Create a Cheap DIY Pergola With an Old Bunk Bed Ladder

9 Materials
1 Hour

I have an old bunk bed ladder that has had quite a few lives while I’ve owned it. It’s gone from being a bunk bed ladder, to an herb drying rack, and now I was looking for one more way to put it to use before I had to throw it out. This ladder pergola was the perfect fit for my old ladder. Pergolas can be quite expensive, costing hundreds of dollars, but this project cost me under $50! It provides the perfect amount of shade for me in the mornings when I let my dogs out into the yard and I love how it has added a touch of decor to my home’s exterior. Learn how I did it in my step-by-step tutorial below!

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Tools and Materials:

Tools and Materials:

  • Tape measure
  • Ladder (I used an old bunk bed ladder)
  • Lumber
  • Drill and electric screwdriver
  • Screws
  • 2 brackets
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Faux vines
Prep the Ladder

I started by measuring my door frame. I needed to know the proper width of the door frame to know how large I needed my ladder to be. 

Prep the Ladder

Once I measured the door frame I realized that I needed to add a few rungs to my ladder to make it fit properly. I wanted the hanging brackets to land right where the rungs were so I added a bit of wood to each end of the ladder.

Add a Rung

Screw in Place

I screwed them into place and then I sanded the areas I had drilled into to make sure that there weren’t any lingering splinters.

DIY Ladder Pergola


Now I was ready to paint the ladder. I’m using the same color that I used to stain my back porch, so this pergola will fit in nicely with the rest of my home’s exterior. Make sure that whatever paint you use is rated for outdoor use and will stand up to the elements. I painted both the ladder and the brackets in the same color and left them to dry. 

Install the Brackets
Install the Brackets

I installed my brackets directly into my wooden doorframe. Make sure that they are flush with the top of the door frame so that the pergola at least looks level, even if your house is not. 

Install the Pergola
Install the Pergola

Next I lay the ladder on top of the brackets and added quite a few screws, from both above and below the brackets, to make sure that it was securely hung. 

Add Plants
Add Plants

If you have the time and patience, with an emphasis on patience, you can grow a vining plant near your pergola and train it to grow and vine onto it. In the interest of time and effort, I chose to add some faux vining plants to mine. I hung the vines and ran them over and under the rungs of the ladder until I was happy with how it looked.

Cheap DIY Pergola

Now I have the perfect shady spot to stand while I drink my morning coffee and let my pups out to potty! How would you customize your DIY ladder pergola? Let me know in the comments below!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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2 of 38 comments
  • Carol
    on Aug 6, 2020

    Great idea. Looks very nice. Like the artificial greenery, it can be changed out whenever you want a different look.

  • Maggie
    on Aug 11, 2020

    Might do this over a ground level picture window instead of creating a valence....

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