How to Build Industrial Shelves


Today, I am going to show you how to build industrial shelves.

how to build industrial shelves

This was a new experience for me, so I just learned as I went along.  But first let me show you the inspiration that got my wheels a turnin’ for this project….

how to build industrial shelves

Boys Room Shelves @Jessica Kraus on A Beautiful Mess

I had considered doing pallet wood walls, but when I saw that picture last year, I KNEW that I wanted to build something like it that in Jonathan and Luke’s room.  Their room is a long, narrow room, and each side of the room is “their space.”

When we were building the walls in their room, {a veeeerrrrry long time ago} we covered one wall on each side with faux brick paneling from Lowe’s.

how to build industrial shelves

To help the brick to not look like paneling, we filled the seams with wood filler.

how to build industrial shelves

Then we sanded it smooth…

how to build industrial shelves

And painted it the same color as the walls, Benjamin Moore, White Dove.

how to build industrial shelves

I printed off some of the inspiration pictures I found on my computer, and then began sketching each of the boy’s walls.

how to build industrial shelves

Jonathan wanted a place to hang his guitars, so I sketched his wall to look like this…

how to build industrial shelves

Then I went to Lowe’s to purchase my supplies.  I chose to use 3/4 inch black iron pipes.  They come in 1/2 inch and 1 inch sizes as well, and you can also purchase galvanized pipes instead of black, if you want.

These are the main four pieces I used:


They only had galvanized floor flanges, so I had to spray paint mine black.

I began laying the pipes out on the floor to make sure I had all the pieces I needed.  Lowe’s didn’t have enough of some of the pieces, but they ordered them for me and arrived within a day or two!

how to build industrial shelves

I bought 2 inch thick pieces of wood for my shelves because I love the look of the thick shelves.  They come in different lengths.   You could save some money by purchasing a thinner wood, if you wanted.

I sanded each piece of wood before using it.

how to build industrial shelves

To begin building the wall, I put the bottom row of pipes together and then lined them up where I wanted them on the floor.  I used some tape to help me keep them straight and a tape measure to make sure they were the same distance apart.

how to build industrial shelves

Then I screwed the flanges to the floor.

how to build industrial shelves

I used a 1 and 1/4 inch drill bit to drill holes in the wood where I needed them.  Sometimes I used a tape measure to figure out where I needed to drill the holes, and sometimes I placed the wood on top of the pipes and used a marker to draw around the pipe so I could see where to drill the hole.  Does that makes sense?

how to build industrial shelves

You can see in the picture below how we added the first shelf.  You just continue doing the same thing for each shelf.

Pipe…T-ring….6 inch pipe…elbow…shelf….repeat.

how to build industrial shelves

Then we created the open space on Jonathan’s shelf by using 18 inch pipes.  You can see how we still used the 6 inch pipes and the elbows underneath the shelf.

how to build industrial shelves

Since the final pipe on top needed to reach the wall, we used an 8 inch pipe instead of a 6 inch pipe.  We attached a flange to that pipe and then screwed it into the wall.  On Jonathan’s wall, it was the perfect length, and we were able to drill into the wall perfectly, but for Luke’s wall, we had to add an extra piece of wood to the back of the flange to make it fit perfectly to the wall.  {Do not ask me why.}  Smile)

how to build industrial shelves

After the shelves were built, I stained them with MinWax Provencial and sealed them with MinWax’s wipe on poly in Satin. Be sure to lightly sand in between each coat of poly.  I applied two coats.

In the picture below, you can see the sizes of the pipes we used.

how to build industrial shelves

Lastly, I added some guitar clips and storage crates.  We’ve put some “décor” on the shelves for now, but I am sure we will be changing a lot of it.

how to build industrial shelves

Jonathan is thrilled with his wall!!  He said he wants to add some more “music” stuff to it, so that is our goal.  I think it is a great use of space and makes his room look so “boyish.”

how to build industrial shelves

I was trying to figure out how much this wall cost, and I think it was around $300 total.  Which is a lot cheaper than most pieces of furniture and makes a much greater impact in the room.  how to build industrial shelves

If you have any more questions about these shelves, just leave me a comment, and I will answer them.



If you love industrial shelving and want even more inspiration, Jen, from Tatertots and Jello, has a great post about them.  Just click on the picture below.

13 industrial shelving ideas

“In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received products from Lowe’s for this project. Although I have a material connection to Lowe’s, any publicly stated opinions of Lowe’s and their products remain my own.”


**Linking this project to Tutorials and Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z.

TDC Before and After

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  1. Love it!
    Amanda Mae recently posted..My China Cabinet…

  2. How much did the whole project cost, if you don’t mind me asking?

  3. Traci – Did you make the holes for the shelves just big enough for the pipe to fit through from the top, so that the flange part held the shelf up? I hope you understand that. Or did you actually screw a flange under each shelf to keep it in place? I just want to make sure that my shelves wouldn’t slide down. Love this idea and totally going to do in our new Media/play room. Also would love if you could give a tutorial for a rolling type coffee table with the big industrial wheels! :) The boys rooms look wonderful – great job!

    • Carrie, I did not screw a flange under each shelf, but the tee fitting is wider than the pipes, so the shelves kind of sit on the tee fittings. Does that make sense?

  4. All I can say is Wow! Impressive. You definitely earned DIY Diva of the Day. Pinning …
    Susan recently posted..Progress on the epic hickory floor project

  5. Great job! You always come up with wonderful ideas and I love them. Will the boys have a desk?

    God Bless

  6. These turned out absolutely dreamy! I love your accessorizing, especially the guitars. Thanks for the tutorial.
    Amanda @ Burlap and Denim recently posted..Faux Stainless Steel Removable Backsplash for Renters

  7. Debbie Dunbar says:

    I love this!

  8. Looks AMAZING!!! What would you suggest if wanting to install something like this in a room with carpet? Also, is it pretty sturdy and weight supporting? Looks like the elbows take the majority of the weight, at the wall.

  9. This is a wonderful addition to the room. I would love to add something like this at some point to one of our rooms!

  10. Absolutely love the look of these! Great tutorial too Traci!
    Kim @ Sand & Sisal recently posted..Coastal Door Knockers

  11. This is super cool! My son is turning 13 and his room currently has the track shelving in white. This would definitely be more age related. On my list of projects now. Question for you – the walls are plaster, an issue???

    Thanks Lisa

  12. Hi Traci,

    The shelves are stunning! May I ask how wide the boards are? I know you said that they are 2 inches thick but what about the width? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Sarah! Those are 2×12 boards that I used. {But technically, I think they are 11 and 3/4.} Hope that helps!

      • Did you use pine boards form Lowes or a different type of wood? I love what you did here. Our kids are away at camp and we surprising them by redoing their bedrooms for when they come home.

  13. I bought 6 foot boards and I am hoping to use your exact layout……. Was that a good guess for the length? Also how high did it end up being? I accounted for your 2 inch boards and also the piping, but my ceilings are only 9 feet so I hope I didn’t get carried away! Thanks for an awesome tutorial.

    • I think 6 feet is a good length. Mine were a little longer I think. But I had a pretty long wall. And my shelves would fit with a 9 foot ceiling, so you should be fine. :)

  14. I wanted to know what type of wood you got from lowes for the shelves?

  15. Could these shelves hold a lot of stuff? What do you think the weight limit would be?

  16. What is the depth of the wood? Love these!

  17. Is there anything securing the 90 degree elbow at the rear of each shelf?

  18. I think my comment got lost……. how wide are your shelves and then how tall did they end up being?

  19. This is stunning! To be clear the shelf sits on the tee fitting, you drilled a hole in the shelf just above the tee fitting for the next pipe to fit into and then screw into the tee fitting through the wood shelf? Also is this something a girl could tackle by herself? I’m not to power tool inclined. But I do love this and am wanting to try it out.

  20. Really like these but I know my son who lives out of town and needs shelves would never build these. Any suggestions for similar ones to purchase.
    Linda recently posted..Farmhouse Company Soup

  21. Nora Nuño says:

    What would be an alternative way to secure the bottom if we have carpet? I was think doing it the same way as on top which is securing the pipes to the wall and also making sure they are firmly pressed down so the bottom legs don’t wiggle/move
    What do you think?

  22. How would you attach the bottom fittings if there is carpet in the room? Thank you!

  23. That is really a great idea! I may use it for my son’s bedroom! Thanks for sharing :)

  24. How tall did this end up being? I only have 8ft ceilings

  25. Did the pipes come precut at those links? I have been on Lowe’s website and I don’t see any that come less than 1.5 ft.

    • Hi Julie!
      I was able to use all the pipe sizes that they already had at Lowe’s, but they are able to cut and thread them the length you need. I just didn’t have to do that. In the store, they have lengths as small as 6 inches, or maybe even smaller. Maybe those are not sold online. I would go to your local Lowe’s to see what lengths they have.

  26. Ha. That was supposed to say “lengths”

  27. Several have asked, and no answer has been given. Are there any ideas for those of us with carpet on slab to secure the bottom? Thanks!

  28. Just want to say thanks for sharing you talent and ideas

  29. what are those pipes for in the first purpose ? only to make shelves ?

  30. What would be the best way to secure this to carpet flooring?

  31. One more question, could you please measure the height from the floor to the top of the top shelf. I may have to adjust the height on one or two shelves to make it fit with 7.5′ ceilings.

  32. Hello, I am in love with the bookcase!!! Do you sell them? I want one for my sons room.

  33. Love the project–Does the wood just sit on the pipes or is it secured in some way?

  34. Molly Buck says:

    Hey, I have a question about the elbows that sit on the underneath part of the shelves. Are they actually attached in any way or are they just there for the shelf to sit on as that kind of support? Thanks

    • They are not attached in any way. They just add support. Not all shelves will sit perfectly on the elbows, but the joints on the elbow hold the boards in place.

  35. WOW! I have been in such a funk with my sons small bedroom. This inspired my husband and I. We are so doing this. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us how you completed this project.

  36. I am in the process of designing a unit similar to this and need some advice if you can. I really like the look of the thicker shelves, but using 1/2 inch pipe instead of 3/4 will save me about $100 (My unit is going to be much bigger). Do you think those proportions would look weird? Do you think it will effect the stability of the unit? Any help would be amazing!

  37. Hi! I LOVE these. Quick question — did you place your vertical pieces so that when you got to the top you were screwing into a stud? Thanks for the inspiration!!

  38. I’d love to know your ideas for building in a carpeted room

  39. Did you use anything to clean the pipes? Also, I’m having trouble getting the pieces to completely screw together, which makes everything extremely hard to level. Any suggestions??

    • I did not use anything to clean the pipes. It is a little hard to keep things level, I agree. I didn’t tighten all of the fittings completely, and some I did to help level things out. You kind of have to “play” with them. :)

  40. Can i ask where the white pull out shelves are from? i’ve looked at most major stores that sell cabinetry and haven’t been able to find something that is less that 13-14″ deep

  41. LOVE this! Where did you find the storage crates?

  42. Hi
    How wide is the wood you used for the shelves?

  43. Wondering how reconfigureable this might be should the child need different storage? Thinking storage for a toddlers room and then a desk area as he grows?

    • It would be kind of tedious to reconfigure, but I guess it could be done. I would just create it with the desk to begin with, even though you may not use it as a desk. You could put storage baskets under the desk for toy storage.

  44. I LOVE THIS. I’m making a loft room for my son and want to build shelves like these. I will have to build them over a 56 inch wide (but only 2 ft high) chest of drawers. How important is close spacing of the floor supports. Could I get by spacing 56 inches apart on the floor? I could definitely put more flanges on the wall at the top. What do you think?

  45. What are holding the guitars? I have been lookinG for something to hold my sons guitars like that?
    Also are the storage crates just basic crates that you added wheels to?

  46. What did you use for the guitar hooks? I would love to find something similar for my kids. thanks. Love your room!

  47. I’m getting ready to build one of these, and I’m curious: how much space ends up being on a shelf? For example: if I use 12″ length of pipe, what does the height of the shelf end up being once it’s assembled?
    I hope to use the bottom shelves for LP records, and they need just over 12 1/4″ to fit.
    Thank you!

  48. I love these and am looking to build one soon. What type of wood did you use and what was the width? Also have the securing to carpet question.

  49. Michele says:

    Pondering the carpet conundrum… possible to cut a slit in the carpet where flanges are secured to floor? Pick really long screws and screw through carpet? Don’t use any screws and let the weight of the unit plus the flanges secured to the wall be enough?

  50. stacy hartmann says:

    Hi, I love this! Wondering the length of the entire project? I know you said you used 2 x 12 in boards, so did you have about 48 ish inches in length? Thanks.

  51. Barrett says:

    We just built our shelves in the living room par your instructions. We are so pleased. And you made it really easy to do. Still need to stain the wood but it looks great. Thank you!

  52. I see you used 12 foot boards, but is that the actual length of these shelves?

  53. Gregory says:

    How wife were your boards?

  54. My husband and I were looking at the pipes at Lowes and they have writing on them. What did you do to not show the writing, or did yours not have writing? Thank you :)

  55. One more question :) could you email me the other dimensions of your other sons room with the shelves with the bed, that is the one we are going to build? Thanks again!!!!

  56. I don’t want to drill mine into the floor, do you think the weight of the shelves themselves could keep it all in place? Maybe with rubber slip pads underneath?

  57. Just did this-so easy to follow your instructions. I love the Provincial stain color. I painted the pipes aged bronze color to cover up some of the lettering on the pipes. I also made mine a lot more complicated by trying to add a desk on one half and shelves from top to bottom on the other half. I don’t recommend this if you are trying to keep this an easy DIY! If you do try it, just keep in mind the spaced added by the elbows, flanges and the t-joints. Overall the work was worth it and my teenage son loves it!

    • Libby- I am also adding a desk like you described. How many inches did you allow for the elbows, flanges and t-joints?


  58. I think I saw every possible measurement (thanks for the detailed step-by-step) except for shelf depth. 10″?
    Thanks for inspiration!

  59. Hi!! This look amazing!! We’re going to attempt this weekend, but we have carpet. Any suggestions on that variation? Also, if you did again, would you stain the boards before or after, like you did originally? Thanks so much!!

    • Hi LaRae!
      Truthfully, I think if you used the flanges on the bottom, you wouldn’t really have to put screws into the carpet, or maybe just put one? You might would be able to just nail them into the floor. Depending on what type of carpet you have. Unless it is super short carpet, I think you could eventually pull the nails out and never notice. But that is my opinion. I can tell you that if my boys had carpet, we would just nail or screw the base pipes right into the carpet. By the time we wanted to take the shelves down, the carpet would probably need to be replace anyway! :) But that is just the way I roll. (And I would stain the boards before installing them.) xoxo

  60. Hello! I just came upon your blog tonight and loving it. I am wanting to do a white brick wall in our bedroom in a house we are decorating and since you have the brick paneling and the real brick white washed too to compare, would you say the paneling looks and feels pretty real?? I was thinking I would to the brick veneers and then white wash or paint straight white but that paneling looks a lot faster! But I would like it to feel “real”. What are your thoughts?! If you could email me I would love it. Thank you!

    • Hi Jaclyn! The brick paneling gives the “look” of brick, but doesn’t really “look” like brick, ya know? It works great for the boys’ room, but I think you wouldn’t be happy with it in your bedroom. It doesn’t “feel” like real brick. The paneling is a lot faster, but again, it doesn’t look exactly like brick. Lowe’s does have other options that look like brick, but they are not full sized bricks. You could ask them in the tile section and they could help you find it. Hope that helps! :)

  61. Could you tell me what kind of wood you used? Pine?

  62. Hey there! This is gorgeous! Do you think there’s a safe way to do this without drilling into the floor? We live in an apartment and can’t really put holes in the floor :-( thanks!

    • The poles are so sturdy, I personally don’t think you would even need to screw them into the floor. As long as they are secured to the wall, I think you would be fine.

    • Since its an apartment I would put a board on the floor and attach to that, also consider using a stud finder to locate the wall studs to secure the wall mounts. Any holes in the wall can easily be filled when you move out.

  63. Beautiful. You have an incredible eye for arrangement of books, guitars and “crap.” This looks awesome!

  64. Thanks for this tutorial! I think this is the wknd we’re going to use it for our pantry. I started in yesterday thinking I was just going to use one of my sample paints from SW and paint a wall in the pantry. Well, one thing led to another (as home projects often go…) and since all the contents of my pantry are on my counter tops and table, I’m thinking we might as well do the shelving the way I want now instead of later. Saves time in the long run but costs $ today…

  65. You said you didn’t clean the pipes. When I bought mine my hands were completely black after touching them. Did you not have this problem?

  66. this is great, thanks! what is the actual distance between each shelf? I was aiming for 17″ to evenly space everything apart, but I see pipes are 18″ and then not sure how that all works with the fittings. My brain refuses to wrap itself around the math. Thanks!!

  67. Hi Traci — What kind of wood is that? Also, what are the width and length of the wood? I am having trouble finding wood that is long and wide enough for my project. Thank you in advance! :)

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