • July 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I did something very similar to this when I lived in my city apartment, except I made a standing desk. One thing people need to be careful of when using pipe like this is when it comes to cleaning prior to assembly. You touched on soaking it in a bathtub. I did exactly the same thing, but a tip I would like to offer is to make sure and dry the threads very well. Once cleaned they can quickly rust making assembly very difficult.
    My recent post What is PMI?


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