Step-by-Step Shelving: DIY Ladder Shelf

Open shelving at its finest! This DIY shelf is the perfect way to upcycle that old wooden ladder for useful decor that looks like a million bucks.

Get the Step-by-Step Instructions

DIY Ladder Shelf 01:24

Transform an old ladder into a statement piece with sturdy shelves and a fresh coat of paint.

Show: HGTV Happy

We've all seen ladders repurposed as blanket racks, book stands and maybe even plant homes, but this ladder DIY will shock with its simplicity while wowing with its sophistication. We're convinced this upcycled ladder shelf will become a stunning staple in your home that everyone will be asking about. 

Materials Needed

  • wood ladder
  • 25.75"-x-13" wood plank
  • 28"-x-14.5" wood plank
  • 34.75"-x-16" wood plank
  • 41.5"-x-18" wood plank
  • 48"-x-20" wood plank
  • drop cloth
  • chalk paint + paint roller
  • sandpaper
  • cloth
  • drill
  • wood screws
  • level
  • two-hole pipe straps
  • clear sealing wax

Prep Wood Planks

Lay out a drop cloth to create a workstation for the project. Cut wood pieces to the desired length and lay out accordingly. The measurements listed above work for a standard-sized ladder, but if your ladder is a a different size, you may need to take your own measurements before purchasing the wood. Paint the wood in your favorite shade of chalk paint, and let dry. 

Prep Ladder

While the wood planks are drying, prep the ladder. Sand down any rough patches, removing any unwanted paint spots as well. Wipe away dirt and dust after sanding. Paint the ladder, and let it dry completely.

Attach Shelves

Beginning at the top of the ladder, place the smallest wood plank across the step and ladder platform. Attach with wood screws on both ends ensuring that the piece is secure. Place the remaining shelves onto the ladder accordingly, attaching them with wood screws where there is a step and two-holed pipe straps wherever there is a ladder rung. Use a level to ensure that the shelves are even and flat.

Seal & Style

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Once all the shelves are attached, seal the entire shelving unit using clear sealing wax and a cloth. Once the shelf is complete, style with books, plants, knick-knacks or all of the above. The possibilities are endless with a shelving unit this versatile. 

Blue Ladder Shelf

Blue Ladder Shelf

A ladder become a pretty-as-a-picture shelf with boards laid across the steps and the whole thing painted in pale blue.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Keep Reading

Next Up

Landscaping with Railroad Ties

Landscaping with railroad ties can transform any yard – even yours.

Auto Part Art Dog Sculpture

An engineer uses auto parts to sculpt a metal dog.

Smart Ways to Repurpose Newspapers Around the House

Dirty windows? Leaky trash? Put Sunday's newspaper to good use.

Design a Mosaic Wall Relief

Use discarded dishes from thrift stores and garage sales to create your own mosaic wall relief.

Engineered Wood Trim

Consider attractive engineered wood for its versatility and recycled content.

How to Build a Dining Table From an Old Door and Posts

An old entry door and retro-style balusters come together to make a dining room table.

How to Craft a Trendy Fabric-Covered Tray

Give an old wooden tray a trendy new lease on life by covering it with upholstery fabric, then add a high-end finishing touch with a decorative pattern created with nail-head trim. 

Upcycle an Old Cutlery Box Into a New Jewelry Box

Vintage cutlery boxes are a frequent fixture at estate and yard sales — usually in pretty worn condition. With just a little elbow grease, you can refinish and re-line them for a massive upcycled jewelry box.

How to Turn a Pallet Into the Ottoman of Your Dreams

Take your DIY decor to a whole new level with this pallet ottoman. A small list of materials and a few simple steps make this project a weekend win.

Recycling Vintage Wood

Wood taken from old buildings can be restored for use in new homes or remodels.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.