I love the look of industrial décor: exposed brick and pipe, faded paint and neutral color schemes. Naturally I wanted to include some pipe elements in my living room to bring in that industrial feel. DIYs for pipe shelving abound but I wanted a little different look. Instead of a wood platform for the books to sit upon, I wanted the pipes to be the actual shelf.
To challenge myself even further, I used super inexpensive PVC piping to create the look of galvanized steel pipe without the cost. In the end this project cost less than half the price that using steel piping would have and it’s still plenty sturdy enough for my books. It also fits the bill of bringing in that industrial feel I was after.
Click through for the DIY!
• 1 PVC pipe, 12 ft*
• 3 PVC elbow connectors
• 3 PVC fittings
• 2 PVC 3-way connectors
• 4 Floor and ceiling flanges
• Pipe cutter (or use the one at the store)
• Measuring tape
• Metallic spray paint (I used Rustoleum All Surface Spray Paint in Dark Steel)
• 9 6-inch screws
• Drill gun
• Drill bits: #8, 5/32 brad point, one for 6-inch screws
• 8 ½” screws
• 8 ½” screw anchors
*I used 1” pipes, but smaller (down to ½”) would have worked fine. Whatever size you chose, be sure to get the matching size for all your fittings and flanges.
1. (You can use this plan to get an idea of the layout and what materials you’ll need to go where.)
Get your pipe cut to these measurements:*
-2” (x4)–This is the measurement I used, however, if I were to do it over, I would increase these pieces to 3″–2” is only big enough to hold smaller books.
*These are the measurements I used because it’s what would fit on the size of wall I had to work with. You may adjust as needed.
2. Spray paint your pipe. My dad made me this clever little stand for the longer pieces so that they didn’t have to lie on their sides while I painted them. It’s just a dowel strewed into a flat piece of wood. This isn’t necessary but it will cut down your painting time.
3. Arrange your piping out on your floor the way you want it to go into your wall. Use all your might to press those pipes into the fittings so they get a really tight grip and provide the strength you’ll need! Using plastic glue here would also be a good idea but I didn’t and my shelf is fine.
4. For the first flange, I simply measured to the middle of my wall as high up as I wanted the shelving to start–about 1 ft up from the baseboards–and made a mark.
5. Place a flange over that mark so it’s right in the center and then mark where the screw holes are.
6. Drill these in, insert an anchor in each and then drill in screws, attaching the flange to the wall.
7. Have someone help you to take your shelving system and insert the bottom part into that first flange. Hold the pipes up against the wall and then mark around each pipe that needs to be attached to a flange. Set your pipes down and attach the remaining flanges to the wall using the mark you just made as a guide, lining the opening up with the mark and then making marks in the screw holes as you did with the first flange.
8. After all the flanges are attached, drill a 6” screw into the center of each, leaving them sticking out of the wall at least 3 inches. (Screws this big require a different drill attachment but there are many available. The screws I went with came with the drill attachment included, others may just require a hex attachment or a star tip.)
9. This shelving requires the added support of 6” screws attached at varying places. One way to do this would be to use more 3-way connectors, 2” pipe pieces and flanges and screw through the connector into the wall, hiding the screw from view with the pipe (this is shown on the highest flange of this shelving) or you can just do what I did and screw through various places, leaving the screws visible. I went this route because I knew the screws wouldn’t be seen once books were piled on and even if they were, it wouldn’t bother me, I think it just adds to the industrial feel. Do whatever suits you!
10. Pre-drill through various places of your pipe and connectors and then drill your screws through them–not all the way till the head meets the pipe but DO go through both sides of the pipe.
11. Hang your piping on the wall by fitting each pipe over the screws in the wall and insert the piping into the flanges. These screws are really just for added hold but not necessarily strength. If you want strength, don’t insert in the wall but screw through the connectors, through the pipe and into the wall (like the top connection on my shelves).
12. Screw each screw into the wall directly in front of it. Your shelves should now be sturdy enough to fill with books! I certainly think I need to add more to my collection but that’s a slow process for me, I hardly find the time to read anymore, sad as that is.
– Machelle (Build Contributor)
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